The world has a secret and writer Jonathan Hickman knows the truth, but he's not telling, not right away at least. In April Hickman launches "Secret," his first ongoing series at Image Comics with "A Red Mass For Mars" collaborator Ryan Bodenheim. The book explores how a series of seemingly unrelated events are actually not only connected, but hint at larger organizations controlling the world. How does a man getting shot in London relate to a law firm break-in in Washington and an accountant giving away company secrets? Only time -- and Hickman -- will tell.
All of the events come together to wake a sleeping 20 year-old giant and threaten to bring down a pair of very powerful governments. The Image series revolves around Grant Miller, a man with a secret past that comes back to him as the aforementioned events occur and he has to deal with the fallout. CBR News spoke to Hickman about the series, how teeth play into it, and what exactly Grant Miller's deal is.
"Our main protagonist is a character named Grant Miller, who is an ex-intelligence operative now working for private security company in Washington," Hickman said. "He has a very colorful past that for a long time he has kept separate from his professional life but due to unforeseen circumstances -- the nature of his job and a long-buried 'secret' -- all of that is going to come crashing together. The larger cast is pretty big with complex associations between each supporting character. None of which is surprising as 'Secret' is a spy book."
The early buzz on "Secret" explained that this information getting out into the world will have ramifications for two very powerful governments, ones that Hickman said are a mixture of traditional government and Illuminati type groups working within that structure.
"Very much like the real world, where we have these ideas of what our government is, but, in reality, it's often very different from how it actually operates," Hickman said of the threatened organizations. "You know, no one likes seeing sausage being made."
While the overarching story does deal with global elements like shadowy government deals and espionage, Hickman said the series will actually start off fairly small and local.
"Our first arc takes place in what feels like a very small world," Hickman told CBR News. "Now, we are aware of goings-on in other places but all of that doesn't explode into the book until the second arc. We are trying very hard to capture the feeling that almost all really good spy stories have -- something small and seemingly inconsequential, becomes something very large and of the greatest importance."
While looking over the information about "Secret" the motif of teeth started to pop up. The first cover features an X-ray image of a person's mouth and the title of the first issue is "Teeth, With Which To Eat," a reference to the Little Red Riding Hood story. This acts as both a visual idea and a thematic one.
"Visually we're going for something very different in regards to how the book should all look," Hickman said. "This starts with the photo montage-type covers and chapter breaks, and extends to the coloring style used throughout the book."
Speaking of the look of the book, Hickman and Bodenheim previously worked together on "A Red Mass for Mars," but the writer said their relationship has changed as their careers have taken their respective paths.
"Ryan and I are certainly very different people in very different places than where we were four years ago," Hickman said. "Both of us have had a bunch of changes in our lives, but we've been trying the entire time to get back together and work on something new. Ryan is, of course, very talented, he certainly has very strong opinions on what does and does not work, and he throws himself 100% into whatever project is working on. If anything, he seems more driven than I've ever seen him. It's nice. And, as we came up with 'Secret' together, I just couldn't be happier to be working with him again."
"Secret" debuts April 11.