Current Reviews


Secret History #1

Posted: Friday, May 4, 2007
By: Chris Murman

Writer: Jean-Pierre Pecau
Artist: Igor Kordley

Publisher: Archaia Studios Press

So let me get this straight. A French published comic book about four siblings who used the magic of four runes to pull some of the reported miracles in the Bible is going to catch my eye?

You bet.

I have no idea if this concept has been pulled off in the past. My first thought was there had to be some sort of book based on these principles. What if some of the greatest stories ever told in our world’s history were the result of forces beyond our recognition? This series doesn’t stop with just the Bible. The time flies from 1350 B.C. in book one to 1914 A.D. in book seven. Along the way, these four runes will shape our world in ways we had no idea till now. Sounds like the follow up to The Da Vinci Code, doesn’t it?

The great parts of the book are the plot points and artwork. The pace follows a fairly predictable but cleverly woven tale of two brothers and two sisters who are entrusted with four magical runes. Together, the runes have the power to rule and shape the entire planet. To keep the balance, the runes are kept separate. Each sibling eventually finds root in a country of their own and are given the power afforded with such abilities they possess.

As far as the artwork goes, I think what sold me on it is how well colored the book was. The pencils were well done, but the work of colorist Carole Beau really seemed to match the mood of the book very well. It suits the style of the book, mixing historical and mystical aspects.

What I was left wondering was the relationship and character development of the siblings. Pecau writes the two sisters in perfect harmony, living as friends. The brothers seem to be at odds constantly and engage in battle in the well known conflict between Egyptians and Jews in the days of Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. It’s an obvious character flaw, being that power corrupts. With each brother wanting to one up each other, they eventually end up leading their respective armies against each other.

While some of the angst is explainable and understandable, I felt the brother rivalry mixed with sister apathy to be oddly matched. Hopefully, this will be worked out in future issues. Why do they act in this manner? Was there a falling out that led to this moment? How does Dyo respond to the defeat of the Egyptians?

With so many great stories from cultures across the globe, I think it might be easy for this series to fall into a trance of being so plot driven, explaining events in this unique way. Pecau could risk ending up with four characters, with centuries of time to develop, not moving an inch from the people they started out as. I’m not saying the writer is incapable of this task. I merely speak as someone concerned for what could be a pitfall for this book.

I would assume each character is granted a level of immortality with the power the runes wield. Does a person become more predictable with time, or less? Would one become bored with the same old routine? The brothers Erlin and Dyo seem to serve as answers to these questions, as the sisters could face their own.

How long could you watch your brothers go at it, trying to usurp the other over time, before having to step in? I think we get a glimpse of this at the end of Book One, which will most likely continue into Book Two. Interestingly enough, the second issue will take us all the way to 1170 A.D., the biggest jump in time we see in this series.

I am going to recommend this series with a hint of trepidation. The art and plot seem to be geared to take us on seven whirlwind issues around the globe. This book was well translated in dialogue and image, and as long as a few questions about our four stars get answered along the way, we should be treated to a dandy of an issue by the people at Archaia.

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