Story: Rafael Scavone
Art: Rafael Albuquerque
Colors: Marcelo Costa
Letterer: Bernardo Brice
What They Say:
A new series from Rafael Albuquerque and Rafael Scavone, the team behind Neil Gaiman’s A Study in Emerald! Hidden from ordinary eyes, there is a world alongside our own full of deities, demons, and danger—where magic wins out over science and dark secrets lie in wait. Ulloo, the last wizard from the Hidden Society, enlists the aid of a blind girl and her demon, a young magician, and a cursed bounty hunter in order to stop a group of nihilist warlocks from waking the Society’s greatest nemesis: a primeval force that, unchecked, will scorch the planet bare of all life.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
With any number of new books coming out month to month, you have to be choosy in what you add to your pull lists. Sometimes there are titles that just draw the eye, sometimes it’s part of a larger group of works. And sometimes it’s just a name. For me, I’ve been a huge fan of Rafael Albuquerque’s artwork for a while now and haven’t seen any in a long time. So when his name came up on this book it was a sight-unseen jump. Working with writer Rafael Scavone, the series takes us to New York 1979 and allows for them to work the fun of magic and mystery at one of the lower points of the cities history. It may be familiar in some ways but the setup is solid and there’s definitely potential with this creative crew.
As with any team book, the coming together is the hardest part because it’s the heavy lift at the start. We’re introduced to several characters here and get a handle on who they are. They’re drawn together by the elder member, the grand wizard Ulloo, who needs them to help protect the world. Bringing them together individually, the key conceit is that there is a group known as the Hidden Society that has come together over the centuries to protect the world and this is now their chance to do so with Ulloo orchestrating it. He’s got the wisdom of age to be able to understand a lot more and likely was involved in a pas group as well if I had to make a guess. He’s also got a connection to one of the new members, Jadoo, a young man who is a practicing magician that just made the Brooklyn Bridge disappear without actually meaning to. His skill is to read spells, a real rarity, but it turns out his grandfather knew Ulloo back in the day and was also probably part of that adventure.
The book actually opens on Mercy, a city-tough woman who is looking for revenge against a man named Rickey that’s running cards at some dive bar. It showcases her as a powerful person in how she kills him while also showing off a bit of style. Jadoo gets a good bit of time as well but I think Laura could be the most interesting character. She’s got a brooch of gold that lets her communicate and see a daemon named Oculus who she instructs to dole out justice to criminals they come across. She’s got an almost park ranger-like look about her with the clothes and color scheme and she’s got a cute service dog. But Oculus definitely provides her with some real strength and it also turns out that she can see at least Ulloo because of how imbued with magic he is. She’s got an interesting feeling overall and is certainly not the standard for these kinds of books, which makes her all the more welcome. Each of them teases just enough backstory to leave you wanting a lot more but enough – outside of Mercy – to know what you’re getting involved in.
Hidden Society doesn’t present anything that’s radically new by Rafael Scavone sets us up with a solid opening installment. Fans of this kind of work, of which I am, will have plenty to dig into as we get our curious group of magical misfits that are being tasked for something larger to deal with. The familiar elements may not be enough for some as a hook but I’m definitely curious to see what twists and turns will be introduced. I’m particularly interested in Laura to see what might be lurking there that isn’t clear yet as well. The set up is solid but I’m loving the artwork from Rafael Albuquerque. That was the main draw that got me in and he does not disappoint at all throughout. I’m definitely optimistic with the book, especially as I think it’s a four-issue run that’ll work a tight storyline.
Age Rating: 15+
Released By: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: February 26th, 2020