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Friday, March 1, 2024

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THE SECRET LAND #1 review – WWII Secrets (Emgård, Aira, Mantella) Dark Horse

  • Writer: Christofer Emgård
  • Artist and Colorist: Tomás Aira
  • Letterer: Mauro Mantella
  • Designer: Skyler Weissenfluh
  • Digital Art Technician: Adam Pruett
  • Editor: Dave Marshall
  • Assistant Editor: Konner Knudsen

Thanks to Dark Horse for the review copy!

What is THE SECRET LAND? A love story? A World War Two spy drama? An alternative history science fiction story? One issue into the four part series and the answer seems to be ‘all of the above.’ THE SECRET LAND tells the story of Ben and Katherine, an engaged couple who each contribute to the war effort in their own way. It also tells a story, a la The Boys From Brazil, in which the Nazis continue to plot after their defeat in the war.  In doing so, THE SECRET LAND brings in the requisite futuristic Nazi technology that will probably allow them to take over if they can get it to work (By the way, no one does technological/mystical world domination schemes like fictional Nazis).

THE SECRET LAND uses a novel storytelling device. The story, primarily narrated by Ben, starts in 1945. Hitler is dead and the war is almost over. The story then intertwines flashbacks, but you aren’t always sure where they fall in the timeline. It is a fascinating way to show us the characters without revealing their ultimate fate.

The art uses color to subtly reinforce the setting. The icy area previewed on the cover is supplemented by a blue color palette. The East China Sea employs warmer colors, even in night scenes. Little details (like a seashell necklace) help differentiate the characters who, due to the realistic character designs, often lack the obvious distinguishing characteristics a more cartoony style can employ.

THE SECRET LAND has some violence and cursing, and is probably best enjoyed by readers with some sense of World War Two to provide context for the title’s creative take on history. The first issue focuses on setting up the alternative history and introducing the characters, but it is clear there are fireworks ahead in the remaining three parts of the story. Thus far, this series is a worthy addition to the ‘Nazis with technology as bad guys’ genre.

THE SECRET LAND #1 is now available.

Check back soon for my thoughts on the 2nd part of this 4 part mini-series.

Do you plan to read the title? Have you already? Let me know in the comments.

If you’d like to write opinion pieces about pop culture topics or reviews, reach out to us using the contact us form.

Darren Shulman
Darren Shulman
Darren is a professional lawyer and amateur movie/comic/TV reviewer who is lucky enough to have found a wife who is into the same geeky things he is. Darren has been making the trip from Ohio to San Diego Comic-Con since 2009. Other interests include, in no particular order: monkeys, LEGO, dinosaurs, and playing basketball poorly.

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