Friday, March 19, 2010

The Secret History (Jean-Pierre Pécau)

It is once again omnibus time! I love reviewing omnibuses (omnibi? omnibeese?) because it gives me a feel for a comic or book series as a whole that I just don't get from reading each piece on its own. The Daily Genoshan has a long history of reviewing omnibuses at this point—remember The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide, Scud: The Disposable Assassin, and Bone?—so I'm glad I get to take a crack at a new one COMING OUT NEXT WEEK! I've been interning for a company called Archaia Comics for a few months now, and the hardcover omnibus for a French series they've imported, The Secret History, comes out in comic book stores everywhere next Wednesday, March 24.


The Secret History
by Jean-Pierre Pécau

TSH follows the paths of four immortals as they influence global events throughout history. The secret to their longevity lies within the runes that were bestowed upon them waaaaaaay back in 3,000 B.C.E., when their village's shaman was brutally murdered by a tribe of neanderthals. The four newly appointed magician's each develop their own style and methods, and over the course of millennia attempt to control the outcomes of wars and other significant human events. They help free the Jews from slavery in Egypt, and sway favor back and forth between enemies in the Crusades. They finance revolutions in France and wars in Germany, all as part of a larger scheme to shift power between themselves. Few people know of their existence, but millions are influenced by their decisions.

So basically, it is what it claims to be, a secret history. It can get fairly convoluted at times keeping track of who works for who and which rune is where, but if you like this kind of alternative theory deal, it's a very satisfying read. The 9 issues included in the omnibus showcase several different artists, all of whom have their own styles and whatnot, but the joy of this book comes from the writing. Pécau hits many of the major chapters in the history of western civilization and shows how they all tied in to the runes and their wielders, weaving together seemingly disparate events with ease. There are also cameos by some rather famous faces: Nostradamus; Emperor Frederick II; Michelangelo; Napoleon. It keeps things exciting. Plus, when I say omnibus, I do mean omnibus. This puppy is 336 pages of goodness, so at $34.99, that comes out to about 10¢/page. Bargain. Take a look at it in the store on Wednesday. Archaia has been doing a great job with finding good books from France and translating them for American readers (see The Killer for an especially great example) and The Secret History is no exception. Check it out.


I'm not gonna give this book a rating because I currently work for the publisher (even if it is unpaid, wah wah). I've read all of their titles, though, and I did genuinely enjoy this one. It's probably not something I would've picked up on my own just because it seems daunting at first, but the omnibusiness helps to pull the whole thing together in ways that single issues simply can't. Also, remember that these are the guys that put out Mouse Guard, and that book kicks ass.

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