Valiant Comics’ Secret Weapons was one of last year’s most visually striking superhero comics. Now, the book’s creative team reunites for a March one-shot delving into the backstory of Owen Cho, a superhuman who can conjure objects out of thin air, but can’t choose what he pulls from the ether. Secret Weapons: Owen’s Story #0 follows last week’s Secret Weapons #0 spotlighting Owen’s teammate and love interest Nikki Finch, but unlike Nikki’s issue, Owen’s has the team of Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín back on art duties. (For more on Nikki’s structurally ambitious one-shot, check out this Friday’s Big Issues.)
These #0 issues are opportunities for writer Eric Heisserer and his artistic collaborators to experiment as they delve deeper into the title’s core cast. For Owen’s Story, Heisserer is using Owen’s superpowers to dictate the issue’s unconventional structure, detailing Owen’s past by showing how he came into possession of the items he’s now selling in a garage sale. Price tags are a major visual motif of Owen’s issue, and this exclusive preview begins with a splash page showing Owen’s garage sale inside the silhouette of a price tag. Each tag represents a story, and this idea is made literal by having the reader enter the one-shot through this object.
Allén and Martín work with tightly structured layouts, and this excerpt shows how they use this to reinforce changes in atmosphere and break down visual information in new ways while sticking to a set page design. After the opening splash, each page features three rows with four panels across the top and bottom and a middle row showing one big image. There’s some variation within these layouts as some of the panels occasionally get broken into multiple smaller shots, but there are also constants, like the bird’s eye views of each different location at the start of the short scenes. These panels highlight Allén and Martín’s bold graphic sensibility, which carries through these pages in architecture, interior design, and natural visual elements. They do gorgeous work, and readers who want to see more can pick up Secret Weapons: Owen’s Story #0 when it goes on sale March 14.