BookBin2012: Secret Identity

I promise, this will be the last book review for a while. It will also be much shorter than my last two reviews. I don’t want to overload you.

I’m now finished with the stack of CSI graphic novels that I purchased last year, with the fifth in the series, Secret Identity. I thought this was the last one illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, but it looks like there might be one more, although it doesn’t seem to be part of the longer serial novels. I think it might be a one-shot novella done back when Ashley Wood was still doing the abstract artwork. More investigating is required.

For Secret Identity, Rodriguez again paired with Steven Perkins on the abstract art. Steven Grant took over from Kris Oprisko as the writer of this story. It’s a shame that this was the last novel Rodriguez and Perkins worked on together, because I believe this is the best of the bunch. Not only did these two artists’ divergent styles merge beautifully for this novel, Rodriguez really came into his own for the main artwork. He invests a great deal of care and creativity into exploring the space of each page, each panel, bringing a sense of grace and artistry to what is also the darkest, and in my opinion, best written story from this batch of five novels.

Steven Grant did a tremendous job writing this story, giving readers something that not only can compete with a television script, but might in some ways surpass what we’ve seen from the show (especially in recent years). It’s refreshing to see such a cumulatively extraordinary effort put toward a medium that, when done in such a mass market style as comic book tie-ins to television series, typically tends to suffer from mediocrity and apathy from all involved. Case in point? Go flip through a stack of hastily written/drawn/published Trek comics and tell me what you think…you know, after you finish peroxide-washing your brain and eyes.

The coloring is again superb, drawing from a palette of soothing to passion-infused, and enhancing the almost cinematic-quality angles of Rodriguez’s cleverly drawn panels. Also, IDW Publishing returned to the standard size for this graphic novel (although it looks like they also offered it in the smaller “New Format” size; avoid this one at all cost), which means larger space for artwork that truly deserves every inch and more.

Final Verdict: Definitely a keeper. I’d vote this the best of the first five CSI graphic novels, hands down. If you’re at all interested in seeing what the comics can offer you, this would be my top recommendation.