Exclusive: Marvel Architect Jon Hickman Shares his SECRET

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In Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel Goldfinger, the titular character and villain of the piece says that “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.” That quote is apropos in the context of the upcoming creator-owned Image series Secret. Created by writer Jonathan Hickman and his Red Mass For Mass artist Ryan Bodenheim, Secret takes espionage into the modern age and into the thriving business of private security firms reminiscent of Blackwater.

Set to debut on April 11th, Secret kicks off with three random events: the murder of a man in London, a break-in at a law firm, and the hacking of an accountant’s computer. To most it might be unrelated, but as political and private entities begin to swarm around the people of these events then red flags start to go off. In a press release for the series, Image described the key tenant of the series as a twenty year old secret that could “destroy two governments” if brought out into the open. Secret is about the gatekeepers of that secret, the people after it, and the true story of what the secret is and why it’s been hidden for so long.

With a strong track record of innovative and elaborate suspense work from Nightly News to his ongoing Fantastic Four epic, Newsarama spoke with Jonathan Hickman to try to find out more about his and Bodenheim’s Secret. 

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: Secret digs into the murky world of private security firms akin to well-known ones like Blackwater. What interested you about that industry?

Jonathan Hickman: Oh, lots of things. I think it's interesting that it's really an extension of the 'corporatization' of the world. I think it's very interesting that governments secretly detest the 'rules' that govern public-sector security institutions. And I find the hypocrisy of disdain directed towards the companies absolutely fascinating, as the vast majority of them are overwhelmingly populated by the military personnel we are taught to love – you know, 'support your troops, etc.'

But that's kind of an old story – Do it for your flag and people love you, do it for money (for yourself) and they hate you.

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: The organization you have here in Secret is called Steadfast, and their point man at the beginning of the book is named Grant. What can you tell us about Grant and Steadfast?

Hickman: Steadfast is a private intelligence firm founded by Miles Steadman. Grant Miller, was one of the first people he hired, and serves as our main protagonist in the book.

Grant's a good guy with a sketchy past. Miles Steadman looks perfect on paper, and is anything but.

Nrama: In the opening of the book, several small events across the globe intersect and bring Steadfast into play, starting with the extortion of a Washington DC accounting firm CEO’s computer password. How does Steadfast play into that?

Hickman: Heh. I'm not answering that. Read the first issue and see for yourself. But, and I'm being honest here, I completely reserve the right to lie to you. Unless I decide to tell the truth.


: What’s at risk here in these unconnected events?

Hickman: At first, seemingly very little. But, like all good spy stories, seemingly inconsequential events tend to snowball into much, much larger things.

Nrama: In addition to Steadfast’s Grant Miller and Miles Steadmen, who else plays a significant role in Secret

Hickman: You're going to want to keep an eye out for the Fixer, who's a mysterious operator loosely tied to Steadfast. And you're definitely going to want to watch out for Marcus, who is Grant's (our main protagonist's) brother.


: For this book, you’re reteaming with your Red Mass For Mars collaborator Ryan Bodenheim. You’ve build up strong relationships with several artists in your work, so what made Ryan’s art complimentary to Secret?

Hickman: Well, Ryan helped come up with Secret, so complimentary is a soft way of essential.

Nrama: I stand corrected.

Hickman: But, yeah, I love working with Ryan. I've missed working with him.

And he's on fire right now, really drawing well and in a good place creatively.

We're having a lot of fun. I think it really comes across in the book.



: This joins the recently debuted Image series of yours Manhattan Projects, forming your first two creator-owned ongoing series ever. What led you to push for tackling the challenge of a creator-owned ongoing, and doing two of them?

Hickman: The reason why I'm doing two of them is that both stories really need it.

Manhattan Projects is a grand epic in every sense of the word, and Secret is this complex, character/plot puzzle that to be satisfying needs a more room to breathe. Structurally, they are both really different, but just happen to have the same 'real estate' needs.

Nrama: And last question, I have to ask – what is the secret that the title refers to?

Hickman: It's the oldest secret in the world.

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