Order in the Slow Chaos of Secret Weapons: Owen’s Story 0

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS! If you haven’t read the issue, proceed at your own risk.

January’s Secret Weapons 0 was all about Nikki’s growth from high school senior to effective super heroine. It’s a straight line of dissolving relationships and withering opportunities, a chain of events where one cause naturally leads to the next effect. That’s moving, effective storytelling. But that’s not always reflective of life, is it? Secret Weapons: Owen’s Story 0 takes a similar concept and muddles it up, making Owen’s saga less like a line and more like a web of trivial connections. Writer Eric Heisserer and artists Raúl Allén and Patricia Martín lean on the oddly symmetric structures present in a series of seemingly unrelated stories, and though they arrive at a slight conclusion, it is all the more meaningful for being fully earned.

It helps that Allén and Martín find a nice design-y link between the slow chaos of Owen’s life and tarot cards early on. The layouts in this issue are staggering — as they are in all Allén / Martín joints — but they wear their specific inspiration on their collective sleeve in this installment. Multiple pages place a tarot card right in the center of the page.

The parallels between the page and card are obvious: symmetry, repeated use of shapes and colors. Hell, even the shape of the leaves of the flower (err… whatever it is on the card) is echoed in the shape of the trim of the fortuneteller’s table cloth.

That practically insists that we, like Owen, try to search for meaning in this random assemblage of stories about objects he willed into existence. Heisserer speaks about this in the interview in the back of the issue (which is totally worth the read, by the way): some of the objects are immediately useful, some are emotional, some are only half-useful later and used for a purposes just slightly off their intended use. Ultimately, Owen’s gift gives him the ability to interact with the people in his life and that’s it. And while that may not make him the most effective superhero, it is incredibly sweet.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

One comment on “Order in the Slow Chaos of Secret Weapons: Owen’s Story 0

  1. I read Secret Weapons recently and truly loved it. And followed that with Nikki’s story, which I also loved. Honestly amazing books.

    But I was nervous about this, largely because I felt Owen was the weakest part of Secret Weapons, likely because it was a little too obvious that his power was actually useful. That it was always what he needed.

    But this comic addressed that issue so well, by really deepening it. I love how formally inventive these origins are, but all for a purpose. There was a eureka moment half way through the issue where I saw what was happening, and how it fits together, and it truly deepened my understanding of Owen. I love how it played with time, and Owen’s relationship with time. Owen’s problem is that he is lost and confused in time, struggling to exist in the moment and instead constantly worrying about the past and future. And so, he struggles with his powers because he struggles to be part of the moment, to live as things are at the moment. And the way all the items connect to other stories, showing Owen as a man unhooked from time, existing but never really there because he’s too busy with his mind somewhere else, is fantastic. Especially because the one time he actually produces something in the present is with Nikki, who grounds him in the moment, if only because he’s a bit obsessed with her.

    That sense of being lost in his own head through his own worries about the past and the future, and how his worries about that make him struggle to deal with the moment, is such a perfect depiction of Owen’s experiences, and really uses Owen’s powers to create a unique metaphor for Owen’s headspace and deepens his character.

    The chance to really get into his head, in a way we didn’t in the main series, truly has made my appreciation of Owen skyrocket. Such a textured, deep issue I could talk about forever

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