The credits page of The Secret History Omnibus, Volume 3 gives us the following backstory: “Since the dawn of time, Dyo, Reka, Aker, and Erlin—the four Archons who headed the Four Houses, have fought each other to control the fate of humankind. While Archons have arisen and fallen, the world continues to change and time remains their constant antagonist.” That synopsis is sufficiently vague to give a new reader like myself no idea what to expect. I was in for an interesting ride.
Volume 3 picks up in 1946 with issues 15-20. Each issue deals with the events happening in a part of the world that is crucial to the events of human history at a given moment (Plestine, Egypt, America, etc.), and basically asks the question “what would happen if this particular event changed?” The Archons, it turns out, are the ones influencing history and altering it for their own purposes—something they’ve done for centuries. But as we get further into the 20th Century with each issue, it becomes clear that the rules they’re used to have changed and humanity won’t be so easily shaped anymore. I’ll leave it at that for fear of spoilers. Yes, I do realize I’m being almost as vague as the synopsis in the book, but it’s a difficult storyline to explain further than that.
It took me a while to get into this series, I’m not going to lie. It simply wasn’t as captivating as I had hoped. I like revisionist history. I like asking “what if?” But I never got carried away by the premise of Secret History, and I’m not really sure why. I do know that it was translated from French, but it would be too easy for me to write off my difficulties with the book as “lost in translation.” It could be that waiting for Volume 3 before jumping in was the problem, but it just didn’t move me. The events unfolding across the pages have obviously meticulously researched (complete with notes on unfamiliar terms and personages) which I very much appreciated. I enjoyed the artwork, which is a kind of stylized realism, particularly when it comes to the characters’ faces—you can tell which characters are bad just by looking at them.
The Secret History is a good book, it’s just not what I expected. I give it 3 out of 5 Lightning Bolts. Your mileage may vary, of course, and I never want to harsh on someone’s favorite title just because I didn’t love it. In fact, if you feel like I’ve missed the boat entirely, I would love for you to tell me in the comments section. Make me a convert, Secret History fans! I want to believe!
SECRET HISTORY OMNIBUS VOLUME 3
Writer: Jean-Pierre Pecau
Illustrator: Igor Kordey
Colorist: Leonard O’Grady
Cover Artists: Manchu & Oliver Vatine
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Translator: Edward Gauvin