Review: Mystery Society #1

Mystery Society #1

Written by Steve Niles

Art by Fiona Staples

Letters by Robbie Robbins

Edits by Bob Schreck

Covers by Fiona Staples (pictured) and Ashley Wood

$3.99 / 32 Pages / Color / Single issue



Nick Mystery–born Nick Hammond–is on his way to prison. Intrigue surrounding Nick's alleged crimes, including trespassing, kidnapping, grave-robbery, and murder, as well as his ties to the organization known as the Mystery Society have turned the case into an all-out media circus. It doesn't hurt that Mr. Mystery bears a striking resemblance to Errol Flynn, with twice the charisma at his disposal. The world's swooning, but there are still so many questions. Are the rumors true about Nick and his alluring wife Anastasia? Have they and their not-so-secret society done all the things that's been said of them in the press? Would someone like Nick Mystery actually dirty his fingernails to disturb a grave? Was he truly capable of murder?

So, as he stands shackled in an orange jumpsuit outside the Hoover Maximum Security Prison surrounded by armed guards and ravenous reporters, Nick decides to clear the air, to testify publically on the origins of the Mystery Society. He smiles. It had been so much fun. 

Nick and Anastasia are a young, vital, enterprising couple in the mode of Nick and Nora Charles, the charmed protagonists of Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man novel and the six films it inspired. They're classy, a swashbuckler and a true dame with all the bells, whistles, and penthouse furnishings that implies. They're mad for each other like Gomez and Morticia, and like the Addams, they're more than a little preoccupied with the occult. Think of them as the B.P.R.D. with better cheek bones. In this first outting, Nick is the man on the field, busting into Area 51 with a specially outfitted suit and stealth weaponry. Back in their apartment, Anastasia's already planning their next operation. Edgar Allen Poe's skull has gone missing, and that simply won't do.

The foundation of this issue (and likely the whole series moving forward) is Nick and Anastasia's chemistry. Let's just say they're not so concerned with keeping radio silence, especially when there are so many sweet nothings to be whispered. Even as Nick faces off with shock troopers and dastardly robots in New Mexico and Anastasia tangles with an intruder back in their apartment, their repartee bounces along like casual flirtation. It's just another day at the office. If Nick weren't communicating with her over a wireless frequncy, cartwheeling through a top secret military base, he'd probably be winding the phone cord around his fingers. If it sounds irritating, know that it really isn't. With Steve Niles' crisp script, this feels like a romantic, dangerous romp. Think Spider-Man and the Black Cat swinging through the skyline, armed with just the right ratio of quips to jabs.

In a week rife with recruitment issues, this first issue is a terrific team building exercise. Nick and Anastasia are at the heart of the Mystery Society, but we also meet a masked vigilante called the Secret Skull and a very special duo who'll be playing a major role in the next issue. I'd rather not give up the surprise as to who these characters are and how they're revealed in the story because that's exactly what this issue was for me. A terrific surprise. I picked it up on a whim based on the talent involved and the wonderful title. I was treated to a five star issue. There's a great deal going on here and a very compelling cast of characters. I'm also sort of delighted that I don't know if this if the full team or not. The nature of the Mystery Society is, well, a mystery. I was given plenty of incentive to grab that next issue, but it was also a whiz-bang opening volley. In the midst of all that great character development and chemistry, we have two captivating action sequences, a melee encounter for Anastasia and a whole Splinter Cell campaign for Nick.

The visuals are just as impressive. Fiona Staples (Wildstorm's North 40) delivers some pretty breathtaking pages, transitioning easily from Nick holding court with a flock of reporters to some down and dirty robot battles in Area 51. Ashley Wood provides covers for the series, and the machine designs within are fully worthy of his association. There's this cool digital video graininess to the finish on Staples' work, lending the book its own distinct look. She favors hard angles and is constantly playing with the geometry of her page layouts without creating a distraction. I'd be thrilled to hang up any of these pages on a wall, because they're so dynamic and so good at conveying the narrative. Nothing's phoned in. Book's kinda stupid pretty. 

If you're looking for some old Hollywood class with a few dashes of paranormal intrigue, you'll want to rub elbows with Nick and Anastasia. My highest recommendation.

You can find Mystery Society #1 in comic shops right now. IDW also announced today that the issue will receive a second printing, available on June 16th. No excuses. Pick this sucker up. 

Story: 5 stars  / Art: 5 stars / Overall: 5 stars

(Out of 5)


Paul Montgomery would never survive prison. He's far too pretty. Find him on Twitter or contact him at 


  1. Yes! Too glad to hear this is excellent. Got it coming in the mail next week.

  2. Debating getting this in issues or waiting for the trade. Trying to cull my pull list a little. Reviews like this aren’t helping.

    Incidentally, I don’t know if any of these are collected, but this write-up reminds me of another "Nick and Nora Charles of the Occult" type series — a vertigo book called Midnight, Mass. I think there were a couple of mini-series, and one even sported early Jesus Saiz (Brave and the Bold) artwork, if I recall correctly. Worth hunting down, if you like this kind of concept. 😉 

  3. i picked this issue up after seeing the preview for it in Comic Shop News. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but it really seems awesome on all levels. 

  4. This was my one "what the hell" book of the wekk.  I always pick one book i don’t normally get to try out.  I was so pleased with this book.  I cannot wait until the next issue.  The book was a breath of light hearted action packed air.

  5. had a chance to read this book finally. Loved it! Its really a fun first issue, and i’m looking forward to see what comes next. I loved the tone of the characters, the chemistry and banter…I got a sense that they have real personalities instead of being dry characters. I also liked that he was humming some old time SUN Records rock n roll as he’s repelling down the rope. The art was really sweet as well with some really great layout design. 

    The only negative…I wish i could have had 10 more pages of story instead of previews…