Chris's Comic Picks: Secret Six #1

Secret-SixI was a late comer to Gail Simone's Secret Six. I've been a fan of Simone ever since I first read her run on Birds of Prey, but when she was writing Secret Six originally, I wasn't collecting comics, so I didn't have a chance to read it on a monthly basis. I was introduced to the title through scans that Simone reblogged on her Tumblr account. From the little glimpses I received in those scans, I fell in love with the characters and their unique voices. When I finally read more of the series -- entire story lines, even -- I knew that this was a comic I wanted to read. It had intrigue and comedy and tragedy and fun, and it was everything I loved about super hero comics, made all the better by Simone's excellent writing and dialogue. Simply put, I currently look forward to the day when I have enough spare cash lying around to buy the entire original run, because I feel like this is a book I'd like to have the entire run of. Needless to say, I'm not the only one to harbor such feelings about the book. In the time since its run, it's quickly become one of the the most beloved books DC has put out in this last decade, and for many, its absence in the New52 was a glaring error on the part of the comic book behemoth. Jump ahead to the summer of 2014, when Simone ominously tweeted out the following: Of course, it didn't take long for the denizens of the Internet to crack her SECRET code, and it became fairly common knowledge from that point on, that Simone would be writing a new Secret Six series, set within the New 52. Which brings us to this week, when the first issue of the new series was finally released. Now, as I said, I didn't follow the original series when it was being published, but the stuff I've read since it ended made me excited about the idea of joining up with Simone on this new book, jumping in from the very beginning. Which is what I did this Wednesday, when I saw the first issue of Secret Six Vol. 2 hit the storefront on Comixology. What I got for my $2.99 turned out to be a great mixture of action, comedy, and character development. In short, I got exactly what I expected to get from a comic book written by Gail Simone. The story quickly introduces the reader to everyone's favorite Catman, Thomas Blake, in a dive bar in the middle of Mexico, hooking up with a couple patrons. Some government-types enter the bar and place Blake under arrest, which naturally led to a lot of Catman being all Catman-ey, which the whole jumping and scratching. After getting sucker-punched, Blake is drugged, and the comic quickly shifts to what appears to be the inaugural mystery of the book. Blake is locked in a room with five other villains. None of them have any history together, and they all appear to be as different as different can be. Veteran Secret Six-er, Black Alice, makes an appearance, along with Simone creations from Batgirl, Strix and Venriloquist. SecretSix2From the character interactions to the situations to the environments, it appears that Simone has more than a few secrets waiting in the wings, and this is all made the more fun by Simone's solid writing. She knows how to create rhythm in a comic book story that never gets boring. There are highs and lows, fasts and slows, comedies and actions through each page, and all of this is gorgeously brought to life through Ken Lashley's visually interesting, sketchy art style. There are some artistic inconsistencies between the first and second half of the story, but nothing that hurts the overall consistency and flow of the book. I lost myself in this first issue, and that's a good thing. In fact, I was so invested, the only part of the book I felt was jarring was the end, which I felt came a little too quickly. We aren't given much of an introduction to the other members of the mystery group, other than their names, and I felt that was a shame. I like the new Catman, but one of the great things about the original Secret Six was the interactions and relationships between the characters. We didn't really have time to get into that in this first issue, but I'm sure that will change as the issues go on. After all, Simone barely had time to fit her ragtag team of villains into an impossible situation, before the final page turned, and she managed to end it on a cliffhanger that will definitely get me back next month. In that sense, I guess it's a success? I don't know yet if this is going to have the charm of the original Secret Six, which is beloved by fans from all walks of life, but I can say this: I haven't collected comics in a while (three years of graduate school, followed by five months of unemployment will do that to you), but I am happy that I'm coming back to something as interesting as this. While the book does feel a little light on content, what's there is fantastic, and I'm excited to uncover all of this book's secrets in the coming months.
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Christopher David Lawton

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