Secret Six was, without doubt, one of the most beloved series before DC’s New 52 relaunch in the autumn of 2011. After disappearing for a few years, DC has relaunched Secret Six bringing back previous writer Gail Simone to work with artist Ken Lashley on this series starring anti-heroes and filled with dark humor. Ever since fellow writer Elessar first suggested I check out the original Secret Six I’ve clamored for more stories of this odd family. How does this first outing shape up?
Secret Six #1 begins with a shadowy group masquerading as law enforcement officials track down Thomas Blake, better known as Catman, in a desert dive bar. While Blake is easily able to stand up to these goons, he is eventually knocked out. Catman wakes up in a room with five other individuals, none of whom have previously met.
Repeated to attempts to escape the room before he arrived failed, and now their captors pose a strange question to the group: “What is the Secret?” If the group cannot answer the question within fifteen minutes, one of them will die. How can this group of D-list individuals hope to escape their quandry?
Simone is back in top form as she revisits Catman and introduces some new characters with her trademark wit. There’s a lot of clever dialogue within this issue and, despite introducing six characters within twenty pages, Simone succeeds in displaying their core attributes. We still don’t learn a ton about any single one of them, but nevertheless we still receive an idea of everyone’s core persona. I also must say that introducing even one new character in a comic is difficult, let alone six, meaning Simone deserves special praise.
The story set up for Secret Six #1 is quite interesting. Bringing together a team that didn’t know each other previously and is under pressure to solve a problem, especially when a few of them are downright crazy and anti-social, is a novel idea that I haven’t seen in the comics medium before. Simone makes sure to fill this issue with enough excitement and mystery to keep an audience interested without laying all of her cards on the table.
Lashley pencils Secret Six #1, providing his gritty style to the issue. Given the nature of the wild, street-level battle and lower level power sets of the characters, Lashley’s grounded artwork fits this title. Regrettably, Lashley’s backgrounds and work on background characters is noticeably inferior to the rest of his art, which became distracting in some scenes where characters were missing faces.
The inking, provided by both Lashley himself and Drew Geraci, is solid. Jason Wright’s coloring is decent, but the muddled tones made a few scenes confuses, such as how much of Catman’s costume actually covers his arms and torso. Letterer Carlos M. Mangual does a fine job, with some clever word balloon placing. I think, as the team works together more with these new characters, they will likely become more comfortable with one another’s styles and the art will improve.
Secret Six #1 is a great restart to one of DC’s best series in recent memory. Simone and company reintroduce a familiar concept, but focus on new ideas rather than retreading the footsteps of the previous series. Whether a new or old fan, Secret Six #1 is a series to watch.
-great introduction toe 6 characters in a short space of time
-gritty art style fits the issue’s tone
-backgrounds and non-major character artwork is noticeably worse
-coloring is mediocre
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