REVIEW: Secret Six #1
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by KEN LASHLEY
Cover by DALE EAGLESHAM
Blank variant cover
1:25 Variant cover by KEN LASHLEY
32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Gail Simone is back with the NEW 52 debut of the fan-favorite team – THE SECRET SIX! Six strangers are brought together under mysterious circumstances for an explosive first issue that will leave everyone asking, “What is the Secret?”
I was really looking forward to this book. It had long been a pet project of Gail Simone’s and I always find it enjoyable to read something that the creators sincerely want to work on. If you pay attention to her Tumblr, fans of her work constantly ask her about her work on the previous Secret Six series, and the plans that she had for the characters, but never got to explore before cancellation. One of her favorite characters had always been Catman, and that is obvious here. The story opens on his capture which leads to him being added to a group of super-villains, who all get introduced, but amazingly, never ask who Catman is, despite his insistence that he not be confined. Perhaps Simone will make this part of his story, since Catman has yet to released in the New 52 continuity.
The characters in the story come across as very glib and cocky, except for Strix, who doesn’t talk. Big Shot varies his demeanor between cool and anxious, but still is very cocky when dealing with Catman. This seems to be a drawback except that Catman is very apparently shaken from being taken down, from what appears to have been a singer in the bar where he was approached. It’s unclear where exactly she came from, but that is not Gail Simone’s fault, it’s more the fault of the artist.
In places, Ken Lashley’s storytelling gets murky. The only place that he seems woefully inconsistent is in the size of the room the villains are being held in. At times it looks very confined, and other times it looks so immense that Catman should not have any trouble feeling confined in that space. It’s tidier once we’re with the six villains in a box, but it completely shouldn’t be. Lashley’s artistic ability is very clearly on display, but instead of clear storytelling, he seems to be very fixated on laying out a cool looking page with overlapping panels. The story needs some room to pause, to breath, because when I was done, I felt like I’d read the equivalent of a strobe light. It was very nicely drawn, but just too much flash for my tastes, which is a real problem with the majority of New 52 artists. Even veteran inker Drew Geraci can’t seem to tone down Lashley’s overenthusiastic style.
So what’s my verdict? I think I wanted more than this book could deliver. Gail Simone is good here, but not great, and Ken Lashley seems enthusiastic about the job, but more excited about making something that looks cool. Let’s not focus so much on looking cool, but on letting the story that already is cool be told. I think he’s better suited for another book, but I’m not versed enough on the New 52 to pick it out.