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Secret Six #18 [Review]

Danse Macabre Part 3

Writers: Gail Simone & John Ostrander
Artist: J. Calafiore
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Colorist: Jason Wright
Editor: Sean Ryan
Cover: Daniel Luvisi
Published by: DC Comics

I’ve not been following this title to any great degree. I read the first 2-3 issues, and may have read one or two other issues prior to this Blackest Night tie-in. Still, I know enough of these characters to enjoy the issue, even lacking the full series’ context.

This issue sees the various members of the Six dealing with Black Lanterns, as well as Amanda Waller’s plan for combatting those same Lanterns. Essentially, the Six have to survive long enough for that plan to be put into motion–to retrieve an old Manhunter body to make use of its stored Green Lantern energy (which, along with another color light/energy is the only thing that can permanently put down the Black Lanterns). The end result of this gamble seems to indicate both change and revelation–at least to the reader, as Waller reveals her ultimate intent regarding the Six.

The story’s not bad, though it’s not terribly engaging, either. I don’t know all the characters well enough to get as much appreciation out of this issue as I’m sure others will get, but they’re not entirely unfamiliar. And though I am unfamiliar, I learned a bit more about a couple of ’em as I read this issue. Digging up an old Manhunter makes perfect sense to me, and a great solution for a bunch of essentially human characters to reasonably fight and have any hope at all of winning against multiple Black lanterns, when the bulk of the super-folks of the DCU aren’t around to intercede in this battle. It also roots the story in long-term history, as–and perhaps I’m wrong on this–the Manhunter is probably left over from Millennium. Waller’s presence seems like an added bonus, coming just after seeing Pam Grier taking the role of this character on Smallville‘s Absolute Justice movie/episode.

The art’s good stuff, too…while some faces seem to take on slightly different appearances here and there depending on their angles, on the whole the art is nicely detailed and the characters recognizable and distinct, and I really had no trouble following the action of the issue.

This issue wraps up what is one of the better tie-in stories to Blackest Night, as we see events unfold that appear to have contributed to the ongoing Secret Six arc, and yet plays well in the Blackest Night sandbox. This doesn’t really add anything to Blackest Night, but Blackest Night adds to this. Well worth picking up if you’ve been following the previous couple issues (this is the third of 3) and/or the main event.

Story: 7/10
Art: 8/10
Overall: 7.5/10

Secret Six #3 [Review]

Unhinged part three: A Run of Misfortune

Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Nicola Scott
Inker: Doug Hazlewood
Colorist: Jason Wright
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Nachie Castro
Cover: Nicola Scott
Published by: DC Comics

Having obtained the first part of their objective–acquiring Tarantula–the Six next seek the whereabouts of the card-device she was supposed to have. After “convincing” her that she really ought to lead them to it, the Six do find a bit of a surprise–and fight–at their destination. What they did not bargain for is what the card actually means, and what makes it so very valuable to so very many.

I have to admit–writer Gail Simone manages to write some strong characters here, and keeps my interest up when it comes to the Catman character. Still, I have to admit that it was the realization that Bane was part of this group that sparked my interest in the series. Having read that character’s debut, the buildup to Knightfall, that event, the Vengeance of Bane II special, and subsequent stories (seeing Bane on a cover often drew me back to picking up a Batman-family book)…I definitely like the way the character is portrayed here. We see that there has been change and growth, and the character is more than just some thug hopped up on drugs.

The characters are all written believably, with subtle (and often not so subtle) moments showing their personalities. It’s interesting to see the way they interact under Simone’s pen, that they are not just two-dimensional characters chucked together in a book for the sake of “wow, these villains all exist in the same universe!” The revelation at the end of the issue goes a long way in explaining events from the first two issues, and what it is that has everyone so stirred up.

Though interesting, I’m not particularly engaged. I can’t remember exactly how either of the first two issues ended, and picked this issue up because I’d read the first two and they didn’t turn me OFF to the series. THIS issue’s cliffhanger has me a bit more curious as to where things are going…but there’s still quite a ways to go yet before I’m firmly hooked on this book.

Art-wise…I really enjoy the way this book looks. There’s a certain detail–sometimes in linework, other times likely the coloring–that makes these characters come across as quite realistic in a still-in-a-comic-book sort of way. Offhand I’m not all that familiar with the artists (Hazlewood’s name I recognize), but the work here indicates I should be keeping an eye out for future work–this is good stuff!

All in all, definitely a strong issue, and I’ll be back for the next issue, most likely.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 8/10

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