Secret Six #1 Review & Spoilers By Gail Simone, Ken Lashley, Drew Geraci & Jason Wright

Secret Six 3rd series 1 review spoilers 1 Secret Six 3rd series 1 review spoilers 2

SECRET SIX {3rd Series} #1 Review & Spoilers

“One Less Mouth to Feed” (20 pages)
Story by: Gail Simone
Pencils by: Ken Lashley
Inks by: Ken Lashley & Drew Geraci
Colors by: Jason Wright
Letters by: Carlos M. Mangual
Covers by: Dale Eaglesham & Jason Wright; Ken Lashley
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Six unlawful citizens
Gathered like a herd.
Caged like animals.
Situation most absurd.
They will surely expire
Unless they say the word
To the ones that inquire.
They remain deterred.

— Paul Miranda

Six ways into funday!! Yeah, baby!! Gail’s back with her rag-tag, motley crew of layered no-gooders who have some shreds of decency. Fans like me, rejoice!! It seems like there’s a place for this group in the New 52 after all >_<

Opening scene: a ramshackle of a bar along the flats of New Mexico. From the get-go, it’s obvious that the two men are some sort of law-makers. A lounge singer belts out a tune in what can be assumed to be a sultry, seductive voice. The real prey (or quarry) in question is none other than “Smolder Boy” a.k.a. Thomas Blake. The men in suits are ATF accompanied by State Troopers. Imagine their surprise when Tom agrees to come quietly. He has one simple request: no cuffs. He hates confinement. Of course this isn’t going to go down easy. Tom lives up to his cattiness as he states that he’ll mark the agent as his property by spraying over his face. Interpret that innuendo as you will. Who’d have thought Tom could be so feral? I snickered as I read the reaction to two barflys who find the fighting hot, hot, hot. I adore Gail for always injecting humour into the most intense situations. For those of you who don’t yet know Tom goes by the moniker Catman, former laughing stock turned cunning leader of mercenaries. Things end as quickly as they began. It takes a woman to do men’s jobs. Now Tom is labelled “Rough Boy” before being thrown a bad pun. Also, insult definitely leads to injury as the woman tells him she prefers dogs before he is tasered. The op is a success and there must be no trace of what transpired.

It seems like Gail is making Tom as cat-like as possible. Aside from the lashing out and facial features, when we find him slumped in a cell, another inmate comments on his odor being like a ‘wet latrine’. More guffaws. Tom wakes up eyeing a full frontal of an anorexic homely female. He can’t help but upchuck. His reaction is funnily disturbing. The woman’s barbs are priceless by calling him a pervert and by being bothered with the fact that he had a peek at her ‘unmentionables’. The inevitable occurs. Tom loses his lunch, or dinner, or simply coughs up a giant hairball. New players come to the stage. The big burly man is simply identified as Big Shot. Cue to three other females who casually observe.

The quandary: stuck in an inescapable box shaped like a coffin. Big Shot offers Tom ‘hair of the dog’ (second canine reference) before the ‘gorgeous’ one complains of her messy appearance and states that the other five have been there only a few hours. A loud, thunderous voice filters through the speaker and utters two statements: no leaving the experiment and no finagling with any apparatus. Test subjects clearly define this sextet. They are then given a shocking reminder, literally!!! That’s twice now for Tom. He only has seven lives left. Tom is off his game as he’s shocked a third time. The inmates are all given a warning that there’ll be no more nice-nice after what they just experienced.

New arrival = new situation. The heart of the matter becomes clear. On the giant screen the question “WHAT IS THE SECRET?” stands out taunting them. Tom isn’t exaggerating when he says he cannot remain locked-up. Looks like he has a severe case of claustrophobia. Are all cats like that, I wonder? The game continues!! Time is of the essence as only fifteen minutes are allotted to provide an answer. Plus, the two unopened boxes are now retrievable after a code is given (1-1-1-4). Intriguingly, six masks emerge in one whereas the corpse of Agent Robbins is in the other.

No time like the present to really get to know each other. Roll call time! In addition to Thomas Blake, the Catman, we have…

  • Kani a.k.a. Porcelain makes Tom’s cuffs brittle enough to shatter. She was caught breaking an ATM. Destruction of federal property is a big no-no.
  • Shauna Belzer a.k.a. Ventriloquist. Such a high opinion of herself given that she thinks she can dance, sing, and do magic tricks.
  • Damon Wells a.k.a. Big Shot. A private investigator who swells up sometimes. God, I love the innuendos!!
  • Mary Turner a.k.a. Strix. As she so simply writes: she kills “peepel”. How can a Talon like her be taken down??
  • Alice, Black Alice (Lori Zechlin) as she tells Tom can pretty much do anything.

Tom and Alice have a heated exchange that leads to her having an emotional (or magical) outburst. She doesn’t like having her buttons pushed. There’s no love lost there as she shrugs off Mr. Cat Fancy’s threat of imminent death. Tom has now become “Tough Guy” as he slashes Big Shot’s face. As he’s slammed into the wall, a hole is made. Tom tastes salt water. GASP!!! They’re somewhere on an ocean floor. He really loses it now. There’s nothing cats hate more than water, n’est-ce pas?

The noose is tightening. Two minutes remain. To top it all off, the happy-go-lucky bunch elect which one will shuffle into the mortal coil. Black Alice sobs in regret. Porcelain prays. Big Shot is stunned by the new directive. Ventriloquist surprises them all. There aren’t six of them holed up. There are seven! She brought along her constant companion Ferdie a.k.a. the new Scarface. DUM DUM DUM!!! (dramatic music)

I can’t gush enough about Ms. Gail Simone. This woman is one of the sassiest, smartest writers to ever grace the comic book pages. My first real awareness of her work was reading Birds of Prey vol. 1. By then, I heard enough buzz about her that I was über-excited for her to handle women the only way a real woman can. She continued to buck the trend by focusing on those lovely ladies until before the re-launch. Either way, I loved her first version of this ‘team’ when Villains United emerged as one of the many tie-ins leading to Infinite Crisis. I got caught up in buying every book but I was intrigued by this concept. Although she didn’t originate this (think Suicide Squad), it was such a sleeper hit/breakout that the fans were hungry for me. I collected the eponymous mini-series before it graduated to a full-blown on-going title that lasted three years until the New 52 launch. Admittedly, I never bought the 36 issues of the on-going. Something I now regret but one has to pinch pennies and cut costs. That doesn’t matter!! I’m on board for this game-changer!

Gail’s characters have always been ambiguous at best. That applies to so many levels. Criminality may be what these six have in common but there’s also the underlying (or overt) sex appeal. I’m not fond of actual cats but Gail shaped Thomas Blake to be a ruthless, cunning leader that just oozes hotness. As new as Porcelain is, I’m intrigued by her seemingly manly appearance. Tom thought he was addressing a man until Big Shot pointed out “That’s a girl, old son.” I predict him to be the gentle giant of the group as well as a closet-case. Black Alice, Strix, and Ventriloquist are all Gail’s babies. B.A. has the bitchy attitude befitting someone of her status. Strix is a tortured soul that knows nothing else but violence. Ventriloquist is just plain creepy. It was a neat twist when she was first introduced in Batgirl. At any rate, wild things lie ahead.

I appreciate the more subtle forms of humour. I already mentioned a few more. Gail just can’t let the story end without one last one: Ferdie asks the group if they have stubbed pencils in their pockets. Hi-larious!! Considering he has drills coming through his hands and his own short stature, he’s one to talk.

Murder! Mayhem!! Mystery!! These are the ingredients to a captivating story.

Resorting to clichés or tropes can’t be helped. Nevertheless, Gail does an excellent job flushing out the characters. Tom is given the spotlight given her love of the character but the other established characters don’t need much screen time. It’s evident that as events unfold, we’ll all get to know Big Shot and Porcelain better. I love how Gail focuses on the female. She is far deadlier than the male. Just because Tom seems to be in the lead, don’t for a second think that the four femmes won’t come through!! It’s more than a fair ratio (4-2), it’s just right!!

I figured out THE SECRET. That’s right, readers!! Each of these individuals has more than one buried deep. I suspect that the answer to the question is for each of them to reveal their darkest thoughts and come to terms with their inner core. This is what will make them The Secret Six. Not a black ops team sponsored by the government but a mixed bag who will be there for each other along the bumpy way.

Ken Lashley hasn’t done an ongoing series’ interior work for quite some time. I don’t think I’ll be fair in ‘judging’ his work since I don’t own much of his DC work. Regardless, this man is a powerhouse in the industry. He is a penciler, inker, colorist, and has his hands in many successful renowned franchises. His art here is grainy from the barroom brawl to the boxed baddies. I find this intentional since these are all morally questionable individuals. Tom looks very Manga-esque especially page 2, panel 5; page 3, panel 3; and page 4, panel 2 when he’s crouched over Agent Robbins. Ken gives every other member a defining trait not just in appearance but in body language. I too felt like tossing cookies when I spotted Ventriloquist’s unsightly body.

Drew Geraci is not a name I recognize. After having researched him, I see he’s done more inking and cover art than pencilling. Good on him for also being a triple-threat!! He has the pleasure of sharing credit with Ken on the end results. Between the two, I can’t really determine who did what but Drew’s inks lend to the formation of the six. I applaud Drew’s time in the field (over 20 years) as well as his time with most of the major comic companies excluding the Top Two.

Jason Wright is also new to me. Surprise, surprise!! He worked on the previous volume of Secret Six. ALL of them!! That’s commitment! I learned something today. He seems to be the ideal choice for Gail’s continuing saga. Jason really focuses on the orange that clearly sets apart Tom from the others. All the others are given proper recognition. Black Alice has to sport black of course given that she’s a “Goth girl”. Porcelain looks pristine with her fine features.

Carlos M. Mangual broadens the spectrum a bit with the title and credits, the bar sign, the musical notes, and the pixelated question. He easily writes Black Alice’s backward spell (having borrowed from Zatanna, obviously). He must’ve had a lot of fun with the big bold commands spewed from the anonymous capturer/observer/torturer.

Query: how many times does 6 go into 52? Response: 8.6!! That’s what I give this first foray as the SS are rightfully introduced into Prime Earth!

Secret Six logo icon pin

Observations:

1. The Cover. Snakes & Ladders, anyone? This game originating from India has as its premise determining one’s destiny while battling desire. Seems simple enough. Karma is at play, so watch out!! The grid is perfectly set at 6×10 giving a total of 60 squares. Throw your own theories here.

2. The Masks. Who will wear what? While it’s obvious that Tom will take the Cat-mask and Strix will retrieve her Owl one, do the others really need one? Porcelain seems to have the glittery domino mask on the cover (making her look like a female Riddler) but in the book it’s green. Maybe she’ll end up with the Carnival mask or the full white one. Either way, I’m fascinated!! Who doesn’t like to take embrace another identity once the face is hidden?

3. The Words. What’s humour without wielding it as a weapon? I was totally unaware of the acronym V.P.L. until I looked it up on Internet Slang. I chortled as soon as I read the meaning — visible panty line. Shauna is so hung up on herself that she need not dignify herself with appropriate underwear. There was enough banter between Tom and others, as well as references to his “boy” status and “cat” tags.

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