Of all of the “Flashpoint” mini-series and one-shots, few sound stranger and more unexpected than “Secret Seven,” a series that’s basically Peter Milligan writing “Shade, the Changing Man” once again. He recently brought the character back in his “Hellblazer” run and seeing him write the character in this alternate reality with George Perez on art is almost surreal. Perez is probably the quintessential ‘superhero comics artist’ in the business and pairing him with Milligan on such an odd and crazed title is inspired. The results are a little mixed, but “Secret Seven” #1 is always interesting.
Rac Shade is the Changing Man and former leader of the superhero team, The Seven. The team ended two years ago when every member of the team, aside from Shade, killed themselves. Or, maybe, Shade killed them. All we know is that he’s not all there and wrecks a diner when he sees a vision of deceased former teammate, the Black Orchid. From there, he’s kidnapped by the people behind the Changing Men as they try to figure out what to do with Shade. It’s a confident and bold way to kick the story off.
Not everything that happens is clear as you read, since Milligan seems to treat this very much as a new story in an existing world/narrative. There’s a lot of catching up to do and, even by the end of the issue, not everything adds up. A subplot throughout the issue featuring the Enchantress hijacks the story by the end of the issue and leaves it in a place where it’s hard to say what the plot of this series is. It’s a jumble of absurd images and are entertaining, but don’t necessarily suggest a cohesive whole.
Perez on art is an inspired and unexpected choice. The conflict between Milligan’s ideas and Perez’s execution gives the comic a lot of its energy. Perez pushes himself in some places to meet Milligan on his level, especially when Shade starts to really go crazy, but most of the issue looks like a regular Perez superhero comic. That dissonance just makes Shade seem stranger and more crazy.
At the end of the issue, five pages are done by Fernando Blanco and Scott Koblish with minimal shift in look. There is some difference in how they draw compared to Perez, but not a large one. They deliver stylistically similar pages that keep the issue from ending on a jarring note.
I’m not sure that “Flashpoint: Secret Seven” #1 holds together completely and is little more than a series of crazed moments that entertain in the moment. Those moments, though, are very entertaining. More than anything, this is an interesting comic that you wouldn’t see DC publish normally and using “Flashpoint” as the chance to try something a little out there is great to see.