Readers of “Secret Six” have waited for the latest storyline for a while now. With two rival Secret Six teams, it was just a matter of time until they clashed, after all. And now that it’s here? Well, it’s a good start. But for the first time in a while, it’s an issue of “Secret Six” that feels just good instead of great.
I’m not saying it a bad issue, because it’s anything but. Gail Simone and J. Calafiore start off the issue perfectly, showing off Bane and Jeanette’s new Secret Six team in action as they go after the owner of a rather expensive yacht in a particularly brutal and violent fashion. It’s a good reminder that these are not pleasant people, even if they’re going after a “bad” guy in their own right. Simone gives each of the new members something to do, and helps readers get a handle on the mix of personalities.
It’s from there, as Simone shows us what the other Secret Six team is up to, things get both interesting and fast-moving. After looking like she’d written Catman out of the book entirely (and at the conclusion of the last storyline, if we never saw Catman again I’d have considered it an elegant-if-disturbing final word on the character), Simone logically brings him at least temporarily back into the mix, and starts in motion a clash between the two teams.
In doing so, though, Simone lets the readers fill in the gaps between some scenes. I can see why she’s doing it-it lets her keep the nature of Bane’s team’s mission a secret until the end of the issue-but it feels a little jumpy and awkward in places. By keeping things a secret from the reader, the story and some of the characters don’t seem to flow quite as smoothly as we’d otherwise get from Simone. Still, it’s not a bad issue, but I’m used to Simone writing at such a high level that a just above-average script from her is a small surprise.
Calafiore’s art looks good for the most part, although there are a couple of hiccups there as well. I love how Calafiore draws King Shark here; for one of the first times, he feels like a genuine menace and killing machine as he first appears, a character to fear. And when Black Alice suddenly hugs Deadshot, the look on both of their faces is something to behold. On the other hand, new character Roshanna Chatterji looks strangely squat and compressed in her first scene, and I found myself wondering if she was supposed to have stunted growth. Some of the scene transitions in mid-page also look visually jarring, to the point that it felt for a split second like two different pages had gotten pasted into a single unit.
There’s always some of Simone’s trademark wit on display here, and it’s hard to not laugh at King Shark’s movie title rallying cries going up against the flock of griffins. Likewise, Daniel Luvisi’s cover showing the clash between Secret Six members as a character selection screen for a combat video game is an inspired choice. “Secret Six” #25 is a good issue, but as the first part of a new storyline I wish it had been a great issue instead, like the last few were. Still, I’ll take a good “Secret Six” over most other comics any time, thank you very much. “Secret Six” is still one of the gems from DC Comics right now.