When it was announced that Gail Simone would be relaunching Secret Six, it was [unsurprisingly] compared to her previous work on the title. Needless to say, the first issue was met with a healthy dose of disappointment from both critics and fans. Not only were the lovable losers of the previous volume nowhere to be found (except for Catman), but they were replaced characters which were either unknown or largely disliked – especially the new Ventriloquist. Considering that’s pretty much how the previous cast of Secret Six was until Simone took hold of them, I was willing to give this title another shot, and I’m glad I did.
The second installment of Simone and artist Ken Lashley’s series is far from perfect, but it is both entertaining and a marked improvement from the first issue. Roughly half of the issue is dedicated Catman’s history – specifically his year-long imprisonment at the hands of his current captor… maybe. The other half sees the story move much faster than expected given the decompressed nature of today’s comic book storytelling.
While this may end up as integral to the greater story, it isn’t as attention grabbing as the present timeline, which sees the group dynamics begin to take shape. This is what fans have been waiting for, and though Simone is working out the kinks in the new cast, there are clear highlights. The mute assassin, Stryx (who in no way bears any resemblance to Cassandra Cain) continues to shine under Simone’s pen (see Batgirl for more), while Black Alice and Big Shot do their best imitation of the Scandal Savage / Bane dynamic from the previous volume.
Ken Lashley’s art is good, but not great. His frantic, sketchy style is not the prettiest to look at, but it is a great fit for the story Simone is selling between the covers. Unfortunately, Lashley’s art is sabotaged in the issue’s back-half by an unwelcome lesson how important inkers are to the industry. It doesn’t help that Lashley’s art is hurried, but the heavy inks by Drew Geraci yanked me right out of the story – so much so that I had to flip back to the credits to see if it was just the inking or if there was an artist change. That should never happen.
Overall, Secret Six #2 may not be as good as Dale Eaglesham’s stunning cover work, but it isn’t the half-baked mess that the first issue delivered. If the series continues to improve at its current rate, this could become a bright spot in the post-Convergence DC Universe.
Note: This review was originally published at ComicsBulletin.com as part of its Singles Going Steady column for 2/17/2015