Secret Six #1 “One Less Mouth to Feed”
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Ken Lashley

What is the secret?

Secret Six makes its New 52 debut, helmed by the one and only Gail Simone! I loved her pre New 52 work on this title, and I’m looking forward to what she has in-store for us now. I was initially concerned/curious as to how Simone would introduce the group and make their situation relevant, but she manages to do so with flying colors.

We kick off the book by visiting Rusty Red’s – a dive bar in New Mexico – with a group of special agents. Their trip isn’t one of pleasure though, as we quickly learn they’re looking for someone. And that certain someone just happens to be Thomas Blake.

As you can imagine, all hell breaks loose once the agents announce they’re there to arrest Blake. Blake starts to comply until he notices a small detail concerning the agents that raises a lot of red flags. He gains the upper hand rather quickly, but is stopped by a mysterious woman who “prefers dogs.” One thing is clear – whoever she is, she definitely has money and power based on how she deals with the scene.

Up to this point, the issue is enjoyable, but average at best. Blake’s characterization felt a little off, but it could simply be due to the fact that I’m basing this statement on where the character was as a person when this series left off prior to the New 52. I started to get concerned that Simone was going to disappoint me, but all of those worries went away as a turned each page for the rest of the issue.

What is the secret?

Blake wakes up in a room with five other people. You don’t know where they are, who they are, or what’s going on, but something isn’t right. And it’s not a normal room. The characters all take time to size up their situation, as well as those around them, discovering this room isn’t exactly what it appears to be. And even though it’s a question that’s been floating around since the announcement of Secret Six’s return, Simone doesn’t rush to reveal her selection for this team. Instead of just introducing them right away, she forces you to sit with them to get a sense of who they are before revealing their identity.

Clearly Catman is part of the team, and we know that Black Alice is a member based on an interview Simone gave with the announcement of the book. I guessed that Strix was another one of the team members, and had that confirmed with the solicitation for the third issue, but who are the other three?

What is the secret?

I correctly guessed another one of the female characters, but the final two were new to me, and as far as I can tell, are potentially new characters. I’m not going to give those reveals though. You’ll have to read the book for that.

What is the secret?

Every one of them are here for a reason, and their life could depend on their compliance. It’s a solid read that just gets better and better with each page.

What is the secret?

All they need to do is answer the question. If they don’t, termination could be imminent.

What is the secret?

Termination imminent.

What is the secret?

Termination.

 

Recommended if:

You’re a fan of Simone’s original Secret Six.
Suicide Squad isn’t giving you what you want from a character or story standpoint
You’re looking for a little moral ambiguity in your comic book.
You just need a little crazy in your life.

Be warned, there are spoilers below.

The Art: Lashley’s art is good, but I’m not completely amazed with it either. He’s heavy with his pencils, and while it comes across as being stylized and fitting of the narrative, there are a few moments when he’s not consistent. Some panels look great – they’re dark, gritty, and help give the narrative a sense of edge. But other times, there are just too many lines, and his pencils look messy. Again, it’s not terrible, but I did notice it.

The other thing that really stood out to me – in a negative way – were his backgrounds. There’s not much to them, and then to make it worse, he chooses odd color choices and incorporates strange designs. Again, this is far from a deal breaker for me, just something I noticed. I’ve posted some of the interior art in the spoiler tag. You’ll also s

Spoiler

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The Good:  The characters. Simone writes damn good characters, and this group appears to be a good mix. I’m excited that we have Catman and Black Alice together again, and I’m elated that Simone has Strix back in her control! As for the other female character that I predicted correctly – Shauna Belzer. I know some people were annoyed with her becoming the Ventriloquist, but I find her more captivating, crazy, and interesting than Arnold Wesker. The other two characters I’m unfamiliar with, so it’s quite possible that Simone is offering a full list of her original characters (aside from Catman). Porcelain could be a lift or retooling of a New Earth character, but I’m not sure.

The plot. Once we entered the room with all of the characters, I was hooked. Everything started building nicely, and when I reached the end, I was honestly upset that there wasn’t more! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

The Bad: There isn’t much bad here. It’s a solid debut with a good balance of exposition, character, and plot that will leave you anxiously waiting for the next issue.

 

Overall: Simone delivers a New 52 version of Secret Six that will satisfy fans new and old. If you’re on the fence, then pick up the issue! You’ll be glad you did.

 

SCORE: 8.5/ 10