Secret Six #4 “Friends in Low Places”
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Ken Lashley and Tom Derenick
Colors by Jason Wright

Man, oh man, this book is a mess right now… Simone’s writing itself isn’t bad. The story isn’t bad. But there’s clearly been a lot of meddling with this title! This issue (#4), was originally slated to be last month’s issue (#3), but after numerous delays, switched to its current release date, and had another issue come before it. On top of that, only the first third of this issue feels like it was part of the original issue, and the rest of it replaced what was originally the back half of the book. Unfortunately, in terms of continuity, this issue should have been released last month, with last month’s issue released this month… Ok… This is confusing, so let me think of another way to explain what I think is going on here… If we’re comparing comics to TV, Secret Six is Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and DC is FOX. Got it? Good. If not, just Google “how FOX screwed Firefly.”

Really though, I feel like I’ve received whiplash from the past three issues. Issue #1 was a great start. Issue #2 was solid as well, showed the team’s escape from Mockingbird, and flowed well from the first issue. Issue #3 then jumped to the team hiding from Mockingbird, had a completely different tone from the first two issues, and ultimately felt like it skipped an issue. Now we have this issue, and it details the moments immediately following the team’s escape from Mockingbird as they search for a hideout that takes place before issue #3, and reverts back to the tone of the first two issues, before shifting gears a third of the way through, back to the tone of issue #3. And to make matters worse, this issue doesn’t flow into issue #3 because it now creates a number of continuity and plot issues. Again, it’s a mess.

Anyway, this issue kicks off with the team moments after escaping Mockingbird. They’re collecting personal items from each of their homes before searching for a more permanent hiding spot – which we already know is Big Shot’s house in the suburbs. The problem is that Mockingbird has already found them, and is tailing them. There’s not action packed chase though. The trio from Mockingbird maintain a safe distance, and refrain from challenging Catman and crew. It isn’t until the team gets to Big Shot’s house that Mockingbird decides to act, and the way they do is… odd. They bring cookies and ask to talk. This is where the shift in tone occurs in this issue, and had it not been such a drastic shift, I probably would’ve enjoyed it and laughed. Due to the rough transition though, it just felt awkward. There are also numerous jokes about Big Shot’s house, but they all fall flat because we’ve been there and done that. It’s old news after the last issue.

At this point, I’m trying really hard to enjoy this issue, but it’s not happening. As a fan and a reader, I feel like I’ve been pooped on. Honestly, DC, why treat your readers this way? They deserve better than this. By this point, I’ve given up hope on this issue, until I realize who one of the agents from Mockingbird is, and I start to get excited. The issue continues its turn for the better as we learn more about these agents from Mockingbird. I won’t give away any details for those of you that do plan on reading it, but things definitely aren’t what they seem as motivations are brought forward. A proposal is made to the Secret Six team, but our group of misfits have other ideas in mind, and a full on brawl begins due to it. Shortly into the fight, the identities of the three Mockingbird agents are revealed, and I’m ecstatic! Again, I won’t give anything away since it’s essentially a highlight of the book, but I will give you a hint: all three of them have ties to the Secret Six series that ran prior to the New 52. All of this races towards an exciting finish as Catman discovers he has a history with one of the Mockingbird agents, and one of the members of Mockingbird comments that she has special abilities, and knows that one of the Secret Six will die soon. She then apologizes for delivering the news, and leaves the Secret Six to digest it.

I begin to feel really good about the next issue, until I remember that what follows these events, are the events of issue #3. I begin connecting the mess of continuity that we have while only four issues in, and I hit a downer again. At the end of this issue, Big Shots house is destroyed and in shambles, but in issue #3, it’s perfectly fine. There’s also the fact that in issue #3, the team is still laying low so that they’re not caught, but that makes NO SENSE since Mockingbird clearly knows their location. There is still some hope of some redemption though, but it would require issue #5 to take place between the events of this issue, and issue #3… but I doubt that will happen.

I’m not going to do my usual The Good and The Bad overviews because there’s so much of a cluster at the moment, that I’m not going to try and decipher between what is clearly two different directions. I will recommend that if you plan on reading this book, but haven’t started yet, do yourself a favor and read issue 1-2, then 4, and follow that with issue 3… for now anyway.

The Art: There are two artists on this book and both are more than qualified, but they are both drastically different from one another. Lashley, who covers the first 8 pages of the book, has a darker, grittier tone to his art. There’s more of an edginess, and seriousness to his work. Derenick on the other hand, has a much lighter and comedic approach to his art. Both are great artists in their own right, but each of their styles tell the story differently. So much so that it actually becomes distracting when reading the issue. Check out the drastic difference below in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

Ken Lashley’s art:

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Tom Derenick’s art:

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Recommended if:

  • You’re a fan of Gail Simone
  • You loved characters from the original Secret Six that aren’t featured with the current team.
  • You felt like DC skipped an issue between issues #2 and #3.

 

Overall: The politics behind the scenes of this book are digging a fast grave for Secret Six. I don’t know any details, but it’s evident, and DC needs to fix it if they plan on having an audience stick around. And shame on Jim Chadwick for letting this happen! After months of delays, there shouldn’t be any issues that are this blatantly obvious. As hard as it is for me to say this, the creative team and DC need to get it together, or just cancel the book.

 

SCORE: 5.5/ 10