Secret Six #8 “Atlantis Confides”
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Dale Eaglesham and Tom Derenick
Colors by Jason Wright

New Six, old Six, Atlanteans, and Magic…It’s the second chapter of the new arc for Secret Six, and I would be lying if I said I weren’t excited! This book has been plagued with issues since it’s launch, and last month was the book’s opportunity at a “fresh start” – which it accomplished quite well in my opinion. But considering consistency has been one of the key problems for this title, I found myself hoping this issue would compare in quality to its previous installment. So, did it? Yes.

Last month’s issue threw us into a new direction by exploring Black Alice’s power, and the effects it has on the world as we know it. Turns out, her power is far greater than any of the Six imagined, and her lack of control has the entire magical community on alert. An old wizard created a mystical barrier called the White Gates as a means to protect the Earth from monstrous beings… And Alice’s flares of magic could potentially destroy the gates, opening the Earth up for a world of chaos. Because of this, mystical heroes and villains have come together to determine a plan on how to deal with Black Alice, even if it means death.

We pick up immediately where the last issue left off. Alice is in the hospital recovering from her last energy spike – each flare of power becoming more difficult for her to recover from. Big Shot is with her, but he’s not her only company. Cheetah, Klarion, Felix Faust, and Black Orchid are also at the hospital, and they aren’t there to wish a speedy recovery. But, they quickly find themselves in over their head when Black Alice comes too, and starts syphoning their powers. Four extremely powerful individuals fall easily against Alice, and she’s not opposed to stooping to their level of murder. The question is, will Big Shot allow it?

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Meanwhile, the rest of the team’s attempt at a normal day playing miniature golf was turned into a battle when Etrigan finds the team. Unlike the mystics that went after Black Alice and Big Shot, Etrigan is looking to help the team. He’s soon aided by people claiming to be true Atlantians, the Children of Arion. The only thing is, they’re claiming that the White Gates must be destroyed.

The rest of the issue is a twisted plot of misdirection as mystics put the team on different paths with completely different end games. Yet again, it’s a who’s who of the DC Universe with a multitude of characters popping up, including our favorite King of Atlantis, Aquaman… And no, he’s not happy to see the Secret Six!

The Art:  Derenick and Eaglesham work incredibly well together. Their styles mesh better than most artists that team up on a book, which helps keep from taking readers out of the story. There’s nothing worse than reading a book with good art, then turning the page to find a mess of work on the very next page. If I had to pick an artist that I preferred, it would have to be Derenick. His art is a little more realistic and grittier than Eaglesham’s slightly cartoony approach. Together though, they do a great job of providing balance to the story, and aiding the quirkiness we’ve come to love from this book.

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Breakdowns are in the spoiler tag.

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The Good:  The characters are still the best thing about this book, and Simone is smartly layering in characters in the background to make up for the characters that are lacking from the core team… mainly the Ventriloquist. Catman and Strix are still the standouts in my opinion, but Big Shot and Black Alice are quickly winning me over (especially now that Big Shot isn’t acting like a lunatic).  Throw in characters like Scandal, Jeannette, Ragdoll, and Aquaman, and it becomes pretty epic.

The Children of Arion were also a nice spin to the plot. When they showed up, and the narrative alternated between them and Black Orchid discussing the White Gates and what they represent, I thought it was brilliant. I expected the two parties to want the same outcome, but to have different approaches in how to accomplish it… Then Orchid mentioned that the White Gates needed to be protected, while the Children of Arion said they needed to be destroyed… Wait, what? I was immediately trying to figure out of the magical community was wrong in their beliefs of why the gates were actually there, or if the were trying to manipulate events to their favor… Seeing the AoC transform at the end definitely answered that for me, and set up a great conflict for the next few issues.

Aquaman. Seriously, what a presence, and damn was it fitting. When the team travelled to Atlantis, I expected to see some B-list characters from there, but then Arthur showed up to confront the six. And holy cow did that panel look nice!

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Then Catman went on the attack…

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And then this happened…

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Ha! I loved it!
The Bad: There isn’t much bad here. I still believe the worst thing about this book is Shauna Belzer. and I really hope she disappears sometime soon. She feels so disconnected from the rest of the team, and I’m not finding anything too redeeming or relevant about her character.

Other than that, as much as I love seeing so much of the DC universe in this arc, so many characters can take away from strong development –something that probably wouldn’t hurt this book considering the manic outcome of the first arc. I wouldn’t consider the character cameo extravaganza to be a bad thing yet – in fact, I think the opposite because it feels like a major event – but it could hinder the book if Simone isn’t careful.

Recommended If:

  • You’re a fan of Aquaman.
  • You spent the first arc of this book wishing it were like the “good ol’ days.”
  • You enjoy stories featuring characters rooted in magic.

 

 

Overall: Simone is finally delivering on what we all hoped this book would be! There’s still room for improvement, but so far this arc of Secret Six is leaps and bounds better than the first arc.

SCORE: 8.0/10