Secret Six #7
Written by Gail Simone
Pencils by Nicola Scott
The first arc of Gail Simone's Secret Six ongoing ends this issue, despite what some reviewers may have thought at the end of the last issue and she manages to conclude it rather well. The most prominent facet of the issue is an all out D-lister brawl fest on the Gotham city bridge as the six try to bring the get-out-of-hell-free card into Gotham for delivery.
What separates Simone from the pack is her amazing talent for capturing characters. For most comic writers the final issue of a story is a near-dialog free fight with a tidy ending. Not in a Simone comic. Simone uses every chance she can get to highlight her character's personalities even in an eventful issue such as this one. Alex, or "Junior" get an entire page to herself in this issue that although not central to the story burns her character into the readers mind, and at the same time provides a wonderful moment of black comedy. Deadshot, Tarantula, and Mad Hatter also are given a great deal of time to shine in this issue.
The arc wraps up nicely if your a fan of character work. Character and plot are absolutely inseparable, but Simon's ending might disappoint those expecting something grandiose and magnificent. Instead, she lets her characters write the ending themselves- allowing them to play into the types that they've been written as. It works wonderfully, though some readers may feel Junior and Mad Hatter aren't given their due as villains considering the size of this arc but Simone isn't likely to leave a bad taste in your mouth either. In fact, Simone could likely write a comic with no plot, that just featured select characters at a bar and it would be wonderful.
If you doubt that if Simone is a good writer, consider the characters she's writing for (Catman, Deadshot, Bane, Scandal, Ragdoll, and Janet- if you can't keep up). These are characters that she either created or largely reshaped for herself, and in the midst of this issues D-list battle they stand out boldly despite being at roughly the same level of notoriety as the other characters featured. Anti-hero comics are a tough sale- but Simon writes such great characters you start to forget that these people are just as rough and nasty as the people they're fighting. This is to say nothing about her dialog which is equally as exceptional. It's difficult not to laugh when Catman is spouting lines as wonderful as "Well, clean my catbox."
The only real concerns to be had with this issue are minor. The Huntress/Catman relationship is still unclear-- either in total or for new readers, I can't say which. Huntress and her allies seemed thrust into this issue for no end at all other than to include them. Simone likely has an attachment to the character but should she use her it's best the reason is apparent. The Bane situation never quite resolves-- In this issue something happens regarding his beaten physical condition but the issue ends without resolving the new events. Once the card is played it's not seen again, and there is reason to see it- so to speak. There's a few melodramatic panels and bits of dialog that should have been tossed out in rewrites but nothing crippling.
RATING: 8 out of 10.
Simone does great character work, and has a wonderful sense of humor. If you're interested in the events of the six- next issue isn't a bad place to start. It might be useful to pick this and the mini-series trades up when they're available and when you can.