For today's reviews, we have one series wrapping up, and another just getting started.
Secret Six #1, by Gail Simone (writer), Ken Lashley (penciller, inker), Drew Geraci (inker), Jason Wright (colorist), Carlos M. Mangual (letterer) - Before I realized the letters on the cover were forming words, I thought it was a weird periodic table reference. Then I was trying to figure out what element would have an isotope of W47, and what that had to do with anything.
Catman's hanging out in some dive bar, and three dudes posing as cops try to arrest him, and get thrashed, only for the singer to tase Blake. Then he wakes up in a big metal box with 5 other people. They have 15 minutes to figure out a secret, or one of them is gonna die. And since the box is at the bottom of the ocean, they kind of seem to be out of options.
This was not what I was expecting. I am curious as to what the secret is - though I have a strong hunch it's something along the lines of the Sixes' lives being in the hands of whoever put them there - but I feel like it might have helped if we had a better sense of the people who set all this up. Blake and the others don't have to know anything, and we don't have to know everything. But at this stage, things are so vague this could just be some asshole sadist torturing people, like those crapass Saw movies. I highly doubt that's the case but you can't rule it out, at least not after one issue.
The art varies in quality, depending in part on who's inking, and also what's going on. When the characters are sitting and talking, things look pretty good. The club scene at the beginning, that was solid, though I think Wright's colors help a lot. There's something about how panels or pages will have this one overwhelming background color, but the characters are shaded differently, like the light plays off them differently, I like it. When people have to start moving, things don't go as well. It's more muddled, and as busy as Lashley's style is, he might want to use either larger panels, or put less stuff in them to make things clearer. Also, at certain points the faces get really undefined, and even seem to lose their shape (around the point Blake accosts Black Alice), which I'm assuming is when Lashley wasn't inking himself. Things got a lot more, Impressionistic, post-Impressionist? The general idea of human shape, rather than an actual one?
I wouldn't call this a win as first issues go, but we'll see if my curiosity keeps me here long enough for things to pick up. I'm confident that if Simone has time, she can build some relationships between these people they was she did the previous versions, but she's got to keep me here until then.
Superior Foes of Spider-Man #17, by Nick Spencer (writer), Steve Lieber (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (color artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - Are they in a shawarma joint? And I just now found out what that actually is, from looking it up to see how to spell it. While I don't know Steve Lieber or Nick Spencer, I'm not sure I'd trust them to prepare my grilled mixed meats wrapped in, is that a flatbread? Let's go with flatbread.
Boomerang is on the verge of breaking his own strikeout record, while impersonating the guy who was going to break it anyway. He calls up his lady friend to give her some spiel about how he'd give up the whole crime thing for her, and hey, he has this super-expensive painting of Doom they could share. He used that villain Mirage to steal the real one, but used a duplicate of him to carry a fake painting to trick Chameleon and Owl. Two problems: One, the Owl isn't tricked. He's watching the game from the stands, and orders Boomerang to throw the game, or else. Two, his girlfriend was actually Felicia Hardy, and she took the painting. And we never find out if Fred threw the game or not, though the fact he's alive suggests yes. Otherwise I think rats would have eaten his innards by now.
But let's be honest, most of this is him making stuff up. Hey, I enjoyed watching the Shocker become head of the Maggia by taking out the Punisher with his Shockermobile, but yeah, that didn't happen. I mean, Fred says Speed Demon won 90 bajillion dollars when he sued Iron Fist, and we all know Danny Rand is a lousy, broke ass businessman, so there's no way he's being ordered to pay that much. It's highly unlikely Fred was really dating Felicia Hardy, even if she was in disguise. And Iron Man showing up to help Mach 7 out of that bind, while bolstering Abe's sense of self-worth? Please.
It was funny, though, which counts for a lot. It is, as Fred says, about a bunch of people scratching and clawing to fulfill their dreams, and pleasantly enough, their dreams don't revolve around killing Spider-Man or world conquest. They can't quite pull it off, because they're second-raters and they can't stop backstabbing each other, but they make up, and try again. I've been frustrated at times with how stupid Fred's made everyone around him seem, but having him openly admit on the last page he's making half of it up helped a lot. I'm going to miss this book.
Lieber's and Spencer are very good at those one panel, reaction shots? set-ups for the punchline? I'm not sure what you'd call them. The one of Frank, slightly perplexed and saying 'Hell', right before Shocker blasts him over the horizon. It gives the reader a moment to appreciate the preceding panel, and get ready for the next one. The use of arrows in this issue, to help clarify all the shape-shifting and fakeouts. Appreciated, but they run with it just long enough for it to become funny, without getting annoying.