“Six Degrees of Devastation, Part One: Exposed”
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Brad Walker (p), Jimmy Palmiotti (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
I must admit my first impression of this story was one of disappointment. Not of the story itself, but of the artwork. However, upon a second reading, I realized my disappointment wasn't because of who was drawing, but rather because of who wasn't drawing it. Ideally, I would have loved to see Dale Eaglesham follow Gail Simone with these characters, but Brad Walker is the penciller now, with inks by Jimmy “I'm everywhere, Man” Palmiotti. Now that feeling of disappointment has been changed to one of promise. This one issue is not as good as Villains United, but it's got that type of potential.
Gail Simone has had a rough time of late. It seems that fans love her work, but critics love to beat up on “poor Ms. Simone.” Well, this is one critic who is a fan of her work even though she hasn't made it all that easy of late to enjoy it. To be blunt about it, she's written some fairly crappy comics lately. Secret Six and Birds of Prey are thankfully not among those comics.
One of the strongest aspects of Simone's writing is her dialogue. When she's on, she's golden; when she's off, she's not so. She's most definitely on with this issue, especially where Deadshot and Catman are concerned. I wouldn't mind just seeing a story written by her with those two characters alone. As it is, three other members are in the mix. No, my math is not off. There's only five members of the Secret Six…. for now. The final page of this issue solves that puzzle as to who the mysterious sixth member is to be. More on that in a bit.
The story itself is more or less a re-introduction of the key members, showing the reader that no matter what the situation, they will find a way to win. No matter the cost. The reader also gets a glimpse into their private lives, from the financial to the more personal aspects of their lives. I especially like the romantic pairing of Scandal and Knockout. It feels very genuine and reads perfectly. Of course, there's always someone or a group of someones out there who want to hurt them. In this case, it's the Secret Society of Super-Villains. While no longer led by Lex Luthor as played by Alex Luthor, it's still together and out for revenge. Or rather one member in particular is out for revenge: Dr. Psycho. Which is where that secret member comes into play. All I can say is that some of the Six feel that it'll take madness to defeat a psycho.
The weakest part of this issue is the artwork. I'm really not a fan of Brad Walker's style, but he does a serviceable job. What tends to drive me a little “nuts” is his tendency to draw a fantastic action scene on one page, but on the very next page he leaves you scratching your head wondering what the heck just happened. In spots the panel layout can throw you off a bit. The best thing I can say is he does get better as the issue moves on. Hence my introductory proclamation of promise. I'll keep my fingers crossed that he improves with each issue.
For the most part, this was a very good beginning. It's not without its little hiccups along the way, especially artistically, but it does get stronger in the end. I'm definitely looking forward to the next issue. I'm also slightly saddened to realize that this is only a mini-series of six issues. Hopefully that'll change, but in the meantime I shall enjoy the issues we do get. And to Ms. Simone, you're golden once more.
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