Let me start by saying this issue should have gotten five stars. The writing, plotting and art were all top-notch here as Simone ties together details from throughout her run to make a series of excellent character moments for every member of the team, which were all rendered beautifully by Calafiore’s moody, jagged pencils.
So why four stars? Because, unfortunately, I’m not just reviewing the art and story here. I’m reviewing the comic as a whole. And, as a whole, there were two things that detracted from this story. First, that Daniel Luvisi, whose covers I’ve enjoyed since the beginning, did not credit Jim Aparo as the inspiration for his cover. It just seems to me that would be considered common courtesy in the industry. Aparo’s drawing of Bane in “Knightfall” is arguably the most iconic rendering of the character, so it annoyed me a little that Luvisi didn’t at least acknowledge it in one of the lower corners. But that’s a small detail, and one that I can (and most people probably did) overlook.
The second complaint is a bit more grounded. In the middle of this issue, as with several comics released this week, is a 12-page comic about the upcoming film Super 8. Not at the end, where it should be, but right in the middle. In the middle of a rather touching scene, in fact. The 12-page waste of space completely pulled me out of the story I’d paid for, and therefore lessened the impact of Scandal and Ragdoll’s heart-to-heart. This was something that the creators had no control over, I know, but the issue is still worse off for this ad’s being in it.
Whew! That’s it for the negative, thankfully. Let’s talk about the story.
As I said above, this is a well-crafted tale. Simone makes this story safe for the uninitiated by packing it with plenty of characterization and a couple of great scenes of violence (There’s a bit with Bane and a knife that’s just about the most badass thing you’ll see in comic set in the DCU proper), while at the same time letting long-time readers feel the gratification that comes with resolving a couple of storylines that have been going throughout the series. I tip my hat to Gail Simone, as she has clearly mastered these characters.
Looking now at the art, Calafiore has an excellent sense for directing eye traffic. Everything flows nicely on the page so that the reader easily follows the story and is rewarded with some very fun visuals. Bane’s discomfort at a fair, for instance, really comes across under Calafiore’s art, just as much as his anger does as he dispatches some muggers. Calafiore brings these characters to life and imbues them each with a strong sense of emotion and uniqueness.
All in all, if you can forgive the eyesore some marketing idiot dropped in the middle of this comic, Secret Six #34 is a must-read for anyone who likes comics. And if you can’t, this is still a story worth buying. So go get it.