Review: Secret Six Vol. 2: The Gauntlet trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Gail Simone’s Secret Six, in all its iterations, has been the story of mercenaries for hire, loyal — almost always to a fault — only to each other. Whether helping grieving relatives get justice for a murdered child or protecting a slave trader’s dark fortune, the morality of a Six job hardly matters — until it does.

Should a job get too personal, a Six-er or their family threatened, or even one member’s own interests too far piqued, Six jobs can (and usually do) go wrong. But no matter how many times the Six betray or otherwise try to murder one another, they always come back together in the end, these personalities — often nontraditional in gender or sexuality — knowing where they fit in most is with one another.

By these definitions, Simone’s second Secret Six, which comes to its conclusion in the DC You-era Secret Six Vol. 2: The Gauntlet, is no less valid than the first. Certainly insofar as Simone’s first Secret Six gained members like Black Alice and King Shark, to the point that it was hardly a “Six” by the time it finished anyway, new members like Porcelain and Strix are no less worthy of membership in the Six team than the original-originals.

Review: Secret Six Vol. 1: Friends in Low Places trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Secret Six Vol. 1: Friends in Low Places begins Gail Simone’s second Secret Six series (in the 2014 late-New 52/DC You-era), following her post-Crisis/pre-Flashpoint Secret Six series from 2005-ish to 2011. Simone’s earlier Secret Six is without question one of DC Comics' best series of the 21st century, a book that deserves far more acclaim than it’s ever received, worthy of a top spot on every “best series you’ve never read” list, and so the bar was high for the relaunch.

What we get in Friends is in the end simply confusing. The spirit of Simone’s Six is there, but not perhaps the full-fledged drama and lunacy; if the latter chapters of Simone’s first Six were perpetually turned up to 11, Friends hums along at a 7 or an 8. Like a song that only sounds familiar, the reader starts to sing along only to find the words are actually different; a big 180 in terms of what the book seems to be about versus what it is eventually actually about only muddles things more.

Review: Raven: Daughter of Darkness Vol. 2 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

I’m pleased that Marv Wolfman’s Raven: Daughter of Darkness Vol. 2, the last of his string of Rebirth-era Raven miniseries, ends on a high note. The initial Raven miniseries was something of a mess, and this successful conclusion seems to point the way forward, though seemingly too little, too late — pulling Raven away from high school theatrics, away especially from Wolfman trying too hard to write “teen-speak,” and toward instead a supporting cast made up entirely of other superheroes. That works much better, reflecting I think where the writer is most comfortable.

It’s a small pity that at least a couple of plot points from across Wolfman’s Raven miniseries never quite get resolved. For at least one of these, it seems Wolfman has opportunity but runs out of real estate or a subsequent miniseries with which to conclude. That’s better though than the plot point from the previous book hurriedly shoehorned into the end of this. In all, however, none of this disturbs that much given that this story stands well enough on its own; short of a detail here and there (especially as relates to one powerful scene), interested readers might be advised to skip all of Wolfman’s lead-up and just start here.

Review: Raven: Daughter of Darkness Vol. 1 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Marv Wolfman’s Raven: Daughter of Darkness Vol. 1 is an improvement at least on his previous Rebirth era Raven miniseries. For me, I still see Wolfman getting too much in his own way; it’s not necessarily that I don’t like the new, young Raven so much as Wolfman’s “lingo” for Raven and others is not nearly as hip as he thinks it is, making this whole book seem kind of stodgy.

There’s a fine mystery, some reversals, even a villain somewhat trite but unexpected nonetheless — all of that, again, is better than what came before. But Raven is also hampered by the book’s low effort to fill us in on the main character’s recent history or even current origins; when notable events take place or people appear, it’s hard to know necessarily what gravity to give them when we don’t know how common or unusual they are. It makes the reading experience uneven; DC achieves their goal of having a Raven title on the stands at a time it’s worthwhile, but assuredly nothing ground-breaking is accomplished.

Review: Sweet Tooth: The Return trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

“This is a story …” Indeed it is. Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth: The Return is a fantastic coda to his Sweet Tooth saga, apart from but additive to the original books.

To delve much more into the who and how would spoil it, but suffice it to say that I have seen writers return to their masterworks with mixed results, sequels that don’t live up or that make one question whether the good old days were all that good at all. The Return is not that — it is wholly unnecessary for enjoying Sweet Tooth proper, but also emotional and sweet and centered around certain ideas implicit but perhaps not explicit in the original. That’s useful; insomuch as one does not have to have The Return, one would have clearer eyes afterward were they to delve back into the original Sweet Tooth again.