Secret Six #3 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti) practically gave me whiplash with all the reversals of allegiance. It begins in a place that seems incongruous with last issue’s cliffhanger, so when the first reversal comes, it feels more like a course correction. The bulk of the issue concerns the Six’s trip to Lady Vic’s base, out for revenge after her goons attacked them in #2. There are complications, naturally. Scandal gets a spotlight, and Catman is once again seen as prime father material. Simone keeps everyone likeable, with a couple of exceptions: I’m getting a little tired of Ragdoll being so precious (on good days, I hear David Hyde Pierce; more recently, it’s been Dr. Smith from “Lost In Space’); and the super-Catman-sperm idea seems, well, less fresh the second time around. The art seems to be settling more into a Tim Sale style, but that’s not bad and for the most part everything is clear and understandable. A double-page spread with Vandal Savage and Scandal is a highlight.
Checkmate #5 (written by Greg Rucka, pencilled by Jesus Saiz, inked by Fernando Blanco) featured the selection of a new Black Queen’s Knight, along with the fallout from Alan Scott being “fired” as White King. It was a decent done-in-one issue, although I did wonder about the utility of one part of the selection process: what’s it do to your candidates’ morale after you reveal they weren’t in any danger? Maybe it’s helpful; I don’t know. Anyway, all of the candidates are unknown, and none of them really jump out otherwise, so the eventual winner doesn’t seem preordained. You’ll probably make an educated guess about halfway through. I like Blanco inking Saiz; not that Saiz is a bad inker of his own stuff. With Blanco on inks and Santiago Olmedo on colors, the figures pop a little more than they might have in previous issues. I’m eager to see what Rucka does with the Suicide Squad next time.
52 #15 (written by Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencilled by Shawn Moll, inked by Tom Nguyen) gives us a little Montoya and Question in Kahndaq and a lot of Booster and Supernova (and Clark Kent) in Metropolis. It’s all pretty effective, with the possibility of death hanging over a couple of characters. After a touching reunion in the Kahndaq prison, however, we’re off to the races with Booster. He gets a good sendoff, I have to say; regardless of whether he’s really dead (or, more to the point, whether this is the “right” Booster). If an issue can leave you feeling sorry for a computerized sidekick, not to mention feeling the frustration of a powerless Man of Steel, it must have done something right.
Now that I’m bummed out again, I almost feel guilty telling you how fun Nextwave #7 (written by Warren Ellis, drawn by Stuart Immonen) was. Pretty daggone fun, I have to say. It picks up from last issue’s fight against the Aeromarine, sets up the new menace from … Dormammu’s kid brother, looks like (have we seen him before?), and gets right into the crew fragging Mindless Ones. Like the caption says, “Nextwave: when America can only be saved by killing a butt-load of monsters.” Ellis’ script is a sprightly affair, and I have always been a big fan of Stuart Immonen, but I particularly like the slightly stylized approach he uses here. Still no signs of this book running low on attitude anytime soon.