by John Ostrander (writer), RB Silva (pencils), Alexandre Palamaro (inks), Jason Wright (colors), and Travis Lanham (letters)

The Story: The Secret Six are lured to a game preserve where they are the prey.

What’s Good: Once you get past the fact that this issue is out of continuity, which in fairness, it’s pretty open about, this is a solid issue from returning guest writer John Ostrander, even if it’s a concept that’s been done many times before.  If anything, this questionable originality is in itself done with a wink and nod: the issue is titled “Predators,” perhaps a reference to the movie coming out this weekend, which looks to have a similar plot.  So really, this is Ostrander plugging the Six into a Predator movie, which is guaranteed fun on concept alone.

The hunters are written in amusing fashion as well; Ostrander seems intent on having them sound like gamers.  While it’s never over-bearing, there’s something in their tone and vernacular that reminds me strongly of the Mountain Dew drinking, profane crowd one often finds playing the newest shooter online.  That Ostrander applies video game lingo to a deadly game of murder is a nice touch of black humour.

I also must mention that while Ostrander does well with all of the characters, Ragdoll is absolute comedy gold.  Every single line he utters is genuinely funny.  It’s that perfect mixture of the bizarre, the depraved, and the innocence that defines the character.  Best of all, though, are when Ostrander inserts pop culture references into Radoll’s raving, which makes it all the funnier.  I never thought I’d hear Ragdoll make a Lost joke.

Overall, this issue is a celebration of the Secret Six.  It’s not a complex plot, but it’s wholly dedicated to making the Secret Six look like absolutely unstoppable badasses, which is refreshing given their low name value and relatively low power level.  It’s clear quite quickly that the hunters are in over their heads and when the Six decide to get even, things get very, very brutal.  As in, Bane ripping off limbs and beating people to death.

Though a mixed bag at some point, Silva’s art generally does the job.  The island looks good and the characters, when in costume, are vibrant and “characterful.”  Ragdoll’s face is also really, really well-done and it’s clear that Silva had the most fun with him.

What’s Not So Good: This issue’s plotting is very rigidly structured.  Once the Six land on the island, they’re all separated and each of them is paired off with one bad guy.  We then get one or two pages showing each character’s fight and then the issue ends.  It seems a little rote and it’s the sort of unimaginative structure that we’ve seen plenty of times before.  The pages are just too carefully balanced between each of the characters and Ostrander is just a little too careful in making sure that the spotlight is shared with perfect equality between each of the Six.

Then there’s the big bad guy, Nero.  Though there’s nothing especially wrong with him, he’s a fairly typical villain with pretty much nothing to distinguish him.  He’s never all that scary and he’s never all that fleshed out.  While he’s thankfully not in the book that much, he’s an incredibly unremarkable character.

Silva also seems to struggle a bit with character faces other than Ragdoll’s.  While the characters in costume look great, unmasked characters’ faces feel a bit sloppy or messy at some points.

Conclusion: An enjoyable issue of the Six doing their thing.  And Ragdoll’s never been better.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans

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