By: Peter Milligan (writer), George Pérez & Fernando Blanco (pencillers), Scott Koblish (inkers), Tom Smith (colorist)
The Story: Crazy people hunting down other crazies…that’s a reality show pitch, right there.
The Review: There are basically two traditions you can take in writing an Elseworlds (for lack of a more apt term) story: make pointed comparisons between the world you’re writing and the world it’s based on; or just tackle the Elseworld on its own merits, as if it’s the only world people would know. Though each strategy has its pros and cons, generally it’s better not to waste too much time calling attention to the specific alterations.
Secret Seven essentially takes the second route, and of all the Flashpoint tie-ins, it feels most genuinely like an entity unto itself. If not for the Flashpoint logo emblazoned across the cover, the events of this story could easily take place in the normal DCU. This is good since the story and characters largely stand on their own; you’re not distracted pointing out what’s familiar. It’s also bad because it doesn’t use the creative potential of the altered Earth to full advantage.
This issue focuses on two of the current Seven: Rac Shade, the Changing Man, and June Moone, the Enchantress, both relatively obscure characters. Enchantress’ involvement with DC’s premiere team of mystics, Shadowpact, makes her more familiar to you, but that’s also because Milligan’s version of her sticks very close to the original. Shade, largely absent from the stands since the mid-nineties, might as well be making his debut in this title, since you’re probably like me and have never even heard of him before.
Perhaps Milligan wants us to read this series less as a Flashpoint tie-in and more as a special mini featuring the DC character he’s best known for writing. You’d have to be a Shade fan to fully enjoy this issue, as most of it assumes you have some knowledge of his mythos; concepts like the Meta Hightable, the M-Vest, and even the basis of his powers are thrown at you without much explanation, leaving you frequently puzzled as to what characters are talking about.
That major obstacle aside, you can still easily grasp the plot’s major threads. Shade’s on the run from both his psychedelically-dressed employers and his past (having your team of heroes commit mass suicide—or did they?—is probably the worst way to go), while Enchantress seeks him out to restore her original personality, the doomed June. Unfortunately, Milligan spends more time crafting dramatic lines (“Clues. Traces. Footprints.”) than fleshing these points out.
Really, the writing’s not technically flawed, but the pacing just doesn’t seem appropriate for a three-issue mini. There’s no sense of a bigger threat and mission for the Secret Seven (we don’t even get to see all seven), especially within the context of the chaotic Flashpoint world.
In a lot of ways, Milligan delivers a fairly old-school, semi-Vertigo sort of tale, so an old-school artist like Pérez feels appropriate for the job. Whether it’s an indescribable quality in his art, or because his work has been so long associated with DC’s most epic stories, Pérez always manages to give the script a fraught, almost soapy, drama.
Conclusion: On the one hand, you get Flashpoint characters who seem truly unfamiliar and exotic. On the other hand, they’d also seem unfamiliar and exotic in normal circumstances.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - Witches, minotaurs, and energy vests abound this issue, but you know what the rarest sight of all is? A lady cop.
– You can definitely tell when Blanco’s art comes into play: it’s the time when Enchantress looks like a trannie in a cheap weave.