Even relative to most Villains Month issues, both the cover and title of this comic offer a very poor indication of the contents. And that's a shame, because not only is it one of the better written Villains Month issues, but it's also easily the most relevant to the greater equation that is Forever Evil. This issue has little to do with the Secret Society and its various members. Instead, it hinges squarely on the shoulders of The Outsider, offering a welcome glimpse into his history with Owlman and life on Earth-3.
As with this week's Black Adam issue, Secret Society #1 pairs Geoff Johns as plotter with Sterling Gates as writer. The results are close enough to Johns' usual writing style to work well. The writers deliver a noir-flavored take on Earth-3's Gotham, a place that somehow manages to be even more seedy and dismal than the regular version. The script offers all manner of fun little inversions on the usual Batman formula to suit the backwards nature of the world. And it goes a long way towards fleshing out the Outsider and his fairly complicated relationship with Owlman. It also ties very closely into the ongoing story of Forever Evil in a way few Villains Month issues have.
That said, there are a few problems that hold this issue back somewhat. First is the relentless focus in the writing on the Outsider's dark secret. This issue is obsessed with playing up the dark tragedy in the Owl family -- the one that was alluded to in Forever Evil #1 regarding Earth-3's Dick Grayson. At some point the teasing stops being fun or compelling and just grows distracting.
Second, Szymon Kudranski's art can be as much a hindrance as it is a boon for this issue. His surreal images certainly capture the hellish nature of Earth-3's Gotham and its twisted residents. But the art is so obscured by shadows and hazy colors that it practically becomes unreadable in sections. Far too often it's difficult to tell whether a panel features Joker or the Outsider in their extended encounter.
Still, these problems don't ruin an otherwise enjoyable experience. Of all the Villains Month issues, this was easily one of the most necessary, so it's good to see it was also executed well.
Source : ign[dot]com