Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Secret Six 35

By Josh Dean
July 10, 2011 - 18:58

The Secret Six has been (ever since the Villains United series that spawned the concept) my favorite read from any company. Developing villains into three dimensional characters is not only a great idea for an ongoing series but also helps when those fleshed out villains go up against your heroes. The television program The Wire (my favorite show of all time) understood this concept and devoted just as much time to the criminals as the police so that when “good guy character A” arrests “bad guy character b” there is a weight behind the action that resonates throughout the series. Simone (with the occasional so-logical-I-can’t-believe-DC-editorial-approved-it assist from John Ostrander) has crafted the Six (who actually number to about 8 or 9 by now) into as realistic a team as I have ever read. Perhaps having no editorial push to force Catman into a Green Lantern comic or Deadshot into a Superman crossover leaves a writer with a lot of leeway in their depictions. Whatever alchemy is at work here, it is excellent.

As the latest volume winds down (this series has lasted way longer than I thought it would, to be honest) I get the sense that Simone is having to move into her endgame a little more quickly than she had planned.  Bane’s Batman obsession has (kind of out of nowhere) gotten the better of him. He rallies the gang into an all-out assault on the Bat-family. Others have predicted there will be a mass slaughter in the last issue but I suspect Simone didn’t put all this work into her toys just to break them before she leaves. The issue opens with a tussle/talk between Catman and Bane that cements their dynamic as the two leaders of the group. Bane is all cold discussion and planning while Catman is all action and subterfuge. We then get a brief scene of Deadshot and Jeannette post-coitus that also gives us a quick insight into Deadshot’s casual view of weighty matters and Jeannette’s sense of honor. Also, King Shark gets a nice comedic moment in there. Simone finishes the tour with a Scandal/Knockout scene that gets us up to speed on where they stand in their relationship. Really, the only member with no introductory scene is Ragdoll. Considering an entire arc revolved around him (and the excellent scene with Scandal in the last issue) this is no great loss. Using about half the issue, Simone gets us entirely into the headspace of the team. This would be a great jumping on point if you didn’t have to jump back off next issue.

From there, Bane’s masterplan and the team’s assault on a major Batman villain demonstrate why this series is so much fun to read. There are laughs, some romance and lots of violence. Although things are going according to plan by the end of this issue, I expect the guano to hit the fan in a big way for the finale. This one is mostly setup but there are plenty of thrills here to keep a reader hooked until next issue.

Jim Calafiore is not everyone’s favorite artist but I really have enjoyed his work on this series. Simone has been blessed with a solid creative team throughout these three volumes and Calafiore’s work is no exception. Like a slightly more detailed Tim Sale, his use of heavy shadows (even in a well-lit snowy scene) really creates the perfect setting for these morally dubious (at best) characters to enact their schemes and fights. I hope he lands somewhere respectable in the relaunch.

If you have been following the series, don’t stop now. If you haven’t it is probably a little late to jump on board but I would highly recommend going back and collecting the entire run. This advice is especially true if you loved Ostrander’s Suicide Squad or Rucka’s Checkmate.

Rating: 8.5 /10

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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