Thursday, July 9, 2009

Secret Six #10 & #11

Six people. Too twisted to be called Heroes. Too ethical to be called Villains. Working together out of the House of Secrets, they are a mercenary army loyal only to their employers and themselves... most of the time. United by necessity and forged in the heat of battle, they are The Secret Six.

The current roster is...

Scandal: Team Leader of The Secret Six, Sandal Savage is the only known daughter of the immortal villain Vandal Savage. She shares her father's skill as a warrior and his amazing healing factor but none of his attitudes or philosophy. Openly gay, she is still mourning the loss of her girlfriend, the villain Knockout.

Catman: A renowned big-game hunter, Thomas Blake turned to super-villainy out of boredom. Eventually, apathy won out and an out-of-shape Blake was nearly killed by his fellow villains. Inspired to clean up his act, Blake returned to the wild, retrained his skills and was adopted by a pack of lions until their untimely death. He joined The Secret Six to get revenge on the villains who killed his new family. He stays because it gives him a purpose...

Deadshot: One of the greatest marksmen on the planet, Floyd Lawton has been a hired killer for most of his life. He joined the Secret Six out of necessity but has stuck around because he's found it easier - and safer - to run in a pack. He has also come to view the rest of his teammates as the closest thing someone like him can consider friends.

Ragdoll: Son of the original Golden Age Ragdoll, Peter Merkel Jr. was born without the metahuman gene that made his father and brother naturally triple-jointed. Twelve years of special surgery have made this Merkel into a virtural human constrictor snake, capable of twisting his limbs in any direction. His teammates are unsure what is more twisted - Ragdoll's body or his sense of humor, which makes even the hardened killers and assassins around him feel uncomfortable.

Jeanette: A long-lived friend of Scandal's, Jeanette is a beautiful woman with an obsession with death as well as a talent for dealing it out. She claims to be a banshee and does seem to have some supernatural power to sense human suffering and the approach of death and danger. She has a fondness for Deadshot, which is semi-reciprocated. Floyd may find her creepy but she IS willing to sleep with him.

Bane: The infamous criminal mastermind who once "broke the Bat", Bane has seen better days. Still fighting his Venom addiction, he is as strong as ever but he seems content to follow Scandal's orders rather than forging his own criminal empire. He looks upon Scandal as a sort of foster daughter and his feelings for her might be called paternal, if you were trying to find a word other than "creepy".

The current storyline, starting in Issue #10, centers upon the team taking a job to escort a package to a place they find out is called Devil's Island. Their employer, a Mr. Smyth, has some rather quaint ideas on human rights and how the reinstitutionalization of slavery on a global scale will become necessary in order to save the world economy. Exactly what his plans for The Six are is unknown, but the final test of their loyalty involves them quelling a prison riot which turns out to have been orchestrated.

To say that some members of the team are somewhat uneasy about working for slavers is an understatement. But even those who say it is too late for any of them to start drawing lines in the sand are made uncomfortable when they see that Mr. Smyth's personal pet project - the one prisoner in his camp who refuses to break no matter what - is a familiar figure; Amazon warrior and former Wonder Woman Artemis!

Artemis' presence here is probably the greatest mystery in this whole sordid story. The last time I remember seeing ol' Artie was in Amazons Attack and I just assumed that she had been transplanted into a normal life along with the rest of the Amazons who were cursed to live as normal women for their hubris. And yet, here she is... strong as ever, willful as ever and wearing her old costume from her days as Queen of Hell/Requiem.

In the end, it doesn't really matter how she is here so much as the fact that she is here. And what is an even greater mystery is that Artemis appears to have some past relationship with the mysterious banshee Jeanette.

Jeanette feels compelled - for reasons having more to do with her own past than any love of the Amazons - to help Artemis and the other Amazons she finds are being held prisoner on Devil's Island. A fight breaks out between the various factions within The Secret Six who feel that working with slavers is beneath them versus those who don't care or feel they need to honor the contract. Of course all these ethical questions are put aside when a bigger problem presents itself...

This title is easily one of my five favorite books every month and is fast on its' way to becoming my favorite. Gail Simone effortlessly balances the action, drama and comedy in every situation the characters find themselves in. Obviously, the humor on this book is very dark but it's gleefully perverse if you're into that sort of thing. The exchange between Artemis and Jeanette above is fairly typical of the playful yet very very adult tone of the series.

The art by Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood is a perfect complement to the diverse and varied writing. These two paired up once before with Gail Simone on the final arcs of Simone's Birds of Prey and you can tell that the three have become used to working like a well-oiled machine.

I'd suggest picking up the Villains United or Secret Six mini-series TPs first before delving into this storyline, just to get a feeling for the history between these characters and the interplay between them. But if you want a good first issue to jump into the main series with, #10 would be a fine one.


  1. LOVING this series.
    Tho if I was gonna suggest a jumping on book, the Battle for the Cowl issue is a interesting one shot look at the group. Or the double date issue. *lol*

  2. Those would be even better ones, true. But my point was that #10 is a good one to jump on with if someone didn't feel like going back and hunting for back issues or Trades.

  3. The one thing that confused me was that there seemed to be a panel missing where Artemis -died-. Just one minute screaming and boasting, then the next minute slumping against a wall and... it just seemed like too quiet a way to go.

  4. She was rather exhausted despite her amazing stamina and needed Jeanette to help her walk. My guess is that Diana didn't feel a pulse and assumed the worst... not a bad guess considering who she is dealing with and where she's found Artemis.