Spring of 1980. That’s the first time I picked up a comic book, and the first Batman story I ever read was Batman #323 which featured both Batman and Catwoman being bested by lesser-known villain known as Catman. Needless to say I was an immediate fan. Sadly, the following two decades weren’t kind to the character who resurfaced in 2005 as the break-out star of DC’s Villains United giving birth to the first iteration of the Secret Six.
With the new Secret Six #1 Gail Simone returns to the comic (along with her run on the original Birds of Prey) which made me a lifelong fan of her work, albeit through the craptastic lens of DC’s New 52 filter. Playing on similar themes of the Six being brought together and controlled by an unknown master called Mockingbird, Secret Six #1 opens with Catman being kidnapped and locked-up with a group of five others and tortured by a mysterious voice who wants answers to a question that has yet to be asked.
The first issue doesn’t sell me immediately on the series, but (unlike so much of the New 52) doesn’t immediately turn me off of beloved characters, either.
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With DC Comics reboot of their entire universe with 52 new first issues now underway I continue to take a look at what I would do if I rebooted the DCU.
Where I could I kept ideas DC wanted to explore in the relaunch (when not incredibly stupid like Voodoo), and even included titles I’m personally not all that high on but characters I know have a devoted fan base. You’ll find I’ve also kept far more of the current titles than DC’s proposed reboot, and brought back a few personal favorites as well.
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In July of 2005 DC Comics unleashed writer Gail Simone in her own little corner of the DC Universe with the six-issue mini-series Villains United. The idea behind the comic was simple, the various villains of the DCU were banding together as part of Lex Luthor‘s expansive Secret Society of Super Villains, that is until one villain said no. The rest, as they say, is history.
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You know you’re in trouble when Ragdoll is the voice of reason. On the eve of Bane‘s plan to take on Batman by attacking those closest to him the team begins to fray as they are surrounded by heroes who have followed the Penguin‘s tracker to the abadoned warehouse the Secret Six is using as its temporary base.
In an attempt to end things quickly Huntress calls in favors and brings in everybody, and I do mean everybody, to take the Six down, but as Huntress realizes far too late this isn’t the team to back down against an overwhelming show of force. As Ragdoll points out this team only has one redeeming virtue: they simply don’t know when to quit. That’s one lesson they never learned.
The Secret Six aren’t just another super-villain team. As screwed up as they all are there’s something noble about a group who will fight for each other, against all odds, knowing the chance of actually winning is impossibly high. And in this final issue Gail Simone let’s them go out Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid style.
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With the DC reboot just two months away writer Gail Simone gives the first half of the two-part series finale of a comic I’m going to miss a great deal. The path of the Secret Six takes a new turn as Bane‘s view of the world has been altered by his brief state in Hell.
The man who once broke the Bat has decided to lead the team back into Gotham and take on Batman and the entire Bat-Family. The old Bane, with a little encouragement from Catman, seems to be back.
This is a pretty good issue that puts the team on a new path and drafts a new member (but a familiar villain) to the squad, but with the looming DC reboot the question is will Gail Simone have time to tell the full story?
With only one issue left, I’m saddened that this is the end of the Secret Six, at least for now (and possibly for good). Whether the powers that be in the DCU believe it or not, their universe is going to be a lot less interesting without the Six to kick around. Worth a look.
Although the word “family” is never uttered, that’s what this issue is really about. After returning from Hell and saving another of Scandal‘s girlfriends (in a brutal opening sequence) the team returns home to lick their wounds and get back to live as usual (or as usual as it gets for these characters).
While Scandal tries to bury the hatchet with Ragdoll, and King Shark freaks out with how happy Catman is acting, Bane goes out on his first date. It’s unconventional (Bane tells the stripper his life story while atop a Ferris Wheel before severely wounding several would-be-robbers), but turns out to be a pleasant night for the couple (or as pleasant as things get for these characters).
There’s still plenty of fallout to come, including a difficult choice by Scandal and the reported return of a Bane on Venom, but this single character-driven issue (which has its share of bloody panels) is a nice change-of-pace after the trip to Hell and back. Worth a look.
The Secret Six continue their journey through Hell, to rescue Knockout and find Ragdoll, and Catman takes a side trip to poke a demon in the eyes and visit someone from his past. I’ll be glad with this storyline is over.
It’s not a bad story, in fact it has a couple nice turns, but every story that takes in Hell, be it DC, Marvel, or any other comic publisher, is limited by design. And too often writers trying to tell a tale in Hell quickly write themselves into a corner. I’m hoping that’s not the case here with Gail Simone, but I’ll admit after two issues I have my doubts.
I’d much rather see the Six back in action in Gotham City than traipsing through the underworld. The storyline I enjoyed most was the all-too-short look into Scandal Savage‘s recent squeeze which seems far more ominous than the team’s struggles down below.
The last panel does give us a bit of a surprise and should make the final issue of this storyline worth reading, but I’ll just be glad when things get back to “normal” for the team. Hit-and-Miss.
Part 1 of “The Darkest House” brings everything full circle as Scandal Savage‘s nightmares become too much to bear and she decides to use the “Get Out of Hell Free Card” she’s been hording since this comic’s first story arc to retrieve Knockout from Hell.
The B-story involves Scandal’s current girlfriend who is kidnapped from the strip club by an over-zealous (and completely crazy) regular. You get the feeling no matter how things end in each story, for Scandal, they will end in tears.
Gail Simone gives us the disturbing dark humor we’ve come to expect which includes the team’s attempt to make a commercial and a look inside Ragdoll‘s room with his harem of monkeys (all dressed like his teammates) when Scandal attempts to retrieve the card from the thief (with bloody results). We also learn the entrance to Hell is inside a mall in Iowa (where else?), and why you never ask Catman for a pound of flesh.
A strong opening to a new arc that sends the team literally to Hell. Worth a look.
I love Keith Giffen, but not everything he does is a winner. This second-half of the Secret Six crossover finds the Doom Patrol and Catman and company battling it out on an island while an active volcano turns everything to slag around them.
Although I liked the madcap action of the first-half of this crossover, this one’s a bit disappointing. There are some fun moments (including the crazed charge of the Science Squad), but the craziness ultimately never pays off. On the plus side, Catman and Scandal get off some good lines (reminding us of pre-Bane Secret Six days).
Although the Secret Six are present, they take a definite backseat to the Doom Patrol (who, to be honest, I’ve never really been that fond of).
It’s not a bad read, I was just hoping with all the insanity at his disposal Giffen would knock the second-half of this one out of the park. Hit-and-Miss.
Scandal Savage and Liana decide to arrange Bane‘s first date by hooking him up with one of the other dancers at Liana’s strip club. The results are BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!
The Secret Six take on the Doom Patrol in the middle of a river that’s home to a mutated half-man/half-fish creature. And then there’s the story of a full-time loser with nothing is left a destiny by his dying grandfather – a particle cannon and the seed of idea to bring glamor and style back to the world of crime. That, and a secret hideout inside a exploded volcano (which may not be as dormant as he believes).
The first-half of a two-part crossover with the Doom Patrol, this one’s got it all (even a team of sexy parachuting female suicide bombers). Manic action from the first page to the last, writer Gail Simone shoots from both barrels here with both dark humor and the kind of ass kicking only the Secret Six can deliver. Must-read.