Secret Six Volume 1: Villains United collects the Villains United mini-series, which relaunched Catman as a major player in the DCU, along with the first Secret Six six-issue mini-series. The best part of Infinite Crisis, the Villains United series centers around a group of villains who refuse to join Lex Luthor‘s Secret Society of Super-Villains led by the most unlikely of characters – Catman.
Despite the depths the character had sunk to in the years previous to writer Gail Simone’s makeover, I’ve always been a fan of Catman and Simone does a terrific job in rebranding the character from D-list back to A-list while still acknowledging his fall from grace. Choosing to join the team on his own, Catman became a part of the Secret Six who were controlled by the mysterious Mockingbird and sent into action with the promise of reward (and the threat of death).
The mini-series follows the group through battle, torture, dysfunction, betrayal, and more while setting up the group’s core dynamics like Deadshot and Catman’s bromance, the insanity of Ragdoll, the deception of Chesire, and the twist of a romantic relationship between Scandal Savage and Knockout.
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The second issue of the new Secret Six continues with the entrapment of six strangers while also offering us flashbacks to Catman‘s previous incarceration to help explain the super-villain’s dislike of confined spaces such as a coffin-shaped tomb in the bottom of the ocean.
Although I think the team is still missing the right chemistry creating a void (which someone like Deadshot or Ragdoll could help fill), Secret Six #2 is a step-up from the first issue as Catman, even in his tortured flashbacks, gets to be more of the bad ass mother fucker fans of the previous series came to know and love and less of the emo douche that we saw in the new volume’s opening issue. I’m still not sold on Ken Lashley’s art which works better when the team leaps into action than when they are standing still (something they’ve done much of in the first two issues).
The issue ends with the escape of the villains who it seems are going to stick together long enough to get some answers and take some vengeance on the hidden voice responsible for their capture and torture. Worth a look.
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.