Recommended Reading: Secret Six

Posted: October 29, 2012 in DC, Reviews
Tags: , , ,

Recommended Reading will be a regular feature on comicritique where we will look back at a previously published series or graphic novel and try to convince you it’s worth a look. These are titles that we’ve read in the past and loved. Try them out and let us know what you think.

By Alex Headley

The cover for Secret Six #29.
Secret Six belongs to DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Gail Simone’s Secret Six could be the biggest loss of the DCU continuity shakeup that is the New 52. I generally think the New 52 was a smart move on DC’s part-people forget that for every Deathstroke, Teen Titans or Starfire sex scandal there is the excellent Wonder Woman reboot or the new depths of storytelling via Demon Knights and All-Star Western-but Secret Six’s replacement book, Suicide Squad, was a disappointment to say the least. Secret Six tells the tale of a group of super-villains that sell their services to the highest bidder ala Heroes for Hire, but you know, with murder and stuff. The team originally consists of Bane, Catman (no, really he is awesome), Scandal Savage (daughter of Vandal Savage), Ragdoll (a hilarious murdering contortionist clown eunuch), Deadshot and Jeanette (similar powerset to the Silver Banshee but with a much better story and character arc). Other characters come and go, including Scandal’s girlfriend, the Apokaliptan redhead Knockout, King Shark (he’s a shark!), and Black Alice.  The series spun out of Villains United, an Infinite Crisis tie-in series and received a great deal of critical praise.

For all the violence, sex and generally badness in the title it’s kind of astonishing that the series was published at all, much less 36 issues. Not that it was purely a dirty book for the sake of dirtiness, Secret Six took despicable villains and made the reader really root for them. If you read the whole series, the final issue is truly heartbraking. You find yourself rooting for Catman to beat Superman, it’s crazy. Everyone on the team gets a pretty full story arc to themselves.

You can see these character rise and fall as heroes, villains and, most importantly, as people. Everyone has their dark past or traumatic event to overcome (except for Deadshot, he just loves shooting things). Some make it, others don’t. Some of them give up and are resigned to their fate, others make every attempt to be better people and succeed. It’s hard enough for a mainstream superhero comic to consistently tell good stories, but it’s even more impressive when a writer can pull it off with a cast of characters that even the most diehard fan can’t recognize.

A villain defeated by Hostess snacks manages to be almost as cool as Batman.

Simone makes this guy a more emotionally relevant character than most heroes with decades of history. The series is easily the most nuanced portrayal of Bane since his first appearance.

I can’t decide if I really wish the series had continued in the New 52, sometimes it’s better when a story actually ends and the reboot allowed that to happen. I’m glad Simone took the group out in style, dragging, kicking, shooting and bashing. That said, I really wish we get more stories with that kooky family of killers that are occasionally, accidentally, noble heroes in their own right. Go read it! The entire series is available on ComiXology (on sale for $0.99 until Wednesday October 31 as part of the DC Supervillains sale). Most of it is collected in trade paperback form as well or single issues. You can find both at Kingdom Comics in Vestavia.

  1. raheadley says:

    Good article. Have never really been a fan of the bad-guy book. I like my villains to be villainous. Don’t know that I want to really root for them.

    Keep up the good with, Alex!

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