Or – “Sometimes Inspirado Strikes When It Strikes…”

reviewbubble.jpg6_10.jpgSo, I’ve been emotionally devastated today. First, I watched the two-part finale of season two of Doctor Who. On top of the underlying theme of loss of humanity, lost family, and missed opportunites, I had to endure the most painful breakup I’ve ever seen. It saddens me to the very core to see Rose Tyler completely break down, and worst of all, The Doctor never even got to say… what he should have said. Top that off with a round of American Idol Karaoke Revolution in which Simon Cowell called me awful, Randy Jackson called me “Dawg,” and Boo Berry burbled “Marmalade!” and my ego is as battered as my imaginary friends’ hearts. So, why the heck am I up at 1:30 on a Sunday morning, doing the old crackalacky on the laptop? Sapphire bullets of pure love, my friends, love for you, for comics, for heartbreak, for little Miss Tyler, and most of all, love for The Secret Six and Gail Simone…

6_1.jpgNo, I haven’t been drinking, why do you ask? Just as an aside, it’s a bit scary to see the six six six floating in the title up there, like a Helvetica Sword of Damocles, waiting for the slightest nudge to drop and slice through us all like a Ginsu through a rotten eggplant. No, seriously, I haven’t had a thing! Of course, my numerical discomfort is nothing compared to the unhappiness of the Six, horribly outnumbered, facing certain death, with one of their members hovering about fifteen inches from the after life, and the rest about to be sliced to pieces by Vandal Savage’s goon squad.

So why does the issue begin with scenes of pastoral beauty? The Mad Hatter stands in the fields of green, comforted with the notion that he’s finally found where he really belongs…


Wonderland! The paradise he’s always dreamed of (and it’s awfully telling that Catman and Deadshot are Tweedledum & Tweedledee), where life is beautiful all the time, and he’ll be happy to see blah blah blah fishcakes… Hatter dreams that he’s being propositioned by the Cheshire Cat, but only half of that is true, it seems. It’s Cheshire, allright, but all she’s trying to do is take out the Six’s hole card. Her associate Doctor Psycho (in a pricesless white rabbit suit) tries to entice him to leap into the rabbit hole (actually the Hatter’s own grave) by tempting him with “all the underaged Brit brats and bad pots of tea you can stomach.” Heh. I love this dialogue. He almost does it, but is grabbed by “Alice,” who tries desperately to bring Maddy back to his senses. The illusion/hallucination fades for a moment, and the erstwhile Alice is revealed as Six member Scandal, and the Hatter returns to his senses…


His creepy-stalker-Victorian-pedophile-Pervy-McSkeevington senses… I need a shower just looking at his facial expression there. Scandal’s return is the first tick in the Six’s favor, as she was last seen in the company of her errant daddy, Vandal Savage. When asked where Pater Familias ended up, Scandal gives her half smile, and remarks, “I’m trying to find a way to put this delicately…”


Occupied, impaled… Tomayto Tomahto. Scandal enters the fray, to find her true love, Knockout, warrior maiden of Apocalypse. Knockout sees her first, and flattens twenty or thirty of Savage’s guards to get to her girl. Thomas Blake, The Mighty Catman, has his own love issues, as he faces down with Cheshire, the mother of his child. She taunts him about their son, but Catman won’t be deterred from trying to save the Mad Hatter, and salvage their plan. “I want the antidote.” Cheshire isn’t forthcoming, and suddenly, they’re both in motion.


My, but that’s a pretty slobberknocker. I’ve never understood when people compare violence to ballet, but this page is ’bout as close as I’ve come. Bleeding, injured, surrounded by the chaos of battle, they stop to catch their breath, but Cheshire has a better idea. “Make love to me, Thomas.” And I thought the Hatter was pervy. Catman stands, stunned for a moment, before delivering the one of the best lines of the year 2006. “Your womb is the most gawdawful dangerous weapon I’ve ever faced. Worse than that… I can’t believe I’m considering it.” Hey, he’s an honest man, even if Bruce Wayne did kick his butt once a week and twice on Christmas throughout the 1950’s. Reunited with her lover, Knockout vows to Scandal that she’ll never stray again…


…at least not that close to the bottom of the barrel. Heh. That’s Knockout’s moment in the sun. Every Sixer gets their moment, and another one is coming. Vandal Savage calls to his daughter from the top of his castle, calling her out, and Scandal decides she has to face her father, alone. Inside the castle, still crazy, dying from poison, and hallucinating, The Mad Hatter has slipped away from the big fight to find a battle more his own size, forgive me my short joke. Taunting Doctor Psycho that his cowardice will be his downfall, Hatter steps up to the plate, and suddenly in the back of my head, I hear the voice of Eric Cartman. “Attention S-Mart Shoppers, if you’ll turn your attention to the parking lot, you’ll see we have MIDGET FIIIIIGHT!” For two men not known for their brawling skills, Hatter and Psycho can throw down when necesssary.


I’d have figured Doctor Psycho to have bad breath. Meanwhile, the spotlight turns to another former Bruce Wayne opponent, Floyd Lawton, the marksman called Deadshot. As Savage’s goons approach, Lawton finds his wrist magnums running empty. Faced with his Waterloo, Floyd grabs a rifle from the ground, and begins to bludgeon opponents with it, yelling his improvised battle cry of “C’mon, you pasty asshats!” It ain’t the Saint Crispin’s Day speech, but Lawton’s no King Henry. High above the battlefield, Scandal has fought her father to a standstill, and both of them hang by her fingernails from the parapet of his castle, inches from death. Vandal muses that he wanted her to bear his children (and once again, EWWW) because she looks like her mother.

For the sake of his lost love, Savage lets go, falling to a what might be considered his doom. (That, of course, only applies for anyone who’s not an immortal caveman, mind you.) Barely alive, her other hand impaled on a sword, Scandal can’t climb, can barely call for help… But all she gets is more of the creepy. The Mad Hatter appears, madness in his eyes, suddenly remembering the moment when Scandal slighted him in a previous issue. Bringing his knife to her fingers, he titters “This time the piggies don’t get to go wee wee wee all the way home… Because you knocked MY HAT OFF, you ignorant COW!!!” Can a person who calls himself “The Mad Hatter” actually get CRAZIER? As he raises his hand to strike, it’s time for Ragdoll to show what he’s really made of…


“All is forgiven.” Scandal, unlike Daddy, has compassion in her heart. As Scandal leaves to find her woman, a tearful Mad Hatter muses about finally having found friends. Macrocephaly left him misshapen and alone as a child, and his adulthood hasn’t exactly been idyllic. You see the beginnings of happiness blooming on the face of Jervis Tetch, who can’t believe he’s finally found the REAL place where he belongs. Standing alongside the Ragdoll above the now-quiet battefield, Hatter muses to himself, “Friends. It’s almost like a miracle…”


HAAAA HAAA HAAAAAAA! I’m sorry, that’s incredibly insensitive of me, but… BWAAAH HA HA HAAAAAA! I suppose I might have mentioned that Rag Doll’s moment earlier was part one of a bookended set. (Gail Simone… if you’re out there… marry me?) Once again only five, the members of The Six set off for home. Scandal wants a tubal ligation, Deadshot a stiff drink, Catman a vacation, and Knockout a weekend in a very strong room with her lady. As for Ragdoll, he mocks the others for their assertion that supervillains make bad parents, musing that they should adopt, as he did. He enters his room and is knocked down by a half-dozen spider monkeys, each dressed as his Six teammates. Hee. I love this guy. He’s a seriously sick freak, and yet, he knows that you get joy where you can. Amidst the ruins in Kyoto, The Mad Hatter crawls from the wreckage, vowing revenge on the Six, and retrieving his only REAL friend… his top hat. You feel bad for him, until you remember he’s a murdering psycho nutbag.

This issue is chockful of creepy goodness, as the world’s most dysfunctional team takes two steps forward, and three back. They’re not heroes, by any means, but they at least have the courage of their convictions. Sixty-four convictions total, between them. Bah dump bum. This is another awesome Gail Simone outing, marred only by occasionally muddy layouts in the art. Every one of these characters is bug#($* crazy, and I love it. It’s not quite the perfect comic book, but it’s a damn fine one anyway, earning a snappy little 4 stars.



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Oookay. I’ve not read/seen The Amber Spyglass… Of course, given the the twisted antecedents of Doctor Who historically, and sci fi in general, it doesn’t surprise me.

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