Or – “Protagonist Doesn’t Always Mean Hero…”


I’ve often suspected that if Gail Simone wrote a cookbook consisting of recipes for human flesh and stucco, I’d probably read it obsessively.  Given an interesting cast of characters, a great artistic counterpoint in the form of Nicola Scott, as well as the presence of the DCU’s sarcastic master of the gun (imagine if Bullseye actually had a personality) and Secret Six is shaping up to be the best series in YEARS.  Of course, last issue ended with the whole team ingesting a lethal dose of poison, so you might not want to get too hung up on them…

Previously, on Secret Six: The formation of the Secret Society around about the time of S61.gifInfinite Crisis left a few villains with a quandary:  What if you aren’t a joiner?  What if you’re a malcontent like Deadshot?  Or a born-again never-was like the Catman?  How about a freakish Ragdoll (livin’ in a movie) who uses self-mutilation as an attention-getter?  Or perhaps an immortal bred to be the perfect killing machine, like Scandal?  With founding members Knockout and Cheshire dead and a filthy backstubbing slut, respectively, the not-quite-Six has hooked up with former Bat-Backbreaker Bane, and taken on a mission that no other villain would bestupid enough to touch: transport the Tarantula and her cargo across the country.  Said cargo turns out to be a mystical artifact inscibed with the words “Get Out Of Hell Free,” and even though they don’t believe in it, the Six are being taunted by the niggling thought of, “What if?”  A crime-lord named Junior has sent pretty much the rest of the villain contingent after them, only to have their old pal Cheshire blindside them with one of her patented, fatal, secret blends of herbs and spices…

We open with the scourge of San Something-Or-Other that Rodrigo would find silly, (maybe San Rita Moreno?) the man known as Bane awakening, chained to a wall by Junior’s henchmen, the twins Aaron and Tig, who strip off their shirts to show their own secret: the scars created when they were separated.  The former conjoined twins watch and make me uncomfortable while “Junior,” stands nearby with a palette of bricks.  “Sixteen times four times eight, minus four!” cries the misshapen hooded freak, “Stand aside!”  The brothers move out of the way just in time for their boss to hurl a brick, full force at Bane.  It shatters, taking some ribs with it, and Junior screams his catchphase.  “Your friends.  They die or you die.  They die or you die.”  Junior hurls brick after brick as Bane suddenly pictures Scandal, sleeping peacefully in his lap last issue.  “I die.  I choose that I die,” he says resolutely.  “I believe your count was five hundred and six?”  Okay, that is hardcore.  Speaking of hardcore, Cheshire is being suspended by her hair off the edge of a building by a very unhappy Jeannette (Scandal’s friend from last issue, in whose safehouse the Six had gone to ground.)  She babbles that she’s a mother, and Jeanette scoffs.  “I don’t care about your brat, girl.  I care about your MANNERS.”  The rest of the Secret Six puke their guts out inside the building (and even the sight of a disheveled Deadshot hunched over a toilet is pretty when drawn by Nicola Scott), until Jeannette returns, hurling Cheshire into the room and bouncing her body off a mirror.  “Oh, look!” cries Ragdoll, “They even have flying prostitutes.  That’s service for you!”  Heh…

Jeannette matter-of-factly takes a hunk of glass, and informs Cheshire that she will cough up the antidote, or else Jeannette will take her eye, and the ex-Sixer gives up.  “I’ll kill you for this.  Just be sure in your heart,” snarls Cheshire.  “That ship has sailed, darling,” replies J with a coquettish smile, and I realize just how much I love this character.  Bane continues his job stopping masonry, until the blood from his various wounds allows him to slip one hand out of his chains.  He quickly grabs Aaron by the neck, and Junior snorts, “Bad choice for hostage.  Won’t negotiate.” “Who’s asking?” replies Bane, and BITES THE MAN’S THROAT OUT.  Holy.  $#!+.  Tig is horrified to see his twin killed, but Junior refuses to let him have revenge.  “My scissors, Tig.  Run fetch my scissors.”  The Six get their antidotes, and Scandal vows to head out after Bane, even if her teammates won’t.  The team (plus Jeannette and Tarantula) take out a half-dozen foot soldier villains (including what I think is a new Crazy Quilt?) before deciding to go with Scandal.  They arrive just in time to find Junior lording over Bane with a bloody pair of shears.  The villain turns to Ragdoll, and croaks, “Peter.  You are here…”  He replies that “Father always did like you best,” and the team is horrified to think that Junior is somehow the Doll’s brother.  “No…  He’s my SISTER,” replies Rags as Junior drops her robes to show her body to be as horrific and deformed as her brother’s.  Trust me.  It’s not a pretty sight…

This issue is very well-done, with first-person narration from Deadshot (who is pitch perfect in his black humor) and Bane (whose nobility is weirdly moving.)  Jeannette looks to be a pretty fascinating new character, showing guts, brains, fighting skill, and a core of steely determination, as well as a fascinating streak of aristocracy.  As Deadshot notes halfway through the issue, “the cleavage don’t hurt any.”  Heh…  I’m loving Bane’s fatherly interactions with Scandal, and though Catman isn’t in the forefront this issue, even he gets in a couple of good lines.  This book is well-written, beautifully drawn, featuring a storyline unlike anything else in comics right now.  I am hoping strongly that we’ve met the team’s new sixth player (because Tarantula does nothing for me) and am really looking forward to the ending of the first arc of this book next time out.  This issue, this arc, this book really is one of the best things that DC has going right now, and I just hope that the sales are good enough to keep it healthy for a good long while.  Secret Six #5 earns a very impressed 4.5 out of 5 stars, an excellent book all around, and if you’re not reading it already, I’d highly recommend it.



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. The greatest surprise to me is Knockout, she seems to be somewhat present (ghost?) and able to speak with Scandal. I find it a nice touch given how the New Gods and Gods of Apokolips are coming back to life in Final Crisis. Maybe she’ll rejoin the Six in another body or something.

    The series is great, this is one of the few I seriously can’t find anything wrong with and I love nitpicking.

  2. I’m just sad it “ends” next issue. I mean, that doesn’t preclude the possibility of more mini-series and story arcs, but… With the way the DCU is going, I have no faith that anything “good” will ever come back. :(

  3. Pretty much like the Warren Ellis run of Thunderbolts over at Marvel. Outwardly villainous characters you can actually root for…Gail Simone is up there with Ellis, Garth Ennis, and Mark Millar when it comes to dark humor. Jeanette is new to DC, correct? I like her personality, but doesn’t she seem a tad similar to Scandal? Or is that intentional?

  4. ahhhhhhhh… Arigatoo Matthew-and-Ricco-sans! See, I hate looking at the solicits cuz that’s too spoilery for me, and I was somehow under the impression that this was only a six-ish run. Woot~! I say, WOOT~!

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