Or – “The Abyss Gazes Also…”

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It’s been an interesting ride for the erstwhile Secret Six, crossing the country while pursued by the DC Universe’s finest cannon fodder, crossing swords with a sincerely scary crimelord who turns out to be one of their own members’ siblings, picking up an immortal banshee to fill their empty sixth slot, and just basically having the bajeezus slapped out of them.  After a short interlude with half the team on a date, and the other half filling the shoes of Batman, it’s time for the Six to get back to what brung them to the party:  swift and blinding violence.

Previously, on Secret Six:  After a split with the Secret Society of Supervillains, half a dozen of the baddest badasses DC has to offer SS2.jpgformed their own concern, The Secret Six.  Betrayed by founding member Cheshire, the Secret Six still popped up here and there, doing jobs for money and keeping one step ahead of the capes and badges.  With Bane as their newest member, the team took on the job of capturing the Tarantula, who revealed that the item she was being hounded for was a literal “Get Out Of Hell Free” card.  The team was battered, and bruised, and pushed to their limits, and Bane was forced to break his vow to never juice on the Venom again, but they emerged victorious (with Scandal Savage in possession of the legendary card.)  Taking some time for themselves in Gotham, new kid Jeannette expressed her feelings for spree killer Deadshot, Bane and Catman discussed the pointy-eared legacy of the man who defined him, and Rag Doll was just too creepy for words.  With those minor sidetrips out of the way, the team is now ready to pick a new paying gig…  With one member strung out, and a general lack of sense in the whole “not getting killed” line of business, let’s hope they survive.

We open with three strange people traveling down an elevator shaft, one in a crisp white suit, one a sleazy weasely type, and the third an enormous woman built like Joanie Laurer with swords on her back (but wearing a pleating white linen skirt.)  They enter a mineshaft, where they greet a woman who seems to have a problem: methane gas is building up behind the wall which they’re mining, and a stray spark could kill every one of the miners in a searing wall of blue flame.  White Suit orders her back to work, and Linen Skirt pins her to the wall with machetes when she refuses.  The miner laughs at White Suit’s threats, and he orders his minion to systematically kill the other miners, calmly pointing out who to kill, who to maim, calmly instructing her to cut off hands and faces of her innocent fellows until the girl collapses in tears, begging him to stop.  He makes her say that she was lying about the gas, and sends her back to work cooly.  “Put the woman on grave detail,” says White Suit.  “Make her bury the bodies of those killed for her disobedience…”  That’s cooold.  Meanwhile, in Gotham City, the man known as Bane wakes up from a nightmare (and Nicola Scott manages to put every ounce of fear, pain, and withdrawal in his face) and heads to the bathroom for a hit of Venom.  “Hello, Mr. Bane,” says Scandal Savage, casually sitting on the commode.  “Are you, by chance, looking for these?”  She holds out his ampules of the drug, and tells him that he needs to destroy them, to get clean.  Bane agrees, and Scandal returns him to his room, tucking him into his bed.  “I do not sleep in beds with men,” says Scandal.  “You know that, yes?”  Bane tries to interrupt her, but Scandal brushes it off and climbs into bed with him..  “This means nothing, what I’m about to do.  It can never mean anything…  But it still means SOMETHING.”  Bane looks down at her, prepared to nurse him through a night of withdrawals.  “It means there is still good in this world, and a life worth living,”  Bane says, almost to himself.   Aww…

The next morning, fellow Secret Sixers Jeannette and Deadshot stroll along the picturesque cliffs of Ireland, and she tells him of a man she loved, a man who looked like him, a man she had to kill by throwing him off the very cliff upon which they stand.  Before he can respond, White Suit and Linen Skirt arrive, and White Suit orders his minion to perform a “Psyche Test”  This is performed by dangling Deadshot off the cliff by his throat.  Inches from death, as the woman’s grip slips, Weaselman asks Floyd Lawton exactly what he’s thinking.  “I was wonderin’ if I could talk both these ladies into a threesome.  But you go ahead and keep running your mouth if it makes you happy,” Deashot replies with a wry smile. Reminds me of the moment where Jules Winnfield points out that it’s not the first time he’s had a gun pointed at him…  Having passed the test, they get the job, and later that day the Secret Six board a plane, sherpherding a mysterious crate to the mine we saw in the first part of the story.  Of course, it’s a Secret Six mission, so we have to have the plane crash and the team pinned down by rebel gunfire.  Each in his/her own fashion, the Six fight their way out of the burning wreckage (Catman rips out throats, Scandal pierces hearts, Deadshot blows off heads, Bane rips off limbs and beats their former owners with them, while Jeannette RIPS THE WING OFF THE PLANE and uses it as a boomerang) and general mayhem ensues.  White Suit arrives (with former Wonder Woman Artemis in chains, I might add) and watches the carnage with an appraising eye.  When things die down, he turns to the miner who spoke up against him, and tells her that she needs to run.  “You are free,” he says…  The girl runs, and White Suit immediately tells Deadshot that one of the prisoners is escaping.  Deadshot hesitates only a second before firing a killshot, and Scandal realizes that their employers are slavers.  “Welcome to Devil’s Island, ladies and gentlemen,” says White Suit.  “Where you truly belong.”  The Six stand in silence, almost as if they agree with their new employers’ assessment.

This is a good book, and this issue is a good example of why.  The father/daughter dynamic between Bane (who may or may not have had a family) and Scandal (whose father wanted to kill her and use her organs for spare parts) is beautiful, and the subtlety of the relationship between Deadshot and Jeannette simply SHOULD NOT work…  and yet it does.  Nicola Scott provides beautiful art, and Gail Simone provides a real look at the devastatingly damaged humans behind these “supervillains,” and the whole thing is charming as hell.  With a perfect balance of personalities, the Secret Six themselves are fascinating, and this new job seems to be more brutal and disgusting than any before, which should lead to interesting character developments for the “team.”  Last issue’s “superheroics” were laugh-out-loud funny, this issue has moments that are sweet and touching, and yet the characters maintain their dark and gritty stance in a world that’s all shades of grey.   Secret Six #10 is an intriguing setup for the new arc, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall.  If you’re not reading this, you’re missing the best that DC has to offer. 

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

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.

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4 Comments

  1. Jerard
    June 11, 2009 at 12:55 am — Reply

    How great was this issue man whenever i read this comic i kinda forget these guys are villens this whole issue i just wanted them to smash the bad guys face in and than that last page comes and i realize oh yeah these guys are villens to

  2. Ricco
    June 11, 2009 at 9:31 am — Reply

    Those are not machetes but corvo knives, I know I’m nitpicking but they’re classic Chilean weapons and we’re first generation Chilean immigrants. Now that I think about it Linen Skirt’s clothes and hair style look very symilar to what women wear when dancing “la cueca” the Chilean national dance, so she might be Chilean. Great first Chilean character I find in comics and she’s a psycho…

    The issue was great and it was bizard and touching to have Bane and Scandal hold hands when the plane was going down, just like any father/daughter would do in such a situation.

    From what I remember reading in a Bane comic, he spent like the first 20 years of his life in isolation after killing a fellow inmate when he was a kid(he was actually born in prison) and survived the prison filling with water every night and came out strong as an ox and self learned since he used the time to cultivated his body and spirit. He then pretty much ran the prison “Pena Dura” (hard time) and voluntered to the venom experiments and escaped when it worked. He never actually had a father figure when he grew up, but if he did we haven’t seen him.

  3. June 11, 2009 at 9:54 am — Reply

    Those are not machetes but corvo knives, I know I’m nitpicking but they’re classic Chilean weapons and we’re first generation Chilean immigrants. Now that I think about it Linen Skirt’s clothes and hair style look very symilar to what women wear when dancing “la cueca” the Chilean national dance, so she might be Chilean. Great first Chilean character I find in comics and she’s a psycho…

    Heh. It could be worse. The only character from Kansas is Superman… Wait, that’s not the same thing at all, is it? Thanks for covering my cultural ignorance. I suspect that your detective work is correct.

    As for Bane and Scandal, their strange familial friendship is the best thing about this book, as far as I’m concerned, and it’s a book with a lot of good things to pick from.

  4. ~wyntermute~
    June 11, 2009 at 3:58 pm — Reply

    At one time I thought this was only a 6-issue limited series…. Now I hope it runs for SIXTY, and I’m even okay with casting changes eventually, if the current creative team is still around in my hypothetical future. The Bane/Scandal relationship is amazingly wonderful, the Jeanette/Deadpool thing has lots of gas left in the tank I think, and Ragdoll is my new “Funniest Character in Comics”. All in all, Catman even seems to be a reasonably good “father figure” for this happy-go-lucky criminal-lite band o’ scoundrels. This book is redefining the term “team dynamic” for me. :D

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