Or – “Banshee, Debauchee, Back-Breaker, Immortal, Beast-Man, and Sharpshooter…”
Can’t you just hear Dungeon-Master intoning their names and giving them each their magical weapons so that they can fight Venger?
Just me?Â Bygones…
Previously, on Secret Six:Â There’s rarely such a thing as a normal mission for the Secret Six, but their latest outing has been a bigger disaster than most.Â After the realization that their new employer is building the world’s biggest prison with kidnapped slave labor, the team splits down the middle, with Jeannette, Scandal and Bane taking a stance against their boss, and Catman, Ragdoll and Deadshot trying to finish the mission.Â Of course, before the team could beat the hell out of one another, Wonder Woman showed up to save them the trouble.Â (Turns out that some of the captured workers were the Bana-Midghdall, an offshoot tribe of Amazons…)Â The assault was so fierce that Jeannette was forced to pull the last trick out of her bag, using her banshee scream to transmit the pain of her own death (at the hands of a drunken axeman during the French revolution) into Diana’s mind and felling the JLAer.Â Having dealt with that matter, the Secret Six became the Secret Three and the Other Secret Three, and Catman’s squad is introduced to yet another wild card in the deck, a creature who claims to be the Devil itself, and requests that it be allowed to eat Wonder Woman.Â That’s probably a bad idea, no matter how hungry you are.
We open as Jeannette returns to consciousness after last issue’s exertions…Â Apparently, dying is more and more exhausting each time you do it.Â We see the scene from Jeannette’s perspective, as she imagines Scandal, Artemis of the Bana-Mighdall and Bane in Shakespearian-era dress, including a hysterical puffy hand for Bane.Â She is confused, believing it to be her birthday, before the sudden realization drags her back down to Earth.Â “He’s cut off my head, hasn’t he?Â My husband,” says Jeannete with a sudden expression of dread.Â “He’s cut off my head.”Â The whimsical turns horrific, Scandal and Jeannette are both in tears, and I’m a little misty myself as the scene returns to reality.Â Â Scandal’s team sets off to free the enslaved Amazons, while Catman’s teamÂ meet their boss’s boss, a man of wealth and taste who has been around for a long, long year while many a man stole the stage.Â The creature calls itself Grendel, and it claims to be the literal, actual devil.Â As all this is going on, Ragdoll steals Wonder Woman’s tiara and boots, and wonders whether he could get into herÂ bodice.Â “Dunno,” replies Deadshot.Â “Lotsa people tried.”Â HA!Â I’m jealous of how easily Gail works in the comic moments without undermining the drama of the story…Â Diana momentarily returns to semi-consciousness and points to Catman.Â “You must free the Amazons,” she commands, and Cats is taken aback asÂ Wonder Woman touches him and crumples again.
Breaking into the stockades, Scandal Savage meets a squadron of armed men with automatic weapons, andÂ she channels herÂ centuries of badassery for a moment.Â “Thirty seconds to live, guards of slaves.Â Enough time to call a loved one, or to pray, perhaps…”Â The head guardÂ looks Scandal dead in the eyes, and…Â calls his wife to say goodbye.Â The sequence is beautifully drawn and plotted, and the look on the guard’s face as he realizes that she’s not bragging it nothing short of brilliantly rendered.Â After the tension of the first half of the book, a sudden outbreak of violenceÂ would almost be a relief, butÂ Gail has things she needs to do before the fight scene kicks in.Â Bane has an epiphany, Catman has an attack ofÂ conscience, and Scandal remembers her father’s training on the day of herÂ ninth birthday, forcing her to run a gauntlet of men armed with clubs.Â If she fails, her mother dies.Â Scandal is easily beaten down by the men, but Vandal Savage gives her one piece of advice.Â “Enemies are not obstacles to run from,” says the immortal to his offspring.Â “They are vermin to beÂ crushed, disemboweled and mutilated and their families killed to the last child mewling.”Â It was this day thatÂ he presented her with her Lamentation Blades, and in the present, Scandal uses that training andÂ opensÂ up a can of bloody whupass on every single guard, as Deadshot is given the final horrifying piece of the puzzle regarding the Amazons: They were legally extradited by the US Government after the events of Amazons Attack.Â Catman switches sides, and all hell breaks loose (literally) asÂ GrendelÂ escapes, still hungry for Amazon flesh, and thinking that the Secret Six would make a lovely dessert…
This whole arc of Secret Six has been a new and different beast, taking the team further into depravity and seeming evil than we’ve ever seen them, and each of the group has responded in ways I didn’t respect.Â Gail shows us the resolve of Catman, the professional ethics of Deadshot, Ragdoll’s indifference to everything except fun, Jeannette tragic core, Scandal’s odd nobility, and even the hero hiding inside of Bane.Â This book is ALL about character, and the characters here make decisions that almost seem to hinder the storyteling but are still true to what the reader thinks they would actually do.Â It’s a fascinating look into shades of gray…Â Nicola Scott’s art is, once again, beautiful, giving depth to all the expressions and characters, even the random guards and slaves floating about the issue.Â That said, this issue is a little weirder than some that have come before, and a little harder to get into because of that fact, but it’s still compelling and worth the journey.Â The standard “heroes team up to save the day” routine isn’t going toÂ resolve the issues at playÂ here, as I don’t see Wonder Woman letting any of the Sixers go free next time after what has happened over the last couple of issues.Â In a way, this is like reading an issue of Wonder Woman from the perspective of the villains, giving you a strange twist on a the familiar superhero tales.Â Secret Six #13 earns a slight-less-than-average-for-this-book 3.5 out of 5 stars.Â In an ideal world, this and Agents of Atlas would be fighting it out for top selling title every month, and I’d have a cheese sandwich and a pony…