Time for the dueling duo to move away from the super hero genre, and take a look at those who are not heroes.  The Secret Six do what the wanna do, say what they wanna say, live how the wanna live, and allow only those who are really deserving into their group.  What say you Matthew and Stephen?

secretsixCOVER.jpgSecret Six #16
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Peter Nguyen and Doug Hazlewood
Cover by Daniel LuVisi

Previously, on Secret Six:  After a pretty much disastrous mission (fighting Wonder Woman, fragmenting the team, revealing Jeannett’s true, horrifying nature, causing a schism within the Six, leading Bane to take command and pull Scandal from field missions were the HIGHLIGHTS of the the gig) the Secret Six have gone to ground.  Feeling out of control, Deadshot went to visit Reverend Cramer from his Suicide Squad days in an attempt to keep from becoming a homicidal maniac…   Well, MORE of one, anyway.  As the Secret Six seek out a new member to replaced the benched Scandal, other forces are conspiring to ruin their day.

Stephen: I’ve been reading this series off and on since the beginning, and I’ve always wondered why we read about the exploits of a group of people who are murderers and criminals.  It’s oddly engrossing, especially when we really get to see what makes these characters tick.  This issue was one that really brought me back into the series with the latest appearance of Black Alice, and her desire to be part of the team.  If anything, the most awesome cover Daniel LuVisi should be enough to draw someone into at least picking up the book.

Matthew: The cover is GORGEOUS, literally breath-taking with a Black Alice who is at once silly, sexy, appropriately aged and photo-realistic sitting atop the graves of the Six.  A really beautiful piece of work to open things up, which does soften the blow when I find that the interiors are not handled by the usual art team of Nicola Scott and her seemingly magical pencils.

Stephen: I’m not terribly bothered by art change, although  Peter Nguyen does seem to draw faces a bit longer than they should look in some panels.  I like the page layout and the style that Nguyen brings to the book, especially in later half of the book, and I really like how he is able to adapt the other magical characters looks into Black Alice.

Matthew: I’m not familiar with Peter Nguyen that I’m aware of, but he does a fine job with his work here, even capturing details (Alice’s theft of the Phantom Stranger’s mystical prowess includes his old-school Jim Aparo turtleneck and hippie medallion) that most artists would leave to the imagination.

Stephen: I haven’t been following Black Alice that closely throughout the DC Universe, so I wasn’t aware she had gained the ability to use any magic power no matter how far away they are.  That bit threw me for a moment when I saw the opening splash page and wondered when Alice became the Phantom Stranger.  For one moment I had the fear I had missed something in Blackest Night.

I’m really curious what you thought of the opening sequence, especially with the M.O. of the serial killer.

Matthew: The opening, with the serial killer getting busted out of police custody bothered me until the reveal came, and Catman’s calm explanation to a grieving father how best to exact his revenge (“Start with the knees and elbows.  Cutting the joints produces far more pain…  When you flense him, don’t think of him as human…  It’s just a chore to be done.”) reminds me that even though the Secret Six are our protagonists, they are assuredly NOT heroes in the traditional sense.

Stephen: Agreed.  That explanation should put no doubt into people’s minds that these are not people you want to mess with, or even hang out with.  Even when things get out of hand at the gentleman’s club, they’re only looking out for themselves.

Matthew: A night at the gentleman’s club (villain-themed, with a stripper dressed as Mxyzptlk) goes badly, leading to a reunion between Scandal and her sweetie, Black Alice getting a gig with the team, a dose of the old ultra-violence and near-disaster, as every Secret Six mission seems to end.    Most stirring of all is the moment where Deadshot and Catman (a contract killer and a man who explained the best way to butcher a human earlier in the issue) discuss how disturbing Black Alice and her mood-swings are.  When the psycho-gunman and the blade-wielding man-lion are afraid of you, you are good and scary…

Stephen: For me the most stirring part of the issue was what happened in the parking lot following Alice going all Silver Banshee on the joint.  Instead of wanting to find like minded people to help her find purpose in life, she only wants to join the group to make money.  When it’s revealed she needs the money for her father, it shows that Gail Simone is cracking the lid on a character who may not understand the ways of the world by joining up with the Six, and I think she’s going to have a really rude awakening at some point down the road.

Matthew: It’s a strong outing by Gail Simone with some nicely handled art that does all of the characters justice, making Black Alice both creepy and relatable, reminding us what the characters are all about, and giving us a glimpse of how different things are going to be under the auspices of Bane’s leadership.  (It was really pretty evident that he was going to take command sooner or later…)  There are some problems with artistic clarity, especially during the fistfight at the stripclub (Have you heard my new band, Fistfight at the Stripclub?)  Even with the weaknesses, Secret Six #16 has a lot going for it, and ranks well above the average comic in the street, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall from Matthew.


Stephen: I think our Robot Overlord is going to hate us pretty soon for not arguing more over these issue it is making us review.  While I think we have some differences in the best moment of the issue, I think we are on the same page when it comes to art, story, pacing, and so on, as I’m giving Secret Six #16 an above average score of 3.5 out of 5 Stars as well.



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    • Our problem comes in the distribution of books. Stephen lives in a small town under a big snowdrift, and lacks the world-class operation where I get my books (Gatekeeper Hobbies, Huntoon & Gage, Topeka… Ask us about our Volume 1 Silver Surfer!)

  1. I love Black Alice, I’ve read every comic I could find with her starting with the one issue from Birds of Prey all the way through “Reign in Hell”. Last we saw her she had been traumatised by what Satanus showed her and she still lived with her zombie like ressurected mother(all she does is make pancakes and her dad isn’t coping too well).

    I didn’t expect her to be back to her old self so quickly, but nothing the team can do will scare/bother her, she saw into the mind/past of a demon from Hell and apparently recovered. She’s more hardcore then the Six and can chanel the Specter, which is the only mystical being she ever showed to need proximity to steal his powers in resent DC history. She stole Black Adam’s power simply by saying “SHAZAM” at one point for exemple.

    • I didn’t expect her to be back to her old self so quickly, but nothing the team can do will scare/bother her, she saw into the mind/past of a demon from Hell and apparently recovered. She’s more hardcore then the Six and can chanel the Specter, which is the only mystical being she ever showed to need proximity to steal his powers in resent DC history. She stole Black Adam’s power simply by saying “SHAZAM” at one point for exemple.

      Also worth nothing: I believe Black Alice is a Gail Simone creation, so she may be taking her original character tack, as opposed to what may or may not have been added later.

  2. I really liked this comic but not seeing Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood doing the art was a disappointment for sure.
    I do like that Black Alice is back but it is strange to see her so soon after her romp through hell and just as powerful as ever.

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