Or – “A Betrayal In The Name Of Love Is Still A Betrayal…”

Scandal and her makeshift family are terrible, horrible, awful, not-at-all-good human beings (well, mostly human.)  With a combined bodycount that exceeds the population of Dayton Ohio, and a veritable museum of bad decisions behind them, any one of them could use a free pass to grace.  Too bad there’s only one miracle to go around…  

SECRET SIX #31 – “In Every Dream, A Nightmare…”
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: J. Calafiore
Cover Artist: Dan LuVisi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Colorist: John Kalisz
Editor: Rachel Gluckstern
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Secret Six: The various villainous personages that make up the Secret Six are a veritible smorgasbord of psychosis and dysfunction.  Deadshot is a homicidal, suicidal, potentially genocidal maniac.  Jeannette is an undead monster (with great fashion sense.)  Catman has the mind and killer instincts of a beast.  Bane is a machiavellian monster raised in the most horrible prison in the world.  Ragman is a vicious little maniac with a penchant for self-mutilation as an attention-getter.  Scandal Savage is an immortal murderer, daughter of the same, with daddy issues large enough to be visible from space.  Black Alice is a teenage sociopath, spiraling deeper and deeper into a life of depravity, madness and certain damnation.  King Shark, amazingly, is the normal one, he being just a cannibal smacktard with a shark for a head.  All of them have known loss, all of them have scars deep enough to plant crops, and each of them is about to realize how very much worse it can get…

Start With A Dream…

This issue is pretty much a perfect testament to why Gail Simone is one of our greatest living treasures.  Beginning with a sales pitch (a commercial for the Secret Six aimed at those who would hire them), the funny and the horrifying continuously parry for dominance.  For every stroke of hysterical fun (King Shark’s battle specialty is listed as “Chewing and Biting”), there’s a moment that makes the skin crawl (Scandal’s girlfriend Liana has another suitor, and his idea of love is painful, and I don’t just mean to watch.)  The balance continues, with slave Insignificus being the only one who can count to eight, and Scandal enduring a terribly real dream of her beloved Knockout being endlessly tortured in Hades.  (Would a New Goddess of Apokalips really go to the DCU’s standard-issue afterlife?)  Things quickly go pear-shaped, when Scandal finds the “Get Out Of Hell Free” card missing, and realizes that only one of her comrades has the subtlety and skills necessary to steal it from her:  Rag Doll.

End With A Nightmare.

If you’re like me, you worried that a battle between Rag Doll and Scandal would be a one-sided affair…  If so, you’d be right.  But if you thought that the one-side would belong to the mistress of battle, wielder of the Lamentation Blades, the immortal child of the immortal Vandal Savage?  That is where you (and I) would be mightily surprised.  “You’re one of THOSE!” cries the Doll, accusing Scandal of considering him to be a joke, a one-note jester, a laughable fool with no genitalia.  I actually feel myself tensing, my eyes widening, as ‘Doll snaps her arm, snarling “DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY OF THOSE PEOPLE ARE CORPSES NOW?”  Scandal rebuts his savagery by gutting him with her claws, and Rag Doll teleports away using the stolen infernal power of the card.  Fortunately, Black Alice knows all about hell (she is from the midwest, after all) and leads the team to a portal to Hell, located in a mall in Iowa.  The funny slowly dissolves as the team descends into hell, finding not one but TWO familiar faces waiting for them, as well as an army of demons and such.  Looks like somebody gon’ die.

The Verdict:  Holy. $#!+.

Jim Calafiore is one of those artists whom I’ve always appreciated, being responsible for a particularly beloved run of Marvel’s original ‘Exiles,’ but his work here is particularly perfect for the ugly truth of the Secret Six’s lives.  As for Gail Simone, her love for the twisted souls of the Secret Six (even though there are 8 of ’em) is clear in every disgusting, deformed and misshapen panel.  The fact that Scandal and Rag Doll’s battle hinges upon their respective desires to resurrect a loved one (ironically, both dead loved ones hail from the Fourth world) but shows them willing to kill ANOTHER dear friend is indicative of the type of care and craft that goes into every issue of this book.  From the beginning, it was clear that the Secret Six isn’t your father’s DC team, but each issue deepens their sick appeal.  All in all, Secret Six #31 delivers on all fronts, with snappy dialogue, impending war, and a little of the old ultra-violence (although I’m concerned about poor Liana’s situations) and earns this week’s second perfect 5 out of 5 stars overall. I love it when a comic week comes together…

Rating: ★★★★★

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Given the in-universe chance to resurrect any comics character, for whom would you endanger your soul?

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. Ricco
    March 4, 2011 at 11:02 pm — Reply

    The biggest shock for me was Gail Simone acknowledging the events of “Reign in Hell”, I never saw that coming.

    King Shark is still doing the best impersonation of Torq I’ve ever seen in a comic book.

    *As the team is contemplating going to Hell to free Knockout*
    King SharK: “I’ll go! I wanna go!”
    *A little later in the conversation*
    King Shark: “Wait. I wasn’t listening. Where are we going again?”

  2. Crash
    March 7, 2011 at 7:54 pm — Reply

    I still miss the silent and vicious King Shark from the past. The annoying brutal king shark we have now is fun but doll man plays the part much better.

    • March 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm — Reply

      I still miss the silent and vicious King Shark from the past. The annoying brutal king shark we have now is fun but doll man plays the part much better.

      King Shark has pretty much always been a tool, going back to his first appearances fighting Superboy. The one who was silent and vicious was Green Lantern villain, the Shark, I believe…

  3. Damascus
    April 23, 2011 at 5:18 pm — Reply

    Is Psycho Pirate still dead? Not that I’d put my soul on the line for him, but I’ve always found him creepy. And that can be a good thing.

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