SECRET SIX #36
Story: Gail Simone
Art and Cover: J. Calafiore
A $2.99 Comic
As a rule, it’s hard to keep the momentum up, and keep them interesting as villains. They usually end up as “anti-heroes”, and even become somewhat heroic, kinda like what happened to Deathstroke for a while. What is an anti-hero, anyway? A villain, right? Yes? No? Like the saying goes, the villain is the hero in his own story.
Secret Six managed to buck the trend, and kept this team of mercenaries and bad apples interesting and still pretty much had them true to their cores. Sure they all had their moments, Bane and Catman both had a sense of nobility to them, but still deadly. Scandal could have gone either way in her life, but growing up Vandal Savage’s daughter certainly has to give you a unique viewpoint. Ragdoll, well he’s just messed up. Jennette, she certainly loved her work and her play. Deadshot, yeah well he’s just a prick, but he’s a loyal prick. There have been other members of the Six over time, some quit, some died, some are still there, like the Shark. So what if there are more than six members of the Secret Six? (Heck the Big Ten conference has 12 members, and the Big 12 has 10, what’s up with that?) As a group, they could be hard to handle, sometimes lacked discipline (much to Bane’s frustration) but they had each other’s back, and would follow each other into Hell. (In fact, they did.)
It was their recent time in the pit of fire and despair that led them to their final mission. Bane found out that he was damned, and this refocused his goals. Since joining the Six, he saw himself as a noble warrior, doing the work that had to be done, but he didn’t think himself evil. He just had his own moral code, and he lived by it. But now that he knows he’s going to Hell, he decides that he needs to regain his place on Earth, he needs to destroy the Batman. Of course he’s already crippled Batman once, but Bane only watched Batman return, and become stronger from the experience. Bane’s own experience with his fellow members of the Six, and his attempts at a romantic relationship with a stripper (with a heart of gold) made him realize where Batman is vulnerable, through his friends and companions in fighting crime.
Plans are made, and Bane reaches out (ok kidnaps) Penguin, and gets intel on Batman’s “family”. With the Six, he heads to Gotham to kill Red Robin, Batgirl, Catwoman and Azreal, believing such a loss will cripple Batman enough for Bane to finally claim total victory. But, (as it often goes for the Six) things don’t go as planned. Betrayed by the Penguin, Bane and Company find themselves up against the combined might of the The Justice League, Teen Titans, JSA and Birds of Prey. So what are they to do? Well I don’t want to give too much away, but did you see “Butch Cassidey and the Sundance Kid?”
Gail Simone (who has written the Six, going all the way back to the Villains United miniseries before Infinite Crisis, made these crazy, messed up characters relatable and at the same time managed to keep them just on their side of the whole hero/villain spectrum. Along the way making them more loyal to one another than members of the JLA had been known to be, and certainly more interesting than half of the current League. Sure if I was going against Starro or Amazo, I’d want the League, but the Secret Six would be the kind of folks I’d think would be more fun to hang with. (Assuming they weren’t being paid to kill me, or my friends.) J Calafiore’s work on the book can be said to be the definitive take on characters like Catman, Ragdoll and even Bane. His style perfectly reflects the dark yet funny world that the Six inhabit. Sexy and rough around the edges, but strong and distinct.
Sadly, this issue is goodbye for now to the Six, as DC relaunches their entire line of superhero comics this fall. The Six somehow did not make the cut. However, I am sure these characters will find their way back into the New 52, and maybe if we are lucky, they’ll find one another too.