Last month the spotlight was on Scandal, Deadshot and Jeannette, this time the rest of the team get to shine. Catman, Bane and Ragdoll dash around Gotham City rescuing rich kids being threatened by non-specific terrorists. We don’t learn who hired them (I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not Oracle in an off-the-books operation, pushing Catman on to the good path as an unasked favour to the Huntress) but that’s not important. What is, is that this is the best Six issue yet.
The concept is lean, yet the story is packed with incident and, better still, wonderful character moments. The subplot involving Catman’s possible redemption comes to the fore, as he enjoys being considered a hero for one night. Bane, meanwhile, is doing good in order to honour his old foe, the missing Batman.
And Ragdoll? Take a look, in this cute homage to some old TV show (as ever, click on the image for a better view). All we need is some celeb sticking their nose out of the window and my life would be complete. This is Ragdoll ‘the He/She wonder’ – have I missed something? Has Ragdoll always been a tad androgynous or is the bendy one getting himself confused with his brotherly sister, Junior? Whatever the case, in my review of #8 I said Ragdoll was becoming somewhat one-note. This issue, not so much. It’s not all sexual in-yer-end-oh! and there are even moments of sensitivity. Ragdoll, you’re off probation.
The interaction between our three anti-heroes – there’s no way I’m calling them villains this month – is priceless, going far beyond the banter this book is known for. Of course, there’s plenty of humour, but when it’s not cracks at the criminals, it’s dead-on comments showing how well these three know each other. And even when jibes are being thrown there’s affection and respect alongside.
The exchange of the issue comes after a would-be kidnapper tells Catman and Bane, ‘Back off, heroes!’ Bane is right. I can’t get behind him completely, given his tendency to break opponents’ backs, but the DC Universe has become so dark under Dan Didio’s watch that heroism these days seems less a matter of pure goodness than of perspective and convenience. By the time a ‘real’ hero appears at the end I’m agreeing with Catman about their sanctimonious nature. And that’s great writing from Gail Simone.
You can’t have failed to notice the art in the extracted panels. Penciller Nicola Scott, inker Doug Hazlewood and colourist Jason Wright once again make this DC’s best-looking book. I cherish the character work, whether we’re looking at the ridiculously buff Catman, steroid freak Bane, creepy l’il Ragdoll or realistic bit players (such as the hook-nosed hood in the splash page foreground). Equally appreciated is the storytelling – there’s never a moment when I don’t know what’s going on – Scott organises the action, Hazlewood underlines and Wright defines. It’s a winning combination and I’ll say it again, Wright deserves a cover credit as much as Simone, Scott and Hazlewood.
If you’ve not tried this book, seriously, give this issue a go. Hopefully the Battle for the Cowl flash atop Scott and Wright’s moody cover will bring in new readers who will come for the Bat, and stay for the Six.