Secret Six #16 review

In the DC Universe there are men who fantasize about sex with Mr Mxyzptlk. That’s the only conclusion to be taken from the scene this issue in which Deadshot and Catman take wannabe Secret Six member Black Alice to the strip club. There, exotic dancers appear as female versions of Mr Freeze, Eclipso and more. No one asks Ms Mxy for a private dance.

Before that, though, there’s a dark opening scene which sees a paedophile killer get the surprise of his life. I won’t go into details – suffice to say that I’ve learned more about torture than I’d ever wish to. This book really should have a ratings certificate, being set in the HBO section of the DCU. I know it’s about killers and deviants, but there are times to do a Hitchcock and pull the artistic ‘camera’ to one side. Even random crows bid to put me off my lunch. The scene is important though, in demonstrating that Catman is kidding himself if he really thinks he’s anywhere near being a hero.

Deadshot, never one to deny that he’s a scumbag, doesn’t take a shine to Black Alice – twisted teen borrower of mystical energies – as seen in my favourite panel this month (click to inflate). Character moments like this are why I buy this book. It really doesn’t need to try so hard in terms of pushing the envelope. It’s not hard to gross a reader out; what’s really clever is providing a compelling story peopled with intriguing personalities.

And writer Gail Simone does that issue after issue, so why not tone down the violence a tad (see also my rant on #13 and the flashback to Scandal’s brutal ninth birthday)?

The interaction between the Six and Black Alice is great, with our villains actually cowed by the idea of saying no to a moody young woman who can call on the power of the Spectre. Of course, a fight breaks out and its resolution pleases some more than others. If Alice is sticking around awhile, I’m a happy camper. She’s unpredictable, a mixed-up kid with the powers of a god, filled with spite one minute and on the verge of tears the next. With luck, hanging around with a bunch of reprobates like the Six while give her a reality check in terms of what are, and are not, advisable ways to make a buck. The kid needs a hug . . . and I wouldn’t be surprised were Bane to give her one, as it were, further putting recently deposed Six leader Scandal’s nose out of joint.

Scandal’s girlfriend, Liana, shows up this issue, hale and hearty; unless some pages were stuck together and I missed something, last time we saw her it seemed a spurned admirer was on the verge of doing something nasty to her. I guess he changed his mind. Men. So unreliable.

Regular artist Nicola Scott being busy with Blackest Night: Wonder Woman, Peter Nguyen interprets the script and a fantastic job he does too, supported by regular inker Doug Hazlewood and guest Mark McKenna. The opening splash of Black Alice channeling Phantom Stranger – the girl could easily get a job in the superhero strip club – is a keeper and he makes her look terribly cute as a Blue She-Devil (that’s the original version of Dan Cassidy’s alter ego, who’s not been in the DCU for years – maybe Alice can channel leftover magic). And as for Black Alice in the strip club fight, blimey O’Reilly. The Six look fine too, with everyone on model. I’d be delighted to see more from Nguyen if further fill-ins are needed. Colourist Jason Wright and letterer Travis Lanham do their usual splendid job of finishing the book.

Cover illustrator Daniel Luvisi produces his finest work yet here, with an eerily calm Black Alice atop a gravestone as the snow falls and Deadshot, the only shot of colour in a mono image, channelling Sissy Spacek – spectacular.

Interesting art, too

2 thoughts on “Secret Six #16 review

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