Secret Six #36 review

Take it from me, Blake. Good don’t last. But messed up, that goes on forever.

At the behest of Bane, the Secret Six are in Gotham to kill Batman’s loved ones. They tried to coerce Penguin into helping, but he’s been at this game longer than any of them, and has tipped off their mutual enemies. Soon the warehouse in which the villains are holed up is surrounded by a brace of heroes, and not just Gotham Knights. There are Birds of Prey, Titans, JLA and JSA-ers … with more arriving all the time. Can the Six bargain their way to freedom via some unexpected hostages, will they give themselves up or will they come out all guns/fists/blades/screams/teeth/bendiness blazing and take what comes?

It’s a tribute to writer Gail Simone’s character work over the last few years that I really couldn’t guess how our play would end. While the heroes were never going to let the bad guys walk, I could see a case for either of the other two scenarios, with perhaps a character or two coming out on the side of the white hats. What’s delivered is therefore surprising, yet elegantly consistent. Given that this book is being cancelled, I’m thrilled to bits that Simone at least gets to write an ending that’s true to her protagonists as they are now, and the series as a whole. But I’m sad that we’re unlikely to see Scandal, Bane, Catman, Deadshot, Killer Shark and Jeanette together again.

At least one of these characters is placed in position by the gracious Simone for a role in post-Flashpoint storylines, in a world with, so far as we know, no room for the Secret Six. Join me in  a ‘sigh’?

But let’s celebrate the fact that for three years we’ve had a super-villain book with an astonishingly high level of character work. Played-out old baddies, fan favourites and new characters alike were gifted depth, allowed to show soul in some of the twistiest, turniest storylines I can remember. And we’ve had consistently great, personality-defining art from the likes of original penciller Nicola Scott and outgoing illustrator Jim Calafiore.  

From the clever cover onward, Calafiore and colourist John Kalisz pull out all the stops to ensure the Six’s final fling is one we’ll be able to picture for some time after putting down the comic. Yes, the gathered heroes are impressive, but it’s the emotion on the part of the Six that really makes this issue fly visually. These guys are villains, united, but they’re people we’ve come to care for, with good alongside the bad, and it’s sad to see them so desperate, perhaps defeated.

This finale is packed to the rafters, there’s enough material here for a double issue. Simone and Calafiore keep the drama compact – too many big shots of the gathered heroes mean the eventual big battle is awfully squeezed – but the great moments are there to be enjoyed. My favourite sees Ragdoll giving Catman and Deadshot some good advice as they oversee Killer Shark’s supper arrangements (click on image to enlarge).

I love that while the Secret Six see themselves as no-hopers, scumbags unworthy of redemption, if you ignore Killer Shark and his somewhat primal needs, there’s love everywhere: Bane’s for Scandal and ‘Miss Spencer’; Catman’s for Huntress and, bromance-wise, Deadshot; Scandal’s for Knockout and Liana; there’s the Jeanette and Deadshot liaison … even Ragdoll has feelings for his teammates, though he’s arguably more into monkeys and a stuffed Parademon. 

In the end, it’s love that brings the Secret Six down. And that’s a kind of redemption.

12 thoughts on “Secret Six #36 review

  1. And the end has come. While I sit here quite sad that the Six are no longer to grace my presence, I can find myself resting easy in how this series ended. And to be honest, I think I can be content with a reboot NEVER happening. This series was perfect and will always remain so.


  2. This series was dark in places but never felt like it due to being actually laugh-out-loud funny month in month out as well.

    It was just the kind of book that was and is needed, and while it's come to an end, it's definitely going to be a high point of it's time in reflection.

    Nice write up!


  3. well in a sense Secret Six fans have something to look forward to next month. the new Suicide Squad title features 3 former Secret Six members (Deadshot, King Shark and Harleyquin)as leading characters.


  4. did you say something about being optimistic? i like the Secret Six but i'm a Suicide Squad fan and right now there's not a whole lot going on here to recommend it as of yet. i don't even now for sure if Amanda Waller is in it.


  5. The best villain book since Ostrander's Suicide Squad. From what I saw of the new Squad's writer in Legion of Doom, I don't think he's anywhere NEAR Simone.

    Great finale, with the focus on what makes the Secret Six unlike any other villain team.


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