The End of the Secret Six

29 Jun

Catman of the Secret Six

Thanks to the recent push of digital comics, I recently tried out a “new” book DC prints. DC recently ran the lead into the Infinite Crisis for 99 cents and I decided to try out the six issues of Villians United. I never really cared for anyone in the book I knew of with the exception fo Deadshot . So imagine my surprise when I realized the book was mindblowing. And now, while attempting my best to buy the series as cheaply as possible, I discover the book is being cancelled with the run up to the DCnU. So should you try it even knowing it’s about to be cancelled?

Before I explain the best parts of the book, let me start with the things I wasn’t expecting to like. For one thing, I am a fan of the “true blue” DC heroes. I like Superman, Green Lantern, and Batman when they exemplify the best we can be. I like to see Superman as the classic untarnished hero. I never appreciated what happened to Hal Jordan long ago, and was thrilled when DC retconned the story to clear his name. The thought of reading a book about a series of villians was not appealing. Now, I admit I enjoyed the old Suicide Squad, but I always liked how Rick Flagg led the villians and forced them to do right. This book doesn’t have that. Each of the characters are true reprobates and honestly one of my favorite stories from the series is the “Cat’s in the Cradle” storyline where Catman sinks further into evil. The story made him much more real to me. Likewise, the thought of reading a book about a crazed, oversexed delusional doll of a man wouldn’t normally be my choice of reading material. Yet, honestly, the thought of losing Ragdoll is killing me. Gail Simone writes him perfect.

The other big thing holding me back from trying the book from day one were the character choices. I liked Deadshot from his days in the Suicide Squad and yet I always saw him as a poor man’s substitute for Deathstroke. Yes, I know he predated Deathstroke but he never seemed to make it nearly as big as Slade, and suddenly Deadshot was supposed to be a leading man in the book? Catman was almost always nothing more than a joke villian. Ragdoll was the child replacement of a somewhat disturbing 1940s era villian, who from all I heard was even more disturbing. Bane was the pathetic 90s era villian who was famous for one story, beating Batman and then being beaten everyother time he appeared. That left us the ladies, Scandal and Banshee, both new villians. Scandal’s father was the classic Green Lantern villian Vandal Savage. Banshee is probably somehow connected to the Silver Banshee, a useless Superman villian. Later on, they also added Black Alice, an emo teenager whose family was always having problems.

Somehow, though, Gail has made each of these characters so much more. Catman is suddenly good enough to go rounds with Batman and it actually makes sense. When he states that one day he or Batman will kill each other, I almost believe him. Deadshot is able to go toe to toe with Deathstroke and I can buy it. The new Banshee is much more interesting than the Silver Banshee. Bane is actually a well rounded character for once. Seeing his very weird affection for Scandal is touching and makes me wish the Bat writers could make him this interesting. The team is actually a truly unique part of the DCU that will be sad to lose come September.

So should you actually pick this series up? You have to know that it is not anything like what DC normally publishes. The characters are sexual deviants. Deadshot is technically seeing a dead woman. Ragdoll is a self-mutilated person, seemingly willing to spend time with anything. And don’t get me started on his relationship with his sister. These are all things I wouldn’t recommend normally, but if you have seen one American Pie movie, you have seen much more disturbing antics. The book is also exceptionally violent by DC’s standards due to the fact that it is led by a bunch of remorseless killers fighting people they may actually be worse than. Still, the artwork in the book has always been very good. Gail’s writing is definitely the show stealer though. These villians come across as much more real characters than many of the good guys in any comic book universe I read. Seeing Catman’s initial reaction to a “get out of hell free card” to seeing Deadshot finally repay “the Wall” for all the stuff she has put half of the DCU through, the book always pays off. There have been the occasional stories that aren’t quite brilliant, but I have yet to read any that aren’t worth reading. Give this book a shot and hopefully DC will get the hint. And although I have always loved the Suicide Squad, and am happy to see it getting a new book, I now actually will miss the replacements more than the originals. Never thought I’d say that.

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