This issue is part 1 of a 4-part story titled “The Reptile Brain”. If you’ve been reading Secret Six so far, you know what to expect from the set-up issue. Lots of great character moments setting up the conflicts that will come to a head before the final chapter. And like any issue of the Secret Six, you’re going to get some crazy action scenes, laugh-out-loud dialog and a healthy dose of moral ambiguity.
This issue has all of the ingredients I’ve come to expect from Gail Simone’s Secret Six. And yet, they were mixed in a way that still managed to pleasantly surprise me. 25 issues in, Secret Six is still the book I look forward to the most every month. Set-up issues are always a bit of a challenge because they are usually heavy on the exposition. Typically, conclusions are inherently more satisfying. But Simone packs this issue with so many wonderful moments, that it doesn’t feel like a set-up issue at all.
The issue opens with Ban’es new team in action. By the time Giganta was lifting the mafia boss’ yacht over her head and splashing it back into the ocean like a kid’s bath toy, I was ready read this team’s spin-off book. No surprise that Simone gets a lot of mileage out of regulars like Bane and Jeannette, but any time someone makes good use of Lady Vic, I stand up and take notice.
This is followed by a brief scene in which Deadshot pays a visit to Black Alice’s father’s doctor. In a recent issue, Black Alice revealed that she believed that her misuse of her powers might have given her father cancer. Deadshot questions the doctor and discovers that Alice’s theory might have some validity. So he threatens the doctor’s life and demands that he calls Alice and tells her that there is no way she caused her father’s cancer.
I positively love this scene. It’s exactly what I love about this series. Deadshot is a scumbag. At no point does Gail Simone ever pretend that he is in any way a hero. But even scumbag’s have some redeeming qualities. Floyd does the wrong thing. But sometimes (as in this scene) he does them for the right reasons. Later, when Alice gets the phone call and Floyd pretends to be happy for her, it’s pure gold. (Why do I expect Floyd’s lie will bite him in the ass sooner or later?)
Next we see Catman who is not in the best mental state after the ordeals of the last multi-part story arc. He has decided to end it all. And rather than taking a more mundane approach, Catman has opted to be eaten by lions… at the zoo. The rest of his team shows up to talk/fight him out of his decision. But it all becomes moot when a third party arrives and hires/enlists them.
Mockingbird, it seems, has been manipulating both teams. She has sent Bane’s team on a mission to conquer a Savage Land-esque world filled with dinosaurs and griffins. And now, she is hiring Catman’s group to take Bane down. Thus setting up the conflict for chapters 2-4.
In the “lost world” Giganta makes a comment about how she is dating the Atom. It was a bitter-sweet panel because apparently she hasn’t been reading the Titans. If she did, she would know that her boyfriend was killed off in one of the worst comic books of the year (in a year that includes the Ride and Fall of Arsenal, that’s no small feat.) It made me wish we’d get to see Simone write more Giganta/Atom stories. I suppose I’ll just have to look forward to the issue where Giganta steps on Deathstroke instead. (Make it happen, Gail!)
I believe this is the first issue of Secret Six I’ve written since Nicola Scott left the book. I still miss her art. I believe Scott is one of the most exciting artists working in comics today. In general, I’ve never been all that excited with J. Calafiore. I’ve always considered him to be an adequate artist for a fill-in while the regular artist gets caught up. But I have to say that Calafiore has really grown on me during his run on the Secret Six. I doubt he’ll ever replace Nicola Scott as my favorite artist for this book, but he really did a bang-up job this issue.
Secret Six continues to be the most consistently entertaining book on the shelves. If you haven’t yet discovered it or if you’ve been away for a while, this is the perfect issue to jump into the madness. You won’t be disappointed.