Gail Simone has always had a talent for writing fast-paced action punctuated with brief character moments and more black humor than most writers would be comfortable with, and Secret Six is the book that lets her and artist Nicola Scott get really filthy as they take a team of supremely broken individuals through the wringer, with few pretensions of good and evil in the traditional sense. “The Depths”, the book’s current 5-part arc, tears the team apart with ruthless efficiency, but the marvel of what would otherwise be a relentlessly grim arc is how heart-wrenchingly believable it is… and how much fun.
Secret Six #13 follows the now-split team in two directions. As Catman, Ragdoll and Deadshot stay faithful to the mission and learn more and more about the island’s purpose, they’re also tasked with hunting down their renegade teammates. Scandal Savage, Bane, Artemis, and a still-recovering Jeanette, meanwhile, decide to take the island’s security forces on in a bid to save the enslaved Amazonian prisoners.
With all that action, it may come as a surprise, then, that the book has a number of the very brief moments at which Simone excels to familiarize us with these characters. From Bane’s admiration at the precision of the prison to the single panel daydream of a bored Deadshot, the book revels in just how broken these characters are without asking for pity or compassion.
Scott contributes more than her fair share, meeting every single one of Simone’s twisted demands with what I can only imagine as a malicious sort of glee. The action sequences in the issue, though brief, are quick and gorgeous, with a keen eyes for setting up surprisingly natural panels and sequences that highlight just how dangerous, and how cool, these characters are. She also manages to illustrate a wide cast of characters, a number of different settings, and even a sepia flashback to Scandal’s past with equal skill.
Though the book is far from over, Secret Six is shaping up to be Simone’s masterpiece. Even by the high standards to which the book is generally held here, however, Secret Six #13 was an fun, exciting, downright excellent issue of comics. Along with Scott, Simone seems to be well on her way to crafting a cool, bloody modern classic.
– Cal Cleary