Gail Simone’s Secret Six gets a lot of positive press on this site, and with good reason – while it shares a lot in common with most superhero titles, the book’s combination of character-based storytelling and dark humor makes it unlike any other comic being put out by the Big 2. In a market where most books distinguish themselves with overblown events and pronouncements that ‘nothing will ever be the same again’, Secret Six is a book you can count on to distinguish itself with top shelf writing and an art team that knows how to translate the ideas perfectly to the page.
Secret Six #30, the first in a two-part crossover with the Doom Patrol, was much, much stronger than recent issues, a return to form after a deeply flawed crossover with Paul Cornell’s Action Comics. Like the best issues of the book, Secret Six #30 was weird, funny and exciting at the same time, featuring a hilariously retro slacker super villain and a sequence in which Bane propositions a stripper with the line “I Wish to mate. Here are bargaining tokens they told me to purchase. Shall we begin negotiations?”
The plot is sweet and simple: Eric is a go-nowhere slacker whose stepdad hates him and whose mother is a doormat. But when his grandfather dies, he leaves him a particle cannon, a harem of busty villainesses and three billion dollars with the mandate to bring crime back in style – or rather, to bring style back to crime. Founding C.R.U.S.H. (The Companions Recently United to Spread Hate), he decides he wants a secret volcano lair and buys the services of the Six to evict the Doom Patrol from their Oolong Island residence.
Artist Jim Calafiore has by now fully grown into the book. If he lacks the very natural chemistry Simone had with Nicola Scott in the book’s opening issues, he has found a style that lets him match Gail’s rampant, hilarious madness. A lot of the books funniest aspects involve body language and facial expressions, something few artists do well and Calafiore nails – Bane’s confrontation with the strippers wouldn’t be half so funny without his slightly bewildered, painfully earnest expression, and Calafiore manages to convey something like disinterest or even boredom in Negative Man’s posture, something that can’t be easy on a character with no facial features who has comics’ most notorious pervert wrapped around him in a full-body embrace.
The Doom Patrol and the Secret Six are a match made in heaven, though they don’t have nearly enough interaction together in this issue. Both are teams of weirdos and outcasts, operating far outside the mainstream of DC’s other costumed heroes and villains. They deal with the problems no one else particularly wants to, and they do it with a sense of humor. And, as Ms. Simone has recognized here, with a sense of style that is sadly lacking from most modern villains.
Grade (SS#30): A-