Thousand Faced: Secret Six-Unhinged

Secret Six-Unhinged
Writer:Gail Simone
Artist: Nicola Scott
Publisher:DC Comics

The writer with some of the biggest balls in comics may very well be a woman. Gail Simone is rocking this series and now I have a new favorite title.  Awhile back she wrote Wonder Woman and of late in this very column I lamented the loss of her skills on that book. I wondered where she went. I found a copy of Unhinged at the library when I looked at the cover and recognized Deadshot in the foreground. He happens to be one of my favorite Batman villains and an ex-member of The Suicide Squad, a government black ops team that isn’t hampered much by the need to not take lives. Hey it’s government, not heroes we’re dealing with here. Now Secret Six are mercs and they don’t give rats asses about casualties either, although they can tend to be a hair more selective in the whole deadly force thing than the kind of creeps that command government agencies. So Deadshot has street cred in my opinion and I took it home.

Glancing at the art by Nicola Scott I’m thinking it looks pretty good. First scene, an accountant is being taken to see a mob boss that dwells in a crate. The accountant got snookered by a woman who played his sad comb-over ass and took something very valuable to mobster-in-a-box. The meeting goes bad and the accountant is dragged into the box while given a choice of his life or the lives of his wife and daughters. He screams “Their lives” and is killed anyway while the killer condemns him with,”They all make that same choice.” Okay. No capes. No cowls. No powers…yet. There is just creepiness abounding. This is good.

Next scene Floyd Lawton (Deadshot) and Thomas Blake (Catman. Yes. Cat-freaking-man) are on an errand to buy ice cream. They happen onto a robbery at a Gotham City bodega being committed by a gang of white supremacists. Lawton is so offended by the lack of criminal professionalism he begins to give them unwanted schooling on how to thieve properly. Lawton does take the money as the punks don’t deserve it and Blake beats the crap out of the gang because he’s kind of conflicted on the whole hero or villain thing. Anybody that shags The Huntress regularly would have some conflicts.

The dialogue is snarky. The action is way cool. The characters are complex and interesting. There’s Bane who eschews Venom because he’s on a twelve step program. We get Ragman who would have to get a radical character upgrade to become perverse. The leader of the team, Scandal Savage is the bastard daughter of the immortal villain Vandal Savage and she drinks and vomits a lot because her girlfriend died recently and she’s not adjusting well. Really, this is like a good Quentin Tarentino movie and you know how hard those are to come by lately. It’s hah-ha-ha…ouch all through the merry ride.

The maguffin which produces the book’s long chase is a damned good one. A dark dork calling himself Neron and is supposed to be the actual Devil has created a “Get out of Hell Free” card and this is what crate Godfather wanted in the beginning. He wants it bad enough to hire Secret Six who have yet to find the other member but during the chase we get several choices and that’s the beauty of it too, good characters just keep popping up. There are many villains who want the money offered by those with a vested interest in getting off the hook karmically including Scandal who would like to redeem the soul of her dead lover. There’s even a banshee that was the girl who put ground glass into the meals of historically famous vampire and rich and entitled poster girl Elizabeth Bathory. Throughout the art is well done and of a standard I have come to expect from a title I want to read more of. Apparently there are others who feel the same way. I understand Secret Six is one of the hottest titles DC is putting out. Using a team which is half-filled with Batman foes is great. This is a bunch who have gotten the big beat down from one of the best. In fact, there is a fight between Batman and Catman that is very well done and pretty much a draw and that hardly ever happens. What makes it a solid event is that there is a sense that despite the spottiness of Catman’s past there is also a deep and abiding respect there on the part of the Bat and that’s also what Secret Six as a book has earned. Or to put it best in Ragman’s words as the hooker dressed as Scandal’s dead girlfriend burst out of the cake, “Oh the frivolity. It makes one regret one’s missing tackle. Most assuredly.”

by Bill Hilburn

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