Secret Six #8

Written by Gail Simone
Penciled by Carlos Rodriguez and Amanda Gould
Inked by Bit and Amanda Gould
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

I worry at times that DC Comics waited too long to give the green light to an ongoing Secret Six series. The original Villains United mini-series was certainly a buzz book, and the follow-up Secret Six mini-series was well-received as well. Hopefully fans of those two stories aren’t missing out on the current Secret Six, because I have to say that I’m finding it a truly entertaining book month after month. In a wasteland of strong ongoing series, it’s nice to see some of them understanding the format.

With the race to find Tarantula and Neron’s Get Out Of Jail Free card finally over, the Secret Six gets to stop and catch its collective breath. And of course, that can only mean one thing: date night. Of course, when you’re a team of six super-villains, this is anything but an ordinary date night, doubly so when one of the four people in on the double date isn’t a super-villain at all but an unwitting civilian.

Gail Simone’s latest issue of Secret Six could best be described as a typical sitcom episode, if sitcoms regularly had assassins and mass-murderers as their main characters. So we’ve got all of the elements in play here; the tacky outfits, the cologne faux pas, the clueless outsider who isn’t entirely sure what’s really going, the bet/deal made between two characters that automatically handicaps them into going for a quick solution. At the same time, though, this is Secret Six and not The Brady Bunch. So deals involve not killing anyone for the evening, obstacles include former targets out for revenge, and so on. It’s a nice synthesis of the two different styles of sitcom and super-hero comic, and Simone handles the merge pretty effortlessly. Perhaps more importantly, the issue serves as an excuse to Simone to let the readers catch their breath after the previous seven issues of mayhem, and just have a lighthearted romp with a dash of characterization thrown in. With one of the cast being a brand-new character, it’s especially nice for the reader to start to learn a little bit more about Jeannette and how she works, as well as fitting in with the rest of the characters in the book.

Carlos Rodriguez turns in a serviceable fill-in art job in Secret Six; while it’s not as strong as regular artist Nicola Scott’s contributions to the series, he certainly holds his own. He’s at his best here when dealing with the action sequences; his art is extremely fluid and lends itself to elbows being thrown and characters sailing through the air. When it comes to the quieter moments, he’s a bit more variable. Some scenes feel like they’re lacking a bit of shape and strength to the facial expressions; other ones, like the guy dressed as a Blackhawk hitting on Scandal’s date, look just about perfect. (That sleazy wink paired with the strong jawbone is just about perfect, really.) Amanda Gould’s back-up story showing us the inner workings of Ragdoll’s mind as he sleeps is so cute and adorable that if the Tiny Titans creative team ever needs a month off, I know who they should hire to draw the comic.

Secret Six is a fun book, and best of all I think it works well with the monthly format, shifting from multi-issue stories with strong cliffhangers to one-shot stories that progress the overall story forward while standing on their own as well. It’s an entertaining comic, and it deserves much stronger sales than I think it’s getting. For those who are a little overwhelmed by the grimness of a lot of super-hero universe comics these days, you might be surprised at just how entertaining a comic starring super-villains can be. Check it out.

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