I think itís safe to say that Gail Simone work on Secret Six is the best monthly currently published at DC. With Grant Morrison having finished up his run on Batman, Action Comics currently dragged into a adequate, but not amazing, cross-over, and Green Lantern busying itself with defining the rainbow instead of seeing where it lands, Secret Six has risen to the top of the pile. What Simone has accomplished on this title is a perfect mix of dark humor, action, drama, characterization, and story.
I think my love for this series stems back to my interests in superhero comics slightly beginning to evolve over the last few months. While I still enjoy, and buy, the standard overly serious superhero soap opera, Iím beginning to lean more towards works that deliver a broader range of emotions instead of every character always having a snarl or grimace on their face. Iíve always considered myself a fellow who looks for the humor in every situation, whether itís just because I love to laugh, or it helps me cope with the minimal drama in my life, but I believe that same feeling is starting to seep into my expectations of what makes a ďgoodĒ comic book. To put it in simple terms--I value the worth of a well timed punch-line, and Secret Six never disappoints.
Issue #5 has quite a few moments of well timed comedy. Whether itís Junior counting down his current stack of bricks, the Shark caught off-guard when finding out he is target numero uno, Ragdoll mistaking Chesire for a flying prostitute, or the overly gross and ridiculous reveal of Juniorís identity, Secret Six #5 had me smiling ear to ear for all 22 pages. And whatís so great is that all of these moments are peppered throughout some fantastic action, as well as some intense internal drama among the Sixís team members.
For example, Iíve never liked Bane. Not only did he break Batmanís back but he just seemed like a lame thug to me. Thatís until Simone took him under her wing and gave him a personality in the pages of Secret Six. And itís here in issue #5 that we really get into Baneís head with an amazing inner monologue as heís being tortured by Junior. This sequence made me both respect and root for the man.
Then thereís Nicola Scott, whoís become the dream penciller for this series. I remember getting in a discussion with a friend after the first issue of this new Secret Six series launched where we talked about how Scottís art was great, but werenít sure if it was good enough to top what Dale Eaglesham did with these characters all the way back in Villains United. But after five issues shipped, Nicola Scott has become the definitive artist for this cast. The fact that every panel I get to see Deadshotís handlebar mustache causes me to grin, making me wonder just how any of these characters could take the man seriously, is reason enough to conclude Scott has the greatest handle on these characters. I also have to say Nicola Scott nailed the final splash page revealing the identity of Junior because itís absolutely disturbing. I think itís the saggy old lady boobs draped in shadow that does it for me. But I also canít help laugh at its absurdity which brings us right back to what I was saying before--Secret Six is the perfect fictional cocktail.
I get the same feeling reading Secret Six that I do when reading Matt Fractionís Invincible Iron Man. Where most superhero stories go out of their way to be overly serious in order to sell the notion of a bunch of grown men wearing underwear outside their pajamas, Gail Simone and Matt Fraction take the road less traveled and enrich their stories with all human emotions, including humor, even if it does go against the standard superhero soap-opera tropes.
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