“The Skull Just Beneath the Flesh”
Plot: The Six finish up their sojourn in Skartaris and, what do you know, shed gallons of blood. And there are two angry dragons.
Comments: There ought to be some sort of special Eisner award for a comic that features a mask-wearing androgyne, with a bloody handprint dripping off said mask, forced to fight in his Superman tighty whities. Most Inappropriate Costume Ever, perhaps? But Ragdoll remains the hilarious mother hen shepherding Black Alice to a happier place and the other twisted relationships on this team persist as well.
“The Vampire Lady of the Undead” (as she was called last issue by an unwilling ally) is still enamored of Deadshot, and Bane and Scandal are continuing their deadly flirtation, despite her having slit his throat last issue as well. Daddy issues, she explains, and he accepts her apology. Did we ever know Bane would turn out to be an honorable recovering addict?
That’s just one of the strange changes Simone manages in her trek through the darkest side of DC. It’s nice to see Skartaris get one last chance to shine. This adventure acknowledges the lasting result of the last short lived Travis Morgan series (his death), leading his survivors to try and resurrect not him, but Deimos. And also Catman dresses up like him for awhile. I suppose it’s the animal pelt that sells it for him. Or maybe Shakira talked him into it, fellow cat-lady that she is.
We also get significant moments of sangfroid from Lawton, Giganta (“I fought Wonder Woman, champ,” becomes an especially chilling line as a coda to the issue), and Amanda Waller, who changes the status quo yet again. She’ll let everybody go if six (the magic number) keep working for her.
But really, at the heart of it all is Black Alice, figuring out her magic does work in another dimension after all, but mostly just trying to recapture an innocence that will never, ever return. Especially if she expects Ragdoll to be her guide.
Ahh, who’d want it to anyway? Life’s so much more interesting on the dirty streets and the battlefields of the fallen.