Thursday, January 21, 2016

Secret Six #10 Review and *SPOILERS*

No Ending in Sight

Written By: Gail Simone
Art By: Dale Eaglesham and Tom Derenick, Jason Wright
Letters By: Travis Lanham
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: January 20, 2016

*Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Here’s me, all reading Secret Six and having a blast of a time; there’s you, all wondering what turpentine tastes like and reading some knock-off of Secret Six like Justice League or the Amazing Spider-Man. Here’s me, thoroughly enjoying characters like Strix, Porcelain and Ferdie; there’s you, sticking a fork into a live electrical outlet and announcing to no one that you avoid Gail Simone’s books because of her “political agenda.” “I prefer action in my comic books,” you begin, while spooning gunpowder into your tea, “not a bunch of people being polite and discussing gender all the time.” (Here’s me, reading about Catman fighting Aquaman and then telling him he smells like tuna and chortling lightly at your foolishness.) “I like Gail Simone,” you claim, as you use a Q-Tip on the inside of your fucking ear, for goodness sakes, “but she’s too reserved for my tastes.” (Here’s me, reading a scene where Big Shot is yelling at the other team members for having weird sex on the couch and smiling inwardly at your closed-mindedness.) You don’t read Secret Six and that’s your problem, not mine. If you want to get a glimpse of the fun of this book, read on to my review. But know that it does not, in any way, simulate the experience of actually reading Secret Six!

Explain It!:

For this review, we’re going to become mystery-solving sleuths just like our favorite band of anti-social misfits, the Secret Six. They’re the group with the hippie van and the talking dog, right? So today we’re going to investigate the Case of the Missing Comic Book, because I believe—with all of my might!—that this story arc was truncated by one issue while it was being produced. Why do I think that? Well, I have to cynically note that this arc is four issues—not the usual five or six that fit neatly into a trade collection. For another thing, the ending is very weird...but let’s not get ahead of ourselves! We open with a shot of Thrumm, one of the Lovecraftian Old Gods that have been leaking into our dimension since the Secret Slicks started destroying these alabaster pillars in order to save Black Alice. Aw, what the heck, I’ll do a recap: Black Alice’s power to temporarily drain magic from DCU’s Dark Line (if such a thing even still exists) was weakening mystical defenses against these terrible Old Gods, who apparently always want into our dimension no matter how much we tell them they’re not invited. The DC magic club wants to kill Black Alice to stop this process, which doesn’t sit well with the Secret Shlicks, but she is overloading on magic and is going to die anyway. Meanwhile these hooded nerds that call themselves the Children of Arion, who say they are “true Atlanteans” but are so obviously not, tell the Seacrest Six that they can destroy these four giant pillars made of alabaster and that will free Alice, and oh guess what that will also allow the Old Gods into our dimension and stuff I totally forgot to mention that heh heh. So the Sneakret Six have been doing this, they already destroyed two pillars and fought some blobulous Old God last issue so this is totally happening you guys.

Okay, so in the present we see some awesome shots of Superman just beating down this robot that looks to have come from Brainiac because it’s got the Brainiac symbol for a face. This is really some awesome Superman, not only because he is expertly and swooningly rendered by Dale Eaglesham, but because he looks like he is being Superman! Just eye-zapping robots and smiling as he saves helicopter pilots and being the awesome hero we love to see him being. If these three pages don’t make you grin, then go to the brain doctor because there is definitely something very wrong with you. His whole punching ballet is narrated via captions by Zatanna, who is waiting on top of the Daily Planet to tell Superman that the Secret Dicks are in Metropolis to wreak havoc. While that’s going on, our posse is in the subway system below looking for…two alabaster pillars? Ah HA, my faithful sleuths, here’s another clue to our mystery: why would there suddenly be two pillars in this location when there was but one in the others? Could it be that a final showdown with the toughest alabaster obelisk of all was foregone for some untold reason?

Meanwhile, back at Scandal Savage’s apartment (where Black Alice was dropped off a couple of issues ago, forgot to mention that in the recap) Alice is begging Scandal to kill her so she doesn’t inadvertently cause Armageddon. It seems pretty heroic of her, but more importantly there’s this scene where Alice was walking through a potential futuristic hellscape that is so incredibly rendered by Dale Eaglesham that it has become my cell phone’s wallpaper. Over in Metropolis’ underground, Superman shows up and of course the Secret Six attacks him because they are incredibly awesome. Then we cut back to Scandal Savage’s apartment, and we see her kill Black Alice with her gauntlet that has Totally Not Wolverine Claws on it! But Black Alice doesn’t die? No, it turns out that she has been the embodiment of some Old God, I think, that possessed her body when she died in a car accident several years ago. And Black Alice decides, hey, she doesn’t feel like dying or destroying the world right now, so she walks through a portal, leaving a confused Scandal and Ragdoll and readership behind.

While Superman fights the Sweetest Six, Shawna Belzer knocks him about with her telekinetic powers, but the more interesting thing is that Porcelain touches Superman and forms cracks throughout his body! Will he survive this? Black Alice shows up via the fuck you portal and tells everyone she’s all better now, so stop fighting, k? And then at the very end we see Alice walking down the sidewalk to the suburban home she shares with the rest of the crew (if you will remember from several issues ago), wrapping everything up in some neat exposition: Superman “got over” being cracked up by Porcelain, and oh yeah the Children of Arion who we didn’t even fucking see in this issue were eaten by Thrumm, the evil monster from the prologue, which then fucked off to parts unknown I guess. And that’s our final clue, my mystery-solving and gorgeous readers, in the Case of the Missing Comic Book: the ending landed like a wet fart and was mostly handled in exposition detailing things that happened off-panel. What. The. Fuck.

It was pretty disappointing, I can’t lie. I love Dale Eaglesham’s work from here to eternity, and particularly loved how he seemed to channel Bernie Wrightston for some panels of Thrumm. Gail Simone’s talent at characterization is evident, as well, at the beginning of the book; the way the members of the Secret Six interact with Superman is so telling about who they are and why they would imperil our reality to save a friend. But then it all kinds of wraps up in four pages, neatly explaining away a few things that, you know, I would rather have seen explored. Why is this comic book such a punching bag at DC Comics? Gail routinely mentions that Dan Didio champions this book, so does editor Jim Chadwick have some problem with it? Or is it always on the verge of getting usurped by some line-wide brouhaha that might derail its detailed story lines? I don’t know what it is, but I don’t like it. When this book is kept in the dark, it is a confusing, frustrating lot of patter that includes a lot of superfluous characters—I didn’t even mention a whole thing between Porcelain and the banshee Jeannette, because it barely figured into the plot. When this book is allowed to shine, it is a beacon on our path to wisdom and understanding. Catman’s butt.

Bits and Pieces:

This story arc was cut by one issue for some reason, I would swear to it. As a result, the ending of this issue and the whole tale of Black Alice and the Alabaster Pillars fairly well sucked. Between the pause for Convergence and truncated stories like this, Secret Six could join an abuse survivors group…if the book survives, that is. Ah well, at least Dale Eaglesham’s art is spectacular, as always.

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  1. So wait black Alice is some random demon Now or is the real one back in controll of her body?

    Wonder why Gail pulled a shamalan on the readers

    1. lol...i just read it and I don't know!!!

  2. Sweet mother of god! I kept flicking back through the pages to see if I had somehow skipped a some but nope, it just is that stupid. Do you think I can get a refund on this and the other issues in this arc. After all DC and Simone did kind of promise to tell me a story and in the end they just couldn't be bothered. No writer, no editor nor publisher could ever stand over this as story that respects the reader or even respects the craft of comics. Can you tell that I'm pissed off? I was hoping this book was going to scratch the itch I have for the Dark DC Universe but I'm dropping it.

    1. This book has really had some problems. I was talking to Reggie and we both think there are at least two issues missing from the run...why does it feel that way???

    2. It is demoralizing, because you see glimmers of hope and funny points in the book, but the way this arc ends you can't help but feel ripped off. I would stake this website on my claim that this arc lost an issue while being produced--there were four alabaster pillars to tear down, but conveniently two of them are side-by-side in Metropolis? Not a good look!


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