Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Secret Six #13 Review and **SPOILERS**

Family Splatters

Written By: Gail Simone
Art By: Tom Derenick, Jason Wright
Letters By: Travis Lanham
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: April 27, 2016

**Non-Spoilers and Score At The Bottom**

Last month, I initiated the Beg Greg Berlanti to Make a Secret Six TV Show campaign with a sensible pitch and a plea to put Catman on television. It’s a brilliant idea, considering the Suicide Squad have been requisitioned for a summer blockbuster and the Secret Six is always made up of characters no one else wants to use, anyway. I have seen no picket lines or heard of any petitions in support of my concept, so I figure everyone must be in the planning stages of what is going to be the most important media demand of the year! While you are all sewing your Scandal Savage and Strix costumes, I want you to think about the best ways we can bring more visibility to our movement: what can we do, and where should we do it? I can think of no better way to prove the viability of a Secret Six TV show than for every neighborhood, town and village in America to form its own Secret Six crime-fighting club, comprised of the area’s most noble outcasts. Think you can get that done before the final issue of Secret Six is out next month? I know you can! Now read my review to get pumped for the campaign!

Explain It!:

Here we are, at the penultimate issue of Secret Six for the foreseeable future. One might expect an average creator to be winding down the title, tying up any loose ends and making the characters give expository speeches that serve as allegories for the creative team’s time on the title. Not Gail Simone, though, instead she pulls six aces from her sleeve and four aces from her boot and a another eleven aces from parts unknown, just before the last hand is dealt. And we’re playing Uno. So last issue left off with Big Shot meeting up with his estranged and once-dead and then once-brainwashed wife Sue Dibny, which turns him into Ralph “Elongated Man” Dibny for good. This invigorated the team to retrieve Strix, who had agreed to go with Lady Shiva to the League of Assassins because it is Rush Week or something. Well, the first thing they do is have a cookout on the porch of the Dibny’s suburban home, because who wants to tackle the League of Assassins on an empty stomach? The team is hanging out, talking about how they wish Strix was there because she always won the hot dog eating competitions, when corrupt Officer Hennings strolls into the yard with a bunch of uniformed cops behind him. Catman’s got priors, so he’s very defensive, but Hennings is actually there to help: he knows where the League of Assassins is hiding out, probably because it’s down the block from a donut shop. He figures that if the Secret Six gets killed by the League, or they get that sweet kid Strix back from its clutches, he wins either way. Just then, Catman gets a call on his celly from Scandal Savage, who informs him that she wants him to be the sperm donor for a kid she’ll raise with Jeanette, and some other woman who is lying in bed with them that I couldn’t identify. He’s honored by the request—something I didn’t really expect from Catman—but asks that she do him one little favor…to be revealed later on in the issue. See what I mean? This is just the beginning of the comic book, and it’s already jam-packed with fire for the brain rotisserie. And you want to know the craziest thing? I didn’t even describe the actual beginning of the issue, which deals with Strix’s initial arrival at the League of Assassins!

Strix has been sent to the lamest day camp around, and she’s none too happy about it. There’s sort of a My Fair Lady thing going on, with Lady Shiva telling Strix she has to do away with her previous life, and learn to indulge in a world of champagne, caviar, and a distinct lack of garden gnomes. Inside a lavishly-appointed penthouse apartment, Strix is given a text-to-speech tablet to replace her notepad—and Shiva even has to threaten the lives of her teammates in order to get her to use it. I can understand that, whenever I mention any kind of technology to my mother, she acts like I’ve requested a kidney. I told her I could set it up so she could play music wirelessly to her stereo, she almost kicked me out of the family! You can tell Strix doesn’t love her new tablet computer, probably because it can’t access the Weird Science DC Comics site (that being as much a facet of the url as anything else), but she uses it anyway because, you know, threats against her family. Cut back to the Dibny’s, where Porcelain and Ferdie get the chance to tell us how much Strix means to them through captions. Ferdie’s exposition is pretty adorable, actually, and explains how he knows full well about feeling manipulated by others like a puppet…namely because he is a puppet. Though he is just walking around like a regular ALF or something, so who knows. I’m aware Shawna has strong telekinetic powers, so I’ll grant that’s how he’s getting his stroll on. Also: we see Scandal Savage putting on her evisceratin’ claws and exhorting her compatriots to get out of bed and suit up (a hot shower) because Catman needs ‘em!

Back at the League, Lady Shiva shows some guy her plan to break Strix and prepare her to take Shiva’s place—that’s her diabolical plan, and why she needs someone that’s already a killing expert, and not some brown-nosing initiate. Shiva has gathered six people who will play the parts of the Secret Six, by dressing in variations of their costumes and, uhh…sort of looking like them, I guess? So Strix has one minute to kill each contestant—take too long, and their actual counterpart dies. If Strix falls, then the whole team is killed. You know Shiva, if you’re trying to get someone to forget their family, maybe bringing them up constantly by way of threatening their lives isn’t the best way to go about it? Anyhow, the game is afoot—so let’s watch! First, a low-budget Bane comes in and essentially says all the stuff I already explained. He breaks Strix’s Talon mask, which cheeses her off because it was her only one, and this sends her into berserker mode where she caves his head in. The remaining five are easy, Strix mostly makes them kill each other and cuts the rest of them up like a New York style pizza pie, much to the delight of Lady Shiva.

It is with a heavy heart that I review the next-to-last issue of this series. Only now, at its end, do I feel like the team has really congealed, and there doesn’t seem to be any editorial interference choking things up. My only problem with this book was the art—not terrible, but looking a little rushed at times and not generally up to the standard I expect from Tom Derenick. It does the job, however, and all of the heart-breaking moments of Strix’s induction into the League of Assassins are evident. Man, I can’t wait until she and the rest of the Secret Six kicks their asses in the next, and final issue.

Bits and Pieces:

Strix is in the clutches of Lady Shiva and the League of Assassins, and it's up to the Secret Six to save her! Right after some grub...and recruiting help from some likely and unlikely friends. The art in this book looks a little hurried along and not up to the usual standard, but it doesn't take away from some great character moments, some gross and slicey fight scenes, and the usual dark humor we've come to expect from the series. Next issue is the last one, so expect a doozy! 


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