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Switching Batters

January 14, 2010

      Gail Simone’s completely insane Secret Six reaches a rather surprising turning point in its latest issues, one which I totally didn’t see coming.  The two separate Secret Six teams regroup, and the mysterious devil is named as Grendel.  Elsewhere, Liana tries to contact Scandal Savage, but obviously, she’s busy.  Even though Jeannette is reluctant, she, Scandal, and Bane help Artemis locate the missing Amazons while Scandal has a flashback of when she was first forced to kill by her father, Vandal Savage, and goes ballistic.  Following the words of Wonder Woman, Catman switches sides and frees the Amazon as Grendel is also freed.  Seems Scandal used Venom to get that tough, and Bane isn’t too happy about that.  Mr. Smythe’s female bodyguard is revealed as an Amazon who used to be in charge of the healing Purple Ray who now cannot die.  Ragdoll also betrays Mr. Smythe, Deadshot shoots the Amazon woman, and Wonder Woman snaps Grendel’s neck.  Bane officially removes Scandal from the team because he cares about her, and Deadshot kills Smythe off by himself.  He then returns to Gotham City to reflect and seek answers about why he’s feeling all these random homicidal urges in an issue written by Suicide Squad scribe John Ostrander.  An old pastor of his who knows all about him helps him realize that these problems stem from the death of his brother and his association with Batman, and Deadshot returns to the Six.  After helping a man get revenge for the rape and killing of his daughter, they are confronted by Black Alice, who wants to join the team.  After a brawl in Liana’s workplace, Alice reveals that she needs money to help her father, and Bane lets her join due to her immense power.  Catman also notes to Deadshot that she didn’t even blink at all the horrible things she saw the team do, wondering just how dangerous a person she really is.

     Even though Scandal is officially off the team, it’s obvious that she’s still going to be a regular presence in this title.  So I’m okay with that.  I really like where the Bane-Scandal father figure subplot is going too.  The whole concept of Mr. Smythe and Grendel was really gruesome, just what Gail Simone seems to specialize in, but admittedly, in the end, it wasn’t as cool as what she did with the first arc and Junior.  Rather, it was the stuff with Jeannette, Artemis and Wonder Woman, and Scandal and Bane that was most interesting.  I do like how well this fit in with her run on Wonder Woman too.  And it’s good to see that Ostrander hasn’t lost his touch, because rather than feeling like an awkward one-shot, the Deadshot story fits perfectly along with the rest of the title.  I’m also excited to see Black Alice, one of Simone’s superb creations, on the team.  That brings in the possiblity of Misfit and Birds of Prey involvement too.  Nicola Scott’s art is, as usual, absolutely excellent, so it’s rather jarring when we suddenly switch to Carlos Rodriguez.  Rodriguez’s work is good, but it just looks so much like a lesser version of Scott’s work, which makes it pale in comparsion.  Jim Calafiore is a great choice for the new artist, and his work on the Deadshot story was superb.  Peter Nguyen’s work was not quite as good, with everyone’s faces looking way too long, though his designs for Black Alice were rather nice.  This series is still going strong, even if it isn’t as great as it started out as, and I’m glad DC is letting a book that clearly doesn’t seel as well stay alive, because it’s good fun for those of us who read it.

Plot: 9.2      Art: 8.8      Dialogue: 9.3      Overall: 9.2

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