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Lives for a Life

April 19, 2010

     The next blockbuster arc of everyone’s favorite band of villains/anti-heroes begins with Secret Six #19, which starts out with a typically darkly fun rescue attempt.  Black Alice has gone undercover into a cult worshipping Brother Blood to locate the Six’s client’s son, and Deadshot, Catman, and Ragdoll await her signal while discussing their love lives and Ragdoll’s rather odd non-sequitors.  When Black Alice ends up asking about the son, she is bound and prepped to be sacrificed.  Jeannette warns Catman that Alice is about to die, but Bane refuses to let them go in.  Just as Catman is ready to ignore the order, Ragdoll goes in first and personally rescues Alice, crushing the head priest’s bones.  All the while, everything he says makes perfect sense.  Alice starts to develop a crush on Ragdoll, and Bane wonders about disposing of him.  In San Diego, a mysterious group of soldiers move in to kill Cheshire.  Cheshire takes advantage of the stupidity of one of the soldiers to start slaughtering them all.  Elsewhere in San Diego, the Six report in for their failed job.  Their rather old employer’s not mad at them, though he starts weeping about his lost son.  Three mysterious assassins come in and beat the crap out of Cheshire, and after the Six’s employer talks about the power of money, those assassins call Catman through said employer’s telephone to inform him that they have his son.  And they’ll let him have one year of safe life for every one of the Six Catman kills.

     Oh, this is so wonderfully dark.  Of course, it’s Secret Six, so it has to be dark.  The whole part at the beginning with the Blood cult and Ragdoll’s butterfly discussion was just awesomely gross.  The depravity of the cult, right down to them crying as Black Alice is about to be executed, is just great.  And Alice’s developing crush on Ragdoll is rather disturbing, to say the least.  Likewise, Bane’s willingness to consider getting rid of Ragdoll reminds us readers (if there was ever any doubt) that these people, even though they sometimes kind of like each other a little, are not good guys.  Both the Bane leadership thing and Catman’s kid have been subplots going on for quite a while, the latter longer than the former, and it’s nice to see Simone weaving them both into a single storyline.  It’s very smart storytelling, as should be expected from her.  This issue really establishes Jim Calafiore as a superb successor to Nicola Scott as the series’ main artist.  There’s a few places where his work seems to be quoting Scott’s even as it maintains its distinct individuality.  And Ragdoll’s brutal torture of the priest is very visually arresting.  This is Secret Six at its best, make no mistake.  I can only wonder with anticipation as to Catman’s response to his son’s ransoming.

Plot: 9.3      Art: 9.1      Dialogue: 9.4      Overall: 9.3

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