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Out for Blood

May 12, 2010

      Catman’s son is in the hands of the enemy, and in Secret Six #20, he has to make the fateful decision of if he will follow the assassins’ orders to kill his teammates to save his son.  The lead assassin threatens him a bit, and Catman glares at the rest of the Six for a while.  However, he ultimately picks back up the phone and tells the assassin that he can go ahead and drop his son.  But he knows where the are, and he’s already picked up their accents, as well as that one of them has asthma.  So he will find them.  He hangs up on the assassins, and their employer, the old man, commits suicide.  Catman leaves his team behind and steals their jet, then goes to Cheshire’s house.  Cheshire is on the sofa, badly wounded.  The rest of the team returns to the House of Secrets, and Scandal Savage wants to help Catman.  Bane refuses and tells Scandal to go to her room in response to her “lack of discipline” and her cursing.  Scandal then tells Bane that their dream couldn’t last forever.”  In Bologna, Italy, Catman goes after the first assassin, the asthmatic, a skilled knife thrower who killed his own family.  Deadshot, Black Alice, and Ragdoll leave along with Scandal Savage, but Jeannette decides to stay with Bane and help him assemble a new team.  Catman bursts in on the Italian assassin while he’s having sex with his girlfriend, and Deadshot comments that he wants to help Catman because he isn’t “like them yet,” that he “hasn’t been to that place you can’t ever come back from” yet.  In the scuffle, Catman uses the assassin’s girlfriend as a shield to deflect some knives.  Then, he gets the upper hand and tortures the assassin to get the information he wants, claiming that his cape will bring the man back from the dead if he touches it (his cape is magical, but I’m not sure if that’s a bluff).  When he gets his information, Catman offers the assassin the cape.  However, the assassin’s hands have been nailed to the wall by knives, so he cannot reach.  And so he dies, and Catman goes on to track the second assassin.

     This issue is one of the most chilling issues of Secret Six ever, including from the two previous miniseries.  Why?  Because we’ve never seen Catman so… angry, so murderous.  He’s always straddled the line between hero and villain rather comfortably, but here, he is tossing all morals to the wind.  And he’s pretty scary.  Gail Simone established Catman as one of the toughest guys around, but this is the first time that we really, truly get to see just how tough he is.  It’s superb.  And the whole scene at the beginning is just so full of tension that it’s almost palpable.  You can almost feel all the thoughts racing through Catman’s head as he tries to make his decision and he eyes everyone around him.  That’s both due to the skill of the writer for the construction of the scene and the skill of the artist, Jim Calafiore, for instilling that tension in what he drew.  Likewise, you can see the fear in the red-haired assassin’s face as Catman delivers his ultimatum.  Plus, we have the great resolution to the Bane/Scandal relationship subplot and the possibility for multiple Secret Sixes.  I can’t wait to see just who Jeannette recruits.  This is the first time that I’ve enjoyed this book this much since the first arc.  Mind you, everything’s been superb, but the first arc had a level of quality that wasn’t quite matched by later stories.  Until now.  Simone and Calafiore and firing off on all cylinders, and it’s really not clear if the Six will survive this at all.  I mean, for real this time.  I can’t wait for the next issue of this story, and I can’t wait to see if Catman really goes off the deep end.

Plot: 9.5      Art: 9.3      Dialogue: 9.4      Overall: 9.4

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