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The Evil That Men Do

June 18, 2010

Catman’s descent into darkness continues with Secret Six #21, which gives us a bit of his secret origin.  Twenty-five years ago, in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, young Thomas Blake was forced to kill a mother lion by his nasty game hunter father.  Today, Deadshot, Ragdoll, Black Alice, and Scandal Savage find the corpse of the first assassin.  Scandal points out how messed up this is, and the team realizes that they need a way to track him now, since he leaves no trail.  Black Alice steals Dr. Occult’s powers and finds Catman in South Africa, where he’s meeting with an old scumbag acquaintance of his to find out about the second assassin.  Seems the guy is a super strong metahuman who has never actually killed anyone; he just causes permanent damage.  As Catman follows up on the lead, Bane and Jeannette meet their four new teammates: Giganta, Dwarfstar, Lady Vic, and King Shark (oh the irony in the last one).  Dwarfstar waxes poetic about his love about killing and how the world is getting closer and closer to his way of thinking.  Then, near Cape Town, Catman finally finds the second assassin (or not assassin, I guess, since he hasn’t actually ever killed anyone).  In the back of the guy’s truck, Catman finds a doll that looks like a voodoo doll of him, and he remembers back when his dad starting beating up his mom shortly after killing the lion.  He then starts hallucinating with his stuffed lion that it’s the lion he shot.  His mom threatens to leave, saying that she’ll reveal to the whole world that his dad is having… sex issues.  Then, after remembering what Cheshire told him, Catman attacks the assassin.  Black Alice brings the team to South Africa, and she starts getting really pissy, misinterpreting what Scandal says.  She then attacks Scandal, stealing Etrigan’s powers and claiming that Scandal wants Ragdoll (despite the fact that she’s oh, I don’t know, a lesbian).  Catman beats the crap out of the assassin, then finds out that the man who hired them, the old guy from the beginning, is still alive.  Then, he leaves the assassin for a pride of lions with whom he has bonded…

My goodness, Catman has fallen into darkness.  I mean, we’re getting into territory that the other members of the Six wouldn’t venture into.  And they’re not exactly a group of moral people, mind you.  As usual, though, Gail Simone’s work on this book is her absolute best.  Somehow, she manages to get into these sick, twisted minds and really wreak havoc.  Of course, her little Dwarfstar thing is particularly creepy.  He’s another invention of hers from her time working with the Atom (Ryan Choi, who’s already dead before his time), and he’s definitely messed up.  The flashbacks to Catman’s past are also really creepy, and they really flesh out him further as a character.  It’s obvious that Simone intends for him to become the next major badass of DC, as she’s been working towards since Villains United, but he’s also going to be one of its newest antisocial personality disorder sufferer.  Jim Calafiore does more of his great work on this title in this issue, minus one problem.  In two of the panels in which Black Alice has stolen Dr. Occult’s powers, her arms and hands are so small compared to the rest of her body that they look ridiculous.  Okay, considering that he does everything else really well, it’s not that big a deal.  But it’s rather obvious, so I can’t help but point it out.  Now, I have no idea where Catman or the Secret Six as a whole will be after this.  Seems like there’s going to be two teams, and Catman won’t be on either one.  Wherever it goes, Gail Simone hasn’t led this group wrong from day one.  So I’m sure it will be as gross and awesome as the series has been this whole time.

Plot: 9.3      Art: 9.0      Dialogue: 9.3      Overall: 9.2

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