Editor's Note: Although we normally post up reviews for single issues, we are playing catch-up with Secret Six and with this multi-issue review we are caught up to what is currently out.
Secret Six #31-33 deals with the storyline involving the now infamous “Get out of hell free card” from the first storyline of the ongoing series. Things have changed a little for the title:
Nicola Scott has left the book and handed art duties over to J. Calafiore.
Daniel Luvisi has signed on to be the ongoing cover artist for the series.
Gail Simone seems to have lost the will to write interesting stories, and instead has resorted to throwing dark gibberish at the wall and wondering what will stick.
If it hasn’t became clear yet, I used to be a fan of Secret Six, I loved Villains United, I thought the miniseries Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation was incredibly fun, and the crossover with the Birds of Prey was well written, and then we get the ongoing, which with the first storyline introduces us to new member Bane, and the idea of a get out of hell free card.
Then something went wrong.
I don’t want to blame the problems on Daniel Luvisi or J. Califiore, who when they came on the series, the series went on a downward spiral, even though Califiore art isn’t for everyone, it is not fully to blame for this downward turn. For the failure of the series, I blame the writer, Gail Simone. She doesn’t seem very interested in writing character driven stories anymore, and is more concerned with writing incredibly dark and stupid storylines for her own entertainment. Which brings me to the latest Six storyline “The Darkest House”.
The storyline revolves around that now infamous “Get out of hell free” card, which does exactly as it says on the tin. Any hero/villain in the DC universe can do the most unspeakable acts, and when they die, and if they hold the card, they will escape eternal damnation. It’s an interesting concept. One that the series has chosen to ignore up until now, when Scandal Savage, the current holder of the card, decides she wants to bring her ex-girlfriend Knockout back from hell.
Right about now I should say what my main issue with this is. Ever since issue #8 of the ongoing, Scandal has been dating a stripper named Liana, who seems to make Scandal happy, and she seems to finally be getting on with her life. This is one of the things I liked about this relationship, Scandal has finally moved on after the death of Knockout, and is moving on with her life. Simone should be commended with trying to show that a gay relationship is that exact same as a heterosexual one. You don’t just jump into bed with the first person you meet, but at the same time, you don’t need to feel alone all the time, and at some point you have to move on with your life.
Then Scandal one day wakes up and says “F**k it! F**k Liana! I want Knockout back!” And Scandal goes to get the card from her hiding place, only it is not where she left it, and she realizes that one of the Six has stolen the card. That someone is revealed to be Ragdoll.
Ragdoll is the comic relief of the Six, and can be funny, in small doses, however to Gail Simone, small doses means he’s in every other page of the comic and you want to reach through the comic and tell him to shut up. Scandal understanding the reader’s frustrations kills Ragdoll and decides to descend to hell in search of Ragdoll, and get the card from him to bring back Knockout.
As this goes on Scandal’s current girlfriend Liana is kidnapped by a crazed ex-boyfriend who believes he can pray out the gay in her and kidnaps her to set her right. This storyline gets about seven pages in about seven issues, and is actually more interesting than the hell story Simone chooses to tell.
The Six descend to hell and face Ragdoll, who has somehow become the new leader of hell, in a bizarre who cares twist and we are told how he is set to marry Knockout. Scandal, still in love with Knockout tries to remind her who she really is and get her out of hell. In a poorly dialogued several page scene as we are told by Ragdoll about the get of jail free card “You’ll all be here soon…” the Six seem non too fussed by this news, as they all know they are killers. Except for Bane who seems taken aback by the news and asks what he’s done to deserve this, and starts to ask “If I’m already going to hell….then my actions have no purpose” which is true, and the only thing in this comment that stuck with me. If you know you are already eternally damned no matter what you do, why would you make the effort to be good or moral?
Ragdoll soon realizes that the Six are his family and he needs to go back with them, after several pages of gibberish dialogue and poor art the team decides to leave hell and fight another day, and just before they go, Scandal is reminded she has another girlfriend, who thanks to Scandal’s actions in hell is going to be amongst the dead soon, as the comic and this storyline comes to an end.
I hated this storyline. I hated how this felt like someone at DC asked Gail Simone to actually deal with a plot thread she’s set up and she decided to ruin the reading experience for everyone. I hated how badly the faces of the people in the comics were. I hated the cliff-hangers for the issues. If I wasn’t already reading the issues, I’d have dropped this book after part 1. I hated how they portrayed Scandal as not even remembering that Liana, a girl who really cared for her, until someone in hell said she was going to die. I hated how Ragdoll wouldn’t shut up. I hated the poorly written jokes, such as King Shark’s version of hell being a restaurant that only sells meat.
This was a terrible storyline, and the waste of a perfectly good idea. The only thing interesting in here was Bane’s moral compass being shot for a loop and even that wasn’t really mentioned for long.
If you haven’t been reading Secret Six, don’t start here. If you want some good Secret Six comics to read, look out Villains United or Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation. Steer clear of the ongoing as it is just one big pile of disappointment.
Secret Six #31-#33:
Reviewed by Austen Beattie