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If so, you are in luck! Come with me for a brief chat about another book you will soon pick up: Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation.
This volume collects the 6 issue limited series that was released from 2006-2007 before the birth of the ongoing series in September 2009.
Gail Simone (Birds of Prey) brings back America’s favorite group of villai… wait… America’s favorite group of heroe… hmm… nope… America’s favorite group of oddly thrown together characters that have a good time fighting pretty much anyone who is against them.
And believe me when I say pretty much everyone is in opposition to the Secret Six, including each other.
The opening of the story focuses on reforming the team. Due to events at the end of Villains United and the one-shot included in Infinite Crisis Companion, there are now two spots open to complete their hex-tastic group of supermembers. If you’re jumping in here, don’t worry – the collection starts off with a brief recap of previous events.
As the book opens, a more immediate concern is that one of their current members is being held prisoner in North Korea. Obviously, this calls for a rescue. It’s a nice introduction, since it makes sense to start a book like this off with some action. After a wonderfully presented butt-whooping of the prisoner camp guards we follow Catman as he ventures off to recruit their last member. (Their dedication to ensuring the use of the awesome title “Secret Six” is really quite commendable.)
For the next five issues the team’s focus is on defending themselves from attacks by a defunct member of the “Six”, old foe Dr. Psycho, and Scandal’s father, Vandal Savage, who soon becomes the main antagonist of this story.
This continues to be thoroughly entertaining with action here and there, scenes of indecency among team members (including a sex scene with a hat!?!), and a cameo clash with another team of characters – perhaps as screwed up as the Six, but like to think of themselves as heroes. The moments of relative calm are just as engrossing as the fight sequences.
Gail Simone has done a fantastic job of giving each and every one of the characters, even the cameos, very distinct personalities that keep Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation fresh page after page.
Catman has became one of the most interesting DC denizens, especially considering that he was pretty much a nobody before being brought back to the scene in Villains United. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed him and he’s totally on my list of characters to follow now.
Simone takes plots that could easily be clichéd and makes them work very well. For example, I am quite tired of the character who is skilled, knows he’s good, and can’t stop with the cocky one liners.
Somehow, she’s given Deadshot a great personality, showing both his professional and personal side, without making him an over the top character.
Almost any of these complex villains could carry this story by themselves if they needed to. Because of her excellent writing, I will definitely be looking into Simone’s Birds of Prey run, her previous work on Deadpool/Agent-X, and recent Wonder Woman stories – just to name a few.
Instead of Dale Eaglesham from Villains United, Gail calls in art support from Brad Walker to illustrate (Superman 3-2-1 Action, Guardians of the Galaxy) and Jimmy Palmiotti to do the inking (who probably only gets cover credit, unlike most inkers, because of his writing on Jonah Hex and Power Girl).
This team delivered a fantastic visual presentation that was clean, crisp, and entertaining without being monotonous.
They kept the action precise and the scenes were very pleasing to the eye and intuitive to follow from panel to panel. I am sad to see that they do not continue their work in the ongoing Secret Six series, but I will definitely keep an eye out for their names.
As you can probably tell, I am now in love with the Six.
It sure is. It’s the start of an amazing group of characters. They are now involved in a successful ongoing sure to be pivotal in some DC Universe events down the line.
There was a 7 issue Secret Six title from 1968 – 1969, which has a few small links to Villains United. A second Six had appearances in Post-Crisis Action Comics. None of this has been collected and they were entirely different casts, so don’t worry about it.
It’s good to understand where they are coming from, but if you picked this up without having any other knowledge it would still be incredibly enjoyable. I have a fairly narrow knowledge of the DC Universe and the only time I had to wiki a character was to get more of a backstory for Vandal Savage. If you dislike wiki-ing, you should be able to get enough information by checking out the individual reading orders linked from each character’s name.
This was a limited series so it can be read on its own and has a satisfying ending. However, after completing this you can now jump right into the ongoing series starting with Secret Six: Unhinged.
The six did appear between the mini and their ongoing in Birds of Prey: Dead Of Winter, also by Gail Simone. That’s the seventh volume collecting the recent Birds of Prey ongoing, though, so you may want some familiarity with that series to get the most out of it.