This new volume of Secret Six is also the last volume of the series, as it ended just prior to the New 52 relaunch, and wasn’t one of the various series to get a fresh new start in the restarted continuity.The issues included here are Secret Six #30-36 and Doom Patrol #19. Secret Six has been an intriguing series throughout its publication history, full of highs and lows, which have been quite varied throughout.Gail Simone is a talented writer, and has infused these characters with some great character traits which have led through some really entertaining adventures, although there have been times where it felt like Simone wasn’t quite sure where she was going with the team in the long run.Although at first glance the various arcs in this collection seem sporadic and unrelated, they are actually quite well formulated, and represent a strong narrative as plot elements from the first arc of this title come back in a big, big way.Although it’s sad that this title didn’t end up surviving into New 52, Simone wrapped up the different character threads quite succinctly.The characters in this title have run the gamut between evil, good, and anywhere and everywhere inbetween, and Simone has clearly revelled in being able to write these deplorable characters, at times giving them additional dimensions, and at others stripping those dimensions away.
Although when he was originally added to the team, Bane felt a bit out of place, over time Simone established him as one of the most fascinating and multi-faceted members of this team, powerful, possessing a strong code of honour and ethics, and also having an almost child-like innocence, in his own way, which was further developed and challenged throughout this collection.
The first major arc included here sees the team once again taking on the Doom Patrol, with comedic results, before Simone spends the rest of the issues ramping up to the big, bloody finale.The Secret Six heads to Hell to recover the Get out of Hell free card that Scandal originally had kept to herself, unused, before Ragdoll stole it.Scandal’s relationship with Knockout was a huge part of the character in this title and team’s earliest days, and since then her relationship with Liana has really blossomed and grown into something else entirely.This collection brings it all to a head, as Scandal tries to rescue Knockout from Hell, while at the same time Liana is abducted and tortured because of her scandalous (no pun intended) past.
The last arc, although entertaining, felt like it was constrained by the fact that Simone was told that the title was ending relatively short-notice.It feels like she had more to say, and more she wanted to do with the characters, and yet instead she got short-thrift and couldn’t do nearly as much with the final arc as she wanted.To whit, the story ends with what could have easily been an all-new beginning for one of the characters, and now the reader has to simply wonder what could have been.
The artwork by Calafiore is a great fit for these characters, this title and Simone’s writing style, particularly because the characters are darker than your typical hero, and the stories that Simone puts them in are indicative of that.The last two issues felt a tad rushed at times, but there are some really enjoyable panels and sequences, particularly when Catman and Bane have a sparring session outside during the early hours of the morning.The sequence is important because of the realizations that both characters have, and he delivers the artwork on it beautifully.
Overall, this is a fitting end to one of DC’s most unlikely ongoing series, one which managed to skirt a fine line between hero, villain and anti-hero, with the book never being boring or lacking in gravitas, zaniness or excitement. It’s a shame that the series ended, and that we no longer have this assemblage of characters together any longer, but it’s one hell of a ride, and worth reading and owning. Recommended!