Secret Six #6 “Whippings and Apologies”
Written by Gail Simmone
Art by Tom Derrenick
Colors by Jason Wright

We’ve reached the sixth issue of Secret Six, and in this issue the entire secret comes out (I think)… I’m sure there’s some irony here, but the more important topic of conversation is the secret itself. But was the secret worthwhile? My answer: “Meh…”

There’s no denying that this book has had a slew of issues. There have been numerous and major delays, inconsistency in tone, and inconsistency with the plot as well. All of this unfortunately taking place within a short span of time. No matter how many positives you find with this title, these issues continue to linger, and their remnants are rather glaring. But I’ll get to the pros and cons of this issue a bit later.

When we left off, the Riddler (who we now know is Mockingbird) had lured the team into a trap after Catman discovered that Big Shot’s wife, Sue, was the same woman who attacked him, captured him, and put him in the underwater coffin – which is where he met the rest of the six. Turns out the Secret Six have a history with the Riddler.  Each member of the team attended a party on a boat where the Riddler planned to unveil a diamond that he intended to use to propose to Sue… despite the fact that she’s married to Big Shot… Who is actually Ralph Dibny (are you following?). Well, things didn’t exactly go Riddler’s way back then, and now he’s directing blame towards these six individuals…

This issue picks up exactly where we left off: Riddler has ambushed the six, and rendered most of them unconscious. There’s a great moment with Strix early on, and for me, it’s one of the highlights as we’re reminded of how badass she is! Most of the issue is a back and forth on who has the upper hand between the Riddler, the Secret Six, Ralph, and Sue. And while some of it was entertaining, some of it also felt a little slapstick. I get that this book is a little quirky, but sometimes the quirkiness feels like it conflicts with the seriousness of the book, rather than marrying together to create a cohesive product.

That’s not what really bothers me about this book though. What bothers me, is how nonsensical it is. And not in a good way like Harley Quinn. The plot doesn’t make sense. The character’s motivations are unbelievable and misguided. And I don’t feel like anyone from this team would actually stay together as a unit. It all just feels preposterous to me. There’s more to Riddler’s motivations, and a “twist” of sorts at the end, but it’s nothing to write home about. And the weird thing is that I can’t bring myself to say that this book is terrible. Despite all of these issues Gail Simone is a quality writer, and does a great job at writing characters.

 

Be warned, there are spoilers below!

 

 

The Art: Derenick’s art is really interesting to me. There are times that his art looks realistic and is incredibly detailed, and then there are times that it looks a little more comical. Unlike the narrative though, I feel like he accomplishes what he’s shooting for, and manages to create a balance so that each style compliments the story that’s being told. Because of that, it’s a shame that the plot isn’t a little more put together to create a solid final product. I wouldn’t say that I love his art, but its good, and beyond that, it’s recognizable. That’s always a plus.

Wright also deserves some credit as well for his use of such vibrant colors. This book really pops compared to the other titles we cover, and it’s refreshing to see something so starkly different.

To review some of the internal art, check out the spoiler tag below.

Spoiler

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The Good: The two best things in this issue, and in this title, are Catman and Strix. These two stand out way beyond the other characters. Quite frankly, they’re the only two characters I care about at this point, and I often find myself wishing this book had a different cast to compliment these two. Catman appears to be the only relatable character in the mix of misfits, and Strix is trying to figure out what “normal” is. Both instances are pretty fascinating. It was also badass to see Strix brutally take out Riddler’s men in an instant.

I would love to group Black Alice and Porcelain into this, because they both have a lot of potential. Unfortunately, neither of them have has much exposure. Black Alice has been knocked out for most of the series so far, and Porcelain barely gets a line here or there, but could be an amazing fit.

 

The Bad: The plot. Let’s actually think this through. The Riddler – who feels way off base to me – has a crush on Sue Dibny. He wants to woo her and convince her to marry him, so he hosts the unveiling of a diamond, which he hopes to use to marry her. For this event, he also has Catman and Strix (on loan from the Court of the Owls) working as hired security. Then you have the Ventriloquist, Porcelain, and Black Alice crashing the party… Ok, sure. We’ll run with it… Things don’t go Riddler’s way, there’s an altercation, and Riddler loses the diamond and the girl. Out of all of the people on the boat, Riddler targets these six. Somewhere along the way, he kidnaps Catman and holds him in captivity for a year, then lets him go. Sue loses her memory. The six are captured and placed in an underwater coffin by the Riddler. They break free and escape, and keep a low profile at Ralph’s house. Catman discovers who Ralph’s wife is, they go to confront the Riddler, turns out it’s a set up, and the Riddler puts his plan to marry Sue into place… The only thing is that he needs the diamond, and he believe one of these six still have the diamond… and he’s right… the dummy does… for real… We’ve waiting all of this time for this?

I’m also really bothered by Ralph Dibny. Maybe it’s because I just recently re-read Identity Crisis, but I’m not connecting with his character at all… and he’s a major part of this arc. That never bodes well for the story.

 

Recommended if:

  • You’ve been waiting for Strix to let loose a little.
  • You want to know the full secret that’s been hinted at since the beginning.
  • You’re ready to see where the next arc might lead.

 

Overall: Secret Six is a mess, and while I think there’s still potential here, the creative team needs to hurry up and move past this arc to refocus and regroup.

 

SCORE: 6.5/ 10