Secret Six #9 “The White Gate, The Black Sun”
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Tom Derenick
Colors by Jason Wright

The wonderful weirdness of Secret Six continues this month full of the quirkiness we’ve come to love! Thankfully, my concerns and reservations pertaining to the narrative of this book have practically vanished. Simone and team have hit their stride, and appear to be gaining momentum with each issue. And considering the future solicitations, it appears as though it will only get better!

This arc has focused heavily on Black Alice and her abilities. As we all know, she’s incredibly powerful, but not completely aware of the power she has or how to control it. The entire magical universe has caught wind of this and are feeling the effects as Alice inadvertently drains their abilities and life force. But it’s not just their power she’s syphoning, it’s all magic in general. Nearly all magically gifted characters – good and bad – have gathered together to try and prevent Alice from ending magic, and the means some are willing to take to accomplish this are far more drastic than others.

In conjunction, Alice is also inadvertently destroying the White Gates, a mystical barrier that protects the earth from ancient beings. A cult claiming to be the original Atlanteans have recruited the Secret Six to destroy mystical pillars by misleading them to believe that by doing so, they will save Alice, magic, and the world. The reality is that the destruction of these pillars will actually help free these ancient beings.

Last month left off with the Secret Six traveling to Atlantis to destroy one of the pillars, and found a confrontation with Aquaman instead. This issue picks up from that moment, with Catman still at odds against Aquaman, while Jeanette, Etrigan, and the remainder of the Six – minus Alice – attempt to destroy the pillar. The whole scene is a race for time as the oxygen bubble charmed to allow them the opportunity to work and breath underwater begins to fall apart. Catman’s battle with Aquaman quietly subsides as he heeds a warning to the Six of what’s really going on – a warning that the team may or may not choose to adhere to. After their confrontation with Aquaman, the team then heads to rural New England to embark on a separate mission, but their intentions of completing this mission are unclear.

Meanwhile, Alice, who was completely drained from her battle at the hospital, was left in the hands of Scandal Savage and Ragdoll while the team went on their mission. While seeing Ragdoll attempt to be doting and attentive in caring for Alice weren’t entertaining enough, it gets even better as Alice begins to pull tricks out of Zatana’s bag by citing incantations while asleep. It’s a looney, fun issue with decent conflict, Ferdie breaking the fourth wall, Jeanette crushing on one of the team members, a closer look at the ancient beings, and Strix wearing a prom dress. Yes, you read that correctly.

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The Art:  Derenick went solo in covering art duties this month. While I enjoy his art, it wasn’t as sharp as I’ve come to expect, and looked a little rushed in some panels. Ragdoll appeared to suffer the worst fate as he looked incredibly weird every time he was featured. I know he is odd looking in general, but this was strictly the art. It wasn’t terrible or distracting, but it’s definitely a step down from the previous issues.

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Breakdowns are in the spoiler tag.

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The Good:  Catman and Strix continue to win for this book! I feel that these two characters, more than any of the others, carry this book. They’re more developed and more relatable on a number of levels. They also provide the best action and humor. I actually laughed out loud when Catman had finished battling Aquaman and said, “And you smell like tuna!” Before being transported back to the surface. Then You have moments like when Strix demanded a prom dress… And then the next time you see her, she’s in a prom dress… Which she put on over her Talon costume. It’s odd, and it’s weird, but it’s Secret Six. More often than not, I find that we have that same oddity within each of us.

Black Alice. As a character, she hasn’t done much for me. Yes, she’s the focal point of this arc, but she’s mainly been a plot device since the launch of the book, with Simone focusing more on her abilities instead of her actual character and development. Now, I know this sounds negative so bare with me. While this issue continued that trend, it also took a big step in progressing her as a character, and it happened in one panel. After Scandal explains what’s going on, Alice decides that she needs to die. But beyond that, she wants Scandal to kill her, so she is t forced to kill herself, which based on her beliefs, would mean she would damn her soul. Seriously, that’s some depth…

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The Bad: The ancient being was a little bit of a let-down. The whole magical community is up in arms, and they kill this thing relatively easily. I’m not sure if there’s still more to this, but if there isn’t, then I could’ve done without it. I would have much rather had the team fending off members of the magical community instead. Also, now that they’ve destroyed two pillars, are there more, or did that just completely wash out with the death of the ancient being? This bit is a little sloppy, but I don’t want to point any fingers too blatantly since there’s still more to this arc, and potentially more to this specific plot.

Weirdly wonderful or awkwardly odd? There are times that this book is weirdly wonderful… and then there are times that I feel it’s a little too weird, and it becomes awkwardly odd. There are times like when Jeanette kisses Porcelain (which might actually be foreshadowing in regards to Jeanette’s comment that one of them would die soon if you read it carefully), or when the entire team donned clothing from the turn of the century, that I find myself scratching my head. Then I typically think to myself, “If there’s any book you can get away with this in, it’s definitely this book.” Ultimately it’s a matter of taste, and it doesn’t push the limits for me, but there are definitely times I find myself thinking, “This is so weird.”


Recommended If:

  • You’ve been waiting for the book to feel more like its original run.
  • You want to see the outcome of the Catman/ Aquaman fight.
  • You never knew you wanted to see Strix in a prom dress.

 

Overall: Secret Six continues to revel in its own weird insanity, and nearly every bit of that insanity is absolutely enjoyable. This issue had a few hiccups and pacing issues, but ultimately delivered and continued to push this book in the right direction.

SCORE: 7.0/10