Secret Six inches closer to its final issue, and with that comes the tying up of a lot of loose ends… and considering this title has consistently had issues with pacing, tone, and purpose (all of which were on top of numerous delays), I’m far from excited to tie up loose ends.

Last month I was really let down. It was the start of the final arc, and it should have been epic! The League of Assassins were coming into play, and Shiva was sent to recruit Strix… and the whole thing pretty much turned out to be a joke. Batgirl set up a super ominous situation, and it was turned into a slapstick comedy, with the team basically saying, “Yeah, we can’t do anything. Go ahead and go.” And then at the end of the issue, everyone was suddenly rallying together to go get Strix… Seriously? You barely put up a fight at first, and now you’ve grown a pair? Oh well, at least this issue will get kicked off with the team going after Strix! Right? That’s what happens… Right?

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Are you kidding me!?!? A (beep)ing cookout!?!?!?! This has to be a joke! It’s Strix thinking of the life she could have. Everything will be clear when I turn the page…

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… Pardon me for one second while I react to this… (click the spoiler tag for my reaction)

Spoiler

Also… grilling is NOT barbeque!

But seriously, as I said earlier, this run has had serious problems with pacing, focus, and purpose. One of the things I loved about the original Secret Six was its quirkiness, but it was done well. This run just feels like Simone is trying way too hard! It’s as if she doesn’t have Ragdoll there to naturally create awkward moments that organically inspire quirky reactions, so she’s trying to overcompensate for it… Plus, the moment DOES NOT call for this. Why are they grilling? It’s a waste of pages when you already have a very small number of issues to try and wrap up this run… I don’t get it!

And then, the moment the team gets back on track and focuses on finding Strix, we stop the momentum and plot yet again to have a phone call between Catman and Scandal. Are you (beep)ing kidding me!? And the reason for the phone call made my roll my eyes. I’ll go into detail during my breakdowns, but this is a joke. Clearly Simone wants to include Scandal and team in the hunt for Strix, but instead of just doing that, we have to have some side conversation about people’s personal lives…

At this point, I really want Strix to just go with the League. The team finishes their burgers or hot dogs, or whatever the hell they’re eating, and have a big hoorah moment, reminding themselves why they’re doing this… Honestly, it’s not bad, but at this point we’ve been hit over the head for 13 issues with this theme. “We’re loners. We have no one. We’re never going to be alone again. We’re a family!” Yeah… we get it! Go get her already! I either hated, or strongly disliked every scene that featured the team in this issue… I wish Simone would had a “How do we track them?” talk, followed by a call for back-up, and a rally to go to spare readers from the nonsense. It would’ve left more time for Strix’s story, which was the best thing about this issue.

I will openly admit that I’m a fan of Strix. I know there are readers that don’t care for her, but she’s really grown on me since her introduction. The one thing that Simone has done really well with Secret Six, is humanize Strix. She’s learned the value of friendship, and has developed a strong sibling-like relationship with Catman. She’s also grown fond of worldly possessions, and has basically taken to a garden gnome as her safety blanket… So it was a little heartbreaking to see Shiva rip her world away from her to prepare her for a life as an assassin. For years, Strix had nothing. No friends. No possessions. She was an assassin, and only an assassin. And the moment she starts building a life, she’s going to lose it. It’s a cruel tease of humanity, before taking Strix a full 360.

But Shiva’s mission isn’t just to separate Strix from her possessions… she intends on destroying the notion of friends and loved ones as well. A gauntlet is set-up to determine if Strix is even capable of being an assassin under the League – just the first of many tests. It leads to some brutal encounters that serve as a nice reminder of how dangerous Strix really is, before setting up what could be a devastating challenge. What I really find intriguing though, is Shiva’s motivation in all of this… That alone has me interested in what’s coming next month.

When it comes down to it, I’m torn with this issue. There are aspects that I really like, and then there are aspects that I find terrible… There’s no other way to put it. I do think this chapter was better than the previous issue, but it’s definitely not the best of the run. When I look at this run of Secret Six, all I can think is that it ended up being a wasted opportunity. There’s still a change this book can end on a high note. I’m not expecting it to happen, but I am hoping for it…

The Art:  Derenick covers the internals on his own for this issue. If you’ve been reading my previous reviews, then you know that I enjoy his work, but between Derenick and Eaglesham, I prefer Eaglesham. Derenick’s work, overall, looks more cartoony to me, and if there’s anything that is clear from my reviews today, it’s that “cartoony” doesn’t usually win me over… That being said, the look and feel of the book remains consistent with what it’s been, but just a little less refined without Eaglesham’s work. Again, it’s not bad, just not as strong.

Breakdowns are in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

The Good:  Leaving everything behind. I mentioned this earlier, but this really broke my heart. If you don’t know the context of Strix’s attachment to the garden gnome, then this probably looks silly. But if you do understand the context, then you get how damaging and defeating this is for Stix.

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I am Strix. This killed me. When I saw this, all I kept wondering was, “Is she repeating that because she’s trying to hold on to the person she’s become, or is she trying to convince herself that she can overcome the obstacles before her without dying because she’s a master assassin?” Either way, this is probably the best moment in the entire issue!

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The battle. Strix made most of these fights quick, mainly because she had to. We didn’t get to see as much skill as I would’ve liked, but we did get a reminder that she shouldn’t be taken for granted. The really painful thing about this, was that each of the assassins were done up to resemble her teammates. I wasn’t a fan of this approach at first, but once you factor in the symbolism of “killing your friends,” it makes the whole situation a bit heavier. And then to add to it, you slowly see Strix lose herself with each round. By the end of the battle, she’s basically a shell of who she’d become.

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Shiva. Whoa! I didn’t see that coming… The whole point of Shiva recruiting Strix is because she has to find a worthy replacement before she’s allowed to leave the League? What? I want to know why she wants to leave the League! The inner fan in me hopes it has something to do with Cassandra, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

 
The Bad: Why are they here? Going back to what I said earlier about limited issues/ pages to wrap this book up… why in the hell are they bringing the cops back? It’s not needed. At all… And I don’t buy for one second that the cops have leads on the League of Assassins, unless this lead cop happens to be one that’s undercover… but even that doesn’t make sense…

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The call. Ok… I get that Scandal has no concept of what’s going on with the team at the moment, but there are two things Simone is trying to accomplish here. 1. She wants these characters to be featured in the final fray. Cool! I REALLY want that as well.  2. Scandal wants Catman to be a donor so Scandal and her ladies can have a baby. Again, I have nothing against this… but I do have an issue with the timing and where it falls in the story? Do we really need to sacrifice some pages no to discuss whether Catman is or isn’t suitable to donate sperm? Really? Let them have the heroic moment, then have him donate… unless one of these characters is going to die, and then I’ll be even more ticked because this really will have been a waste!

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Recommended If:

  • You’re fan of Strix.
  • You miss seeing Strix kick ass.
  • You think grilling is the same thing as barbeque.

Overall: Secret Six continues the trend of being an equal combination of entertaining and frustrating. Every time this book builds some momentum, it gets in its own way. Whenever the narrative and writing is good, its followed by something bad. Moral of the story: Secret Six gives you whiplash.

SCORE: 6.5/10