Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Comic Book Review: Secret Six #20

Book Information
Written by Gail Simone
Art by J. Calafiore

McQuarrie’s thugs are hanging Catman’s baby boy over the ledge of a twelve story building, and he only has two choices…kill his teammates, or his son will fall!

My Thoughts
It is an awesome thing to know that one of the best pieces of literature out there today is in the hands of a comic book writer.  There is nothing in this issue of Secret Six that isn’t worth the cover price.  There are no happy endings and no wonderfully joyous moments in this book what so ever, yet this issue might very well be the best comic of 2010 thus far.

I went through this book twice and was unable to find anything wrong with it.  The energy never lags and the dialogue crisp with unending depth and precision.  Interestingly enough, not one of the characters ever deviates from their known characteristics on the literary side of things. 

The drama permeates every page with angst, suspense, and gore, but Simone is no stranger to other sides of the emotional spectrum. (sorry Geoff Johns, couldn’t resist!) As a way to lighten the mood from an already established and dramatically hefty story, Simone reverts back to the surrogate father/daughter relationship as Bane tells Scandal Savage to go to “her room.”  I immediately thought to myself “holy shit, she’s going to kill him,” as did the rest of the team.  It was one of those interestingly tense, humorous moments; something that shouldn’t have happened, but you’re glad it did because it’s friggin hilarious!

The dark and sinister nature of this issue is at a record high for the Secret Six.  Catman has reached a breaking point in his sanity level, (if he was sane to begin with) McQuarrie might just be one of the most disturbingly seedy men I’ve ever laid eyes on, and the ending battle scene between Claudio Rinetti and Catman was as gruesome as a fight sequence can get.  As a fan of storylines that don’t end on a positive note, this issue was absolute candy for me!
Rating: 10

As I said above, Secret Six verges on being one of the best pieces of American literature to date.  It has defied the all stereotypes that come along in the comic book genre.  Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Justice League, they all retain some semblance of the campy approach in writing comics.  Secret Six, however, has found a way past that, by giving readers a book about a villainous team who don’t care much about anything, except for their teammates.

When Bane first set foot in the DCU, he came off as a heartless soul who only cared about earning a dishonest day’s pay.  But Simone has revamped him into a caring, Hispanic male who seems to be out of place in the Secret Six.  I suspect if he could turn his life around, he would.  But being trapped with no where to go within the Secret Six, he does all he can to protect his teammates, and more importantly Scandal Savage.  Whether or not this caring relationship they have actually turns into something more is difficult to see, especially with Scandal’s homosexual side.  But the moments the two of them share have been incredibly moving throughout this series.  They obviously aren’t getting all “kissy kissy” on us, but no one can deny that these two definitely love each other, even if they don’t realize it yet.

Catman is dished out (very deservingly I might add) as the focus of this issue, showing the readers that he is just as much of a bad ass as Deadshot.  If you ever wondered if anything could scare Deadshot, Catman would probably be it.  The tension that built up within those first nine pages was excruciating.  Imagine just standing there knowing you had to choose between two evils, both of which produces unwanted outcomes.  But of course, no one can truly outclass an exceptionally experienced assassin when it comes to a threat like this.  Blake’s response to the unnamed thug was an amazing twist.  Instead of Catman killing his teammates, he pulls the ultimate 180 and tells him to drop his son, while still informing the thug that he will come after them with no where to hide.  It’s quite a classy way of telling them that he cares about his son, but refuses to play their game.
Rating: 10

Calafiore has made his mark on the Secret Six with this issue.  Catman has always been a lot like Batman, very contemplative, to himself, and talks very little.  The vengeful side of him comes out like a cougar pouncing on his prey, unrelenting and without mercy.  But the visual transition he made in the first nine pages was so sudden and dramatic that I couldn’t figure out what he was going to do until that very moment he picked the phone back up.  He was so conflicted with what to do that he basically said “fuck it,” having a combined look on his face of complete misery and anger.  Calafiore just showed us that he could have told this story without the need of any words at all.

I was particularly fond of the scene back at the House of Secrets where nothing but a black and orange tint was used to display the low lit firelight from the furnace.  Both exemplifying the mood and feel of the team in that given moment. 

Now if you are a fan of Frank Miller’s Sin City, the fight scene at the end might interest you.  Calafiore uses the same artistic technique in creating a shadowing figure with the blood as clear as daylight, streaming down Rinetti’s body in intricate patterns, pooling down at the broken floor below him.  This is so detailed in all its ugliness and gives off the emotional impact I’m sure Calafiore is going for.
Rating: 10

I don’t see how any comic can beat this issue out this month.  Geoff Johns is good, but Gail Simone really put everything out there along with J. Calafiore.  This very well might be the best comic to come out this year as well!

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars
            + 3 incentive points

Next Issue Coming May 5th, 2010
This isn't just a Catman story; it's THE Catman story, as Thomas Blake continues his bloody trail of vengeance tracking the man who took away the only thing he ever cared about! Not for the faint-hearted! Also, Black Alice vs. Scandal Savage for the right to remain in the Secret Six!

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