Secret Six (comics)

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Secret Six

Promotional art for Secret Six vol. 3, #10 (Aug. 2009) by Daniel LuVisi
featuring (from top) Bane, Rag Doll, Catman, Deadshot, Scandal Savage, and Jeannette
Group publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance (1960s)
Secret Six #1 (May 1968)
(1980s)
Action Comics Weekly #601 (May 1988)
(2000s)
Villains United #1 (July 2005)
Created by (1960s)
E. Nelson Bridwell (writer)
Frank Springer (artist)
(1980s)
Martin Pasko (writer)
Dan Spiegle (artist)
(2000s)
Gail Simone (writer)
Dale Eaglesham (artist)
Brad Walker (artist)
Nicola Scott (artist)
In-story information
Leader(s) (1980s)
San Francisco
(2000s)
House of Secrets
Roster
See: List of Secret Six members
Secret Six
SecretSix1.jpg Secret Six #1 (May 1968).
Unusually, the story begins on the cover.
Art by Frank Springer.
Series publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule (vol. 1)
Bi-monthly
(vols. 2-3)
Monthly
Format (vols. 1 & 3)
Ongoing series
(vol. 2)
Limited series
Genre (vol. 1)
Action/Adventure
Mystery
(vols. 2-3)
Superhero
Publication date (vol. 1)
April/May 1968 – April/May 1969
(vol. 2)
July 2006 – January 2007
(vol. 3)
November 2008 – October 2011
Number of issues (vol. 1)
7
(vol. 2)
6
(vol. 3)
36
Creator(s) (1960s)
E. Nelson Bridwell (writer)
Frank Springer (artist)
(1980s)
Martin Pasko (writer)
Dan Spiegle (artist)
(2000s)
Gail Simone (writer)
Dale Eaglesham (artist)
Brad Walker (artist)
Nicola Scott (artist)
Collected editions
Villains United ISBN 1-4012-0838-X
Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation ISBN 1-4012-1231-X
Birds of Prey: Dead of Winter ISBN 1-4012-2327-3
Secret Six: Unhinged ISBN 1-4012-2327-3
Secret Six: Depths ISBN 1-4012-2599-3
Secret Six: Danse Macabre ISBN 1-4012-2904-7
Secret Six: Cat's in the Cradle ISBN 1-4012-3021-0
Secret Six: The Reptile Brain ISBN 1-4012-3166-7

The Secret Six is the name of three different fictional comic book teams in the DC Comics Universe, plus an alternate universe's fourth team. Each team has had six members, led by a mysterious figure named Mockingbird, whom the characters assume to be one of the other five members. The third, villainous incarnation of the Secret Six was rated by IGN as the Fourth Best Comic Run of the Decade.[1]

Publication history[edit]

Original Secret Six[edit]

The Secret Six first appeared during the Silver Age of comics in the initial team's seven-issue title Secret Six (May 1968 – May 1969).

Unusually, the premiere issue's story began on the cover, and continued on the interior's page one. This strike team of covert operatives consisted of August Durant, Lili de Neuve, Carlo di Rienzi, Mike Tempest, Crimson Dawn, and King Savage.

Created by writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Frank Springer,[2] the ongoing series ceased publication with the identity of Mockingbird unrevealed. The first two issues were reprinted in The Brave and the Bold #117 and #120 (March and July 1975).

Secret Six revived[edit]

The revived Secret Six, in Action Comics Weekly #612 (August 9, 1988). Cover art by Paul Gulacy.

Writer Martin Pasko and artist Dan Spiegle introduced an updated version of the team as an eight-page feature in the omnibus title Action Comics Weekly #601 (May 24, 1988).

They revealed Mockingbird as Durant, who now reunited the team after twenty years while also assembling a new team consisting of Mitch Hoberman, Ladonna Jameal, Tony Mantegna, Luke McKendrick, Vic Sommers, and Dr. Maria Verdugo. The following issue saw the entire first team, including Durant, die. The feature ran through Action Comics Weekly #612 (August 9, 1988), with DiRienzi succeeding Durant as Mockingbird.

A second arc of this team, by writer Pasko and original Silver Age artist Springer, ran in Action Comics Weekly #619-630 (September 27 – December 13, 1988). DiRienzi died, and his son Rafael disappeared amid intimations that he may be the successor Mockingbird.

Villainous Secret Six[edit]

The next version of the team was introduced in Villains United #1 (July 2005). Unlike previous versions of the team, the new Secret Six consists mainly of villainous characters who undertake missions of dubious moral quality and often resulting in a high body count. The team consists of the pre-existing DC characters Catman, Deadshot, and Cheshire, and the newly created Ragdoll, Scandal Savage, and a Parademon. Another member, the Fiddler, is killed by Deadshot on order of Mockingbird. Later, the Parademon is killed and Cheshire betrays the group to the Society, only to be shot by the Society's Deathstroke, who does not trust her for being a traitor (Cheshire eventually turns up alive and plotting revenge). The Mockingbird for this version of the team is eventually revealed to be Lex Luthor.

In the 2006 Secret Six limited series, (written by Gail Simone with art by Brad Walker and Jimmy Palmiotti), Knockout, who was revealed as a mole infiltrating the Society in Villains United, has officially joined the group to be with her lover, Scandal. At the end of issue #1, Catman asks the Mad Hatter to be the sixth member of the group. While Catman meets with the Mad Hatter, Doctor Psycho orchestrates a series of attacks designed to wipe out the Six. Hatter is literally kicked off the team by Ragdoll, who says that one eccentric fop in the group is enough. His replacement is Harley Quinn,[3] who later quits.[4]

In Birds of Prey issues #104-108, the Secret Six face off against Oracle's Birds of Prey in Russia for the soul of Tora (Ice). After Harley Quinn quit the team, they disbanded. Subsequently, in Birds of Prey #109, Knockout was attacked and killed by the same assassin who had been stalking the New Gods and killing them off, one by one. Earlier in the issue, Knockout comments in passing that Catman was going soft, and Deadshot had returned to the Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn is reformed in Countdown #43. Scandal Savage, Rag Doll, and Catman were later seen in Salvation Run.

Relaunch[edit]

DC launched a new Secret Six series in September 2008, reuniting Catman, Deadshot, Scandal, and Rag Doll, and adding Bane (hinted at by Simone months earlier as "an A-list Batman villain"[5]) and an original character named Jeannette, who appeared in the third issue. The Six have been hired to retrieve Tarantula from Alcatraz Island, and find a card which she stole from "Junior", a mysterious villain who supposedly runs the entire West Coast mob. This Junior has practically the entire villain community at her beck and call, all afraid of her, even those in Arkham Asylum. The Six later learn that the card in question was made by Neron, and says "Get Out of Hell Free".[6] Soon, the Six are attacked by a small army of super-villains, all wanting to recover the card and collect the reward of $20 million for each of the Six, under the orders of Junior, who captures and tortures Bane, whose strong principles and moral convictions, paired with his fatherly fondness of Scandal keep him from betraying his new team. It is later revealed that Junior is in fact Ragdoll's sister and daughter of the first Ragdoll. She has the ghastly appearance of an old clown, with sliced skin and eyes stitched wide open to give the appearance of a clown.[7] The Six escape and head for Gotham City, with Deadshot seemingly betraying them and leaving with Tarantula.[8] The Six manage to catch up to Deadshot, only to be attacked by Junior and the super-villains, and the Mad Hatter, who is revealed to be the one who hired them, simply so they would be killed. Tarantula sacrifices herself by pulling herself and Junior in front of the super-villains' combined attack, seemingly destroying the card along with them. However, it is later shown that Scandal is now in possession of it.[9]

Although the current incarnation of the Secret Six are technically villains, several members of the team are treated sympathetically and come across as heroic, if only on the virtue of the team encountering individuals who are even more bloodthirsty and villainous.

In a new storyline starting with issue #10 titled "Depths", the Six have been hired by a new villain named Mr. Smyth, a slave trader.[10] He is building what he hopes will be the world's biggest and only prison. He is also holding the Amazon Artemis prisoner. Jeannette breaks her out only to be met with opposition from the rest of the team, who in the middle of battling with each other are interrupted by Wonder Woman.[11] The Six one-by-one turn on Smyth and free all the slaves he possessed on his Devil's Island, ending with Deadshot killing Smyth in cold blood. Disappointed in the repetitive failed progress the team's missions have had since joining, Bane decides to take over as team leader with the approval of half the team. His first directive was to remove Scandal Savage as a team member, and replace her with Black Alice. After Catman flees to find the murderers of his son, he is followed by Ragdoll, Alice, Deadshot, and Scandal. Bane and Jeanette replace them with King Shark, Dwarfstar, Lady Vic, and Giganta.

John Ostrander guest wrote Secret Six vol. 3, #15 (January 2010), featuring Deadshot,[12][13] and #23 (September 2010), a super-powered version take on "The Most Dangerous Game".[14]

To date, the series has also had three crossovers with other DC titles. In 2010, Simone teamed with John Ostrander for "Danse Macabre", a crossover with Ostrander's acclaimed 1980s Suicide Squad title, which had been "resurrected" and given one additional issue as part of DC's company-wide Blackest Night event. The crossover involved the Six being hired by an anonymous party (in reality Amanda Waller) to break into Belle Reve prison in order to rescue an inmate, only to discover that the mission was a trap set in place so that the Suicide Squad could apprehend the team and kidnap Deadshot. The crossover began in Suicide Squad #67 and subsequently ran through Secret Six vol. 3, #17 and #18, and eventually reached a climax where both teams were forced to work together to fight off a Black Lantern invasion. In January 2011, Simone collaborated with Paul Cornell on a two-part crossover which began Action Comics #896 and ended in Secret Six vol. 3, #29, which saw the Six being hired by Lex Luthor to assassinate Scandal's father Vandal Savage. In February of the same year, Simone took part in another two-issue crossover, this time with Keith Giffen's Doom Patrol for a storyline entitled "Suicide Roulette". The crossover, which took place in Secret Six vol. 3, #30, and Doom Patrol vol. 5, #19, saw the Secret Six come into conflict with the Doom Patrol after being hired to forcibly take over the team's home country of Oolong Island.

Series cancellation[edit]

Secret Six was officially cancelled in July 2011 after 36 issues. The book's final storyline featured Bane leading the Secret Six on an ill-fated mission to Gotham City, where they plan to kill Catwoman, Red Robin, Batgirl and Azrael. However, upon their arrival the team is met by a veritable army of superheroes ranging from Green Lantern and Huntress to the Justice League and Teen Titans. Despite the overwhelming odds, the members of the Secret Six make one last stand, only to be defeated and incarcerated.[15]

Other versions[edit]

Tangent Comics[edit]

A version of the Secret Six appeared in DC's alternate-universe imprint Tangent Comics, in the one-shot Secret Six #1 (December 1997), by writer Chuck Dixon and artist Tom Grummett.[16] This team consists of the Atom (Adam Thompson), the Flash, the Joker, the Spectre (Taylor Pike), Plastic Man (Gunther Ganz), and Manhunter. The group also appear in the Tangent: Superman's Reign series (2008).

Tiny Titans[edit]

Bane, Ragdoll, Jeanette, Scandal Savage, Catman, and Deadshot appear as the Secret Six soccer team, coached by Lobo. They are shown to be very good at the sport, but they are no match for Pantha of the Birds of Prey team.

Collected editions[edit]

The stories have been collected into trade paperbacks.

  • Villains United (collects 6-issue limited series, 144 pages, DC Comics, January 2006, ISBN 1-4012-0838-X)[17]
  • Birds of Prey: Dead of Winter (collects Birds of Prey #104-108, 128 pages, DC Comics, February 2008, ISBN 1-4012-1641-2)[18]
  • Secret Six:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "25 Best Comic Runs of the Decade". IGN.com. April 19, 2012. 
  2. ^ McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "Writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Frank Springer brought together six individuals who all possessed special skills and dark secrets, and were all being blackmailed into the service of the faceless Mockingbird." 
  3. ^ Birds of Prey #105 (June 2007)
  4. ^ Birds of Prey #108 (September 2007)
  5. ^ "NYCC '08: Gail Simone on the Return of the Secret Six". Newsarama. April 19, 2008. 
  6. ^ Secret Six vol. 3, #3 (January 2009)
  7. ^ Secret Six vol. 3, #5 (March 2009)
  8. ^ Secret Six vol. 3, #6 (April 2009)
  9. ^ Secret Six vol. 3, #7 (May 2009)
  10. ^ "Secret Six #10 Review". A Comic Book Blog. 
  11. ^ "Secret Six #11 Review". A Comic Book Blog. 
  12. ^ Simone, Gail (August 6, 2009). "Gail Simone: John Ostrander to Write Secret Six #15". Newsarama. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  13. ^ Renaud, Jeffrey (August 24, 2009). "Ostrander's Secret Six and Comix4Sight". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  14. ^ Rogers, Vaneta (July 6, 2009). "John Ostrander Turns the Tables on the Secret Six". Newsarama. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  15. ^ Secret Six (vol. 3) #35-36
  16. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1990s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 281. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9. "The Secret Six found their own monthly one-shot title written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Tom Grummett." 
  17. ^ "Villains United trade profile". DC Comics.com. 
  18. ^ "Birds of Prey: Dead of Winter trade profile". DC Comics.com. 
  19. ^ "Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation trade profile". DC Comics.com. 
  20. ^ "Secret Six: Unhinged trade profile". DC Comics.com. 
  21. ^ "Secret Six: Depths trade profile". DC Comics.com. 
  22. ^ "Secret Six: Danse Macabre trade profile". DC Comics.com. 
  23. ^ "Secret Six: Cat's in the Cradle trade profile". DC Comics.com. 

External links[edit]