Turn Back the Pages is a feature where I spotlight a comic that is not fresh and new. It may have come out a few months ago or even a few years ago. Maybe it was hyped and popular, or maybe it was an underappreciated gem. Whatever the case, it’ll be a great comic that’s well worth a read.
Ah, villains. Some, we love to hate. Others, we hate to love. And some, we just can’t get enough of because despite their poor decisions, twisted moral code, and tenuous grip on sanity, they’re just so darn charismatic and fun.
Enter the Secret Six.
Stories are all about conflict. You’ve got the main conflict, i.e. defeat the dark lord, survive the apocalypse, escape the prison, etc., but often the meat of the story is in the interpersonal conflicts between the main characters.
This can be tricky to pull off in superhero stories, because at the end of the day, the heroes all have the same motivation: stop the bad guy and save the world. Whatever their differences are, they’ve got to put them aside and work together for the sake of humanity.
Some stories can still pull off some great conflicting motivations within a superhero team. K.M. Weiland rightly points out that the personality conflict in the first Avengers movie is a huge part of what made it so excellent. Other times, the conflict can seem contrived and a poorly-thought-out excuse to have our favorite superheroes fight each other. *coughBatmanVSupermancough*
But a team of villains–no need for contrived conflict there. Those guys will kill each other at the drop of the hat.
The members of the Secret Six are come together for different reasons. Some have no choice; the mysterious “Mockingbird” who recruited them will kill their loved ones if they don’t cooperate. Others joined for revenge or are being blackmailed.
Like in most team books, the roster of the Secret Six changes, but the original lineup includes:
- Catman: used to be a joke. Mysteriously took a level in badass before the story’s start.
- Deadshot: of Suicide Squad fame.
- Chesire: might be standing behind you with a poisoned blade right now.
- Parademon: violently protective of the clown.
- Ragdoll: not a clown.
- Scandal Savage: has a very apt last name.
Trapped and up against impossible odds, they’re outnumbered and out-gunned by Lex Luthor’s Society of Supervillains, which wants to eliminate them for refusing to join up. For the first part of the volume, they constantly seem a few seconds away from turning on each other. Forced together with no reason for loyalty, they’re always expecting betrayal–and they’re right. One of them does sell out the others, and honestly, you’d expect nothing less.
But as the book progresses, the members of the Secret Six grow into an actual team and develop genuine friendships with one another. Granted, the way they show they care is by violently murdering each other’s enemies, but it’s heart-warming in a weird way.
They may be supervillains, but they’re not cardboard monsters. They have people they care about and lines they won’t cross. They’re human, flawed, and honestly complete disasters some of the time, but that’s part of what makes reading about them so fun.
I could go on for ages about the character relationships and development, but that’s not why you should read this book. You should read it because it’s laugh-out-loud witty and sexy without being exploitative. Read it because the plot is full of twists, and the pace is so fast and action-packed that it’s hard to put down. It gets dark. It gets weird. But it never stops being fun.
Who are the villains you can’t help but root for? What are your thoughts on Secret Six? Let me know it in comments!