Friday, September 3, 2010
Chronic Breakdown: Secret Six # 25!
Secret Six # 25
Script: Gail Simone
Pencils: J. Calafiore
22 pages for $2.99
You know, I wasn't going to do this. Lord knows I could not be more clear or vocal about how preternaturally excellent Secret Six is. But what happens is that inevitably I get to a Newsarama and read Vanessa Gabriel, who gives issue # 25 the "uber meh" and talks about how there is nothing "there."
And then I realize that as much work as I've done...it's time to take everybody back to school.
Issue # 25 opens with "Mr. Adrian", your typical disgustingly rich piece of crap. Bane and his motley crew of scrub Sixers have been hired by the guy's ex-wife to "negotiate" divorce terms.
By all accounts this should be the most cliched, dull scene in the history of comics. The stakes aren't high enough, and the reader has no investment in the job. Good thing for us, Gail Simone understands that it's rarely the job the matters: it's the people. It's the little things.
In terms of advancing the story, the actual goal here has nothing whatever to do with the mission. The goal is to demonstrate how things are progressing with Bane's gambit to build a new team.
It's pretty obvious through dialogue that it isn't really working out. It takes a special class of psychopaths to build a real dysfunctional family, and these new ones just don't fit in. Bane, God bless him, is undeterred. He's a well documented overachiever, so it makes sense.
That would be good enough right there, but let me show you some little stuff. Mr. Adrian has two...associates applying suntan oil to his massive girth. One of the girls, Traci, isn't showing enough enthusiasm for Adrian's taste, so he calls her out and shows her how it's done:
Now, sometimes suntan lotion is suntan lotion. But sometimes it's a hilarious foreshadowing of the hand job to come, complete with visual of man butter. Think I'm overselling it? What do you think "A little lower, Traci" means?
Still think I'm overselling it? Here's the next scene. Take a close look at Traci's face, by the way:
At this point Lady Vic fires an arrow into the eyeball of Adrian's # 1. Dwarfstar hitched a ride on the arrow, by the way. The important thing is that the panel is constructed so that we have a pair of binoculars and an arrow shaft rising up out of Adrian's groin:
That's not an accident, friends. What we have there, folks, is a very "unhappy ending." Instead of finishing with the climax he was looking for, Adrian's guy is now ejaculating blood from his eye. Now that's clever! And somebody's going to come to me with "there's nothing THERE"????
The next scene is one of the most touchingly creepy items you're likely to see this month. Black Alice is a newer member of the Six, and a couple issues back she confessed that her powers probably inadvertently gave her father terminal cancer. It's the sort of thing that happens in this title quite often.
So Lawton has decided that he's going to "fix" this in true Six fashion. He visits the family physician and starts asking questions. The doctor can't confirm that Alice is the cause, but given the circumstances, it does explain some anomalies.
Naturally Lawton threatens permanent damage if the doctor doesn't call Black Alice and tell her that she had nothing to do with causing her father's cancer:
That line, by the way, is pure genius. "I know where the bullets want to go." It isn't just that it's powerfully elegant. The genius comes in the fact that it's so simple, and so it doesn't sound false coming out of Lawton's mouth. And that's what Secret Six brings every month.
A good deed in this book means threatening an innocent doctor with a pistol. The other beautiful part is that Lawton isn't even able to properly enjoy it.
Real human emotion is uncomfortable for him. These characters all toy around with the idea of connecting to a better place inside of them, but it never seems to work out. Black Alice is definitely part of the family, though, if Floyd is willing to do that. Don't be surprised if he stabs her in the back next month, by the way. All part of the job. In order to fit in with Secret Six, you have maintain a tenuous balance between real affection and cutthroat dickitude.
Speaking of dicks, here's a neat little exchange between Giganta and Dwarfstar, part of Bane's little replacement team:
What's unstated there is that the Atom that Giganta was dating is Ryan Choi. The guy that Dwarfstar paid to have assassinated. Just another in a long line of quiet treasures. But there's nothing "there" in this issue.
I could go on and on. We haven't even discussed Catman going butt nekkid into a zoo exhibit so he can commit suicide by lion. And we sort of skipped over the part where Bane decides he's going to take the island he lands on in the name of the United States!
Listen up, America, and listen good: Secret Six isn't the best book you're not buying. It's the Best Book.