Since we get right into spoilers for Batman and Robin #1 and for Secret Six #10, I’ll put the cut up front.
Both of those comics, this week, have a ‘shoot-yer-henchman’ scene. You know it. It’s when a guy comes in, and you can tell, from the music, or the shadowing, or just the placement in the story, that this is a bad guy. But you don’t know how bad. You need to see how bad. And so, the bad guy, shoots one of his henchmen, so you can see that he’s eeevil.
Actually, in Batman and Robin, he doesn’t shoot his henchman so much as fix a mask onto the henchman’s face with boiling-hot glue and then proceed to torture him. In front of his daughter. While talking about how soon he will do the same thing with the daughter.
And in Secret Six, he doesn’t shoot his henchman so much as shoot slaves. Slaves that one particular, rebellious slave likes. So that her spirit will be broken and she’ll keep on being a slave.
I can’t argue that the scenes weren’t brutal and emotionally gripping. I can’t say that they weren’t well-placed in the story. And yes, they sure as hell convinced me that this bad guy was a bad, bad guy.
The thing is – I was already convinced that they were bad guys. I’m not a really discriminating reader. If some guy walks in with a pig mask and a dead body, I’ll believe. If some guy runs an underground slave ring, I will believe. Hell, if some guy just happens to be in a scene with shading that brings to mind the part of a movie when the soundtrack pumps up the string-section, I shall believe. Seriously, people! I am ready to take your word for it! Don’t show me that stuff!
I realize that this is entirely a matter of taste. In fact, Secret Six is all about the gruesome and the morally reprehensible, so I can’t even say that I didn’t know what I was in for. But can’t we work a little more on ‘tell, don’t show’? If only for the sake of my stomach?