Secret Six #25: The Moments I Live For

September 10th, 2010 by | Tags: ,

So many times, when I read Secret Six, I wonder why on earth I’m reading that kind of book.  This is not a slam of Secret Six, which has a devoted following and has been a consistently good book.  It’s just that, from the start, it’s been the kind of book that just isn’t for me.  It’s got torture, murder, despair, tragedy, and a bunch of people being mean to each other for kicks.  Every single story arc has the Six turning on each other in some way or another.  It never, ever fails.  I should not be liking it.

And yet I do.  Part of it is the creative stories and the constant quips, courtesy of Gail Simone.  The book is also loaded with multi-dimensional, smart, fun, and different female characters.  Pretty much all of them manage the difficult trick, in fiction, of being female but acting human.  No dumb blondes, no mindless seductresses, no personality-less token tough girls, just a bunch of nutty characters, just like the men.

Most of all, though, I like Secret Six because it’s a team book in which the team very clearly cares about each other.  And I like it because it’s not a generic ‘caring’ the way most team books do it.  The Six don’t get along, they don’t understand each other, and they don’t understand reality outside of their insane world.  They do, however, want to make each other happy, and when they try, it leads to wonderful moments.  One of those moments is in Secret Six #25. 

Black Alice is a teenage girl who can steal anyone’s powers by looking into their eyes.  One day she used her powers on her father.  Shortly afterwards, her father got cancer.  She joins the Six to make money in order to treat him, even though she’s clearly out of her depth.

Floyd Lawton is Deadshot, a member of the Six, and a character who was obviously created back when Floyd was a common name.  He, along with the rest of the Six, hears about this in one of the issues.  Not much is made of this.  In issue #25, he goes to Alice’s father’s doctor, and threatens him with a gun until the man tells him all about the case.  When the doctor confirms that Alice was probably the cause of her father’s cancer, Floyd picks up the phone and tells the doctor that he will call Alice and tell her that he knows what caused the cancer and it definitely wasn’t her.  He will also tell her that everything is going to be okay.

There is at least on thing practically wrong with this plan.  Morally, there are many things wrong with it, depending on your particular moral compass.  The point, though, is that Deadshot sees the girl suffering, decides to help, and does it in a crazy way.  David and I have talked before about really good relationships between people who antagonize each other but also love each other – Cassandra and David Cain would be one of those.  The unimaginative writer writes them as at each other’s throats until such time as one of them is about to do something too brutal, at which point they suddenly stop because they care so much about each other.  Secret Six does it right.  It shows a bunch of relationships in which people who are imperfect, trying to help each other in imperfect ways.  It gives you both a warm feeling inside and a better understanding and appreciation for the characters.  I really wish there was more of it, but I love what I’ve got.

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6 comments to “Secret Six #25: The Moments I Live For”

  1. Ostrander’s portrayal of Deadshot is the standard by which I judge other writer’s portrayals of the character. Simone’s portrayal is a worthy parter to his.

  2. You know, I’m perfectly fine with violence and tragedy when they fit the story but I sometimes find Gail Simone’s wacky characters fall completely flat. So I was a bit mystified by what I saw in Secret Six until I read this. I too like seeing in-depth team dynamics that don’t fall prey to operatics.

    Good to know.

  3. @Prodigal: I’m trying to find some early Suicide Squad books now, but from what I’ve seen, yes, Ostrander’s Deadshot was really good.

    @Steven: Simone is stylized enough that you have to like a certain flavor to like her writing. (I once was more fanatic about her stuff, and so now I should apologize to the guy at my comic book store. I said he had a hole in his soul for not liking her Birds of Prey. Sorry. Over-reacted. To be fair, though, I only meant a little hole.)

  4. A similar moment came up in the same issue, when the rest of the team tries to stop Catman from committing suicide by lion. Scandal suggests that if Blake wants to die, she would be willing to kill him. Why would she do that? Because she cares about him. The Six genuinely try to help each other; they’re just not very good at it. It’s one of the reasons this book works so well.

    As @Prodigal: mentioned, this theme was very much present in Suicide Squad. One arc had Rick Flag discover a corrupt senator is blackmailing Amanda Waller by threatening to reveal the Squad’s existence. Flag decides to fix the problem himself by assassinating the senator. Deadshot is ordered to stop Flag from killing the senator by any means necessary, and he finds a unique solution – to shoot the senator before before Flag gets the chance. It’s a show of Lawton’s respect for Flag – just not a very rational one.

  5. Esther, you definitely hit it on the head with the Cassandra/David Cain comparison… When I read this I was thinking of the Mystique/Rogue type but you are on the mark with this….

    Not to mention this can go so wrong in so many ways for Floyd but he’s used to this: remember his plan with the “get out of hell free” card? This is soooo gonna be a trainwreck…. an enjoyable trainwreck yes.. but a trainwreck all the same…

  6. Speaking of father/daughter relationships, there’s also Bane’s inept attempts to act paternal towards Scandal. Having grown up in prison, he’s far better at snapping a man’s spine in half than he is at providing emotional support. That he still succeeds is because of how deeply Scandal needs a father figure. After all, her real father is an immortal cannibal who tried to have her get raped by a sexually depraved midget. And people think Talia has daddy issues.