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.