Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Secret Six #35: Caution to the Wind

Cover by Daniel LuVisi
Secret Six #35: Caution to the Wind
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: J. Calafiore
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Travis Lanham

After being thoroughly intrigued by Secret Six #34, I was very excited to get my hands on the next issue, Caution to the Wind. Once again, I am dealing with characters that I have very limited knowledge and background with but after these two issues (and a quick trip to Wikipedia), I am beginning to grasp a better feel for their personalities and motives.

The Secret Six are unlike any characters I have encountered in my still beginners-level of comic book collecting. I think because they’re the main characters and still somewhat unfamiliar to me, I expect them to be the heroes of their story arcs. Instead, I am repeatedly shocked whenever Simone reminds me that these are characters willing to engage in extreme violence and even murder. They’re barely anti-heroes, just straight up villains. I’m frankly not used to seeing the “bad guys” work together in tandem as a cohesive group and still enjoy it as a reader. Simone manages to not make the concept of the Secret Six seem gimmicky and the members themselves, even as they plot the murders of some of my favorite characters, still likable.
Rather than using the previous issue as a jumping point, Secret Six #35 begins with Bane contemplating his own choices and his fate. Realizing that even if he lives an honorable life, he will still return to Hell, Bane decides to essentially just throw caution to the wind (see what I did there?) and break the Bat.

In Bane’s eyes, Batman is essentially surrounded by love and therefore, “You break him by breaking everyone he loves.” So, together with Catman, he recruits the rest of the Six on a suicide mission to take out everyone else in the Bat-family: Red Robin, Batgirl, Commissioner Gordon, and all the others close to Batman.

As this is the penultimate issue of the Secret Six before the re-launch, it would make sense that Simone would have them go out with a bang, if you will. And what would cause a bigger explosion than pissing off the Batman? I also found it interesting to describe Batman as a man “surrounded by love” which is frankly not the first image that comes to mind when I think of him. It was great, however, to get a completely different and new perspective on this character that I love so much.

I definitely like this plotline and am very excited for the conclusion; however, I wish I had gotten more of a direct reason from Bane for coming up with this plan. I know Bane and Batman have a tense history with one another and it’s probably just on me as a reader to go back and find more reasoning in previous issues but I still would have liked something more concrete from Bane than simply, “Well, I’m going to go to Hell anyway, might as well kill as many powerful people as possible.” But I suppose he doesn’t need to illustrate all that to Catman in great detail.

The issue also ends on an exciting cliffhanger with a great scene with the Penguin, a character I’ve always sort of hated for no particular reason. The Penguin always struck me as being on the same level as the Hamburglar so I never respected him as a character. I did, though, find the Secret Six’s interaction with him, especially King Shark’s, really entertaining. He actually had a very strong presence, even on par with the other members of the Secret Six.

Calafiore’s art is still solid and I think I enjoyed it a lot more in this issue than the previous one. A great deal of that goes towards the awesome opening fight sequence between Bane and Catman in a snowy forest, which was really beautiful.

Basically, I’m so glad I discovered the Secret Six but am also depressed that it’ll be ending so soon. Though I am excited for DC’s re-launch, I am worried about all the great runs such as this slipping through the cracks. After only two issues, I’ve managed to become attached to these unfamiliar characters mostly due to how dynamic and engaging they are even with their unsavory morals.

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