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Secret Six #11

Posted: Saturday, July 4, 2009
By: Shawn Hill

Gail Simone
Nicola Scott, Hazlewood & Mckenna (i)
DC Comics
“Depths" (part 2)

Plot: Gail Simone's two titles converge, though it took me until the end of the issue and a special guest star to realize that's where she was going with the grim fate of her cover star this issue.

Comments: The world of the Amazons and the world of the Six would seem mutually exclusive. Immortal warriors who consort with gods, and the vilest profiteers of DC's criminal world would seem unlikely crossover allies. But in this story about human debasement, Simone has found a way to make it work, as guest star Artemis delivers a lesson even while bound in chains.

This issue backs off a little from the depravity of the previous issue, where we saw an enslaved abductee lose her mind as her masters instigated a senseless slaughter, only to be used as a pawn and object lesson by said overlords to prove a point to their newly hired enforcers, the Six. It was Deadshot who killed her at the boss's demand last issue, though this issue he seems to agree with his teammates that such an act (killing a helpless slave taunted with freedom) was dishonorable. At least he chooses the disposal of her corpse as a duty he must carry out himself, much to the consternation of his new employers. Such menial labor from the new stars undermines their show of authority. It's in Deadshot's determination to risk his life to make his point that we find the true worth of this title, and Simone's ability to depict this very seedy offshoot of the DC world.

Also telling is the willingness of his teammates to spring to his aid, despite overwhelming odds. This is a formidable team and their very existence is an argument against the counter-proposed society of their new employers. Who, put simply, want to achieve new cultural heights to compare to the wonders of world on the backs of (randomly chosen) slaves, and have built a prison to make it happen. Simone is probing similar terrain to Marvel's Civil War here, which also had a hidden prison to restrain super-powered dissidents.

It's sort of strange how the Skrull invasion so easily undid the themes of Civil War, as one could pretend that so many human failures were actually Skrull manipulations, after the fact. No such easy out here in DC, where Darkseid's infection was already an outside force. Instead we have a world of criminals caught up in survival mode, facing a succession of madmen who lack their practicality but make up for it in ruthless pursuit of their twisted goals.

Artemis puts it all very clearly to one of her jailors, and the team that was so willing to support Deadshot is ripped apart by a disagreement over whether to rescue her. Jeannette acts without sanction to free her, despite the history between sirens and Amazons. Simone has certainly perfected the art of the cliffhanger, and she uses it in this book often as a way to balance between two extreme approaches. Just when I think she's pushed the DC style further into moral relativism than it should go, she re-grounds the book in DC's most basic lore.

Or maybe I just love how difficult it is for Ragdoll to make any sense at all of his surroundings, as his own moral judgments are as alien as they are consistent to a logic all his own. His position as ironic Greek chorus is always amusing.



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