Secret Six #1-14: Why You Should Read Gail Simone's Superhero Masterpiece

This week saw the end of Gail Simone’s second Secret Six series. And this is probably the last we’ll see of the team, as the title’s not mentioned in any of the Rebirth relaunch news. Which is a shame, because this was one of the best comics DC’s been publishing recently.

Part of this is my admiration of the original, pre-Flashpoint comic – but following a bumpy start (the opening issue was not among Gail Simone’s best), it quickly managed to gain its footing and improve on it. That’s especially impressive, as it’s among of the few New 52 that managed to take a character or team from the previous continuity and actually provide a fitting new take on the concept, as opposed to something that tries to fit an older one into a new story (i.e. the new Martian Manhunter)

The original version of the team was a mercenary team that became a family since its debut in the Infinite Crisis tie-in miniseries, Villains United. The new group, with a mostly different roster (Catman and Black Alice being the only two members from the previous incarnation that were members of the main cast), took a different approach. They’re not mercenaries anymore – they’re outsiders, people with difficult pasts who build a home and a family for each other. While the original team was actually a proper comic book team that went on missions they were hired to do – the new one just wants to build a home and take care of each other, only getting involved with the DC universe at large when it threatens one of their own.

The new team is also much more functional than the old one. While the old incarnation did form a family, they were primarily a work relationship. And if they found their individual goals to be more important? They had no problem stabbing each other in the back or leaving the team. Something like that would be horribly out of character for the new group. They might have doubts if they feel the threat is out of their league (as it generally is), but they’ll go through hell for each other. Which, admittedly, the original team did end up literally doing – but it’s even more believable for the new one.

It’s also even more LGBTQA-friendly than the original – and that’s saying a lot. The previous version of the team was led by Scandal Savage – a warrior lesbian who ended up in a polyamorous marriage with two women. It also featured two bisexual teammates, Catman and Jeanette – though this was more of a case of the author confirming something for the fans, as in-story they only got into relationships with people of opposite gender (which is a problem with bi characters in general). And, of course, there was Ragdoll.

Comparatively, the new Secret Six is much more open about its LGBTQA characters. For starters, Catman’s bisexuality is much more pronounced – in fact, that’s the very first thing we see in the first issue. There’s also Porcelain – a genderfluid new Black character who uses the "they" pronoun – with whom fans fell more and more in love as the series progressed. And once they’re reintroduced, the series is much more open about Jeanette’s bisexuality and continues the thread of Scandal being in a polyamorous marriage with two women.

Among all this, Secret Six also manages to bring back a beloved DC couple, that hasn’t been used at all since the New 52 started – that I won’t say anything more about, as I don’t want to spoil the series. It continues the story of Mary/Strix – the adorable and deadly female Talon created by Simone in her Batgirl run. It gives us a greater insight into a one-off Batgirl villain from the same run: Shauna Belzer, the Ventriloquist. And it tells a great story about Black Alice. I can’t recommend it enough, with the caveat that its first issue is the weakest in the series.

After that, however, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Dominik Zine is a nerdy lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.