Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: Secret Six #29

The Lex Luthor/Secret Six crossover ended this week in Secret Six #29. Written by Gail Simone and penciled by Marcos Marz, this issue concentrated mostly on the Lex and Vandal confrontation. It also added a layer of complexity to Scandal Savage, making her a more interesting character than I thought before.

I admit that this is the first issue of Secret Six I have purchased from this run. I bought the Villains United mini-series and the Secret Six mini-series from 2006. But neither grabbed me enough to have me throw this title on my pull list. I have heard some very good things about this title recently so in the end I didn't mind picking up this issue, hoping I would get a good taste for what Simone has been doing here. Unfortunately, since so much time was spent on the Vandal/Scandal relationship that the rest of the team didn't have much time to shine. For instance, I have no idea who the woman with the white hair is or what her powers are. That's after the 2 issues of this story.

This isn't to say I didn't like this issue. I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially the Savage family interactions. It was a very nice ending to the story started in Action Comics. But I don't know if I saw enough here to make me think about picking up this title again. (Of course, they are crossing over with Doom Patrol next month, so I might be back in anyways).

Last issue ended with Vandal Savage having put explosives throughout the LexCorp headquarters and the remote to them being activated.

Well, it turns out it was something of a ruse cliffhanger. The remote landed face down on the ground with the button only partially depressed. Any further depression will activate the bombs. I thought that was fitting given the more slapstick nature of the last issue with the remote bouncing around like a ping-pong ball.

And I was also happy to see that despite being bisected, that the LoisBot is still around and able to talk to Lex. She is too much fun to have been eliminated from the story.

Infuriated, Savage reiterates why he has started this whole mess. He received a prophecy long ago that Luthor would lead Savage to happiness. Savage assumes it has something to do with the Black Lantern energy globes. But he suddenly has an epiphany. At this moment, nothing would bring him more happiness than to kill Luthor.

That sort of logic is perfect for a madman like Savage. In fact, that is the only answer that makes any sense for Vandal.

As always, Lex is one step ahead of everyone. He had a personal defense system installed in the board room, one not on the blueprints of the building, one Savage didn't know about.

Safe behind his force bubble, Lex begins to gloat. And who can blame him. Not only is he safe, but he has the rooms cannons aimed at Scandal. He knows now that Scandal is Vandal Savage's weakness. In fact, that is the only reason why he hired the Six. Lex must have known that at some point he would battle Vandal Savage and who better to add to the mix than Scandal.

You can definitely tell that Simone has infused this team with a lot of sarcasm and bitterness. I like Deadshot's response to Luthor's insults. Deadshot reminds Luthor about the discrepancy in their hair.

Luthor instructs Black Alice to use her powers to remove the majority of the explosives. And then he tells Savage he intends to let the rest explode, killing the Six ... unless Vandal surrenders and agrees not to interfere with Luthor's plans.

Incredibly, Vandal does. He not only gives up, he is forced to say out loud that Luthor beat him. It is a beatdown. Nothing could disgust Savage more than to admit defeat.

With no time left to deactivate the explosives, Luthor lets the Six, Vandal, and some LexCorp employees enter the protective bubble.

Again, so much of this story is serious and so much of it borders on silly. The building explodes and the bubble is tossed out like a rubber ball. Even more amusing is Black Alice channeling the Alan Scott Green Lantern and making a catcher's mitt to retrieve the ball.

In another subtle hint that Luthor isn't his usual calculating self, that he is pushing things a bit too much, Luthor demands that Savage not only surrender but that he agrees to serve Luthor. That is asking too much ... in fact I don't know why Lex would ask for that after he has basically 'won'. Unless he isn't thinking normally.

When Savage refuses to serve, Lex ups the ante telling the LoisBot to kill Scandal. Nice pic of the halves of Lois melding together.

The Six fly into action trying to stop the robot while Luthor and Vandal slug it out. The LoisBot is eventually decapitated, not that that means much it seems.

Surprisingly, despite having been shot at by Luthor, Scandal jumps to his defense. It is completely self-serving. If Luthor dies, no one will hire the Six for protection. And Scandal can't have that. She ends this whole situation with the point of her blades.

Savage agrees to form an alliance with Luthor since Scandal is indeed safe.

The Six then threaten Luthor and Savage. Their contract with Luthor is over, they quit. And Savage better not come after them.

In what is the best part of the book, Savage talks to Lex about Scandal's mother. It turns out that she was the one woman that he has loved in his long life. And since he loved her, he sort of settled down with her, had a child with her. In a fantastic twist, the woman (who had rebelled when Vandal first came into her life) kills herself to rob Vandal of this slice of happiness and normalcy, knowing he would mourn literally forever. Talk about emotional sabotage, talk about the ultimate revenge. That was great.

And to make that moment resonate even more, we learn that the tool the woman used to kill herself are the Lamines Pesar, the very weapons Scandal uses. Scandal uses the blades her mother used in suicide.

That is twisted and appropriate and loving and disturbed all at once. Suddenly Scandal is more that an Elektra wannabe, another bladed bad girl in comics. She has some real emotional wounds, some real depth.

But before we get too serious, Simone turns the table one more time telling us that Luthor's payment would have been a solar system of nymphomaniacs. Yes, it's silly and fitting of the title. Unfortunately it's 2 panels after the one above. I would have rather simmered in the moment of Scandal's pain a bit longer before returning to the nonsense. I would have liked it more if the panel where Scandal tells the origins of her weapons was the last panel of the book, making me ruminate even more. That moment was too fantastic to leave so quickly.

Anyways, we still don't know what happiness Savage will get which leads me to think that his role in this Luthor arc isn't over yet. And it was nice to see the Six, in the end, stand up to two of the heaviest villain hitters in the DCU and hold their own.

Marco Marz art is nice here, ranging from crazy action sequences to quieter moments of introspection.

Overall grade: B+ (up half a grade just for the Scandal moment at the end)


Anonymous said...

She reminds me a bit of X-23 with the blades....nice, though.-ealperin

mathematicscore said...

This was actually the weakest issue of Secret Six so far. It felt a bit unbalanced and rushed. Usually Gail is knocking these out of the park left and right. Still some enjoyable moments and far from crappy; I fear the crossover aspect of this may have shortened the time had to work on this. Especially since this is an artist I'm not familiar with.

TalOs said...

Anj - the white haired Victorian era like lady member of the 6 (who's name currently escapes me) is actually an ageless Banshee, and the teen Goth like "witch" member Black Alice has the gift to tap into as well as replicate any magic based Superhero or villains powers and abilities at any given time too. Both are creations of Gail Simone. ;-)

P.S. Count me as being yet another who's becoming a fast fan of "LoisBot" to boot! :-D

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments and info.

I knew about Black Alice from BoP, but I had no idea about the banshee.

Anonymous said...

I actually figured you would know about her since she has ties to the Superman titles (Her name is Jeanette by the way) because when she takes Banshee form she looks exactly like Silver Banshee. In fact, Gail Simone consulted Silver Banshee creator John Byrne when creating Jeanette for Secret Six.