Secret Six #9
“A Debt of Significant Blood”
Author: Gail Simone
Artist: Nicola Scott
Inker: Doug Hazelwood
Colorist: Jason Wright
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Editor: Sean Ryan
It’s official. Gail Simone’s Secret Six is now my favourite comic book. Secret Six #9 is the best issue of the series thus far.
I’ve heard someone say that they would happily read these characters eating sandwiches and having a chat, and I’d have to say, I agree! And that’s because – despite their grimeyness; despite their moral greyness – they’re so damn vibrant. And so they should be – Simone herself nursed them to maturity. Nobody writes these characters like Simone (and nobody draws them like Nicola Scott); even Bane – the man who broke the Batman’s back – has been enriched under her tenure. The next part will come as a strange coincidence, then: Secret Six #9 is a Battle for the Cowl tie-in featuring only three of the Secret Six – Catman, Ragdoll, and Bane – returning to Gotham to pay their respects to Batman! Talk about your strange situations.
And it pays off in spades, too. This is easily the most hilarious single issue I’ve read this year, and definitely my favourite Secret Six story so far (and I’ve read them all). Our three anti-heroes go from mansion to mansion to save the children of wealthy families from terrorists who seek to take them hostage. This was a smart setup that very much parallels the Bruce Wayne’s own origins. Bane in particular shines through, which is only appropriate for one of Batman’s greatest adversaries. Of particular amusement was a scene in which Catman leaves Bane to take care of a little girl. I’ll give you a taste:
CATMAN: Hang on, I count one missing. Here. Take this thing.
*Hands the toddler to Bane*.
BANE: What? No. I can’t.
I don’t…I don’t know how.
*Sings* Hush, little baby, don’t say a–
LITTLE GIRL: WAAAHH!!
BANE: Blake! I MAY HAVE BROKEN IT!
To have such an imposing figure cradling a tiny child with a genuine look of terror on his face is priceless.
Ragdoll pays tribute to the Bat in his own twisted way, dressing as the Boy Wonder. You can imagine this pleases Nightwing to no end when he arrives on the scene. Ragdoll also realises his uncanny knack for making any word sound perverted. Cheese-stuffed manicotti!
Most hilarious of all is Catman and Bane’s continuing debate over who is the biggest Batman wannabe – neither party wishes to admit it – both present strong cases; both raise many a chortle. (Just quietly, I believe Catman loses that debate – read it and find out why!)
They may kill scores of terrorists in gruesome ways, but the Secret Six’s send-off to the Dark Knight achieves a level of poignancy comparable to Neil Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” When you step back and look at all the elements in play here, it’s easy to see just how much sense this Batman tie-in made. Hand in a glove springs to mind. So does “velvety throw pillows!” Well done, Gail and team.