I have to give credit where it’s due right off the bat. The Secret Six going up against the Suicide Squad would have already been a good story. But Gail Simone and John Ostrander do the impossible, here; they throw in the “Blackest Night” crossover and make the convergence of all three feel like the most natural thing in the world. And let’s face it, that’s something you almost never see in a crossover event.
The presence of Ostrander as co-author certainly helps, but it’s refreshing to see the Suicide Squad handled just right, here. There’s just that right mixture of playfulness and deadly here, something that Simone herself brings to “Secret Six” on a regular basis. After all, these are two groups of villains and killers, each with their own goals and agendas. There’s more to the story than just that, though. Simone continues to advance her own “Secret Six” subplots, even as this issue directly follows on from the “Suicide Squad” #67 issue, with the series back for one last hurrah during “Blackest Night.”
Simone and Ostrander pair off the Secret Six and Suicide Squad characters rather well; there are some obvious matches like Catman and Bronze Tiger, for instance, but having Bane square off against Nightshade and Count Vertigo ends up being far more effective than I’d have thought. And of course, Deadshot is the person everyone’s going after, having held memberships in both teams over the years. Even Amanda Waller gets to square off against Scandal Savage here, in a nod to the strong women who are both the brains behind their operations. And, with death being a constant with both teams, having Black Lanterns swarming about makes a lot of sense. There’s been a whole lot of corpses left behind each of these groups over the years, and even before Black Lantern rings were resurrecting people, they were being haunted by those who fell.
I’ve been a fan of J. Calafiore’s art for years now, and this issue’s script is a good match for his style. He handles the gaunt, decaying looks of the Black Lantern with ease, and he’s always had a sharp angular look to his art that makes the dark seem that much grimmer. Ragdoll in particular looks especially creepy here, with his arms and legs all akimbo in positions that (deliberately) shouldn’t be possible in real life and re-establishes the unnatural nature of the character. Even Virtuosa’s musical notes bouncing around the panels look sharp, here; if Calafiore wants to draw more issues of “Secret Six” I’d be up for that.
When I got to the end of this issue, I was actually startled. Everything moved so quickly and effortlessly that I actually lost track of how many pages I’d already read. That’s a good sign. If Simone and Ostrander want to keep co-writing books down the line, I’d be on board. (Or for that matter, a new “Suicide Squad” series from Ostrander sure would be nice, DC. Hint hint.) This was just fun, pure and simple.