After a pretty relentless and dark opening storyline for the newly minted ongoing series, Gail Simone puts the breaks on “Secret Six” for an issue, with a charming, self-contained story that serves as both a fitting coda to the previous story and a great look at the anything-but-ordinary lives of the book’s protagonists. One of this title’s draws has always been the highly dysfunctional nature of the characters and their relationships with each other. This issue puts the focus squarely on Scandal, Deadshot, and newcomer Jeanette, who join the exotic dancer the gang had hired to cheer Scandal up for a double date.
As can be expected, it doesn’t turn out to be an ordinary night out and mishap and mayhem follow the four of them from a club to dinner. While no big bads show up with elaborate schemes, we do get to see Scandal and Deadshot working through their individual personal crises through their interactions with their dates. Both characters have had a lot to deal with as late (Scandal lost her girlfriend, Deadshot betrayed his team and left them for dead) so this interlude is appropriately placed.
Carlos Rodriguez’ art is often good, but it lacks the depth and consistency of the book’s regular artist Nicola Scott, and this often leaves a lot of the atmosphere and walk-on characters a bit lacking in detail. Overall, though, as a fill-in artist, Rodriguez does a fine job maintaining the light but realistic tone the book has maintained so far.
As a bonus story, we get a brief glimpse into the charmingly deranged mind of Ragdoll, who spends the issue passed out in the trunk of a car. His child-like fantasy world is drawn by Amanda Gould, and is just as perfect a summation of character as the story that precedes it, but in a completely different way. It’s a delightful little vignette, just as funny and perverse as the character it focuses on.
One of the great strengths of this series has always been that inside all the chaos and betrayal and moral ambiguity are a solid core of believable characters. In a book about about a guy in a cat costume and a dude who fitted the top half of a pistol to his wrist and somehow found it more effective to fashion a ring of bullets to feed ammunition into it as opposed to just holding a gun in his hand like a normal person, that’s no easy task. Simone, however, continues to prove that she is perfectly suited to the task.