Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Secret Six Volume 1: Villains United

Secret Six Volume 1: Villains United collects the Villains United mini-series, which relaunched Catman as a major player in the DCU, along with the first Secret Six six-issue mini-series. The best part of Infinite Crisis, the Villains United series centers around a group of villains who refuse to join Lex Luthor's Secret Society of Super-Villains led by the most unlikely of characters - Catman.

Despite the depths the character had sunk to in the years previous to writer Gail Simone's makeover, I've always been a fan of Catman and Simone does a terrific job in rebranding the character from D-list back to A-list while still acknowledging his fall from grace. Choosing to join the team on his own, Catman became a part of the Secret Six who were controlled by the mysterious Mockingbird and sent into action with the promise of reward (and the threat of death).

The mini-series follows the group through battle, torture, dysfunction, betrayal, and more while setting up the group's core dynamics like Deadshot and Catman's bromance, the insanity of Ragdoll, the deception of Chesire, and the twist of a romantic relationship between Scandal Savage and Knockout.

The second-half of the volume collects the first self-titled Secret Six mini-series which although it has some memorable panels is my least favorite of the team's adventures (and a storyline I honestly had completely forgotten about apart from a battlefield confrontation between Catman and Cheshire). That said it's still worth a read for fans of these characters. These six issued deal with breaking into a North Korean torture camp, picking up the Mad Hatter as a temporary member to battle the threat of Doctor Psycho, fighting the Doom Patrol, and mostly dealing with the fallout of Villains United and Infinite Crisis.

Even if the team isn't yet at its height there's still quite a bit to enjoy in seeing the core characters introduced and brought together and DC's decision to offer twelve issues for only $20 makes it an easy recommendation for comic fans who haven't already collected these issues in previous releases. Now if we can just get DC to include the team's Birds of Prey adventure (long out of print) in one of the future volumes I'll be a happy man. Worth a look.

[DC, $19.99]

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