Written by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood
Secret Six is officially one year old as of this issue and I'm having a hard time thinking of any other book with as stellar a first year as this book has had. Usually you can point to a random issue in the run, typically the "introduction" of the characters or the transition past the first arc, that a new series stutters through, but Secret Six has been, well, as perfect as you could possibly expect.
Not to ruin the trend, issue twelve was one of the strongest issue of the series to date and every character managed to leave their mark on the story in one way or another. Hell, even the guest stars, like Artemis and Wonder Woman, both have great moments in this issue.
However, one character, in particular, managed to take the baton and run with it here and that was the newest and most enigmatic member of the team, Jeannette. Simone has been tight lipped about this character's background since introducing her, but she's told us she is a banshee and of random parts to her past as well as her relative immortality being shown.
When faced with the threat of Wonder Woman kicking the crap out of everyone (Catman even suggests they just stay put and try not to bleed on her) for the apparent death of Artemis (she gets better), Jeannette steps up to defend her team, despite the conflict of interests between everyone in the previous issue, whereby many wanted to walk away from their current contract to work for some slavers. It's revealed her, after some absorbing quite a bit of punishment from Wonder Woman amid some excellent dialogue, that Jeannette is, literally, a banshee, even transforming, for lack of a better word, to look like the Superman villain, Silver Banshee, at one point. This allows her to take down Wonder Woman, but the power is consuming her. If not for Scandal pulling her back, who knows what may have happened.
As I mentioned, Artemis wasn't quite dead. The anti-slavers part of the team took Artemis and fled to find weapons and clothing while the pro-slavers took the fallen Wonder Woman to offer to their employers for allowing the others to free Artemis. Artemis, however, is not in the mood for running away, gears up with some weapons and immediately starts taking revenge on her former captors, specifically the ones that attempted to rape her last issue.
The most shocking scene, however, was Scandal giving Bane Venom and telling him to take it to help them escape their former Secret Six members, who won't take kindly to their breaking the rules of their group. It's shocking to me because Bane has treated her like a daughter and has done everything in his power to help Scandal. She even helped him deal with his withdrawal from the Venom in a previous issue. Seeing her so casually give him more Venom was shocking to me.
The end to the issue came with the delivery of Wonder Woman to the slavers, who showed the remaining Six members their little Dante's Inferno prison, complete with devil chained on the bottom circle of their own manmade Hell. To me, it looked like it was Grendel, from Simone's recent Beowulf arc on Wonder Woman. Grendel disappeared near the end of that arc and the look of this "devil" was similar. The "devil" also knew Wonder Woman, so I think it fits. We'll know for sure next month.
Verdict - Must Read. There's so many things done right in this issue and it reads like no other book on the market. At the heart of it, these are villains doing bad things, but who knew being so bad could be so good?