Secret Six: The Cult DC Title That Is All Over James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad

James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad is now in US theaters and streaming on HBO Max – and the highly anticipated DC film not only lives up to the bloody and brutal hype around its body count and R-rating, but also the spirit and pace of writer John Ostrander Suicide Squad, the race that redefined the team and the title in the late 1980s.

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Gunn has been outspoken about the influence of Ostrander’s Suicide Squad on his film – he even made a cameo appearance for Ostrander himself in the film (this is the medic who implants Savant’s fail-safe explosive device) . But there’s another classic DC comic that seems to have its DNA built into the hardcore violence and scorching humor of The Suicide Squad – Secret Six, the cult favorite of writer Gail Simone.

Like Ostrander’s Suicide Squad, Secret Six takes a little-known team of soldiers and agents from Silver Age DC and reimagines the concept as a team of villains forced to work for an unknown conspirator. Unlike the Suicide Squad, the Six Secrets don’t respond for long to their ruthless employer, quickly ditching themselves – off a leash, and often on their way to the DC Universe’s worst evils and greatest heroes.

Secret Six is ​​beloved by fans and its creators – in fact, Simone, who was thanked in The Suicide Squad credits in part for co-creating some of the characters in the film, says the film has kept her coming back for a long time. at Secret Six one day.

“Damn, The Suicide Squad makes me wanna write more Secret Six”, Simone tweeted following the wide release of the film, with fans on Twitter with their support for a Secret Six revival.

(You can count me among those fans – and among those fans who found their particular itch for the humor and action of a title like Secret Six being scratched while watching The Suicide Squad).

Secret Six’s influence on The Suicide Squad seems to go beyond the overall tone of the characters, the action, and the humor, perhaps even foreshadowing what could be the next step for the lucky few who survived. to the mission of Task Force X in Corto Maltese.

We’ll go into everything you need to know about the Six Secrets and The Suicide Squad connection right now, as well as why their comic book adventures are a must-read.

Don’t worry – Newsarama promises to keep all movie spoilers light and to give you a lot of advance warning whenever you’re in danger of getting spoiled!

For now, we’re going to talk about comics – the Secret Six comics, to be precise.

Who are the Six Secrets?

image of the Six Secrets

(Image credit: DC Comics)

The original Secret Six was a team of Silver Age DC spy agents responding to a mysterious boss named Mockingbird (think Charlie’s Angels meets James Bond). Although the team’s original concept had a brief revival in the ’80s, the updated version only had a few appearances and remained fairly close to the original in terms of tone.

Then, in the early 2000s, DC released Villains United, a six-issue limited series by writer Gail Simone and artist Dale Eaglesham that was part of a group of stories meant to introduce concepts that would be at the heart of the reality-changing Infinite Crisis event. title to follow.

Villains United introduced a new Secret Six made up of DC B-List villains including Deadshot (then at the start of his popularity revival), Catman (an obscure Batman villain who was a self-confessed Catwoman scam), Ragdoll (a successor to the Golden Age villain of the same name) Scandal Savage (daughter of the immortal villain Vandal Savage) and a rotating cast of other members who came and went – usually in a violent manner.

The new super villain-y Secret Six is ​​also organized and led by Mockingbird – in this case secretly Lex Luthor, who is manipulating the Secret Six as part of a plan also involving his Secret Society of Supervillains, a veritable army of villains making all Luthor’s work. bid.

(Image credit: DC Comics)

After Infinite Crisis, the Secret Six part ways with Luthor and go on their own as mercenaries in a new title Secret Six from Simone and artist Brad Walker. With this new series, Simone and Walker bring in Scandal Savage’s lover Knockout as a long-term fifth member, with the team’s sixth place once again being filled with, well, fodder (to the except Harley Quinn, who manages to leave the team without dying).

Throughout Villains United and the limited series Secret Six, Simone sets a tone of unwavering, unwavering violence whose likes are generally relegated to Quentin Tarantino films – all undermined by a stream of hysterical humor and outspoken sexuality that invests readers even in the strangest. (and more short-lived) members of the Six Secrets (sounds familiar to you, viewers of The Suicide Squad?).

She also puts her entire cast at the forefront of the DC Universe in a way that contradicts their humble origins as new characters or overhaul of generally unused concepts.

Catman goes from a Z-List 50s Batman villain to DC’s most gifted hunter – something akin to the DC version of Spider-Man’s villain Kraven the Hunter. Deadshot becomes the unlikely straight man of the DC Universe with some kind of brutalist everyone tackling all the weirdness around him. Scandal Savage is becoming one of the most effective and interesting antiheroes in the DC Universe, as well as one of DC’s first openly queer main characters. And Ragdoll – well, Ragdoll is perhaps one of the strangest, weirdest characters DC has ever put on the page.

Secret Suicide Squad Six

image of the Six Secrets

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Following the Secret Six limited series, Simone went on to write a long-running, ongoing title Secret Six, primarily drawn by artists Nicola Scott and Jim Calafiore, which brought together Catman, Deadshot, Scandal and Ragdoll – this time to complete the team up with Batman Bane’s archenemy and a new character named Jeanette – a literal banshee who is also Scandal Savage’s lover (one of the few in her historical past).

All the while, the Suicide Squad is largely unseen in the DC Universe, although Deadshot is shown returning to work for Amanda Waller a few times between stints with the Secret Six, and the ties between the teams don’t. develop only during the Title.

On the one hand, writer John Ostrander, who revamped the Suicide Squad and added Deadshot to the team in the ’80s, wrote two guest stories focused on Deadshot (Secret Six # 15 and Secret Six # 23) . Ostrander’s classic Suicide Squad title was also revived for a single unique issue, Suicide Squad # 67, which crossed over to Secret Six.

At the start of the current title, the team discovers a literal “Get Out of Hell Free” card that will save the wearer from a life of eternal damnation with the demon Neron, which puts the team in the sights of dozens. super villains who all want the prize that will save them from their inevitable and macabre fate (remember that song maybe … hint).

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Soon after, the team split up, Bane taking over, and Scandal, Deadshot, Catman, and Ragdoll finally left and went their separate ways. The leader among Bane’s newcomers to the team is King Shark, who goes from being a seldom-used Superboy villain and Suicide Squad to Secret Six’s comedic relief as “Shark, not a… talking guy,” with his tenure on the team began with the now infamous “I’M A * & ^% $ # @ SHARK!” page.

The final story of The Secret Six takes Bane back to Gotham City, with his team on a mission to kill a group of Batman friends, including Catwoman, Tim Drake, and Azrael – only to get their ass kicked by an army of super. hero.

After that, the DC Universe rebooted after the Flashpoint story, with Gail Simone reassembling a version of the Secret Six for a short-lived title in the “New 52” era, which began by reviving the Suicide Squad. with some elements of tone and characters from Simone’s Secret Six.

Most recently, the name Secret Six was used for a group of six heroes who were toppled by villainous Batman Who Laughs in a new Batman / Superman title, which had no connection with the previous version of the team.

Here’s where you should turn if you want to stay fully 100% intact for The Suicide Squad.

more from The Suicide Squad

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Last chance, for real – we’re about to spoil one element of the movie, so don’t read any further if you want to get in absolutely fresh. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

By the end of The Suicide Squad, the remaining team members formed a seemingly real bond of friendship and camaraderie through their common struggle with Starro. The survivors, viewed by the public as heroes for defeating the alien threat, escape Amanda Waller’s control by stealing secret data about Starro which they promise to divulge if she pursues them. With his interests secured, Waller accepts the survivors’ terms.

It sounds a lot like how the Six Secrets manage to escape Mockingbird / Lex Luthor in their first comic book story – and how they marked a “Get Out of Hell for Free” card, to get in the way. line of sight of the worst villains in the DC Universe.

If James Gunn and Warner Bros. are looking for a place to take the survivors of The Suicide Squad, leaving the nickname Task Force X to Amanda Waller and becoming the Six Secrets themselves (to a few people, we won’t spoil who actually succeeds), maybe on the run as everyone on Waller’s roster tries to reclaim the guarantee that earned them their freedom, maybe even culminating in a huge downfall with a huge collection of superheroes – well, that could to be a perfect direction to follow.

In the meantime, Gail Simone’s Secret Six saga remains one of the best depictions of The Suicide Squad’s action and tone in the DC comics, seemingly informing the film perhaps as much as the comics that actually wear. her name.

Here is what Director James Gunn explains what an official sequel to the Suicide Squad is might look like.

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