So, if you ignore part twos, intros and the Sega ads post, this is my one hundreth book covered. Woo hoo. And to mark this special occasion I present the first one written by a female writer, the writer in question being Gail Simone. Actually I had wanted to cover her quite a while back but for ages the stuff I had recommended by her was out of print and going for a fortune on Amazon. Fortunately the series I was most interested in, Secret Six has been reprinted and this volume contaians the original Villains United miniseries which I briefly cover for reason I'll go into later and then the follow up miniseries that ended up leading into an ongoing series collected in later volumes. Also, I've been following Gail Simone on tumblr and wow, she must be the nicest, most awesome author as a person I have ever come across. Her dedication to her fanbase is legendary and her commitment to portraying diversity in gender, sexuality, race and disability in her comics puts her way ahead of every other author I have read regarding social justice issues. Even if I hated her work (which I don't, she's a really good writer) I think I'd still follow her tumblr for all the fun, and snark and cosplay pictures of women dressed as Red Sonja she links to, mmmm. So, I shall skim the first miniseries and cover the second in more depth, both have six issues making this book good value for money as well.
VILLAINS UNITED - When I started buying the original black and white Swamp Thing trades in the mid-to-late 1980's, each volume came with an introduction. When it came time for the Crisis On Infinite Earth's tie-in to be collected, the intro explained what the crossover was about and so I wasn't left totally bewildered by it as I only started collecting DC comics in earnest after Crisis On Infinite Earths happened. The first Grant Morrison Animal Man trade also has an intro that explains the Invasion crossover that had a deleterious effect on Animal Man's powers. Once again without it, it would be utterly confusing.
|Mark One, Cheshire, Catman Ragdoll, Deadshot Parademon, Scandal.|
Basically, the Lex Luthor from Earth-2, Alex Luthor, was disguised as the main DCU earth's Lex Luthor and was using a team of super villains to distract the heroes of the earth while he got on with capturing heroes and villains who had originated from different Earths before Crisis On Infinite Earth's crushed all the Earths into one, with various people from parallel worlds now making their home in the new compacted continuity. Alex Luthor wanted to strap them to a giant tuning fork to split the earth into multiple realities again and then create the perfect earth.
|Even Lex Luthor can't outsmart himself.|
SIX DEGREES OF DEVASTATION - The Six are still down to five as this miniseries begins. They are Scandal Savage, the lesbian daughter of Vandal Savage (you may remember him from Demon Knights) and their sort of leader; Knockout, one of Darkseid's Female Furies and Scandal's bisexual lover; Floyd "Deadshot" Lawton, Thomas "Catman" Blake and Peter "Ragdoll" Merkel. Only Knockout can be said to have superpowers, she is very strong. Otherwise they are all Badass Normals. One thing you have to bear in mind as you read about them, these are NOT heroes. They are deeply messed up individuals who do some bad things and some good things. But in a universe full of goody, goody superteams it's refreshing to be able to pull for these flawed characters and how they navigate their way through the situations they find themselves in. Simone is very good at giving each character a distinctive "voice" so they don't all blend into one. Anyway, lets begin.
|North Korea. Not a fun place to live.|
The man in question is actually Deadshot. The rest of the Six parachute down nearby and hope they haven't been too late. The North Korean commandant asks who his target was. Deadshot asks if he knows a "Jip Li-An". The commandant laughs and says that person was a traitor and died last week. Deadshot says that he wasn't the target, but his widow is their employer.
Then he kicks the gun in the hand of the guard behind him who fires it in surprise and hits the commdandant in the chest, killing him. The rest of the gang arrive and deal with the guards. Deadshot grabs a gun and starts doing what he does best. Soon all the guards are dead. With none left, the prisoners timidly go and pick up the guns dropped by the guards. As the five drive off, Deadshot remarks that it's only five miles to the Chinese border and some of them might make it.
|The big boobed redhead is Knockout the replacement member.|
Scandal: "And for everyone else. Enjoy your vacation. Eat well, get drunk, make love.. for I intend to do all thre with a complete lack of moderation."
Ragdoll goes to a restaurant for a fancy meal. Deadshot is enjoying a nice walk in the park with his ex-wife and kid. Scandal is in Bangkok with Knockout. Entwined in each other's arms, looking out from their high up hotel roof, Scandal muses:
Scandal: "Thankyou for this, Kay. I love this city".
Knockout: "Do you? I must conquer it for you sometime then."
And they kiss. Man, my girlfriends never promised to conquer cities for me. I'm sad now. Anyway, Catman ventures to a mysterious house to recruit their sixth member, who turns out to be The Mad Hatter from Batman's rogue gallery.
Suddenly Ragdoll is attacked by a knife wielding assassin in the restaurant. Deadshot is accosted by assassins armed with swords, and in Bangkok, a helicopter with a woman armed with an exotic rifle in it fires upon Knockout and Scandal. It embeds a ticking bomb in Knockout's skin, when she realises what it is, she flings Scandal clear and it explodes. Deadshot is in trouble without his guns and Ragdoll is also being bettered by his assassin. In the creepy house, meanwhile, The Mad hatter agrees to join up with them.
|Knockout tosses Scandal off (sorry)|
Ragdoll: "I break more bones than this myself before breakfast, muffin. If you want me dead you'll have to crush organs."
And he manages to take his attacker out by ramming his arm down his throat. Deadshot is about to be executed by the sword wielding women, when his ex-wife tosses him a gun. He tells the women to shoo, as he doesn't want to kill anyone in front of his kid. Scandal floats in the water Knockout threw her in, then climbs out and finds Knockout's horribly burned body. It is still breathing. Scandal feels a rush of grief:
Scandal: "I felt only the weight of vengeance. I felt the desire to visit the full wrath of my family's blood upon the woman who did this to you. And for the first time I felt my father's hatred of humanity come to roil and fester right behind my eyes so intensely I could barely stand unaided."
And we're back in the present with Scandal getting all Jack Bauer on Pistolera. Only unlike 24 which shows torture as neccessary and enobling, this shows torture as grubby and degrading for the person meteing it out, more out of revenge than a desire to know the truth.
|Horrible, but it's meant to be. Don't piss off Scandal Savage.|
Catman comes in and they discuss what to do with the woman. Catman says to let her go and Scandal agrees, but then Deadshot shoots Pistolera dead, taking the decision out of their hands. He then says "Hatter's made some cake. Who wants cake?" Scandal tells Deadshot she doesn't know whether to kiss him or kill him. She decides to kiss him, glad he took the only real decision that could be taken.
With Ragdoll in the hospital for injuries sustained in the attack against him, the rest travel to the Himalayas where Cheshire's base is. They fight the kung fu monks inside and finally Cheshire appears. She admits that Doctor Psycho was behind her arranging the hits. Scandal is about to kill her when she shows them something.
|Cheshire, Catman and their baby, aww.|
The next chapter begins with Catman visiting Ragdoll in the hospital. Scandal is busy trying to check Ragdoll out, when the nurse pushes an alarm that alerts the FBI agents to their prescence. They come to arrest Ragdoll and the other two, because they are all still criminals. But Catman and Ragdoll crash through a window and escape, meeting up with Scandal who has done the same.
Back at the House of Secrets, they are having a meal. The Hatter has placed tiny little hats on the fruit in a bowl. Scandal is sleeping by her lover, who gets up and removes her bandages to reveal she is totally healed. She takes a shower and then walks into the kitchen area totally starkers, much to the enjoyment of Deadshot and Catman. Hatter ignores her because she didn't have a hat on.
|Ah strategic hair, very handy to avoid a NSFW label.|
Knockout runs in and hugs her. She explains she was engineered to "stay presentable even after the most greivous of wounds." Then Deadshot pops his head round the door and says they have a lead on the women who attacked him. "Suit up, we're going hunting."
|A mind controlled Ragdoll attacks the rest of the Six.|
Catman: "Last chance Doll, stand down or die."
Ragdoll: "I choose...Death".
They land the helicopter and notice that Hatter is having some sort of seizure. Scandal says to leave him and search for Knockout. She finds her unharmed. Ragdoll appears, now back to normal and explains that he had a post-hypnotic suggestion implanted in his brain by Doctor Psycho when he was in the hospital. He apologises again and before they can leave, The Doom Patrol appears.
|The Doom Patrol arrive, it's them at the back.|
Cheshire and Doctor Psycho meet with Vandal Savage at his Japanese home and he feeds them soup and meat made out of Solomon Grundy, much to Cheshire's disgust. Back with the Six versus the Patrol, Scandal says maybe they should try to talk to avoid an ass kicking. However Robotman says they are all wanted by the police. Catman says, yeah but it's all petty stuff. Why are the likes of The Doom Patrol after them?
Catman also points out they have people in need of medical treatment. Robotman says treatment first then jail. So the Six attack them. Elasti-woman grows to huge size, and Ragdoll gets a good look up her skirt before downing her by stabbing her in the ankle. Beast Boy tries to get Mento (his adoptive father) to help her (his adoptive mother). But Mento just jibbers about random stuff, so Negative Man releases the Negative Spirit upon them.
|A mind controlled Elasti-woman chomps Robotman's noggin off.|
Robotman: "Hey meatheads. You can see we're still working the kinks outta this team. You got lucky. Get the hell out of here before we take all that away."
Back at the House Of Secrets, Ragdoll has his arm reattached. Deadshot speaks with his ex-wife saying he can't see her and his daughter anymore but the cheques will still come. she angrily tells him to "burn in hell" and hangs up. Knockout comes in and Deadshot and her share a drink. Scandal dreams of her father again. He says she must do as he commands or he will "take them from you." Or she can come kill him, whatever. She wakes up and goes looking for Knockout and discovers her in bed, shagging Deadshot.
|Seriously, don't make Scandal mad...|
Knockout: "Scandal, is it the sex? Is that why you're angry? Is that it? On Apokolips after a battle the survivors always... This man means nothing to me. Less than nothing. Kill him if you must."
Sorrowfully Scandal walks out on them, telling them to burn her things like she was never there. And not to follow her either. Deadshot tries to justify himself, but Catman says he "screwed all of us." Scandal leaves in a plane to go to her father's house. The rest of the Six have a meeting and Knockout says Scandal didn't leave over the sex, if she was really mad, Deadshot would be dead by now. Also, Scandal loves her. This was a ruse.
|I like dramatic scenes where everyone is nude.|
Scandal tells her father that he has won and that he must not hurt her friends. He says that if he was to lose her, he'd lose everything of the only woman he ever loved. As she refused to shag Catman, he has picked a mate for her, Doctor Psycho. Ew. The Six's plane touches down outside and they come out fighting, taking on Vandal's ninja guards.
|Opening a can of whoop-ass.|
Hatter has a trippy dreamlike vision where he sees Cheshire as the Cheshire Cat and Doctor Psycho as the White Rabbit telling him to jump into a hole that is his grave. Scandal brings him round, she says she can close the wound but he needs the antidote fast. She shoots Catman a significant look and he obdiently goes after Cheshire.
|What did I say about pissing off Scandal?|
Catman: "Cheshire, your womb is the most Godammned dangerous weapon I've ever faced. Worse than that... I can't believe I'm considering it."
Cheshire says he better make his mind up fast, so they disappear somewhere secluded. Knockout and Scandal deal with the zillions of mooks and Hatter disappears to chse after Doctor Psycho. Vandal Savage stands on the roof of his house and challenges Scandal to a one-on-one fight. She agrees but tells Knockout that this house is his favourite and he despises disorder. "Displease him for me won't you?" she says, and they kiss. Then Scandal climbs up to fight her father.
|Dr. Psycho and Hatter grapple, while Scandal fights her dad.|
Vandal stabs Scandal through the hand with a katana, but then as Knockout makes a particularly big dent in his house, he and Scandal are knocked off the roof. Scandal is left hanging on by her good hand, while Vandal dangles off her leg. Vandal says he suddenly has no more desire to take her down and lets go, smashing on the rocks below. Hatter then appears and goes to stab her through the hand she is hanging on by for the crime of knocking his hat off.
|How fluffy and nice...|
Once back there, Scandal thanks them for coming to help her, she says she plans on getting her tubes tied to prevent her father, who will come back alive again, from trying the same stunt again and she has no desire for kids. She also tells Deadshot if he tries it on with Knockout again, she'll turn his testicles into earrings. And the miniseries ends with poor old Mad Hatter left behind, with the only thing in life he can truly trust. His hat.
|You can always rely on a hat.|