So a while back, I wrote a review of the first six issues of a bunch of the DC NU titles. For a quick recap, you can find those here:
Well another six months have passed and I’m back again for the second half of DC’s relaunch year. Has it gotten better? Or has the same ridiculousness continued to be spewed. Only one way to find out, and that is to read on.
So right off the bat, I must let you know that I am not a DC fan. I am a collector of 25+ years and 80% of my collection is Marvel. I do know some DC history and I always pick up the “events” from the amazing Crisis on Infinite Earths until the most recent load of camel dung Flashpoint. I know most if not all of the characters but not their history or personality quirks. With the DC Reboot, I, as a DC Noob, was given the rare opportunity to get in on what is supposed to be the ground floor of a new Universe. A fresh start into some of the greatest comic book characters ever created.
Stepping into the ring today is deadly killer from the Suicide Squad and the Secret Six versus the cold-blooded merciless mutant marauder. The fans have been polled. Their votes have been recorded. Let the battle begin.
Wayland chimes in on the second weeks of new #1′s.
The DC-Nu brings back an old DC institution- bad guys under the sway of the government in the Suicide Squad.
Who is Bane?
In the DCU, one of the myriad small countries is a place in the Caribbean called Santa Prisca. This nation first showed up during a story involving Vic Sage, the original Question. It later became better known as the home of this incredibly dangerous man the world knows as Bane.
Santa Prisca was a corrupt nation, and the government was constantly fighting against those who would overthrow it. One of the revolutionaries was able to evade capture time and again, so the government decided his young son would go to prison in the freedom fighter’s place. Bane spent much of his childhood and all of his teen years, as well early adult years inside the walls of Pena Duro, the island’s most notorious prison.
This young man grew up in this hostile environment, and learned from it. His teachers were other prisoners and the few others who would work there, including a Jesuit priest. Bane learned to fight, to plan, and to be strong. He spent his time in the prison library, devouring every book he could lay hands on, as well as the gym, where he trained himself to be as close to perfect as he could. Especially when younger, he was mocked for carrying a small teddy bear, which he called Osito and said was his only friend. Osito was eventually revealed to be the hiding place for the knife he used to kill those who bullied him or otherwise got in his way.
Even in a prison in a small country, some stories spread. As he grew, he heard of a city in America that was dominated by one man—his implacable will, skills, and determination bending the streets to his will. If one man could so dominate a place as corrupt as Gotham City, then Bane could rule this prison. He gradually rose to power among the inmates and ruled over them, as he had heard Batman did in Gotham.
The governors of the prison noted his power, and drafted him to become the newest test subject for a drug they were developing to create a more powerful soldier to combat the revolutionaries that plagued them. All other subjects perished, but Bane survived, and found the drug, called Venom, would greatly increase his physical prowess, although he needed regular doses every 12 hours to stave off debilitating side effects. A few years later, deciding the prison and the country had nothing more to offer him, Bane escaped with a few trusted aides, and decided to pit himself against this legend of fear and shadow—the Batman.
Being an intelligent man who understood the value of planning and reconnaissance, Bane had no intention of simply commiting some random crime and fighting Batman when he showed up. Bane studied the city, his foe, the Batman’s allies and tactics, and decided on a course of action. Bane staged a mass breakout at Arkham, and let the inmates run riot in the streets. Batman drove himself mercilessly to capture his enemies and protect his city. After he’d been worn down, Bane struck. Studying the city and its prominent citizens, he’d learned Batman’s secret, but had no wish to reveal it. He awaited the weary Dark Knight in the cave below Wayne Manor, and they fought. Bane beat him badly, and ended the fight by breaking Batman’s spine.
Batman later recovered, and took back his city. Bane was captured by the replacement Batman, formerly known as Azreal, and sent to Blackgate Prison. Here, he purged himself of the Venom, and spent his time in solitary confinement pushing himself to peak physical condition. Bane and Batman briefly worked together when they learned that a small time gang had gotten hold of a supply of Venom and was selling it to the highest bidder.
Bane left Gotham to track down his mysterious father. His search was sidetracked when he met Talia Al Ghul, who was impressed enough by him to introduce him to her father, Ra’s, another long time Batman enemy. Ra’s made Bane his heir, and together they attacked Gotham. Batman not only defended his city, but this time he beat Bane in their rematch. Later, Bane had a falling out with Ra’s, and devoted his considerable resources to destroying many of Al-Ghul’s Lazarus Pits, the mystical fountains that allow Al-Ghul to live as long as he has. Bane briefly worked for Lex Luthor during the events of “No Man’s Land” but left Gotham after meeting, but not fighting, with Batman again.
Later, Bane finally learns his parentage, as his father is revealed to be King Snake, a crimelord who clashed frequently with the third Robin, not a revolutionary as he had been told. Bane fought his father, preventing him from activating a powerful weapon, and also saved Batman’s life, nearly at the cost of his own. Batman put Bane in one of the surviving Lazarus Pits and let him go, with a clean slate and new life.
Somewhat out of character, Bane appeared during Infinite Crisis with the villains in the great “Battle for Metropolis” where he killed the Golden Age hero Judomaster. Still later, he clashed with the two Justice Society heroes known as Hourman. The research of Rex Tyler, the first Hourman, was used to create the Venom that had plagued Bane so often. Bane was intent on wiping out everything having do to with Venom and viewed the Miraclo using heroes as a loose end, but they defeated him, as did Judomaster’s son in a later clash.
Bane next went to work for the Suicide Squad, the team of black ops criminals doing deniable deeds for the US Government under the guidance of master planner Amanda Waller. Waller betrayed both Bane and Deadshot, sending them off with other villains to the so called “Hellworld” during the Salvation Run event. Bane escaped with most of them and returned to Earth.
Bane later joined the mercenary group known as the Secret Six, where he remains at present. He has developed an odd, father like relationship with the group’s leader, Scandal Savage. When he saw her about to be killed, his feelings were so deep that he actually took Venom again to save her. He remains with the team as a deadly planner and fighter.
Bane has no powers. He is an incredibly gifted athlete, hand to hand combatant, tactician, and planner. When he uses Venom, he temporarily attains low level superhuman strength and endurance. It has also been stated he has a photographic memory, and is fluent in several languages. Bane is among the deadliest fighters and schemers on Earth, utterly ruthless when he is convinced he is in the right.
Out of character notes-
Many assume Bane was created as an evil Batman, but his first writers have compared him more to the pulp hero Doc Savage (which makes his father daughter dynamic with Scandal Savage more ironic, although Doc and Scandal are not related). His assistants were based on helpers of Doc Savage and named after 60’s rock bands (Byrds, Troggs, Zombies). What happened to his helpers after their first big story in Knightfall remains mostly unknown.
Bane has been shown as a much more two dimensional thug on various cartoons, as well as in the horrible Batman and Robin movie that temporarily ended all super hero films.
Bane’s real name, if he has one, has never been revealed. When asked recently in Secret Six what his name actually was, he simply replied “Bane.” Presumably his last name would be Dorrance, as is that of King Snake.
Secret Six 18 cover
Secret Six #18
The Six: Bane, Catman, Deadshot, Ragdoll, Scandal, Jeanette, Black Alice (ok, that’s not six)
The Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller, Rick Flag, Count Vertigo, Bronze Tiger, Nightshade, Virtuosa, Multiplex
Black Lanterns: Fiddler, Atom II, Shrike, Ravan, Manticore, Punch, Psi, Twister, Windfall, Yasemin
Spoiler warnings below.
Wow, what a mess.
The Squad vs Six feud escalates here, and the Black Lanterns make their presence felt and attack everyone. Amusingly, and perhaps fittingly, the common thread here is Deadshot. The Six have him, the Squad wants him, and BL Fiddler, as well as a few others, want him dead. All over Belle Reeve, the fights rage on- Rick Flag shoots Fiddler in the back of the head, freeing Jeanette, Ragdoll, and Virtuosa from the music. They move on, and find the aftermath of the Catman/Tiger fight, both of them down and out. Deadshot displays his usual empathy (none), and they pick up the two out cold fighters and move on again, Flag not wanting to leave anyone as potential fuel for the Black Lantern’s fire.
Back at the House of Secrets, the fire Multiplex set rages on, as Amanda tries to take control of the situation, taken a bit by surprise by the appearance of the House’s gargoyle. Waller gets hold of her techs back at Belle Reeve to say she needs the Manhunter android they recovered waaay back during the M event (I do love the history here). Scandal makes a dramatic entrance (well, exit really) through a window, kills the two Multiplex’s flanking Waller, and suggests they negotiate.
Back at Belle Reeve, the fight goes on, everyone finding they can’t really stop the Black Lanterns, merely stall them. In a priceless scene, Ragdoll is actually disgusted by BL Punch, which even Ragdoll didn’t think was possible. Tiger has been healed by a special med-pac from Flag, Catman is back up (I have no idea how), and everyone is tearing into the Lanterns, some trying to appeal to their memories and getting nowhere. Alice is not using Nightshade’s power very well, and finally manages to open a portal to escape through after Bane tells her to not worry about the Lanterns and “Be frightened of me and what I will do to you should you fail me now!” She manages with this “encouragement” and the Six flee, followed by the Squad, pursued by the Black Lanterns, so now at least everyone is in the same place, back at the House of Secrets.
Waller and Scandal are snarling at each other about whether or not the Six will work for the Squad when the others arrive, most shaken by the passage through Nightshade’s dead dimension, Ragdoll wanting to do it again. Twisted, that one. Waller threatens Bane to back off before she triggers the chip in his head from his days with the Squad. Things are about to get uglier, when the BLs arrive, and they decide alliance is better than death, for now anyway. More fighting ensues, and Waller says she needs to get back to Belle Reeve to end this. Alice can’t use the portals right still, and Waller deals with this in her usual diplomatic fashion, by knocking her out and having Nightshade, her powers restored, take her back.
Waller takes control of the Manhunter with the helmet last seen being used to control Chemo in the most recent Squad limited series. The fight isn’t going well back at the House, and Fiddler rages on about how Jeanette should know better than anyone that death always wins. This sets up what for me is the line of the issue, Waller arriving with Nightshade and Manhunter-bot, saying “Maybe, but this is the land of the living and you sorry sons of bitches are trespassing.” Waller then triggers several “light grenades” from Dr. Light and combines that with detonating the Manhunter. The Oan energy combines with the light burst and destroys the Black Lanterns.
That fight over, Scandal and Waller go back to snarling at each other, Wa;;er reminding them that Bane and Deadshot still have the Squad booby traps in their heads. Bane says he’ll die rather than work for her again. Everyone agrees, but Ragdoll, who mutters about them being hasty. Waller says they are not worth the headache, and asks Deadshot if he’s coming back where he belongs. He says he IS where he belongs, and underscores the point by shooting Waller in the chest. The Squad leave to rush her to emergency surgery. Flag vows it’s not over, Deadshot counters that it is, and that if he sees any of them again, he will shoot for the head, no warnings.
A week later, Waller is in recovery, saying that the bullet is too close to her heart to operate, and Lawton (Deadshot) is that good. She also thinks that this evens the score between them and that he might start working for them again, which is all she wanted. She also reveals that she is the current Mockingbird, shadowy figure behind the Six. King Farraday, currently serving as her second in command, is surprised, and asks if her left hand even knows what her right is doing, to which she answers “Only on a need to know basis, just like you.”
Overall, I loved this. Ostrander and Simone writing the Secret Six and the Suicide Squad is just amazing. The rich history, especially of the Squad, is used well, noone acts too terribly out of character, and the action is good. The Manhunter is indeed part of their past, and it makes sense that they recovered at least one. Nightshade being appalled that Waller is studying dead heroes is in character, if a bit naive.
The parts that didn’t work for me are small, but I find them troubling. I admit ahead of time that I am constantly impressed by both Simone and Ostrander, and possibly hold them to higher standards than I do others. Someone may be about to correct me, but I don’t recall any version of any Dr. Light character having “light grenades.” Their powers have either been in the suit or inherent. More significantly, I do not for one second buy Amanda Waller is Mockingbird. She engineers a fight between two teams she controls, acting pissed off that Deadshot is on one team but not the other, and accomplishes…. what? No agenda was furthered, it was a waste of effort, and Waller is nothing if not efficient. There was a theory that Farraday might have been the current Mockingbird, and I think that would have been MUCH better, but that’s just my opinion. What do you think?
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Great writing, good use of history, great characterizations
||That reveal at the end
Secret Six #17
Roll Call: Bane, Catman, Deadshot, Jeanette, Ragdoll, Scandal, Black Alice
Bad Guys(?): Amanda Waller, Multiplex, Virtuosa, Nightshade, Bronze Tiger, Rick Flag, Count Vertigo
REALLY Bad Guys: Black Lanterns- Yasemin, Fiddler, Psi, Manticore, Ravan, Punch
Warning, as ever, my reviews contain spoilers.
Hi, I’m guest reviewing the Secret Six this month, so if it seems different, it likely is.
This month’s story is called “Danse Macabre” part two, and continues from Suicide Squad 67 (http://acomicbookblog.com/blackest-night/suicide-squad-67/) with a small war between the Squad and the Six being interrupted by a lot of Black Lanterns, since the Squad leaves a trail of corpses behind them (I was going to do initials for the teams, but then I realized both of them are SS. Odd coincidence.) Like many Blackest Night tie ins, this one starts with someone’s life being recapped as they become a Black Lantern, in this case Yasemin, killed by Deadshot in part one of this story. She rises and moves off to find Deadshot.
Meanwhile, back at the House of Secrets, Waller and Mutliplex prepare to burn the place down, with Scandal still inside of course, part of Waller’s vendetta of “Waaahhhh. Floyd likes you better than me.” Scandal sends a warning to Bane on their radio, and then tries something “suicidal.” Outside, the
The Squad and the Six fight over Deadshot.. isn't it nice to be wanted?
Multiplexes suddenly see a huge winged figure burst through the walls, grab apparently the “real” one, and fly off him. It’s rare for me to say this, but I have NO idea who that is, it looks a bit like Marvel’s Dragon Man.
Back at Belle Reeve, Nightshade fights Bane, and is astounded he won’t fall. They have a great exchange, as she tells him he can’t hit her shadow form, but she can hit him anytime, and he responds “I see. Hitting me. Was THAT what that was supposed to be?” Vertigo steps in and makes Bane fall finally with his powers. Nightshade is about to ‘port him away when her powers cut out, and we see that when Vertigo dropped Alice last time, he wasn’t as thorough as he should have been. Black Alice steals Nightshade’s power and takes them both out. She wins Bane’s admiration with this move, and he ruffles her hair. All her cool goth teen goes out the window and she smiles, a nice little scene. That’s when Bane gets Scandal’s message, yelling she was supposed to be safe.
Inside, the Black Lanterns work into the cell blocks and start killing first guards, then prisoners. At least they’re equal opportunity. This seems to be the “normal” section of the prison, so no named characters get killed here, I think. Then we move on to what I was looking forward to most, and is on the cover- Catman vs. Bronze Tiger. Several great action shots, with the warden on the PA system advising everyone not to panic. Finally, Catman asks Tiger why he’s smiling, and Tiger is trying to figure out how a “raggedy ass punk like you has tagged me three times unchallenged.” Catman responds that Tiger has adefense for every style, but styles are for idiots, and then lunges forward and bites Tiger hard on the neck, drawing a lot of blood. Catman says “Internal jugular. You have maybe five minutes to get to a doctor. Your call, I couldn’t care less.” Tiger says he doesn’t either. The fight turns even more brutal and Tiger, to no huge surprise, knocks out Catman eventually, then passes out from the blood loss, so they both lie there as bloodied heaps. I’m summarizing, as this fight goes on for a good 4 pages of great action.
Elsewhere, Virtousa uses her music to control Ragdoll until Jeanette clocks her in the head. In a twist on an almost cliche line, Jeanette says “..but he’s OUR annoying little degenerate. If someone is going to degrade and torture him, it will be us. Most likely me.” Ragdoll professes his adoration, and Jeanette cautions him she senses “Death walking.” Black Lantern Fiddler shows up, and we learn the walking dead are immune to Jeanette’s banshee wail. “Screaming is not music, my dear,” the Fiddler advises as his music in turns takes out all three of them.
Don't make me angry..you wouldn't like me when.. wait, wrong character
We next see Flag dragging the out cold Deadshot along, complaining that he “always makes things so difficult.” Yasemin shows up and attacks, her guns not piercing his armor, and of course, she’s about indestructible as a Black Lantern. Deadshot starts waking up, and it’s a really interesting visual. BL’s see people in colors of their current emotions. Floyd there is almost all black with a few hints of color, and Yasemin remarks he does have feelings, just buried very deep. Floyd sees them both fighting, remarks he killed them both, and says he’s “going to start getting a complex.” Flag tells him to shut up and run. Outside, the Homicide Squad, as the Black Lantern Squadders are calling themselves, close in on Bane and Black Alice. Alice remarks “Ok. We’re screwed.” and Bane shouts “Run. RUN LIKE HELL!” as the issue ends.
I loved the whole issue. I usually come up with nitpicks, but I really don’t have any here. It was fantastic. Ostrander and Simone continue an amazing story, everyone is in character, the art is great. My only complaint at all is that we have to wait a month to see how this ends. If I really strain, I guess I can sorta wonder why such a huge deal is made of Deadshot’s former time with the Squad, and no one seems to care Bane was too, but that’s so minor really. As I said, I loved this, and Simone and Ostrander together is just amazing. What do y’all think?
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Great story, wonderful history and characterization
||None I caught
DC Comics is presently doing a major event called Blackest Night. It’s crossing over into many of their titles, and spawning assorted limited series. Personally, I’m largely giving it a pass, as I don’t like either the concept or the execution. The dead return to life! Just like every other day in the DCU! This time, they come back evil, as decayed zombies with power rings that let them regenerate from any damage. Dead versions of old friends (and enemies) are hell-bent on killing their former friends/foes, who then join their ranks. Its kind of a superhero version of a zombie movie, really. As ever, this is my warning of spoilers below.
Now where I will give DC credit for being clever is they have decided to bring several canceled titles back from the dead, too, as it were. Various books come back for one more time as part of the Blackest Night event, and instead of being called one shots or specials, they continue the issue numbering from when the book was stopped. One of the most looked forward to (by me at least) is Suicide Squad 67, going back to the great title in the 80s, wherein the government used the various captured super villains (who just tend to break out anyway) to do covert missions, telling them if they survive, they can get released…until next time. And oh by the way, if you try and leave or screw with us, we blow up the explosive that’s attached to you, or inside you, or wherever they put it. This series gave us many great stories, and a new character who has been a pain in the neck to various heroes, villains, and government agencies ever since her first appearance as part of the Squad in Legends 1- Amanda Waller.
To anyone who knows their comic writers, I can sell you on this book with two words. Ostrander. Simone. If you need more information, John Ostrander is the man who wrote Suicide Squad, as well as several other outstanding DC titles, and among other things, took Deadshot from a generic bad guy gunman and gave him depth of character, twisted as it is. Gail Simone later took that ball and ran with it in her incredible Secret Six title, which also features Deadshot. They co-wrote this one, which follows up on the current Secret Six story as well as the Suicide Squad’s recent appearances.
As with most of the Blackest Night issues (at least the ones I’ve seen), the story opens with someone flashing back through their life, being resurrected by one of the black rings, in this case, the Fiddler, a former Flash foe who was one of the founding members of the Secret Six, killed by Deadshot. We then cut to the Squad’s mission, captioned “72 hours ago,” going after a drug dealer. The current Squad field team is Rick Flag, Count Vertigo, Multiplex, Bronze Tiger, Nightshade, and now Yasemin, most recently seen in Birds of Prey. The Squad is trying to use Yasemin as a replacement for Deadshot, who finally cut ties with the team, understandably, after Waller dumped him on Hellworld with the other villains in Salvation Run. The mission doesn’t work out, as Yasemin lacks Deadshot’s experience. Waller is reminded why Deadshot left, and she is her usual reasonable self, saying “He doesn’t get to tell me no.”
We then cut to “72 hours later,” and the House of Secrets, headquarters of the Secret Six. Bane continues his odd role as father figure to Scandal, grilling Scandal’s girlfriend, Liana, about her “intentions” and her job as a stripper. Oddly the voice of reason for once, Ragdoll tries to stop this going as bad as you’d expect, which it does. Scandal storms in, drags Liana out, and then is brought up short by the fact that her motorcycle is pink, in a rather amusing scene. The Six are then off, hired to break out a drug dealer, to the disgust of their newest member, Black Alice, a young woman who can steal magical abilities from anyone on Earth and use them as her own for a time. Unfortunately, the dealer is in the “normal” part of Belle Reeve prison, where so many villains are sent, and where the Squad is based out of.
They debate ways to break in, but Black Alice, bored and not paying attention, steals Giganta’s powers and grows to giant size to rip up the outer fences. The team makes their way in fairly easily, which Deadshot remarks isn’t right, that Waller must be planning something. Which we see is true, as Waller and Multiplex show up at the House of Secrets, telling Scandal that Waller is sick of Floyd (Deadshot) being with them, and that her team has been allowed to run free too long. The trap also springs in Belle Reeve, as Count Vertigo drops Black Alice. Inside, we see what promises to be several interesting match ups: Bane vs. Nightshade (his will vs her dark powers), Ragdoll vs. Virtuosa and her hypnotic music, and most interestingly, Bronze Tiger vs. Catman. Both those fighters are in Batman’s league, so this should be a good one.
Black op govt team vs anti hero/villains who drove around in an Ice Cream truck. Should be interesting….
Some particularly good scenes follow, as Scandal tells Waller to back off or she’ll have the Six go “fully lethal” in Belle Reeve, to which Waller predictably replies that Scandal is trying to “… threaten her with something I don’t even care about slightly? I”ll take them out myself if they lose.” She then orders Multiplex to burn the House down.
Deadshot makes it to the cell, and finds that instead of their target, Rick Flag is there, telling him Waller wants him for a mission. Floyd, as ever a simple man, simply shoots him and walks off. Yasemin tries to confront him next, saying “We will decide this, you and I, on the count of three. One…” and he shoots her, too. Flag, protected by his armored uniform, then clocks Floyd in the head and knocks him out. The issue closes with the Black Lantern Fiddler arriving at Belle Reeve, bearing many rings, which find the various dead former members of the Squad. This group of reanimated ex-Suicide Squad members, now being called the Homicide Squad, lurches up to go join the fray. This story will continue
in Secret Six 17, theoretically on sale next week, but I have diminishing faith in DC shipping schedules of late.
I thought this was an amazing issue. Waller is her creepy manipulative self, the Six are still dealing with Scandal being removed from field operations, and the addition of Black Alice, and the Bane/Liana/Scandal scene was great. As I said above, I very much look forward to the Catman/Bronze Tiger fight. I also wonder if the Black Lantern Fiddler, in addition to going after Deadshot, is going to have something to say about Virtuosa stealing his trick. And of course, seeing Waller deal with the unexpected arrival of the Black Lanterns should be interesting. My only minor quibble really is that in the scene earlier with the various dead Squaders being examined didn’t make a lot of sense. Some of the bodies seemed far too well preserved considering how long ago they died, and some of them died in circumstances that should have made recovering the bodies difficult, if not impossible. That’s a minor point, and I love this, even if it IS a Blackest Night tie in.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Great writing and characterizations, good history
||the odd morgue scene