Gail Simone lets Catman loose in a fresh ‘Secret Six’ in DC’s New 52
Dale Eaglesham's cover art for "Secret Six" No. 1, set for a Dec. 3, is "something that I don't remember ever seeing anything like it before," Gail Simone said. It offers glimpses of the new character designs. Simone, wanting to preserve some mystery, would discuss only Catman (suggested by the center mask) and Black Alice (top left). (DC Entertainment)Link
The previous version of Catman (character design by Dale Eaglesham) is seen on Daniel Luvisi's cover for "Secret Six" No. 19, surrounded by then-members Scandal Savage, Deadshot, Bane and Jeannette. (DC Entertainment)Link
The previous version of Black Alice is seen on the cover of "Secret Six" No. 16. (Daniel Luvisi / DC Entertainment)Link
Nicola Scott's playful cover art for "Secret Six" No. 3 (2008), written by Gail Simone, shows down-on-their-luck villains-for-hire Catman, front, Ragdoll, Scandal Savage, Deadshot and Bane. (DC Entertainment)Link
Now the secret can be revealed: Gail Simone is relaunching “Secret Six” in the New 52, and at its core is a mystery with an answer that she said all DC readers will want to know.
The fan-favorite writer, who recently wrapped a well-regarded run on “Batgirl,” will introduce the new gang of rogues to root for in an ongoing series set to premiere Dec. 3, and she promises the same sort of “black humor and edginess” – and unpredictability – that won her previous run on the title a passionate following.
“It’s so fun to write these characters that are really poor role models,” Simone told Hero Complex in a recent phone interview.
Rather than “brightest heroes or the darkest villains,” the book lives in the gray area between, with “private detectives, mercenaries, bounty hunters, failed heroes,” she said.
There are still secrets about the Six’s new incarnation she isn’t yet willing to divulge, but she did discuss a third of the lineup: The master hunter Catman and magic-stealing teen goth Black Alice – who is more powerful than she is mature – will make their new New 52 debuts on a team with the same name (albeit in a different reality) as the one they were last seen with three years ago.
They will be facing a major question in what Simone called “the ‘Twin Peaks’ of superhero comics”: What is the secret?
Any clues will have to wait until the series starts, but the writer framed the story’s setup: It opens with six strangers trapped in a room and unsure how they arrived there.
“They instantly do not like each other, and they instantly do not get along with each other,” Simone said.
Catman – a once-derided Batman foe whom Simone brought to respectability and reader renown (would there be a Thomas Blake action figure otherwise?) – will be at the center of the series. And he is not happy about being confined – especially after being wrongly imprisoned by a well-known Gotham City character whom Simone isn’t revealing yet.
“He’s more dangerous,” Simone said of the new version of Catman. “This kitten has claws.”
And he has a new look by Dale Eaglesham, who’s handling character designs and covers, that is “so smokin’ and so dangerous-looking,” the writer said.
Eaglesham had teamed with Simone on the previous redesign of the character, which saw the “C” on his chest replaced by three ragged claw marks, among other changes. That was for the 2005 miniseries “Villains United,” in which they introduced a new, wicked Secret Six (the name had been used fleetingly in earlier decades by DC for a couple of heroic ensembles). The artist – whom Simone hailed as a “genius” — designed several members of the changing team that the writer would carry forward into a “Secret Six” miniseries in 2006 and then, with collaborators including Nicola Scott and Jim Calafiore, the ongoing that ran from 2008 until just before the New 52 reality reset in 2011. After DC co-publisher Dan DiDio came to her about writing a new “Secret Six,” she said, they went straight to Eaglesham.
Ken Lashley (“Superman: Doomed,” covers for “Suicide Squad”) will be the interior artist on the series, fulfilling a longtime mutual desire to work together, Simone said.
“He draws the fiercest heroes, the creepiest villains, and that whole spectrum from Metropolis sunshine to Gotham’s deepest shadow,” she wrote in an email Wednesday, after DC confirmed he would work on the title. “I can’t wait to see what he does with comics’ dirtiest wild bunch!”
Simone’s previous “Secret Six” series was marked by its ostensible bad guys and gals having dysfunctional but loving relationships – and, as with her other work, by realistic, heartfelt portrayals of diversity.
Shortly after that run ended, Simone wrote on her Tumblr account that Catman is bisexual, and added that “when we bring him back, that will be explicitly in canon.”
Asked whether that plan still holds, Simone said yes.
“You’re going to see right away kind of what Catman’s about,” she said. “I don’t want to reveal too much just because it is part of his character and part of his story to unfold these things through the story.”
Readers who want to try to pry more secrets out of Simone – such as whether the delightfully twisted Secret Six veteran Ragdoll, whom she recently introduced into the New 52 in a “Batgirl” issue, will appear – can find her this weekend at Baltimore Comic-Con at the Dynamite Comics booth (she writes “Red Sonja” for the publisher). She’ll also be delivering the keynote address at the Harvey Awards on Saturday.
Or fans can wait in suspense until December for what the writer promised “is going to be a very dangerous, sexy book.”
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