Action Comics Weekly #619 (Secret Six)
“Once More Unto the Breach”
Writer – Martin Pasko
Pencils – Frank Springer
Inks – Frank McLaughlin
Colors – Carl Gafford
Letters – Albert DeGuzman
Editor – Robert Greenberger
What a day… the Secret Six are back! Does anyone remember where we left off with them? Something about tainted meat, I think.
Indeed, it was a very odd and abrupt ending to our initial stint with the Six… not much more than a “Hey, even though this isn’t a natural ending point, this feature’s going away for awhile…”
Let’s see how natural our transition back in feels…
We open with a bit of a recap some of the finer points of the initial arc(s). The VTOL carrying the original Sixers went down, presumably killing everyone on board… a fella named Gus, who was an associate of the abducted Rafael DiRienzi, broke into Six HQ to offer his services in unmasking Mockingbird… and, oh yeah… Mockingbird is very likely one of the original Six. I think that catches us up… sorta. After the quick and dirty recap, we shift scenes to the “now”, where Mitch and Luke release a “Trojan Hog” into Sunnydale Farms livestock enclosure.
This is only to distract the guards, who become so preoccupied with this weird pig running around that they become easy pickins for one-third of the Six’s stun-guns. Seems like much ado about nothing, really… Mitch and Luke could’ve shot them at any time. Anyhoo, the (mechanical) hog rushes toward the pig pens as Maria back at HQ looks on.
And then… pig parts all over the place! If you recall (and I don’t blame you if you don’t… it’s been like two months now), Sunnydale Farms bought in on some tiny pigs, from which they’d make lean bacon. These pigs were only to be used for experiments at Jefferson University, and are all virus-riddled. Thing of it is, the virus does not die when the meat is cooked… and so, anyone who eats the poison pork becomes very ill… and/or dies!
We get another refresher back at HQ… Jefferson University, where the pigs were bred (which also has ties to original Sixer, August Durant), were endowed with grant monies from TechnoDyne… who were those acid rainmakers from the first few chapters. So, there appears to be a link between all of the Six’s cases to this point. We learn that LaDonna is currently undercover at Jeff-U, which is something that Mockingbird (somehow) doesn’t realize.
Next we switch scenes to Al’s Diner, where Secret Sixer, Tony is listening in on a conversation between an F.B.I. Agent and a News Writer (who kinda looks like Hunter S. Thompson). Now, it took searching my brain for awhile to remember who “Tony” was… and that’s not good! He overhears discussion about the fallen VTOL and a possible “cover-up”… and when the chat wraps up, he sneaks off into the restroom to remove his disguise. Since I didn’t initially recognize this dude at all, this “disguise” is rather a moot point!
After some chatter at HQ about how Mockingbird might still be orchestrating the Six’s every move… even when they think they’re working opposed to him, we wrap up with Tony sneaking out the back window of the Diner… only to be beaten up and abducted by a pair of dudes… who I’m not sure if I’m supposed to recognize.
Okay, we have a little bit to unpack here.
As mentioned in the preramble, and if you’ve been following along… when we closed out with the Secret Six feature back in Action Comics Weekly #612, we received zero resolution. It was a very unnatural breaking point, which didn’t so much leave “story threads”, but rather just felt “undone”.
We rejoin the feature some seven-weeks later… and, we’re in the same exact place. This forced Pasko to fill so many panels with expositional recap… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially with these serials… we need a “catch-up” every now and again. Tell ya what, it’s better than when Superman spends his two-pages a week recapping the past few weeks’ worth of strips!
But then… there’s “Tony”. I’m sorry, you guys… it took me several rereads to remember that Tony was even a member of this team! I tell ya, that’s not great! Glad to see him doing something though… same with LaDonna!
Speaking of LaDonna… let’s take a step back all the way to the beginning of the run. If you remember, Vic simply says that he’s going to quit the team… and his vision-visor shuts off. That is to say, the “gift” that Mockingbird gave him was deactivated… presumably by Mockingbird himself. So… he was able to tell that Vic simply said he was going to turn down the offer, and yet… he can’t tell that LaDonna is attending college undercover?
I mean, it’s clear to me that Mr. Byrd is giving the Sixers enough rope to hang themselves with… at least that’s my assumption. I definitely appreciate Maria and Vic suggesting that Mockingbird is aware of their motives… but, this seems to be the team “tempting fate” to stupefying levels.
Overall though, it’s nice to have the Six back. I miss Dan Spiegle’s art, but (original Secret Six artist and co-creator) Frank Springer is certainly no slouch. I think I’d have liked this chapter a bit more had we read it six weeks ago… but, whattayagonnado?
Tomorrow: Blackhawk back in the “anchor” spot!