ACW #629 – Secret Six

Action Comics Weekly #629 (Secret Six)
“Beginning of the End”
Writer – Martin Pasko
Pencils – Frank Springer
Inks – Frank McLaughlin
Letters – Albert DeGuzman
Colors – Carl Gafford
Editor – Robert Greenberger

You ready for some answers?  Well, buckle in… we’re about to learn everything we ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask, about the Secret Six.

We open at the Georgetown Estate where Mr. Fenedy is receiving a phone call most urgent.  Judging by the events of last issue, we have a pretty good idea what that might be all about.  Nearing on an hour later, we join the New Sixers arriving at a mansion in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  They are swept inside, where they finally come face to face with… Mockingbird… aka. Carlo DiRienzi.

The New Sixers are a bit taken aback… they were sure that Mr. Byrd was actually August Durant this whole time.  To which, Carlo informs them that August, in fact, was Mockingbird.  He was actually the original Mockingbird.  Ya see, sometime back during the mid 1960’s, Durant fell ill due to exposure to a virus culture created by the Soviets… one that the United States government designated “V73”.  Durant was hospitalized and spent the next little while slipping in and out of a coma.  One night, he was visited by a man (who looks a lot like Fenedy… though, for all I know is that Hunter Thompson-looking guy before succumbing to male pattern baldness) who forced a pill down his throat.

This pill did the trick… August’s symptoms had all abated.  Here’s where it gets a bit dark.  The “Agency” offers to keep Durant alive, one pill at a time… so long as he acts in their interests.  He was tasked with assembling a secret team of six individuals, with a focus on dealing with international crime.  Durant would be both a member of this task force as well as their hooded leader/order-giver, Mockingbird.  And so, the original Six were born.

They remained a team until 1969… something, something, Richard Nixon.  After disbanding, Carlo DiRienzi would hold five-year reunions at The Enchanted Forest magic club (wow, been awhile since I’d thought about that place!).  Recently, DiRienzi and Durant spent some time together… August came clean about being the OG Mockingbird, and expressed that he needed help putting together a plan to neutralize a threat he considered more dangerous than full-scale nuclear war.  What he was talking about was a mutated strain of V73 being created via a partnership between TechnoDyne and Jefferson University.  This is, of course, V74… a strain that would have no antidote.  Durant proposes that the original Sixers come together and train an all-new team.

And so, Durant’s home was transformed into a base of operations, and teams of researchers and scientists scoured the microfiche looking for folks who had just been in accidents… who might be willing to work for their “miracle cures”.  Fans of Doom Patrol might think this all sounds a little bit “Chiefy”.  Well, at least Durant didn’t cause all of the accidents, right?

As we saw very early on in this series, the Original Sixers were all set to fly to San Francisco to train the next generation… when everything went a little bit “ca-ca”.  Mr. Fenedy had tampered with the VTOL’s computerized auto-pilot, causing it to crash.  The only one to survive was… you guessed it, Carlo DiRienzi!

We wrap up with Fenedy arriving at the smoldering fiery mess that was, just a few hours earlier, his “Workshop”.  He vows to exact vengeance on the Secret Six… for this time, it’s personal!

Well, well, well… we wanted the truth, but tell me this, friends… could we handle the truth?

Well, yeah… it’s really not Earth-Shattering stuff here… but, these are the answers we’ve been waiting to get for over a half-year now!  That’s one of the more fun byproducts of turning the blog into Action Comics Daily… this is as close to “real-time” as we’re going to get to experience these stories.  We’re getting one chapter a week… just like the folks back in ye old 1988.  If it took them six-months to learn who Mockingbird is… it’s also going to take us that long (that is, if we can control our Googling).

I appreciate how everything was tied together here… from the original incarnation of the team, to the “current”.  It all has a similar “bloodline”, and wasn’t just a name DC decided to reuse because (for whatever reason) they didn’t want to refer to the post-Infinite Crisis team as the Suicide Squad.

Now, reading this… and getting all of the context is great.  It doesn’t exactly inspire me to go back and read the original run.  I have a couple of those in my collection, and all I can recall about them is that they are very, very dry.  I am, however, interested in re-flipping through the Villains United miniseries that parlayed into the post-Infinite Crisis run… just to see if these New Sixers get a passing mention.  I’m hoping to have some sort of “Where Are They Now/Then?” to share with you all next week.

I’ve done a fair amount of research on this team, and have found that they will never appear again after our next and final chapter.  There could be any number of reasons for that… including the most obvious one: none of them make it out alive.  I have not read the final chapter yet… so, I couldn’t say one way or another how it’s gonna wind up going.  I will say, however, I’m looking forward to it!

Overall… a smashing good chapter, one that almost makes reading the rest of this run worthwhile.  Well, maybe just some of it.

Tomorrow: Into the Secret Sanctuary!

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