One of the most-asked-for titles since the beginning of the New 52 at DC Comics has finally returned! Today, Secret Six #1 debuts and we got to chat with returning writer Gail Simone on her thoughts this go around, the characters she’s introducing, and why you don’t want to miss this book if you are a DCU fan!
Matt Santori: Gail, thank you so much for taking time out to chat on Secret Six, and congratulations on getting the gang back together!
Gail Simone: Thanks! I enjoy Comicosity a lot, and you seem a really good match for the perverts and criminals who hang out in a book like Secret Six!
MSG: What were your first thoughts about how this team would be different or the same from what you had done before with Secret Six?
GS: Well, I didn’t want to repeat the same thing, I didn’t want the audience to already know everyone and everything that’s going to happen. So I looked at it like this — most of the previous team was clearly on the villain spectrum somewhere, they weren’t really good guys.
In this version, we don’t know WHERE people fit on that line yet. It’s a wider net. The only thing they have in common is that they all have a secret.
MSG: You’re clearly dealing with a very different cast of characters, at least initially, when Secret Six #1 launches, but at the center of the team is still Catman. How does this Thomas Blake compare to the man we all know and love (and sometimes lust)?
GS: I love Catman, I basically Catman Catman Catman. Catman.
MSG: Ha! Me too!
GS: Here’s the thing, the original Catman had a long history and most of it was as a cheap Batman knockoff who never accomplished anything. That made him a bit of a lovable loser, and I enjoyed that tremendously.
My thinking here is, what if Blake is actually the LEAST screwed-up person on the team? He’s a bit younger, a bit less history, but he’s been through an extraordinary ordeal and it’s left a crack in his armor a mile wide. It’s made him MORE dangerous.
MSG: One of the big ambitions you’ve expressed over the past few years is to infuse your comics with character types that are typically underrepresented, particularly on the LGBT spectrum. What opportunities does Secret Six offer along these lines?
GS: Yeah, this is something I enjoyed a lot in the previous books, that you can actually show a lot of humanity in a ‘villain’ book, I sometimes think more than the iconic team titles.
In Secret Six, we have several LGBTQ characters, both on the team and off, including a couple representing groups that I don’t believe have been shown canonically in mainstream comics. It’s just that kind of book, people are people and not all people are Pat Boone.
MSG: Black Alice has also returned to the team, joined by two other original Gail Simone creations: The Ventriloquist and Strix. What do you feel each of these characters bring to the table that’s unique?
GS: This Black Alice has a different backstory than the previous version and I think she’s a little scarier. I love her, she’s one of my favorite characters, she is at that stage that we all go through as teenagers where the world seems dark. But the difference is, she KNOWS THAT IT REALLY IS DARK.
Strix is great, we are showing how hard normal life is for her. She was raised to be an assassin, and now she’s in the suburbs, it’s bewildering and awful to her.
The Ventriloquist is going to struggle a little bit… she has a crush on someone, and she has the power to make things uncomfortable for everyone. Plus she and Ferdie bring the filthy banter big time. All the ‘wood’ jokes I couldn’t use in Batgirl are going in this one.
MSG: We have seen two other characters alluded to on the cover of issue #1 — and neither of them are Ragdoll and Scandal, both of whom were seen or spoken to off camera in your Batgirl #31. What can you tell us about these two mystery characters, if anything, and will we be seeing any connection to members from the past pop up?
GS: I can say that one is called Porcelain. I love her.
I can’t say anything more. But what is the secret?
MSG: You’ve mentioned that you’re particularly excited to be working with both Dale Eaglesham and Ken Lashley this go around. What is each artist bringing to the table for you and the fans on this book?
GS: This is the best of all worlds to me. These guys, holy crap, they are the best. Dale helped define Secret Six forever, he designed most of the characters and did the first books. And Ken is a master, I have wanted to work with him forever. Both do such detailed work, it’s hard for them to do 12 issues a year, there’s just too much on the page. So it hit us, what if we took the two best artists, and had them alternate arcs? It’s perfect, it feels like a team.
It’s exciting. Dale has waited years to do this book, it’s his dream book, I swear he would fight a bear to draw Secret Six again, and Ken turned down HUGE icon-level books elsewhere to work with me on this.
I am the luckiest writer in the world. I love these guys to pieces.
MSG: The Secret Six was always well on the edges of the DC Universe in the past, only interacting with the larger community of heroes and villains when getting their asses kicked for the most part. It sounds like there’s a much closer connection this time around?
GS: I love the tapestry of the DCU and Marvel Universes, I mean, that’s the main appeal for me, is getting to walk around Gotham or Skartaris or whatever. It’s a huge part of the fun.
This book has BIG DC connections, there’s a major DC secret revealed in issue four. WHAT IS THE SECRET?
MSG: So much of the last Secret Six series was about relationships — Bane and Scandal, Catman and Deadshot, Jeannette and Scandal, Jeannette and Deadshot, Ragdoll and monkeys. Will we be seeing the same sort of team develop here and how do you begin to make those connections? Are they preplanned or do the characters end up speaking to you about their relationships?
GS: Oh, yeah, if it’s a little bit wrong, or a lot wrong, it will be in there. I think this book is the most fun when you can’t possibly see what’s coming.
MSG: Any final thoughts or special teases for the Comicosity audience regarding Secret Six?
GS: It’s a gorgeous book, covers by Dale, some of the best I have seen all year, interiors by the amazing Ken Lashley, and it features grenade-powered squirrels, filthy ventriloquist dolls, hot guys and gals and more, and weird sex on the couch.
Lots and lots of weird sex on the couch.
You should get it, because who wants to miss that?
Gail Simone’s last DC Comics book, Secret Six debuts with a #1 today at your local comic shop and on Comixology! The Comicosity review can be found here.