Sunday, January 11, 2009

Comics I'm Reading: Secret Six, The Walking Dead

I noticed an eerie synchronicity between THE WALKING DEAD#57 and SECRET SIX#5 this week, inasmuch as both had horrific neck-biting scenes and in neither case was the neck-biting the most disturbing thing in its respective story.

I've made no secret of the fact that I have misgivings about the gore and violence that have been increasing in mainstream Marvel and DC comics, but I qualify that by adding that I have no problem with books like the Secret Six. Each universe should be able to have its dark corners while keeping their marquee characters relatively light and PG-ish. Secret Six contains no Batman, Superman, or Wonder Woman and I doubt any six-year-olds are actively seeking out Deadshot or Scandal Savage appearances, so there's more room for adult themes. Gail Simone has done an excellent job of keeping this book from getting over grim, injecting the book with wrong, wrong humor in a manner reminiscent of Garth Ennis. She's done some great character work on the group, making me care more about Bane, for example, than I ever have before. Issue #5 is almost heartbreaking when the big guy suffers a rain of bricks for his teammates as they nearly leave him for dead. But then they come save him -awwww! That said, I desperately wish I could unsee "Junior".

I'm not sure I've mentioned The Walking Dead here yet, but let me rectify that now. I've been on board with Robert Kirkman's zombie epic since issue one, and its usually the first thing I read each week it comes out. TWD #57 finds the human survivors on the road and heading to Rick's hometown to stock up on firearms on the way to Washington. Once again, we see that the zombies aren't nearly as much of a threat as other humans. Rick Grimes, the series protagonist has another in a series of traumatic turning points in this issue, and I can definitely feel for the poor bastard, trying to protect his son in a dying world. In the long run, the Walking Dead is less about the zombies than it is about the unraveling of one mans soul.

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