Sep 5, 2008

[Comics] Villains United

Villains UnitedWhen DC Comics first released Underworld Unleashed, I was pretty excited. The thought of Earth's most dangerous super villains released upon the world with demonically-enhanced powers, the prospects seemed terribly promising.

Then of course the magical aspect of things overrode the coolness factor of the sheer number of villains and in the end the story came out cheap and hokey. Darn.

Now when DC lined up another super villain centric story in preparation for Infinite Crisis, I was a bit skeptical. Given their past bungling of such stories, I guess I was being very careful this time around about setting proper expectations about this new limited series. I don't know if that's the precise reason I was surprised and how good the story turned out to be and the fact that ultimately I liked the story a lot.

The Society's council. Cover to Villains Unite...Image via Wikipedia Villains United follows two supervillain groups - one being The Secret Society of Super Villains with Lex Luthor at its head and the other being a smaller group called the Secret Six. This is not the first incarnation of the Secret Six, although this is the first time the team has been composed of super villains.

The Secret Six are mainly villains who refused to join Luthor's Society and end up getting recruited in a group meant to counter him. Led by the mysterious Mockingbird, the Secret Six receive periodic missions without a clear idea of the overall plan.

At first you'd think that the Secret Six is some sort of alternate incarnation of the Legion of Losers or something given their membership includes Catman, Cheshire, Deadshot, Scandal, Ragdoll and a Parademon. Yet probably because of their diversity and their somewhat "second-stringer" nature in the super villain universe, I guess it made them somewhat more approachable as characters and it certainly made for interesting reading.

Following the diverse exploits of the Secret Six was more rewarded than I ever could have anticipated. That gives real credit to the writer behind this since he made the villains quite believable in their plight of sorts as they tried to evade the Secret Society, all the while trying to further their own plans being those crafted by Mockingbird.

They also made sure to make the characters rather respectable and elevating them from their prior status. Catman is probably the best example of a highly revitalized villain. Instead of being a campy counter too Batman with a cat fixation, he's evolved into a highly skilled fighter and ultimately a hunter / killer like the big cats he had practically lived with as family. Ragman was also rather interesting given his unique surgically-enhanced abilities.

Villains United is not your run-of-the-mill story with lots of super villains. It's a good look at a small group of less powerful beings trying to survive a much larger organization of even more powerful villains in their own right. It's not all hack and slash fight but is also about their individual stories and small tragedies.

And of course the villains play a pretty big role in the eventual Crisis.


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