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Are The Secret Six The Heroes We Need?

In a world that isn't so black and white, are the Secret Six the types of heroes we deserve?

Being fans of the superhero genre means we all love the notion of the morally perfect, incorruptible hero taking down the stereotypical black and white villain. It’s a concept that has been the linchpin of the genre ever since Superman jumped over his first building. We all know that the heroes of our favorite books don’t kill. And if they did, what line separates them from the bad guys they put away?

But in today’s world, one that is much darker and filled with less optimism, are the superheroes we love good enough? Are they actually succeeding at their mission? Because as far as I can tell, the world continues its downward spiral towards the bottom of the drain.

You can even make the argument that this self-righteous ethics code that our favorite superheroes hold so high is nothing more than a selfish act to narcisistically preserve their own image. For example, how many times has Batman seen the Joker escape from Arkham Asylum -- killing hundreds of thousands of people in the process -- and not decided to pull the trigger and end the cycle once and for all? He kills one and saves thousands. Yet, he won’t do it because of some ridiculous belief that it will make him no better than the Joker.
 == TEASER ==
It all comes down to our heroes wanting to hold their own image above that of normal people -- even if it’s done subconsciously. This philosophy of pure beacons to light our way through the darkness is also incredibly naive and realistically does not fit into the portrait of the world that we see when we look out our own windows.

So if our heroes are already selfish in their obsessive need to be above the commoners, why not make it about business too? Maybe what we need is a group of “heroes” that removes that false self of righteousness from the equation and actually works on making the world a better place by permanently removing those who drag it through the mud, all the while earning some extra cash in the process.

Enter: The Secret Six.  
I know that was a long-winded setup to discuss the Secret Six, but just go with me here. That background is essential to understanding the importance of the latest iteration of the six -- a team made up of Catman, Deadshot, Scandal Savage, Ragdoll, Bane and Jeannette. This group of misfits are mercenaries, guns for hire, plain and simple. They will kill anyone as long as there is a profit to be made. However, the game is never as black and white as it is through the eyes of your typical superhero. The Secret Six frequently come face-to-face with some of the worst scum in the universe and, more often than not, choose to forfeit the take to instead focus their energy on putting an end to some meanest bastards in existence. Whether they’ll admit it or not, the Secret Six do have morals, it’s just a matter of actually listening to that little birdie on their shoulder and putting it to use.

So to bring this back around, are the Secret Six the types of heroes we need in our ruthless world? Are these the people we should be cheering for and honoring with museums because they actually get criminals off the streets for good? Unfortunately, the answer is not that easy.

While it’s arguable that the Secret Six’s occasional selfless deeds do more good in the long run than the accomplishments of heroes such as Batman, it’s still a matter of them contributing to the problem. For every villain they put in a six-foot ditch, the mere fact that these six murders remain alive and outside prison is a contradiction to the perfect utopia supposed “heroes” strive to achieve. You could say every step forward is a step backward, so to speak.

But therein lies the beauty of the Six: they are not bound by the stereotypical actions of the standard superhero. It’s not always about doing what’s right , it’s about doing what’s beneficial to one’s self, and if that happens to positively effect the grand scheme of the world, great. They might not be the quintessential heroes we need to lift us out of the muck we constantly surround ourselves with, but they do get the job done when necessary. To put it bluntly, the Secret Six rest in that tricky gray area where morally-centered hero meets dastardly villain, and that’s why we love them so much.

Erik Norris writes about nerd things on a daily basis and you can follow his interweb exploits on Twitter at @Regular_Erik
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Posted by DarkCanuck

Nope, we need the Thunderbolts.
Everything that is useful about the Secret Six with the bonus of having some authoritative control and oversight over their actions.
Plus, the modern Thunderbolts are a far more interesting crew of characters, in my opinion.

Posted by coolfurby

Nope.

Posted by joshmightbe

as far as what you said about batman and joker at this point the gotham legal system is partially to blame because any competent judge should've been pushing for an execution a long time ago every time they put him back in arkham instead of a lethal injection is pointless and continues to endanger lives hell the least they can do is lobotomize him so he cant hurt anybody 

Posted by NightFang
@joshmightbe: And that would all be illegal.
Posted by SigersonLTD

Batman doesn't outright kill The Joker because he doesn't want to be a murderer. 
 
He has caused criminals to kill each other in the past. Mike Barr wrote a great story in the 80's, however, no one remembers back that far....

Posted by Lvenger

 

It's never right to take another person's life no matter what they've done. Not only does it make you no better than the person you're killing, it would be too easy. It's easier to give into the need to do what you want rather than what is best. That person you're killing has a life as well. They've wasted it and led it badly but they're still alive, still have a human right to life. You can’t say one person has rights and another doesn’t. They apply to everyone. So ending that life makes you a murderer, simple as. I know it's harder nowadays to define right and wrong but our traditional heroes do that well. They strive to be better, learning from their mistakes and showing an example to all. You can have your edgy anti heroes till the cows come home but no matter how cool they are, they will never outshine Superman, Batman or Spider-Man for me at least. Besides there are far worse things than death

 
Edited by johnny_spam

As much as people love the character development done with the Secret Six it should always be kept in mind that at any moment any of these character will have their development thrown out the window and in fans minds become "two dimensional villains"  again. Why? Because that is the nature of villain characters and just because you like them does not mean they are good. Also many comic book fans have some weird sense of what is cool is better storytelling Jason Todd acts the same in Under The Hood and Revenge of the Red Hood yet only because he is more lame in one version it is worse when he is more subdued compared to Under The Hood.
 
Me I always thought it was b.s. when comics play a villain as ambiguous anyone willing to do what benefits them and hurts others really makes things worse and not good I love stories where villains are truly evil like Empire, Joker, Lex Luthor Man of Steel stories that treat the villain as they  are from their point of view you may sympathize with them but it doesn't make them less evil.

Posted by MonkMan

I think the discussion is not " should BM kill the Joker?" it is 
Are The Secret Six The Heroes We Need? so think about it,
 
what if every super hero would be killin their foes?!
 
some kind of massacre, i think ^^
the secret six should do the killing but not our pure heroes

Edited by Vitality

Killing the villain is taking the easy way out. 
 
Also...even though you might be preventing bad things from happening...you're also preventing potential good things. 
 
 
If heroes were killing all their enemies...there wouldnt be a secret six to begin with.
Posted by joshmightbe

why would it be so wrong to eliminate people who are obviously a threat to every one around them Joker is never going get better he's never going stop letting some one like that stay alive at this point isn't morally right or ethically sound at all putting him in arkham is like tying a rabid pitbull up in a preschool classroom with a paper rope its irresponcible and dangerous

Edited by Jordanstine
@DarkCanuck said:

"Nope, we need the Thunderbolts. Everything that is useful about the Secret Six with the bonus of having some authoritative control and oversight over their actions. Plus, the modern Thunderbolts are a far more interesting crew of characters, in my opinion. "


LMAO.  That made me LOL since I was thinking the same thing.  
 
To paraphrase the question then... "Are the Thunderbolts the Heroes We Need?" 
 
Hmmm...
 
Posted by DarkCanuck
@Jordanstine: 
Well, I think the Thunderbolts are a slightly more acceptable group since they represent a form of rehabilitation for the criminals involved and are controlled in such a way that they cannot go completely off mission.
As for the Secret Six? If the so called 'heroes'  (like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man) would stop being posturing ponces and letting their bloody villains continuously escape and keep murdering innocent civilians then maybe the Secret Six wouldn't be required! A true hero should be willing to take a moral black eye and re-evaluate his/her self-righteous moral code of conduct when his nemesis escapes for the umpteenth time and blows up yet another school-bus full of children! No?
Posted by dondasch

The title itself appears misleading.  The Secret Six are not, and can not truly be considered to be heroes.  They are anti-heroes and, furthermore are pragmatic when it comes to their situations as opposed to the more common behavior seen by Batman, Superman, etc.
 
Let's face it.  Of the Big Three in DC for example, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman (yes I'm going to exclude Green Lantern), only Wonder Woman shows the propensity to kill.  If you don't believe me, see Max Lord.  If Superman or Batman were to take another human life, it would crush them, in my opinion and they would no longer be functional as heroes in the manner that we so love and cherish,  Wonder Woman, on the other hand, will always eliminate a threat.
 
But I digress.  The Secret Six will do what is necessary where conventional heroes fail.

Posted by Decept-O

All I know is the Secret Six is a great comic to read.
Posted by Fantasgasmic

This may not exactly be the place for it, but I'm gonna take a lesson from the article and do something in my own best interest... Can someone explain to me the difference between Secret Six and Suicide Squad?! Group of villains being used as mercenaries to earn freedom or something? isn't that the premise of both groups? (and the thunderbolts but that's Marvel).  Please don't tell me to read the wiki pages, I need it explained to me like I'm a small stupid child and the wiki pages get a bit confusing.

Posted by VictorianVigilante

If I have an opportunity to put an end to a bad guy and do not take it, and that bad guy later does A LOT more bad things...  those things ARE NOT on my hands or my head.  I am not in any way responsible for the actions of another person.  If I am a Hero, I have responsibilty to do whatever I can to stop him... but I have no onus to end his life.
Posted by Daywing

I think now a days the whole notion of not killing your villains is getting pretty redundant especially for batman. Spiderman makes sense, he's always had a kids mindset and I think after all the death he's experienced it makes sense that he won't cross that line. Tony Stark and any other rich/smart heroes like him makes sense too because they think they're in control and they think they can lock everyone away. Steve Rogers killed during WW2 and I think he'd do it again if it was called for, Bucky has already killed during his time as cap. Superman has killed before, maybe not a human life but he has killed because it was needed. I can keep going on but I will cut it short, but for someone like Batman, who has changed from the rich playboy he was portrayed as his first appearances to the dark knight he is now, should definitely kill the joker. Their is no realistic reason not to besides tradition.

Posted by MSBoyd23
@Fantasgasmic: Secret Six are free already--they're out and about doing whatever they want. They just have a rap sheet a mile long, so they're in trouble if they get caught. Suicide Squad isn't free--they're criminals in a program where they do good stuff to get out of jail faster. They do what they're told because if they don't they die. 
Posted by Video_Martian

The Secret Six are OKAY, they're not my favorite heroes though...

Posted by karrob
@DarkCanuck said:
" Nope, we need the Thunderbolts. Everything that is useful about the Secret Six with the bonus of having some authoritative control and oversight over their actions. Plus, the modern Thunderbolts are a far more interesting crew of characters, in my opinion. "
Yep!
Posted by Emperor Gonzo Noir

No, but they're the mercenaries I would hire

Posted by Jordanstine

Notice how the modern Sinister Six seems to be hitting the "Thunderbolts Character Development Stage" as of late? Even some "similar" comparisons:
 
Catman = Mach XIV  
Savage = Songbird  
Deadshot = Swordsman 
Knockout = Moonstone 
Bane = Atlas 
 
For fun, I could even say:

Ragdoll = Joystick  
 
:P
Posted by NeoMantis

I think you would have to use that word in the broadest possible sense to consider the Secret Six "heroes". The Six consists of  reprehensible individuals that will kill at the drop of a hat. The occasional act of human decency does not a hero make.
 
The Secret Six is not so much about shades of gray as it is about black set against an even deeper black.

Posted by Darkmount1

To me, there's still one thing they haven't considered-WHAT ABOUT THE ORIGINAL 1968 SECRET SIX?!?!?!?!?!?
Posted by GraveSp
@Decept-O said:
" All I know is the Secret Six is a great comic to read. "
Agreed.  
Posted by Newtype1
@DarkCanuck:     and their interchangeable so you don't always get the same roster of  villains.
Edited by SneakyPenguins

The Secrete Six are great and I love reading the series. There latest arc was there weakest but Gail Simone is a great writer. I would hate if the series stopped. The Secrete Six are not "heroes"they are mercs for hire, most are bad guys to begin with anyway that just moved up to neutral 

Posted by Mercy_
@erik_norris: I love you for this article. Secret Six are freaking amazing.
Moderator
Posted by Strafe Prower

Secret Six>Thunderbolts ;)

Posted by maxicere

Don't need this....

Posted by umbrafeline

so i take it that the sinister 6 is the dc version of the thunderbolts and heros for hire?
Posted by NerdAlert
@umbrafeline:  No Thuderbolts are Marvel's version of the Suicide Squad. The squad  goes back to 1987 where the Thunderbolts go back to 1997. Secret Six has former members of the squad but they are more of an A Team than the Thunderbolts.  
 
IMO: Suicide Squad was/is way better than the Thunderbolts. 
Edited by daak1212

Secret Six is my favortie team of heros and in general.  Avengers and Justice league are to unrelatable with there self righteous pretentious self "sacrificing" ways.  Sinister Six are atleast a bit more realistic in there methods such as killing people who they think deserve to die.  Some heros on the other hand do take the middle road and torture there villians such as Daredevil to Bulleye.  This didnt really work out but it did make Bulleye have a phobia of being paralyzed, and then killed him later in Shadowland

Posted by umbrafeline
@NerdAlert:
oh ok. i never picked either title so we were just wondering
Posted by Pizawle

As much as I love the team and the book, they are most certainly not the heroes we need.

Posted by Fhiz

F yeah, Secret Six. One of the best comics DC has out on the market.

Posted by Antonio_Blackheart

i like the secret six they have wrote catman good he not a joke no more.
Posted by ForbushBug
@DarkCanuck said:
" Nope, we need the Thunderbolts. Everything that is useful about the Secret Six with the bonus of having some authoritative control and oversight over their actions."
Yeah, but we saw what happened when that authority is given to the wrong person like Osborn. Cage is in charge now but the political winds seem to shift pretty quick in the Marvel Universe. On the other hand, the Secret Six have an excellent ethical barometer. Basically they' have no delusions about their own amorality so if they think someone is bad then they know they're really bad.
Posted by JonesDeini

The Six aren't heroes, they're mercs for hire.  
 
As far as heroes who kill go. I'm neither strongly for it or against it. I see the necessity of both a Superman and a Punisher. Comics first and foremost are escapism, so a world where the good guys flatly refuse to kill while the bad guys will is understandable. But I also identify with the desire to upset that status quo and inject a bit of realism to it all. Super hero's aren't cops, so I don't hold them to the same standards. In fact, by the written law they're all criminals to some extent (unless government sanctioned). If a cop just executed a man on the street I'd be outraged. That's because I hold him to a higher standard due to his social position and what it represents. Superheros are vigilantes, they do what the law won't allow. They can deliver justice in ways public servants can't, so if they kill it doesn't strike me the same way. If I had to pick a side then I'd say go with the most utilitarian/pragmatic method, which would be killing. In fact if I was a hero I'd go the Moonknight route and when necessary exterminate criminals with extreme prejudice. 

What I find interesting is that killing is generally tolerated based on certain situations. Example, a being with super human abilities is almost always frowned upon for killing, especially normal humans. On the other hand, somebody who lacks those abilities gets more slack. It would freak people out if Superman punched Lex Luthor's head off but people had a much tamer reaction to Cat Woman shooting Black Mask (maybe that's because of her morally ambiguous nature as well).  Also, killing non-human is easily accepted and oft encouraged by readers. Such as during the skrull invasion or killing vampires, or destroying artificial intelligences, or Darkseids daemons. These moments allow fans to see their favorite heroes cut loose and show what they can do. Human life is precious to fans and heroes...other sentient lifeforms? Well not so much 
   
On a purely comics level I see why killing a villain's bad for business, I mean when their dead (for how ever amount of brief time that may be) you can't use them for stories, develop their character, etc. And that's just not good. Imagine what use a villain like Prometheus could been doing these days. Also characters shouldn't kill if it's out of their character to do so. I'd hate to see Booster Gold go all Frank Castle on Max Lord. 

Posted by Mercy_

Are they heroes? Most certainly debatable. They're heroes the way that Deadpool would be classified as a hero: when it suits him and his ulterior motives to be one.  
 
Is Secret Six one of the best comics out there right now, IMO? Heck yes. 

Moderator
Posted by JonesDeini
@daak1212 said:
" Secret Six is my favortie team of heros and in general.  Avengers and Justice league are to unrelatable with there self righteous pretentious self "sacrificing" ways.  Sinister Six are atleast a bit more realistic in there methods such as killing people who they think deserve to die.  Some heros on the other hand do take the middle road and torture there villians such as Daredevil to Bulleye.  This didnt really work out but it did make Bulleye have a phobia of being paralyzed, and then killed him later in Shadowland "
In real life the Punisher's/Secret Sixes are the unsung heroes of society...black ops units like them exists in many nations and they take out threats before they can act all the time. They do the messy, ugly jobs that nobody can feel patriotic or proud of. I think that's why the capes of their respective universes rarely (if ever) interfere/inhibit their work. Can't convince me that Captain America/Iron Man couldn't shut down the punisher if they wanted. But they never will because they know deep down inside he's right in his own way. Cap especially knows this...  
Posted by Telcalipoca

the secret six arent heroes or anit heroes they get paid to kill.its usually one scumbag paying to kill another scumbag and in the proccess the team members try to kill eachother(every arc leads to this in some way).They are the worst human beings  with no ethics to some ethics.they might do something that will benefit the common good but such a result would be a by product of what they do(killing) never what they set out to do.If they arent  purposely  doing things to make things right then they arent heroes or anti heroes. 

Posted by Skaddix
@Telcalipoca said:
" the secret six arent heroes or anit heroes they get paid to kill.its usually one scumbag paying to kill another scumbag and in the proccess the team members try to kill eachother(every arc leads to this in some way).They are the worst human beings  with no ethics to some ethics.they might do something that will benefit the common good but such a result would be a by product of what they do(killing) never what they set out to do.If they arent  purposely  doing things to make things right then they arent heroes or anti heroes.  "
This is correct they are working for a paycheck at least anti-heores kill to make the world a better place.
Posted by Eyz
@JonesDeini said:
" @daak1212 said:
" Secret Six is my favortie team of heros and in general.  Avengers and Justice league are to unrelatable with there self righteous pretentious self "sacrificing" ways.  Sinister Six are atleast a bit more realistic in there methods such as killing people who they think deserve to die.  Some heros on the other hand do take the middle road and torture there villians such as Daredevil to Bulleye.  This didnt really work out but it did make Bulleye have a phobia of being paralyzed, and then killed him later in Shadowland "
In real life the Punisher's/Secret Sixes are the unsung heroes of society...black ops units like them exists in many nations and they take out threats before they can act all the time. They do the messy, ugly jobs that nobody can feel patriotic or proud of. I think that's why the capes of their respective universes rarely (if ever) interfere/inhibit their work. Can't convince me that Captain America/Iron Man couldn't shut down the punisher if they wanted. But they never will because they know deep down inside he's right in his own way. Cap especially knows this...   "
Perfectly said!
Posted by Risky

If there was a "like" button on ComicVine I would definitely push it now. Same dilemma I've been thinking about for a long time since I enjoy the "darker" heroes more. Great article.

Posted by Out_of_Space

Those guys suck ass !!!

Posted by SC

Secret Six is the Comic we need and deserve although a less interesting question than the one posed, by fact that the answer is much more obvious (hell yea) is one I feel better suited to answering (again, hell yea) 
 
But yeah, cool thread, I love that scene where Bane tells the people that it was Batman that saved there daughter (after Bane had just saved her) thats the sort of heroism I like myself, true humility.

Moderator
Edited by Feliciano2040

You know, I wonder, if this is such a horrible world, if it's as terrible as it seems, and both criminals and "scum" need to be exterminated as "X" people say (I say X as in many)...
 
...then why don't "X" people get out and kill them themselves ?

Posted by soundbite

"It’s not always about doing what’s right , it’s about doing what’s beneficial to one’s self, and if that happens to positively effect the grand scheme of the world, great. " 

  
this world view will always end in a negative effect.  selfishness never leads to bettering the world.  this attitude is also the reason for the thought:  

"But in today’s world, one that is much darker and filled with less optimism  ".  

 And when you're "heroes" are murderers, what kind example is that showing for the common man who's trying to put food on the table, or take care of their children?  What keeps that person from crossing the line and murdering his neighbor for food or cash?  You want to talk about " the world continuing its downward spiral towards the bottom of the drain" then you can look no further than putting on a pedastal, people with no morals and no code of conduct to live by.  The cure for darkness is more light, not more darkness.  I just don't understand the reasoning behind that.

   
Posted by longbowhunter

Everybody loves an anti-hero. Secret Six is a great title. I recommend everything Gail Simone has done with them. Villians United, Birds Of Prey #104-#108, Secret Six miniseries, and the current ongoing.
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