Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Villains Unlimited or who needs heroes when the writing is this good

Written by Gail Simone; Art by Dale Eaglesham, Val Semeiks, Wade von Grawbadger and Prentis Rollins; Cover by J.G. Jones

In the thick of things. In mid-sentence. Three. Two. One. I like my villains unpredictable, ready to detonate plots at any given moment. Not necessarily evil, but definitely life changing, hell, universe changing schemes. Not just out to hurt or kill, that would just be cheap. True villains aim for resonating pain. Like what the Joker did to Bat Girl, a permanent handicap that haunts. Even as Oracle, her lifeless legs constantly remind her that she is not what she used to be, that she is crippled for life (for now, at least). And that's how you kill a superhero. Or another villain.

Now. Villains United is villains vs. villains, the Secret Six versus Luthor's Society, outsmarting, outlasting, out killing each other in hideouts and bedrooms, in strategies and revelations.

To put it simply, fucking awesome.

I haven't had this much fun in a comicbook in a long while. And credit much to Gail Simone who wrote a gripping, funny arc and a cliffhanger ending that is pure torture. I especially like the idea that the Society was formed in response to the events that took place in Identity Crisis where the Justice League agreed to let Zatana perform a lobotomy on Doctor Light after discovering that Light raped Sue Dibny --- gripping drama but pass for a re-read. Different views on what is right and what is wrong blurs the moral standard, and suddenly villains are the winsome underdogs. And this twist mostly takes place in my head like I don't have more important things to think about. And yeah, I was partially rooting (well, a whole lot) for the Society's plan to mindswipe ALL the superheroes.

The Secret Six, or the six stupidest of all the villains when it comes to loyalty and sex, is like Doom Patrol lite. Again, how Simone made me care for these losers is beyond me. It helps that they're crazy on different levels, in varying degrees, from very crazy to fucking crazy. Chesire's I'm-pregnant-with-your-baby never gets old, and Parademon's fascination with Ragdoll is, well, weird. And Catman. (Significant pause) Disturbingly hot and bothered. I don't mind that his costume's too much like Batman's, I mean, please, no whiskers.

Favorite scene? Catman and Deadshot in the kitchen, eating eggs.

Barring Day of Vengeance, which I haven't picked up, Villains United is the best of the Countdown to Infinite Crisis titles. The fight scenes are well drawn, gritty and graceful. And the writing, oh the writing. This is how superheroes should be written. ****

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