Imagine for a moment being on Wonder Woman’s bad side. And then she shows up unexpectedly to have a little talk with you.
Cue awe and soiled garments.
That’s a scenario writer Gail Simone and artist Nicola Scott set up beautifully when Diana confronted our favorite anti-heroes in Secret Six #12. Wonder Woman’s memorable guest appearance through issue #14 was the icing on top of one of Secret Six’s best arcs, “The Depths.” There are so many things about this story I love, starting with the stark contrast between the highly principled princess and the most delightfully morally ambiguous crew in comics. In this arc, Wonder Woman was an imposing, justice-demanding force of nature. In other words, awesome. (Spoilers ahead)
Beginning in issue #10, the Six ended up working for the vile Mr. Smythe, whose vision of a better society included slavery and the construction of a prison for every felon on the planet. One of Smythe’s captives was Artemis (oops), whom Jeanette freed in issue #11. But when Wonder Woman arrived in the final page of that issue, all she saw were some guilty-looking mercenaries hovering near her unconscious sister.
“Which one of you miserable swine killed my sister?” she asked.
“The Depths” should be read in its entirety, but the showdown between Diana and the Six in issue #12 is fantastic by itself. Simone and Scott never let us forget that in addition to being an incredibly powerful being who doesn’t put up with stalling and nonsense, Wonder Woman is freaking royalty. Jeanette, interpreting Wonder Woman’s attitude as hauteur, referred to her as an “arrogant creature” and simply, “Amazon.” Diana didn’t like that.
I’ve always been a fan of the way Nicola Scott illustrates Wonder Woman, and she provided some stellar panels — my favorite being the one from Jeanette’s perspective as Diana hoisted her above the ground and demanded to know where the other Amazons were being held. This is not a vantage point I’d ever want to have in real life.
The battle between these two very different characters is really something to see, because Jeanette seemed to be the only member of the Six who wasn’t afraid to challenge Diana, even in the middle of a very lopsided brawl. Finally driven over the edge, she transformed into the Banshee and unleashed such a horrible sound that Wonder Woman was left dazed and foaming at the mouth.
Later on, Mr. Smythe attempted to serve the temporarily captured heroine as a meal for the demon Grendel to devour in the prison’s lower depths. Grendel assumed he had time to play with his food in issue #14. Nope.
Though Wonder Woman and the Six were worlds apart, this dark and wholly satisfying story allowed all of the players to be great in their own way and to right wrongs as they saw fit. Diana shines, and re-reading these issues made me miss the Secret Six series something terrible.
Bonus moment: This.