The Secret Six was a team of covert operatives formed by a mysterious figure identified only as Mockingbird, who controlled the team and assigned them missions while maintaining anonymity.
In 1968, the Secret Six was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Frank Springer in the team's self-titled Secret Six series. The current incarnation was created by Gail Simone and Dale Eaglesham
The original Secret Six series lasted only seven issues, leaving plot threads hanging such as the actual identity of Mockingbird. Nearly twenty years later, Martin Pasko and Dan Spiegle brought back the team in an eight-page co-feature in Action Comics Weekly.
A new twist on the Secret Six came in 2005 courtesy of creators Gail Simone and Dale Eaglesham in the Villains United tie-in to DC's Infinite Crisis event. The premise of a team being run by an anonymous figure known only as Mockingbird was kept, but now, the team was comprised of villains. They began as a team of villains who did not want to submit to the newly established Secret Society of Super-Villains, but grew into a team of mercenaries.
This new take proved popular with readers, who loved its intense drama, extreme violence and twisted sense of humor. The team reappeared in an arc of Birds of Prey, a Secret Six limited series and finally their own ongoing Secret Six series.
Major Story Arcs
For further details: Villains United and Infinite Crisis
Lex Luthor, under the guise of Mockingbird, brought together a team of six criminals to combat the operations of the Secret Society of Super-Villains being run by an impostor Lex Luthor. These original six were Scandal Savage, Deadshot, Cheshire, Fiddler, Ragdoll and Parademon. However, the Fiddler failed to perform in an early mission and was deemed a liability, so Deadshot executed him. Catman was brought on to replace him after Mockingbird had Deadshot execute Catman's pack of lions and pin it on Deathstroke. Mockingbird similarly used coercion or blackmail to keep the rest of the Six in line.
The Secret Six's existence alone was enough to make them a major target of the Secret Society. It made the organization look weak to have such a band of defilers out there, so the Secret Six were ambushed and captured. The Crime Doctor immediately began torturing them for information on the identity of Mockingbird, but none of the Six actually knew. Catman led a successful escape and they left most of their captors alive, except for Hyena, who they killed as a message to the rest. The Six then resumed their actions against the Secret Society, hitting one of their facilities and freeing Firestorm, who was being used as a power source. Also, they began trying to investigate the true identity of Mockingbird under his radar. This attempt failed. He was aware of their attempt to learn about him and promised that one of them would be punished. Catman made a counter offer, asking that they be allowed to make a suicide run against the Secret Society. Since they would either die or succeed, it would suit Mockingbird either way. He agreed to this.
The Six never got this far. The location of their headquarters, the House of Secrets was betrayed by Cheshire, who felt Mockingbird had nothing over her head now that she was pregnant with Catman's child. However, she was shot with a sniper rifle by Deathstroke, because the Secret Society had no use for traitors. The siege of the Six's hideout began with dozens of supervillains attacking. During the fight, the Six were aided by Knockout, who had secretly been a mole in the Secret Society and Scandal's lover. Parademon sacrificed himself by detonating ten Mother Boxes to give the others a chance at escape. When it came right down to it, the impostor Lex Luthor ordered off the attack due to being threatened into it by Vandal Savage. And Mockingbird had some final words for Scandal, revealing that he was lying the whole time and never had plans to kill any of their families.
The remains of the Secret Six decided to stay together as a mercenary group, but they knew the Secret Society would still be a problem for them. They investigated what the organization had planned next, realizing it was an all-out attack on the heroes in Metropolis. In the end, the Six chose not to get involved. That was the Justice League's problem, and it didn't have to be theirs.
One Year Later
For further details: One Year Later
The Secret Six, who were still only five members consisting of Scandal, Deadshot, Catman, Ragdoll and Knockout, continued carrying out mercenary jobs for the highest bidder. They were no longer a major thorn in the side of what was left of the Secret Society after Infinite Crisis, but they did still have enemies, mainly Dr. Psycho. To combat him, Catman was sent to recruit the talents of Mad Hatter to be their new sixth member. Meanwhile, the others were attacked by assassins. Both Knockout and Ragdoll were badly hurt in the attacks, but both would recover. One of the assassins, Pistolera, was tortured into giving up who had hired her and the others. It was Cheshire, apparently still alive. They tracked her down to a temple in the Himalayas, but all she could do for them was show Catman his son and inform them that she was only hiring the assassins for someone else.
It was Vandal Savage behind the assassinations attempts, using Cheshire and Dr. Psycho as his agents due to their own personal agendas against the Six. His only interest was to pressure his daughter Scandal into having a child with Catman and continuing his more cherished bloodline. If she refused him, he would see to it her friends and her lover Knockout die. After an implanted suggestion from Dr. Psycho caused Ragdoll to attempt to kill his teammates and being set up against the Doom Patrol, Scandal went to her father to arrange a deal, only to attempt to kill him. The rest of the Six joined her, storming Savage's mansion in Japan. They took the place apart, and Savage showed compassion to his daughter by letting himself fall from a cliff. With that, their crisis seemed to be over. Though before they left, Ragdoll threw Mad Hatter off the same cliff, feeling there was only room for one freak on the Secret Six.
Harley Quinn was recruited to replace Mad Hatter as the new sixth member, and the Secret Six took a security job in Azerbaijan to protect the property of General Feodor Kerimov. This put the team at odds with the Birds of Prey, who were planning on taking what the general had. This turned out to be a set of Rocket Red armor containing the surprisingly still living body of Ice. The Six weren't happy to discover that was what they had been protecting. Making sure men they knew to be dangerous keep a girl they could potentially and would probably use and abuse wasn't something they would have signed on for. So they called off their fight with the Birds of Prey just as the Rocket Red Brigade arrived to take them all out. In the end, Deadshot killed General Kerimov and the whole job was considered a bust.
The Six fell apart shortly afterwards. Harley Quinn quit during a bodyguard job they were doing. Catman seemed to be going soft, and he returned to his lions in Africa. Deadshot took a better offer to rejoin the Suicide Squad. Knockout was murdered by a being who was eliminating New Gods, and Scandal sank into despair. But they were all soon reunited on the hellish prison planet chosen by Amanda Waller to forever detain all of the Earth's metacriminals.
After Salvation Run, the band was put back together again. Bane, a teammate of Deadshot's from Suicide Squad and a fellow inmate from the prison planet, joined up with Scandal, Deadshot, Catman and Ragdoll. They took a job from an unknown employer to retrieve a card that was allegedly a genuine "Get Out of Hell" free card from Neron and the thief who had stolen it, Tarantula. Both were to be brought to Gotham City. The Six quickly discovered that they had been marked for death with a very high bounty on each of their heads, as if having the card alone wasn't enough for nearly ever criminal in the world to come gunning for them. Mainly, they were pursued by Junior, a disturbingly evil villain that seemed to scare everyone.
They picked up their sixth member, Jeannette, along the way to Gotham City with their two packages.
Having Neron's card began to create divisions among the Six, specifically between Scandal and Catman. It seemed more and more likely that they were going to kill each other to keep the card, but it was Deadshot who made the move. He shot Jeannette and Scandal, hit Catman with a car and ran over Ragdoll, taking a near dead Bane, the card and Tarantula on the final stretch to Gotham City. He said he wanted the card for himself, but it seemed more likely that he was completing the job on his own to spare the rest a likely suicide run to the end. Despite the attempt, the rest of the Six caught up to him on the bridge leading into Gotham City where they were all ambushed by an army of metacriminals. Mad Hatter, who was their employer on this job, watched to see his vengeance on the Secret Six play out. Soon, Junior arrived to retrieve her card, but Tarantula leapt on her, saying she had the card. Both women where destroyed in an onslaught of attacks from the assembled metacriminals. With no card and no one left to pay a bounty, the Secret Six were left alone. None of them realized Scandal still had the card.
The next job the Six were hired for was as part of a protection detail for a prison camp being run by Mr. Smyth, a man who claimed to be working for Mockingbird. As the Six fell deeper into this job, the team began splitting apart. The prison camp was actually more of a slave camp, and its populating included Amazons such as Artemis. These Amazons were of the Bana-Mighball tribe and perpetrators of war crimes in the recent Amazon attack on the United States. This was, apparently, their punishment.
This did not sit well with Jeannette. She attempted to free Artemis during the night, only to be discovered in the process of doing so by her teammates. The Six divided on what to do about this. Scandal and Bane supported Jeannette, but Deadshot, Catman and Ragdoll only cared about the job they were hired to do. Wonder Woman's sudden arrival disrupted things, and upon seeing Artemis' dire state, she fought the entire Six. Wonder Woman was defeated by a surprising display of power by Jeannette, and the Six split ways, knowing that they were soon to clash over this.
As the other three made off with Artemis, the half of the Six staying loyal to their employer delivered Wonder Woman to Mr. Smyth. Smyth insisted that their former teammates would have to be dealt with for their betrayal and likely imminent attempt to free the other Amazons. However, something Wonder Woman said to Catman caused him to decide to switch sides. He freed the Amazons, which started a prison riot. Deadshot and Ragdoll struggled a little with whether or not they should kill the others. Surprisingly, Ragdoll decided to go back to the control room and beat Smyth's head in with a wrench. Deadshot decided to give up on the job at this point, shooting an Amazon who worked for Smyth in the head to save Catman and Jeannette.
In the aftermath of the riot, Wonder Woman allowed what remained of the Secret Six to leave despite knowing they were criminals. Deadshot remained behind, where he executed Smyth much as he had executed a prisoner previously. As the group departed, Bane pointed out that every mission they take on ends with injury and no payment and informed them that he would now be in charge. His first command decision was that Scandal was off the team.
For further details: Blackest Night
In the Blackest Night storyline, Black Alice was shown to now be a member of the Six., having replaced Scandal Savage. The team was hired to bust out a drug kingpin from Belle Reve Prison. Black Alice was reluctant at first, but still decided to help her team. It was revealed that the entire mission was a setup staged by the Suicide Squad in order to arrest the Six. When Amanda Waller tried to force Deadshot to rejoin the Suicide Squad the Secret Six took her and her squad on during a Black Lantern attack from deceased Suicide Squad members and The Fiddler, who Deadshot had killed. Alice stole the powers of Suicide Squad member Nightshade and took out both her and Count Vertigo . Just as Alice began to revel in her victory, a group of Black Lanterns attacked her and the other Sixers. Her fear of them inhibited her control over her stolen powers until Bane's threat forced her to teleport the Six, Rick Flag, and Bronze Tiger to the House of Secrets. Unfortunately, she brought the Black Lanterns with them and she refused to return the power to Nightshade so she can teleport Amanda Waller to a place where she can find help. So Waller knocked Black Alice out, and Nightshade took her away only to return shortly with a Manhunter android containing the energy they needed to destroy the Black Lanterns.
With the Black Lantern situation now under control, Waller once again attempted to force Deadshot back into the Suicide Squad. He shot her immediately. It was not an instant kill, but the bullet became lodged so close to her heart that the Suicide Squad had to quickly evacuate with her rather than fight the Secret Six.
Waller survived the wound, knowing that Deadshot meant it only as a warning. If he wanted it to be a killing shot, it would have been. She also knew she did not lose this round against the Six, because little did they know that the new Mockingbird they took orders from had been her all along.
Cats in the Cradle
A seemingly routine job slaughtering some Church of Blood cultists turned darkly personal for one of the Secret Six when their employer revealed he had hired three mercenaries to attack Cheshire and abduct Catman's son. Over the phone, the mercenaries gave Catman an ultimatum. For every teammate he killed, his son would get one year of life. Catman told them to go ahead and kill his son, because he was coming for them now. The employer shot himself rather than face Catman's wrath, and Catman took off without explaining himself to the rest of the Six. Scandal wanted to go after him to help, but Bane refused to allow it. He did not see whatever personal question Catman left them for as their business.
The team split over the matter. Scandal, Deadshot, Black Alice and Ragdoll left to track down Catman. Surprisingly, Jeannette remained with Bane, saying she did not join the team to reign in people like Catman.
Cheshire put the others on Catman's path, but they could not catch up to him before he had already tortured and killed two of the three mercenaries. Meanwhile, Bane completed the Secret Six with four new metacriminals. Giganta, King Shark, Dwarfstar and Lady Vic were recruited to complete a job Mockingbird had set up for the team.
The four others continued to trail Catman, but after an altercation between Black Alice and Scandal, Black Alice brought up the pointlessness of what they were doing. Catman had already brutally tortured and killed two of his targets. He had that blood on his hands now. There was really no point in stopping him from finishing the job. It would not spare him anything he hadn't already done. The others seemed to agree with her, and so they left Catman to his own agenda. Catman tracked down his final targets and murdered them both.
The Reptile Brain
Bane and Jeanette began to take on new jobs with the new Secret Six team. During a routine job in order to extort money from their client's estranged husband, Spy Smasher intercepted the team and offered them a job to invade a mystical land, populated with dinosaurs and other beasts only accessible by a secret portal in the Amazon jungle, and conquer it for the United States.
Elsewhere, still deeply disturbed by recent events Catman walked into a lion exhibit in a zoo, and punched a lion hoping it will retaliate and kill him. Before the lion can attack, Black Alice stopped the beast from killing Blake. With Alice, Scandal and Ragdoll attempted to talk some sense into Blake with Scandal even offering to kill him herself if he felt so strongly about dying. When the zoo security comes in order to attempt to rescue Blake from the lions, he attacked them before they can tranquilize the lions. In the middle of the chaos, Deadshot showed up with a mysterious woman who sought to hire the team for a secret mission. The woman, identifying herself as Tremor, wished to hire the team to prevent the conquest of the land Bane's Secret Six had been dispatched to. What she offered was to erase their criminal records.
The two Secret Six teams clashed in the strange lands of Skartaris. Bane had successfully rallied the native rebel tribes to his side, while Scandal's team offered their services to Skartaris' existing monarchy. Former teammates had very little problem with trying to kill one another, and Scandal was horrified when Bane let her nearly kill him. However, the rulers of Skartaris panicked and released the demon Deimos to aid them only to completely lose control of the situation. The two Secret Six teams called a truce, with Tremor agree to arrange immunity for them all, and fought the giant snake demon. Black Alice was able to steal its power, defeating it and then having to be reined in by the team.
The combined teams left Skartaris, with the exception of Lady Vic who Deadshot wounded and left behind, and met with Amanda Waller, who was the benefactor behind Tremor this whole time. She agreed to honor the arrangement but made an offer of her own. Running the Suicide Squad was no longer an option for her, so she needed a team for the occasional job. She wanted the Secret Six to agree to be that team. However, she needed only a Secret Six and not a dozen of them.
While relaxing in a hot tub; Catman, Scandal, Bane, Deadshot and Jeannette considered their options and leaned toward accepting Waller's offer. King Shark splashed into the tub and joined them.
The Darkest House
The temptation of Neron's Get Out of Hell Free card finally became too much for Scandal, and she relented to use it to save her love Knockout. However, she only discovered that the card had been stolen by Ragdoll, who wished to use it to bring back Parademon. Ragdoll used the card to escape Scandal's wrath, but she led the rest of the Secret Six, except for Black Alice, straight to Hell after him. There, each of the Secret Six received glimpses of their own inevitable hells. They all faced a choice. Either they could serve in Hell now or be condemned to their inevitable suffering when their times came. The team chose the latter.
In a change of heart, Ragdoll surrendered his hold on the card, and Scandal was able to raise Knockout from Hell. The team then returned to Earth in time to save Scandal's other lover, Liana Kerzner, from a psychotic man who wanted to make her a good girl through mutilation. The Six decided that they would live their lives however they saw fit, seeing as how they were damned if they did and damned if they didn't.
Caution to the Wind
Bane emerged from his experience in Hell a changed man, making some realizations about himself and dedicating himself to returning to Gotham City with the specific purpose of hurting Batman. Despite this not being in the interests of any other members of the Secret Six, they all fell into line behind Bane's goal. The simple fact was that they were the Secret Six, and they followed each other's insanity. The plan was simple but well coordinated. Rather than target Batman, they would target and grievously harm his allies. In Bane's mind, this would do more harm to Batman than any physical assault to him directly.
Everything went bad for them in Gotham, though. Their position was betrayed by the Penguin, who they had abducted to force assistance from. Quickly, the building they were in was surrounded by a growing number of superheroes including members of the Birds of Prey, Teen Titans, Justice Society and Justice League. The team began to fracture over what to do with members disagreeing over whether to use some innocents they found as hostages. But eventually, they chose to stand united and go down fighting.
Bane gave them all vials of Venom, and the Secret Six charged into the fray. They fought savagely with all they had, knowing it was a losing battle. One by one they fell to the superior numbers and strength of the superheroes. They were taken into police custody and separated. The Secret Six was no more.
In the Tangent Universe, six heroes came together by chance to stop the villainous rise of Aquaman and his scheme to destroy the Moon. Three pairs of heroes arrived at Aquaman's secret base to stop him. Plastic Man drafted the Spectre to help him infiltrate the base and investigate what was happening there. Suspecting foul play by the government, the Joker journeyed out to sea and met Manhunter along the way. The Atom and the Flash arrived together, having been alerted to some kind of crisis by the media.
In defeating Aquaman, the six heroes discussed the idea of forming a team. This was met by skepticism, because establishing a team would complicate things for a few of them. However, not making the team public would solve those problems, and so they agreed to become the Secret Six.