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Tag: coloring

‘Secret’ Series Peaks With Sexy Issue #6

"Secret Six" #6 cover. Art by Jack Sparling.

"Secret Six" #6 (March 1969) is the best of the series short run. 

Up front, the cover really stands out amid the other books DC and Marvel were publishing in 1968. It's gritty, with just a hint of sex appeal.

Page 4.

This issue puts the spotlight on Lili De Neuve, as a famous actress is murdered in her spa. The plot gets a bit complex, but it goes something like this: the murdered actress, Jeanne Gautier, years ago murdered a high profile producer whose death was blamed on Lili, who did visit the scene after the murder. Mockingbird arranged an alibi for Lili that saved her from being guillotined for the producer's murder. But Jeanne is the only person beside Mockingbird  who knows the alibi is false as she saw Lili at the crime scene. Got it?

So the Secret Six investigate the scene of the crime and link it to Marcel Valory, who was Jeanne's ex-boyfriend.

King and Mike head off to find Valory and run straight into trouble at the Casino Royale. This is pretty great fight scene with the tough guys rolling up their sleeves and then figures flying through the air. Sparling brings a nice, cartoony style to this scene that's just the right mix of tough and fun.

Page 11

And here's where it gets really fun, as Crimson heads to the beach to turn Valory's head and distract him. The coloring gets strange on this page with a full figure of Crimson revealing herself on the beach in a bikini — I think those are supposed to be sunglasses she's wearing, not a blindfold. Sparling shows off some really nice figure work here and makes Crimson a total knockout without resorting to the kind of oversexualized brokeback stuff that came in later comics.

Page 13

And it gets better, with the first of two splash pages in this issue showing what happens when King Savage comes over and plays the bully to evoke a more aggressive response from Valory. Sparling again shows his figure drawing skills and proves he can draw men as well as he can draw women.

Page 14

And that leads directly into page 14, wrapping up the sequence in great style. What makes this really great is the facial expressions: Valory in shadow and Crimson with wild smile. I also like Valory's clenched fist, the way they're holding hands and Crimson's twirling of the sunglasses as King lies defeated in the sand. Great stuff!

This wraps up in typical Secret Six fashion, with Lili disguising herself as Jeanne Gautier to get a confession from Valory in front of a live theater audience. And yes, that's as weird as it sounds. Page 20 has some great coloring, though, making the most of the three available shades of cyan to give the scene depth. And page 22 resorts to the old trope of using the sandbags whenever a chase scene heads backstage at a theater. Crimson, of course, delivers the final blow with a bit of panache.

In all, a really fun issue, but sadly there's only one more to go before cancellation.

Wilma Flintstone in Batman? Joker in X-Men? It’s all in the coloring …

It’s strange the things you notice when you’re reading a comic. Take this panel from DC Retroactive 1970s Batman:

“Oh, Willlllmmmaaaa!” 

I don’t know if this was intended by writer Len Wein and artist Tom Mandrake or if colorist Wes Hartman is just having a bit of fun. Of course, The Flintstones is part of the Warner Bros. animation empire, just as the DC Universe is.

It reminds me of this panel from X-Men #130, about which artist John Byrne later said he had hoped colorist Glynis Wein would pick up on his idea and color it in green, white and red. Here’s the printed panel:

The joke’s on Scott and Jean.

Oddly, Byrne also has said in interviews that he realized as a child that he could write stories with the best of them when he came up with an idea for a TV series about cavemen who had prehistoric equivalents of modern conveniences long before The Flintstones came on the air with much the same idea. 
I admit I liked the three Retroactive issues DC publicity was kind enough to send me, though I admit to not being interested enough to buy any more of them. This is a good idea for a project, and the reprints were nicely chosen, but it should have been spread out over more than a month. Six specials each for the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s at $4.99 a piece ads up to a whopping $89.82, which is way too much.

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