Continuing from my post on the Countdown to Infinite Crisis 80 page Special, I've been catching up to more of the story arcs preceding and surrounding the Infinite Crisis event, having the luck to find quite a bit recently in the dollar comic bins, including this six-issue limited Villains United series. Lex Luthor has managed to assemble his Secret Society of Supervillains with the exception of a few that refused to join- The Secret Six! Catman, Cheshire, Deadshot, Scandal, Ragdoll, and Parademon oppose this new Secret Society, and are led by the mysterious Mockingbird who uses a personal threat against each member to ensure their united loyalty against Luthor's army. This team assembled of villainous characters undertake missions of dubious morality, resulting in bloody conflicts with high casualties.
Right off the bat there's inner conflict and odd fellowship within the group, the prominent testosterone-fueled rivalry between Catman and Deadshot, the latter revealed to have killed the former's pride of lions he'd been living with while in exile. Blamed on Lex Luthor and Deathstroke, the ploy to designed to lure Catman to joining the Secret Six for revenge. The two men are at odds throughout the series, their uneasy alliance finally resulting in a truce of sorts at the end. Cheshire and Catman hit the sack together at one point, after which she accuses Catman of being a spy, wanting to be a hero. She later reveals their consumation merely a plot to conceive a child. And Rag Doll shares a strange relationship with a Parademon, who refers to him simply as "Clown". For reasons unexplained it protects Rag Doll, threatening to kill anyone who gives the contortionist a hard time.
One of Mockingbird's first assignments has the group stealing Thanagarian weaponry from a tanker in Gotham harbor, only to be ambushed by members of the Society and tortured by the Crime Doctor, who's eager to discover Mockingbird's identity. Catman breaks free, releasing the others so the group can go from one hair-raising situation to the next, including fighting their way through a legion of H.I.V.E. troopers led by Queen Bee in Brazil. Who can be trusted is a constant wedge between the members, finally resulting in betrayal by Cheshire who has given Luthor their coordinates and defected from the group in return for safety. A bloody last stand against the Society is the result!
The climax reveals that Mockingbird is Lex Luthor and that the Luthor who organized the Secret Society is an impostor, Alexander Luthor, Jr., the Earth-Three son of that world's Alexander Luthor and Lois Lane-Luthor. In Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985, DC Comics), the Anti-Monitor destroyed incalculable universes, including Earth-Three. To save their son, the Luthors place him in an experimental device that carries the infant to the safety of Earth-One. The real Lex Luthor chose members of the Secret Six based on their knowledge of the Society's members' strengths & weaknesses. It's fun reading all this after having read Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis, all the pieces of continuity slowly pulling together in my head!
All this comes together in The OMAC Project, the Rann-Thanagar War, and the Spectre: Day of Vengeance crossover events, which tie into Infinite Crisis. Again, I'm really excited to be reading these all now! Gail Simone's dialogue got better & better as things progressed, and art duties were superbly executed by pencilist Dale Eaglesham and inker Wade Von Grawbadger (Val Semeiks and Prentis Rollins filling in seamlessly on issue #3). This one is worth your time, Kids!
More Later- Make It FUN!
(Sources: Wikepedia, Villains United #1-6, Villains United Infinite Crisis Special)