SECRET SIX: The Groovy Artwork That Defined the Cult-Fave Series

13 COVERS AND PAGES — a 55th ANNIVERSARY salute to one of comics’ little gems…


A popular gimmick used in murder mysteries is to have several strangers brought together by an unseen individual, and then the group eventually realizes that one of them is secretly that person. Writer E. Nelson Bridwell borrowed this concept for DC’s comic book series, Secret Six, the first issue of which was released 55 years ago on Feb. 1, 1968.

In Secret Six #1, the mysterious, hooded Mockingbird gathers together half a dozen strangers to form an international task force (taking on mostly Communist threats). Each member is the best in their field: Mike Tempest (American boxer), King Savage (Hollywood stuntman), Crimson Dawn (beautiful British model), August Durant (American scientist), Carlo Di Rienzi (Italian stage magician/escape artist), and Lili De Neuve (a French makeup artist). (More than a little, the team resembled TV’s Mission: Impossible crew, whose members also included a strongman, a beautiful model/makeup artist, and a stage magician).

Mockingbird blackmails the six recruits into working for him by holding dark secrets from their past over them or the threat to stop providing special medical needs. However, it isn’t long before the group suspects that one of their own is secretly Mockingbird. This guessing game went on for a total of seven issues (with the last dated Apr.-May 1969) and then the series was suddenly cancelled without a solution. The first two issues were reprinted in The Brave and the Bold #117 and 120, but still no answers. It would take 20 years before Mockingbird’s identity would be revealed.

In Action Comics Weekly #601 (May 21, 1988), all six members of the team, which the new story said disbanded in 1969, gathers together for a reunion but it’s interrupted by a video of Mockingbird asking the original members to train a new team. In the following issue, a plane carrying all members of the first Secret Six crashes into a mountain and explodes.  However, one of the group survives and Mockingbird continues to work with the new team for the next 28 issues.

SPOILER WARNING: If you don’t want to know the identity of Mockingbird, and would prefer to first read through the Action Comics Weekly run from #601 to #630, stop here and come back later.

In Action Comics Weekly #629 (Dec. 6, 1988), Mockingbird presents himself unmasked to the team and stands revealed as the stage magician, Carlo Di Rienzi. He tells the new team that, not too long before the plane crash, August Durant confessed to him he was Mockingbird. So, Di Rienzi felt it was his obligation to take over the mantle of his friend. In the next issue, Action Comics Weekly #630 (Dec. 13, 1988), Di Rienzi is killed by a renegade federal agent who had sabotaged the plane the original Six were in. However, in the final panel of the storyline, a new, hooded Mockingbird appears to take up where Di Rienzi left off.


In years to come, there would be a Secret Six revival but, like the newer Suicide Squad, the team would be filled with comic-book bad guys.

Here are 13 images featuring the original Secret Six run and the team’s fate in Action Comics Weekly:

Secret Six #1 (Apr.-May 1968)

Cover by Frank Springer — and the actual start of the story.

Secret Six #1 (Apr.-May 1968)

The first inner page carried on the action from the cover. E. Nelson Bridwell script, Springer art.

Secret Six #1 (Apr.-May 1968)

Mockingbird lays out his hold on the Six. E. Nelson Bridwell script, Springer art.

Secret Six #2 (June-July 1968)

Cover by Nick Cardy

Secret Six #2 (June-July 1968)

Summary of who the Six are and their dangerous secrets. E. Nelson Bridwell plot, Joe Gill script, Springer art.

Secret Six #3 (Aug.-Sept. 1968)

Cover by Jack Sparling

Secret Six #4 (Oct.-Nov. 1968)

Cover by Sparling

Secret Six #5 (Dec. 1968-Jan. 1969)

Cover by Sparling

Secret Six #6 (Feb.-Mar. 1969)

Cover by Sparling

Secret Six #6 (Feb.-Mar. 1969)

Excellent page by Jack Sparling. Plot by E. Nelson Bridwell, dialogue by Joe Gill.

Secret Six #7 (Apr.-May 1969)

Cover by Sparling

Action Comics Weekly #602 (May 31, 1988)

Final fate of the Secret Six? Martin Pasko script, Dan Spiegle art.

Action Comics Weekly #629 (Dec. 6, 1988)

Mockingbird finally reveals himself to the new team. Cover art by Dick Rockwell.


— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite E. NELSON BRIDWELL Projects. Click here.

— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite FRANK SPRINGER Comics and Covers. Click here.

PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Pagehas just been published by TwoMorrows. He has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. Peter lives in Hollywood.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Another series of comics that DC should be reprinting – the original 7 issues plus the Action Comics 1988 revival

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  2. Man, Dan Spiegle was so perfect to pick up the art on the revival. Had THE retro look and feel!

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