We'll say one thing for the DC powers-that-be: they gave Gail Simone enough of a heads-up about the reboot that she's actually able to orchestrate some kind of grand finale for Secret Six, one of the best things the DCoU had going for it. Sure, it'll be a bit rushed since she has to pack it into two issues, but at least she'll get to fill it with ominous portents of doom, which started back when last we left this team of malcontents – or as Bane refers to his team in Secret Six #35, "a failed phalanx of broken individuals."
After the last issue, this team seemed destined to go out in some kind of crazy blaze of glory, and now we find out that blaze will take the form of a pointy-eared cowl. Bane, it seems, has not only returned to the venom drug that defined his early existence, but has also reawakened his desire to break the Batman after discovering he is destined to go to Hell and his experience with the woman he "had earmarked for sexual congress" have shifted his entire worldview. He now sees himself as "the next Bonaparte" and wants to lead the Six into battle to truly break the Bat by breaking not his spine, but everyone he loves. A perfect DCU Waterloo.
Of course, there's some resistance to the idea, since this team is usually a work-for-hire situation, and this particular phalanx's personal problems lend themselves to making sure this is going to be a Waterloo situation. Jeannette smells the death all around them, so she's got the most impetus to question the wisdom here. Deadshot has a history of pulling his shots around Batman, and a while back, we learned that something in Floyd Lawton's mind has begun to equate the Bat to his older brother Eddie (the better brother, and the one Floyd accidentally killed). Catman vetoes Bane's attempts to target the Huntress, since he has a thing for her that he refuses to indulge. Scandal Savage has concerns about going after kids like Batgirl and Robin, but she's also distracted with her chilling experiences with Knockout, who has just returned from a long stay in Hell and no longer has any sense of herself after all that torment. Despite the badass bravado the Six showed during their visit to Hell, Knockout's cold and deadly detachment proves that no matter how tough Bane talks, this is how every last one of these ne'er-do-wells would have really ended up had they stayed.
None of that stops them from actually going along with it, although Jeannette's continued questioning might indicate that the bonds between the Six which we thought were solidified after the sojourn to the netherworlds may become as tenuous as they ever were the further they get from the intensity of that experience – not that there's much time to explore that possibility, since this is the penultimate issue of the whole series. Thankfully, here we get a tremendously fun bunch of loony King Shark action as he leads the charge in the Six's raid to forcibly induct the Penguin and his impressive intellect and integral intelligence into their service, as well as Knockout's re-emergence from her nightmares thanks to the glory of combat – which makes perfect sense, given her Apokoliptic origins. Simone's Penguin is pretty impressive, actually, both in verbosity and in being badass enough to stand up to an hour of Bane's "enhanced interrogation."
J. Calafiore's art is just like it always is – at times impressive and wonderful, at other times kind of awkward and blocky, but always with enough going for it that you don't spend too much time picking at it. It's mostly Simone's mixed-up, wrong-side-of-whatever-side-you-want-them-on band of dysfunctional criminals and how they try to relate to each other – sometimes with constant coitus like Floyd and Jeannette, and sometimes with pointless fisticuffs like Catman and Bane – that makes this series so consistently compelling, fun, surprising and just plain enjoyable, and losing it is the biggest crime the DCnU is going to have to answer for.
Especially since it's being replaced with this.
CRAVE ONLINE RATING: 9/10