With the ominous portents of DC's impending universe-wide reboot, it makes sense that the characters within the DCU about to be ditched for younger models might sense their approaching doom as well. This seems to be the case with Jeannette of the Secret Six, who has always had a close relationship with death. Sure, the fact that the team is freshly back from hell – as in the actual Hell – might play a role in her demeanor, but Gail Simone is no stranger to a little meta commentary. She did write Deadpool for a while, after all.
In Secret Six #34, this vagabond group of malcontents, ne'er-do-wells and sociopaths have seen that their future holds eternal damnation, so for the first time they seem relatively touchy-feely with how they feel about each other in the lives they have left to live – and that aforementioned DC news adds a lot more weight to a weird emotional core that's already pretty heavy. These rogues – Scandal Savage, Deadshot, Ragdoll, Bane, Catman, Jeannette and even the recent addition King Shark – have shown how dedicated they are to each other when push comes to shove, but they've never really been able to actually come out and admit it. Now, after seeing hell, they can go along with Scandal's insistence that they are responsible for each other. She even declares she loves the three men in the group, and re-establishes a friendship with Ragdoll despite his attempted betrayal in the demon pit. Although she insists there is no term for what they are, so don't try to call them a family.
They still will never do the "right" thing, though. When they track down the degenerate creep who's captured Scandal's stripper girlfriend Liana, they play a sick game of 'injure the freak' before his intended victim begs them not to kill him and leave him for the police. Scandal swears she won't, for Liana's sake, but then quickly ignores that oath and personally ends the life of the freak with blades through the eyes. Even when the elephant in the room is addressed – the fact that they've brought Scandal's original lady love Knockout back from the dead, setting up what would normally be a choice she'd have to make between her two red-headed love interests – Jeanette seems to imply that their lives lived under nobody else's rules means she likely won't have to adhere to archaic monogamy rules, either. That should prove interesting as the series winds toward its conclusion.
Aside from Scandal's drama, however, comes Bane's darkly comic normal-guy carnival date with "the Spencer woman," one of Liana's co-workers, in the interest of enjoying their lives while they have them. Bane has no concept of small talk, standard socialization skills or even cushioning the truth of his horrifying childhood when asked about it, but he also cannot stop radiating "magnetic and effortless badass," either. So when some damn fool carnies try to rob him and he kicks the crap out of them, it only drives that point home, which in turn encourages Miss Spencer to let him drive his point home. So to speak. My, how crass of me.
J. Calafiore's art, as always, serves Simone's story well, especially when capturing the dark and ominous confrontation with the mewling religious killer Randall, creating a sense of sadness even though this is the team saving the day – they still don't get happy endings. In fact, Secret Six #34 is about the happiest this team has ever been, and they're still awash in a sense of unpleasant foreboding. Now that we know that not only is this series ending in a few months, but the whole DCU is ending at the same time, we also know that Simone has got some dynamite swan song planned for this motley crew. You just know they're going to go out in what might be the coolest blaze of glory of all time.
Damn, I'm gonna miss this book when it's gone.