By Gail Simone (writer), J. Calafiore (artist), Jason Wright (colors), Travis Lanham (letters)

The Story: The excellent “Cats in the Cradle” storyline comes to a conclusion as Catman learns the ultimate fate of his son, and confronts the kidnapper for the final time.

What’s Good: This has been a personal favorite “Secret Six” arc for me, due in no small part to the fact that I love Catman, and the way Simone characterizes him. The way he’s been isolated and pushed to the brink (and in this issue, maybe even beyond) has been… ‘fun’ is the wrong word, but it has certainly been one hell of a powerful read. I continue to be amazed not only at Simone’s ability to write consistently excellent dialog, but in her ability to tell an incredibly dark, violent story without making it depressing to experience. She is mining depths in this story that, by all rights, should be completely joyless to read (or even think) about, but under her pen, they simply become a tour-de-force.

Calafiore’s art continues to be a perfect complement to Simone’s script. His images are detailed, intricate, and are as much a part of the storytelling as the words the characters speak. He walks the same fine line as the script does, managing to portray some pretty horribly violent scenes without making them stomach-turning or losing any of their visceral impact. That sort of balancing act (both with the pictures and the words) is what has really elevated this series from “very good” to “great.” It would be so easy to put off many readers with the level of violence and insanity, but rather than using it for shock value, both Simone and Calafiore manage to use these elements to create a window into the world of each of the characters, and allows us to better understand—and, dare I say, sympathize—with them. That’s a level of respect for both the readers and the characters that you don’t find too often.

What’s Not So Good: No complaints. I will say I’m looking forward to seeing Catman rejoin the Six; as much as I’ve loved him having his own story arc to shine in, this really is a book about a group and their interactions together. Having a single member split off and forcing the others to hunt him down worked well for this arc, but I’m still looking forward to seeing the gang back together again.

Conclusion: Brilliant writing, beautiful artwork and a great conclusion to an amazing story. At $2.99, this is my pick for the best bargain on the comic stand.

Grade: A