by Gail Simone (writer), Jim Calafiore (artist), Jason Wright and John Kalisz (colors), Travis Lanham (letters)

The Story: A young, sociopathic nerd is granted a wish at an opportune moment, Bane attempts to act civilized, and the Doom Patrol go fish.

What’s Good: Boy, does Simone know how to write. Although she seems to have the most pure fun with Ragdoll, Simone does her most exceptional writing and characterization of this issue with Bane. The formal, but frigidly cold, way he attempts to initiate courtship is simultaneously hilarious, and pathetically sad. It’s hard to feel sorry for a guy who has one great one-liner after another for a good two or three pages, though. I can’t remember the last time humor in a comic was simultaneously so deeply revealing of character. I’m not quite sure how Simone manages to put herself so effectively into the heads of the twisted and demented folk, but she sure does a hell of a job.

In the art department, Calafiore continues to kick major ass. The character’s faces–arguably the single most important thing any comic artist draws–are detailed and expressive, and the backgrounds, while not particularly unique, serve their purpose well enough and don’t distract from the significant amount of action taking place in, around and through them. Speaking of action…

What’s Not So Good: So, this is the much anticipated (by everyone except me, it seems) crossover with Doom Patrol. That’s all well and good–Simone deals with the other characters quite well although, as noted last month, she is always the most on her game when writing the Six themselves–and on the whole, if Doom Patrol hadn’t been late, it would probably have worked fine as the first of a two-parter. Problem is, this issue is PACED like it’s the first half of a story, not a single issue–there’s lots of front-loaded exposition with a small–albiet intense–battle at the end, on that, in spite of all the hulabaloo of “OMG SIX VS PATROL” feels oddly out of place. Which is strange, because it’s not like the Six have never taken on other teams before…but the Doom Patrol provide so much weirdness that (when added to the already considerable weirdness factor the Six are carrying) results in something of a “weirdness overload.” The Six seem to be at their best when spouting one-liners while dispatching mooks, or confronting a single, strong and intelligent foe. The Doom Patrol are neither, and therefore do not particularly play to the strengths that make Secret Six so great to begin with.

Conclusion: A fun romp, but one that is hindered both by the delay of its concluding crossover issue, and an overabundance of colorful characters vying for attention. Worth the time if you’re a fan of the Six or Simone, but otherwise unremarkable.

Grade: B-