Absolute Secret (Part Two of Two)
In The Last Issue Of Absolute DC:
“John Jones was captured by CADMUS while seeking his brother's help for a cure to his Martian infection. Government agent Maxwell Lord told John the president would pardon the Justice League in exchange for eliminating the Secret Six, who have been assassinating senators. John offered Oliver Queen membership into the League so he can acquire a pardon, but he left them, unconvinced the govt. would keep that promise. Continuing without Queen, the League found and battled the Secret Six, capturing Lobo. But then, Lobo attacked Green Lantern at the Fortress and crucially injured her...”
Superman remembers, back when he and his people were enslaved by S'Tar-Ro, encountering the Czarnians, another alien race similar to the Ilnolmas. Despite their accelerated healing, the Czarnians almost seemed completely human, and because Lobo was holding back (and that he knew Spanish, a human language), he fooled the League into thinking he was human. Until he slammed Green Lantern's head through a table. The alien roughneck attacked and injured all of the members of the League. He caught Flash and snapped one of his legs at the joint, pulled a hooked chain from his intestines and used it to pull out Aquaman's guts, and then took out a Krypton gas grenade (again, from his intestines) and threw it at Superman to weaken him, allowing him to bury him under crystal rubble with the gas bomb. Lobo even drank jet fuel and ignited it with his cigar lighter, attacking Dr. Jones with makeshift flame breath. Hawkwoman attacked him, and he tore off her wings! As he dragged her away, he admitted to Flash (before stomping on his other leg until it shattered) that he was hired to join the Secret Six in order to kill the League “because Savage knew you would get in the way”. He boarded a Javelin and used his captive's biometrics to hijack it.
Meanwhile, CADMUS co-director Amanda Waller is attacked in her home. Bearing the upgraded gear provided by the JL, Oliver Queen says to her... “Hello, Pendragon.”
He learned, sometime before Jones solicited his help with the League, that Waller was the leader of the denied-ops Albion Unit, which was staffed by sleeper agents tortured and brainwashed by the “Checkmate Procedure”, like Oliver was. Before ambushing her as she got out of the shower, Oliver was able to decipher her computer's access codes by studying the smears her fingers left on the touch-screen monitor. He found a short, vague e-mail saying “Good to go for League coercion. M. Lord”
Her security was neutralized, giving Oliver free reign to interrogate Waller for hours until she gave up what the e-mail from Max Lord meant:
Waller: “It was a few months ago, before the first senator was killed... it all began in Benghazi, Libya. The talking heads on the evening news keep yammering that terrorists targeted our men stationed there because of some Islamophobic horses**t on the web, but that's because they don't know what really happened. Our people found a hidden outpost, much like Rock and his men did when Hussein fell. They found something; I don't know what it is or what it does, but it was damn important enough that the bastards would strike our mission to keep it secret. They tried to call for reinforcement, but someone on the inside intercepted it. I've been investigating this, internally, since the beginning, even when I didn't think that anyone would retaliate for someone denying them support. That's why the Secret Six are targeting the US, they're the survivors.”
Queen: “So you and Lord convinced the prez to pardon the League, in exchange for getting rid of the Secret Six. Alright. Now, about Checkmate...”
The JL communicator was still in Queen's new gear when it went off. He checked it and saw that a distress signal had activated and a GPS chip hidden in the captured Hawkwoman's costume relayed her coordinates to him. After a brief meditation on what to do next, he told Waller that “this isn't over”, and returned to the Javelin parked in the foliage outside.
Lobo dragged his wounded quarry through the building. Trying to see through the pain, Shayera could tell it was some kind of luxurious mansion as she was brought to the main study. In the room she could see the remaining members of the Secret Six gathered; Deadman was kneeling in the corner, looking shell-shocked, Skull had punched out a mirror, silently cursing his mutilated face, Demon was eloquently playing a violin, still with that aura or perverse malice, and Gold was twitching and trying in vain to reattach a piece of his withered skin as Tigress looked on. The chair situated behind the desk turned to reveal to her the mastermind behind the Secret Six: Curtis Knox, Codename: “Savage”. On his desk are several vials of a glowing green chemical. Ever defiant, Hawkgirl claims that they have no chance of winning and will accept their unconditinal surrender. Savage orders the Six to lock her in the basement, stating that she will be their bargaining chip in case the Justice League survived Lobo's attack.
In the basement, Shayera was shackled to the wall by Tigress. She could see the walls were lined with research on the 2011 Benghazi terror attacks, chemical formulas, a few more actual vials of the chemical, and lists concerning the hierarchy of the US government and its organizations, all of it bordering on paranoia and obsession. She could hear the voices of Savage and Skull arguing about what to do next. Skull argued that targeting one person at a time wasn't cutting it and they need a bigger, more dramatic attack to coerce the government into revealing the secret behind Benghazi, and Savaged argued that killing innocents would be counter-intuitive. Gold called for threatening to kill their hostage live on the internet, but Tigress amended this idea with actually filming Shayera's execution and sending it to the president. Savage liked the idea of demonstrating their team's advantage over the JL, but also argued that “the cabinet would not be that receptive since [their] captive isn't of a species familiar to-”.
Shink, pling... KABLOW!
Oliver shot an explosive arrow through the window to the parlor and it hit Savage in the chest.
Oliver dove through the window and attacked the Six. This provided enough of an initial distraction for when the JL showed up, fully healed thanks to Green Lantern's abilities. The Secret Six were all defeated in battle except for Lobo, who decided he would rather raid Savage's vault full of money than fight Superman at his fullest. Cyrus Gold's condition further degraded in the chaos of battle, and he became a hulking, mindless brute with chalky, rotted skin. Gold was defeated with the full power of the League.
That's when Savage himself, somehow fully healed, seized Oliver and held a knife to his throat!
“I've been waiting centuries for my vengeance, and none of you shall stop me!”
Then Hawkwoman, after freeing herself and regrowing her wings with the serum, bashed Savage's head in from behind and saved Oliver.
In the aftermath of this, Maxwell Lord and the agents of CADMUS arrived to take Savage and the Secret Six into custody. Then Lord had the agents turn their guns (and Krypton grenade launchers) on the League. Queen stated that he “nicked a little something from your friend Waller” and activated a device that tuned into the frequency of the agents' headpieces (which he learned from her computer) and debilitated them with a piercing signal. This gave the Justice League enough time to make their escape in the Javelin, and Queen said that he has “something else to share”. Days later, a video became viral, courtesy of TheOrakle, the remaining founder of the Matchstick hacktivism movement. It was the full, unedited discussion between Queen and Waller, although the former's voice was disguised, wherein she admitted to the reason behind the Benghazi disaster and the lack of response to it. It spread like wildfire and protests outside the White House and Congress went on for days. The League agreed it was the right thing to do, that the people deserve to know...
* Oliver is not with the JL, still. He's out on his own, fighting CADMUS's corruption.
** Flash suggested giving Oliver the codename “Green Arrow”, but he turned it down.
* Batman and Wonder Woman are not present because:
** Bruce Wayne abandoned his Batman identity and duty when he was forced to kill The Joker to stop him from poisoning the city's water.
** Diana Creon is pregnant with Steve Trevor's twins, and she's on maternity leave.
* John's brother Malcolm is wheelchair-bound due to a degenerative disease he contracted years ago.
* After injecting herself with the serum to save herself, Shayera returned to her home planet for observation, incase any serious side effects of the injection turn up.
* Savage is more than 7 centuries old. He was forcefully injected with the ancient version of the regeneration serum, which gave him immortality; seeing he loved ones die around him drove him mad.
** “Curtis Knox” is a recent alias Savage has acquired; a college educator with considerable wealth through shady means.
* Sergeant Cyrus Gold and his team found a terrorist compound containing the serum, and he had to inject himself some of and his team with it to save them from the attack on the American mission in Benghazi.
** Gold was committed to the mental health department of a private hospital controlled by CADMUS. He's been reduced to a child-like mentality, and he spends most of his free time reading a book of poems, particularly the poem “Solomon Grundy”...
** According to Superman's study of the serum, which the League confiscated, Gold's physical deterioration is due to Gold injecting himself with a version of the serum infused with...Superman's own DNA?
** Gold replaces Ragdoll from the original comics version of the Six.
* Artemis Brooks, alias Tigress, lost her eye in the attack, but didn't die. She refused the serum for regrowing her eye because none of them knew of the potentially deadly side effects.
** Tigress replaces Cheshire from the original comics version of the Six.
* Derek Powers Sr. is The Skull of the Secret Six. His faced was burned down to the bone but the serum saved his life, albeit he feels constant pain due to nervous system exposure.
** He's based on the “Atomic Skull”, but the civilian name comes from a similar villain: Blight from the Batman Beyond era.
** Skull replaces Scandal from the original comics version of the Six.
* Jason Blythe, the Demon, became a more malicious, mischievous, and contemptible man, who likes to talk in rhyme, due to a large piece of shrapnel piercing his skull and becoming irremovable from his brain; in fact the shard is sticking out through the skin. He also lost his arm and got a prosthetic replacement.
** He is based on the characters of Etrigan the Demon and Jason Blood.
*** His design is based on “Big Boss aka Punished Snake” from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
** Demon replaces Parademon from the original comics version of the Six.
* Boston Brand, the Deadman, was brought back from death using the serum, but had a psychological break from reality; he is convinced he's still dead and the world around him is his Hell. He's emaciated because he's stopped eating, seeing it as pointless.
** Deadman replaces Deadshot (who is already in AbDC) from the original comics version of the Six.
* Lobo rounds out the Secret Six. He is an alien mercenary that landed on Earth long ago. He learned human languages from observing them from afar. Savage met Lobo long ago and hired him to join the Secret Six, for the purpose of killing the Justice League.
** He has a much more powerful self-regeneration ability than other Czarnians, though it's a mystery how his tattoos can regenerate...
** He disappeared after stealing Savage's fortune.
** Lobo replaces Catman from the original comics version of the Six.
* While studying the files on the regeneration serum they took, the League learned what the scientists behind it officially named it: LAZARUS.