Birds of Prey #99

by

Or – “It’s Hard To Make Snide Remarks When You’re Pretending Not To Cry.”

birds1.jpgBirds of Prey has always been an interesting case study. The original mini-series seemed to spawn out of the “Bad Girl” craze of the 90′s, but it’s never been a T&A book. It’s been a book with two (sometimes three) female main characters, but it’s never really been a “chick book.” Heck, DC insisted forever on listing it among the Batman titles, though it’s never realy been that much of a bat-book. It’s kind of a strange animal, a four-color Pushmepullyu that isn’t easy to categorize, but is enjoyable regardless. Change is in the air for the Birds of Prey, and it looks like a whole new ballgame.

Last issue left us with a number of questions… Who is the new Batgirl? Who is this mysterious assassin? Why must I be a teenager in love? No, wait, that’s Dion and the Belmonts. Back in the issue at hand, we start our action with Huntress and the Black Canary stalking down Yasemin, the Turkish assassin, gunrunner and quiche chef who escaped prison last issue. Even though things are serious, Black Canary can’t really do grim and gritty, using a DC Universe staple to complain about the amount of running the job has involved. “Bizarro Canary say running am fun and not at all insane.” That kind of dialogue is half the fun of this book. Yasemin fires a few bullets and then runs, leading the Birds into an obvious trap. As Canary comments on more running, Huntress points out her recent diet of cheeseburgers and pasta…

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“Getting Oracle in on this” proves harder than it seems, as Barbara’s busy herself, with the new Batgirl. Unsure of what the newcomer has in mind, Oracle grabs her escrima sticks, preparing for a possible fight, causing Batgirl to respond like many young comic fans would in her situation. “I know this part! First, we fight, then we become best friends!” Stan Lee would be proud. Then, we recieve the answer to another question: How does a fight between a teleporter and a woman in a wheelchair go?

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Oh, pretty much like you expected. Batgirl once again proves to be a delight, acting like a teenage Batman stalker would in our world. Barbara does manage to get the best of her successor, knocking her to the ground, leading Batgirl to exclaim, “Hey, your computers look cool from down here!” Heh. Meanwhile, back in the tenement of Certain Trappy McDoom, Huntress and Canary haven’t caught Yasemin, but they can certainly hear her. Yasemin continues to lob insults and bullets, even leaving behind a lackey (with hostages) to keep Black Canary busy while Huntress steps into her ambush. Yasemin thinks she has this one wired, and fires off one last dig to get Huntress good and angry. “I was thinking about visiting your school. Your homeroom class… Say, twenty-six bullets in total?” Okay, I don’t care for this Yasemin chick at all. And this tack is a really bad idea, trust me. She may not be the Batman’s-daughter Huntress, but she’s not going to take that sort of remark well. In fact, if I were to picture her response…

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…it would look remarkably like that. That isn’t the only kick in the teeth this issue, as Barbara realizes that she has to convince this new girl that being Batgirl isn’t a good idea. To that end, she tries logic, she tries bargaining, and nothing gets through to her erstwhile successor. (Although you’d think the first Batgirl handing her the bullet that caused her paralysis might have made a dent in a more rational person’s excitement.) Finally, she has to do something that even made me cringe, showing Batgirl what happens to teenagers who fight crime in Gotham.

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If nothing else makes you question kid sidekicks, that certainly would give you something to think about. Meanwhile, Huntress has a little bit of persuading of her own to do, a gentle conversation with Yasemin that she hopes will be compelling…

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For anyone who avoids this series, thinking it’s a touchy-feely chick book, I refer you to this page. Both crises averted, Batgirl agrees to give up the name (but leaves with an ominous cry of “I never said I’d stop being a superhero!”) and Yasemin is understandably chastised. Enough plot and action for a couple of issues, but there’s still pages left. What else could they give us? Well, if you’ve been reading the solicitations, you know that somebody is on their way out of our little family. And if you read Justice League of America, you may have an inkling who. Or whom. Whichever it should be.

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The thing that’s most heartbreaking about that panel is the way the artist has made Black Canary look like she’s about to cry, but is determined not to. That’s a lot of emotion in a little space. Black Canary says her goodbyes (“), and we’re left with a cliffhanger and the setup for next month’s issue 100 with the debut of our new member.

All in all, this is a very well-done issue, with some cute touches (Zinda’s goodbye, Batgirl’s Myspace page, “Remember that time you dated… hahaha! Ra’s AL GHUL!”) and a nicely done moment with our remaining Bird of Prey. The ending was more touching than I expected it to be, and though I didn’t cry, it might have been touch and go for a moment. Most importantly, Huntress shows both how she’s NOT like Black Canary and what makes them similar. Hopefully whomever joins the team will be able to maintain the chemistry and character I’ve grown to really love in this series. I’m giving this outing four and a half stars.

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