Or – “Things Continue To Fall To Pieces… Thanks, Spy Smasher!”

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With the rather unhappy news that Gail Simone is leaving ‘Birds of Prey,’ the title she pretty much made excellent again, I was a little bit saddened to see this issue in my hold bin. In my mind, it meant one less issue of awesome Gail writing… Turns out my mourning was very much premature, as BoP gave us a nice couple of twists on the traditional comic book fight scene, some character development for several of our twelve or thirteen main characters, and made me almost like the new Spy Smasher. (Turns out she’s still a schmuck, though.) Add to that some of the best matchups in comic book slapfight history, and it was enough to find my smile again…

bp1.jpgPreviously, on Birds of Prey: The new Spy Smasher has blackmailed Oracle into working for her, and the first mission under her command involved the BoP travelling to Russia to break up a Black Market sale. The auction item seemed to be a Rocket Red suit, but in reality, the armor contains a greater treasure: former JLI member Tora Olafsdotter, Ice. Spy Smasher’s team is much surprised to find that they have another force to contend with, The Secret Six, a mercenary group with goals of their own. With their ace in the hole, Hawkgirl, in the clutches of the Six, the Birds have been given a simple request: return the “item” or have Hawkgirl’s limbs picked off in alphabetical order. Oracle is trying desperately (distracted a bit by Misfit, a young teleporter who fancies herself a superhero) to think of a way out, and has to fall back on the old standard: “Can you take these guys?” Huntress suspects that we’re all about to find out…

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So, Spy Smasher isn’t ALL jackass… just mostly. While the discussion goes on, the former Apokaliptian fury called Big Barda has been armoring up. She puts on her flying discs, and Huntress decides she’d better suit up too, if there’s going to be a fight. “Fight? What fight?” asks Barda. “There’s only SIX of them…” With that, she’s out, smashing through the door, into Knockout, THROUGH a van and crushing her opponent up against a tree. Oracle vamps for a plan as the combat begins, but quickly realizes that her people may have to play rough, possibly even deadly if they’re going to get out alive.

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She turns around to ask Misfit to leave, but she’s already gone. Did I mention the part about how Misfit is a teleporter? Did I mention that she’s a teleporter with UNBELIEVABLE range? I didn’t? Oh, well, bygones. Oracle is bothered by possibly using lethal force, but with Deadshot in the field, she’s not willing to take chances. As for Big Barda, ‘lethal force’ is her middle name, and she’s obviously enjoying having someone who can take the punishment she dishes out, even if that someone hits a little too close to home…

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Do NOT taunt Big Barda. It will do you no good. This has been a public service announcement from The Department Of Not Getting Beaten Senseless For No Reason. Spy Smasher enters the field, and finds herself on one side of the ruined van, with Deadshot on the other… “Deadshot, right? Supposed to be a maestro with bullets, am I correct?” asks the canny ‘Smasher. “If you say so. What’s it to you?” replies the blase Sixer. “Just wondering, really. Wondering how you’d feel about a nice government gig. I can always use a good sniper.” Deadshot, who was the only member of the original Suicide Squad to make it from first issue to last, (other than Amanda Waller) snorts that he’s been there, done that, and the food’s better working freelance. She replies with a kick in the face, and they’re off! As for newest Secret Sixer Harley Quinn, she’s like King Kong Bundy at an all-you-can-eat buffet with all the various options for mayhem…

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Did I mention Misfit’s incredible teleporting range? I did? Nevermind, then. Manhunter squares off with Ragdoll (“You’re getting incredibly annoying,” she says. “Funny, even my best friends say that,” replies the ‘Doll.) and Catman and Huntress re-engage after last month’s flirting. “I may as well confess it,” says Huntress. “I hate cats.” Heh. Catman just replies that he doesn’t want to hurt her… Given the state of the battlefield, he may be the only one with such compunctions.

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Gail and Nicola really know their craft here, taking six separate battles, and making them clear and easy to follow. Also, Harley vs. Misfit is hysterical. “Dark Vengeance!!!!” Oracle realizes that there’s really only one way to unbalance the sides, and asks Creote (an ally of the BoP who has been keeping Ice safe in the house) how Tora is. Create replies that she’s not doing well, and he’s afraid that they’ve killed her, but Oracle tells him that he knows what he has to do. Creote takes a breath, and slaps her, trying to wake her. Back in the field, Knockout tries a little more psychological warfare on Barda, taunting “You’re a disgrace, old woman! You’re like a lowly without the DIGNITY!” Barda catches her pummeling fist, and smiles. “Do you know what they call THIS on Apokalips, harridan?”

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Ow… Just, ow. The Russian general who caused all this in the FIRST PLACE is seen, exiting his palace, given the orders to his lieutenants. The Rocket Reds are to kill everyone, the Birds, the Secret Six, the witnesses, Ice… everything they can see. Apparently, Mutual Assured Destruction didn’t go out with the Cold War. Back in the clusterschmozz, Knockout manages to smash Barda’s knee in another painful display, and the teams continue their rumble, not knowing that they’re all marked for death by flames…

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Okay, that’s not good. Both teams have taken some serious bloody noses in this fight, which is going to suck when they have to deal with the whole “turncoat general sicced armored thugs on us” portion of the program next month… Huntress and Catman falls into a gulch, and she ends up lying on top of him in a compromising position. “Still think we’re bonded till the sky falls?” she asks. “Depends. Is that your hand touching my–” “Could be…” Huntress flirts for a moment, and when Catman asks, “Does this mean we’re consorting?” she STABS HIM IN THE THIGH with two of her crossbow bolts. Guess that’s a no? Inside the house, Creote succeeds in waking Ice, as Oracle announces that as many as THIRTY Rocket Reds are on approach vector. Unfortunately for both teams, they have bigger problems…

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Well, crap. Did I say ‘death by fire?’ I don’t suppose it’d help if we pointed her to Mark Waid’s office? This issue is an interesting study in contrasts, in a way. For what some people would call a “girl book” it’s got some seriously BRUTAL fight scenes, and the espionage aspect is interesting as well. Spy Smasher’s facedown with Deadshot earned her a LITTLE bit of respect (but she’s still a schmuck) but the final reveal with Tora out of her coma got a cheer out of me, until I realized that she was about to kill the stars of the book and the villains that I like. Still, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette, right?

I cannot say enough good things about Nikola Scott’s art. It’s incredibly expressive in facial and body language, and I enjoy the different body types that the team possesses. It’s good to see Misfit actually looking like a teenage girl, rather than a short adult with enormous T&A (not that this particular character ever HAS looked like that, I just hate that sort of thing.) The writing by Gail Simone is excellent, as always, and even if things felt a little less in-depth due to the huge fight scene, it was an excellently done fight scene, and all the characters got in their moments. While I felt last issue was a clearer portion of the story, this is still a great issue of one of my favorite underrated books, and well worth 4 stars out of 5. Hopefully, Sean McKeever can keep up the excellence when he takes over…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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3 Comments

  1. May 27, 2007 at 2:50 pm — Reply

    Or, Spy Smashe, possibly DEATH’s HEAD, and…nah, that’s be too obvious…

    Oh, and following that ‘Marvel vs. Dc: Round Two’ idea, I’d have a one-shot spinoff from the Heroes for Hire vs Birds of Prey mini, entitled ‘Cutie’; it would have denizens such as Squirrel Girl & Misfit in a bar together, doing girl talk during the onslaught…

    My favourite of all these is Ragdoll…probably because he’s basically me without genitals.

  2. Brent F.
    May 27, 2007 at 3:28 pm — Reply

    Ha! I hope Harley becomes Misfit’s arch-nemesis from hence forth, their fighting banter is far too priceless for this to be a one time meeting. I’m also glad to see Ice is awake and pissed, another JLI member back in action!

  3. Baal
    May 28, 2007 at 12:41 am — Reply

    Dark Vengeance! SSSSSSS! Gail Simone is a fool if she doesn’t take Misfit over to Wonder Woman with her As crazy as Misfit’s made the Birds, can you imagine the traditionally tight assed Princess Diana having to deal with Misfit on a monthly basis?

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