Or – “This Kind Of Awkward Conversation Actually Precedes MOST Marriages…”

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I remember right before my wedding, when my pal Bruce (of Otter Disaster infamy) took my aside, and shared with me words of wisdom that I will never forget. It was March 31st, and he looked me in the eye and said, “If at any point tomorrow you say the words ‘April Fools…’ I will KNOCK YOU OUT.” Serves me right for getting married on April 1st, I suppose. Still, I don’t have any problem getting restaurant reservations on my anniversary every year, so who gets the last laugh now, ey? Hah? Anyway, now that Tony Bedard is writing the ENTIRE DC UNIVERSE, he’s tying up a few threads, and since Birds of Prey has ties to the Batman family, to Apokalips, and to the upcoming nuptuals of the Chairperson of the JLA, there’s a few bits of business that need dealing with.

Previously, on Birds of Prey: Black Canary, the longest reigning member of Oracle’s underground strike team, traded lives with Lady Shiva, the most skilled assassin in the BP1.jpgworld. In so doing, she befriended and adopted a young girl called Sin, who was being groomed to the the new head assassin. Her new responsibilities caused her to give up her place on Oracle’s team, and Barbara Gordon reformatted her team to be a multi-member force headlined by The Huntress, Big Barda, and a rotating cast of heroes. Soon after, Black Canary became a founding member of the new Justice League, and Green Arrow shocked her with a wedding proposal. Even though Arrow has obviously cleaned up his act, Black Canary isn’t entire sure (at the time of the story, mind you, seeing as how the entire Black Canary miniseries that takes place in this issue’s future has already answered that question for us) that she’s interested. We start the story with a description of a first meet with G.A. but it’s not entirely what you expect. “God, was he cocky! The silly beard, the hat, the whole Errol Flynn schtick… He was like something out of a storybook Like the price you alway dreamed would sweep you off your feet someday…” Sounds like Dinah’s telling the familiar story of how she met Oliver, doesn’t it? Or it would, if Dinah were the one talking…

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We cut to Oracle and Black Canary having dinner together, just two women enjoying each others’ company and some nice wine. Yet, there’s an air here that isn’t quite what I expected, as Barbara continues laughing about her ‘cute meet’ without realizing that Black Canary isn’t laughting with her. A quick editor’s note (they’re back!) points out what we already know, that this story takes place BEFORE the B.C. miniseries… We now return to the awkward silence, already in progress.

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Dinah is absolutely stunned, and the expression on her face is a mix of anger, surprise and acknowledgment that Oracle may have a point. I love Nicola Scott’s work on this title, as all her characters are good “actors,” conveying so much information with only an eyebrow or lip position… We cut from two women enjoying their meal to two women enjoying a great deal more, as Scandal Savage and Knockout enjoy afterglow in a wrecked motel room. “Why do you insist on these roachtraps,” asks Scandal, “when I can afford so much better?” Knockout admits that it’s so she doesn’t have to hold anything back with their love-making, and suddenly I wonder what actually goes on in Female Fury college. “As long as I have you, Scandal, the rest of them can rot.” Her pillow talk is kind of touching, but Scandal’s response doesn’t garner the same response. “And I thought you were too busy getting beaten by Barda to notice.”

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Knockout stomps out of the room, wrecking the door, and kicking aside a police cruiser whose occupant came to check on the sounds of carnage from inside the motel room. She stalks into the night, ripping away her bandages and revealing that she has already healed. Across town, another former Fury does the same, unaware that her recent foe is seeking her out again.

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I have always loved Barda’s “relaxation clothes,” and I’m impressed at how easily Nicola Scott nails the Kirby designs. As Barda bids her husband goodbye, the Bird of Prey called Misfit teleports in, requesting her help with something. Turns out that Misfit, Oracle’s teen ward, has been asked to babysit Sin while their respective ‘big sisters’ talk about life, the universe, and Ollie Queen’s libido. Barda stares into the eyes of Sin for a few moments, taking her measure, and is stunned to find a ten year old Earth girl doing the same for her. The two warriors recognize the kindred of their souls, and Barda takes it upon herself to break the ice…

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Heh. I give Bedard credit for capturing the clever dialogue that was a staple of Gail Simone’s BoP… Oracle returns to the subject at hand, pointing out that Sin is the reason that Canary left the BoP in the first place, and that marrying Green Arrow could undermine that. When Black Canary admits that they’ve been staying in Star City, Green Arrow’s town, Oracle takes out her big guns. “He cheated on you, for Christ’s sake,” says Oracle, and I take back what I said about dialogue. Y’know… I’m not sensitive to that particular turn of phrase, but it doesn’t really ring true out of the mouth of the former Batgirl. Black Canary’s anger comes straight across the table at Oracle with this conversational topic.

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Okay… now I’m irritated. Connor Hawke’s mother is NOT Shado. Connor Hawke’s mother is a former college fling of Oliver Queen’s from decades ago… Normally, I might chalk that up to the CHARACTER misunderstanding the situation, but this is Oracle, the woman who knows most everything about most everyone in the DCU. While Barda and Sin continue playing Pokemon, they’re unaware of a mysterious presence watching from across the rooftops. He muses about why so many former Apokaliptians end up on Earth, but is suddenly cold-cocked by Knockout. She came looking for a rematch, and ended up finding the person who has been killing New Gods… and I’m horrified to say that, from the outline of the figure, it may be Fastbak. Seemingly supporting my thesis is the fact that Knockout recognizes her attacker, trying to flee, but only ending up in a worse position than before: dangling by her hair ten stories up.

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Knockout drops out of the sky like a whale, or a bowl of petunias, hitting the pavement with a horrible flat thump. Misfit is in motion immediately, teleporting to her side, only to find a blood mess, with a large hole burnt through K.O.’s ample chest. Meanwhile, inside, Black Canary finally explains to Oracle that she gets it. “As much as I think you’re being a bitch right now, I recognize tough-love.” Dinah explains that every single argument against marriage that could be made has already gone through her head, and while she hasn’t made her decision, she is at least aware of the dangers. “I don’t want to spend my life wondering why might’ve been, like you and Nightwing.” Ouch… that one hurt ME.

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As the core members hug, the rest of the Birds gather around the corpse of Knockout, and Barda desperately dials home, telling her husband (Mr. Miracle, for those who aren’t in the know) that she’ll be home immediately. The issue cliffhangs here, having achieved what it intended: advancing two of the overarching plots of the DC Universe moving into Final Crisis. As such, it feels a little bit stilted…

The art is beautiful as usual, and the change in writer isn’t as noticeable as some I’ve been forced to read, but the Barbara/Dinah dialogue has more than just a few moments where one of the women feels a little bit out of character, harsher than usual with her best friend. Add to that the glaring issue (to me, at least) of Connor’s dear old mutter, the fact that the decision that this issue dances about making has already been made in the just-ended Black Canary mini, and the fact that this issue doesn’t really advance the stories of the Birds at all, just setting up for a couple of impending giant crossovers, and I’m uncharacteristically unhappy with Birds of Prey. One of the most common complaints about DC right now is that EVERYTHING seems to be interrelated, forcing you to read a couple of dozen titles to get the entire story, and at least here, it seems a bit justified. It’s always weird when a new writer takes over a title you love, making you feel like you’re getting used to a new step-parent, and I’m sure some of that is coloring my reaction, but Birds of Prey #109 gets a disappointing 2 out of 5 stars from me. Odds are pretty good, though, that as long as next issue gets back to the actual characters, I’ll be back on board soon enough…

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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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15 Comments

  1. matt
    August 28, 2007 at 8:22 am — Reply

    Thanks for the Major Spoilers. It’s sad that a book that used to stand on its own so well is now being used to promote other projects. I guess it’s to be expected when a writer joins the team that is responsible for so much of the other Final Crisis tie-ins. Write what you know and all that. I may still have to pick up the issues for the Scott art though…

    From the silhouette on the rooftop, I’d say that’s more evidence for the Infinity-Man camp, not Fastbak. Note the ridge on the top of the helmet and the shoulder-pads.

  2. Sean Curley
    August 28, 2007 at 11:21 am — Reply

    I believe Bedard recently apologized on messageboards for making the mistake re: Shado (although you’d think an editor would have caught that).

  3. August 28, 2007 at 11:38 am — Reply

    From the silhouette on the rooftop, I’d say that’s more evidence for the Infinity-Man camp, not Fastbak. Note the ridge on the top of the helmet and the shoulder-pads.

    But why would the Infinity Man want to kill New Gods?

  4. August 28, 2007 at 12:13 pm — Reply

    But why would Infinity Man want to kill New Gods?

    Although, to my knowledge, only the Forever People have been able to summon up Infinity Man, I don’t recall it ever being stated that they where the ONLY ones that could do it. Maybe it is more like the Uni-Mind (from Marvel’s Eternals) and any group of New Gods could potentially call him forth.

    Originally, Infinity Man was in Limbo until he was called forth, then the Forever People would swap places with him. Maybe a he is sick of Limbo, and is trying to make sure that he can’t be sent back by any of the New Gods. Has anyone seen the Forever People lately (since the 7 Soilders cameo)?

    Sorry, rambleing again. Great review! I really like being able to keep up with all the books this way.

  5. Axel M. Gruner
    August 28, 2007 at 1:20 pm — Reply

    Since the multiverse changed… or got better… the nature of Limbo and the Infinity Man could have changed… maybe someone punched it real hard? :-)

  6. Brent F.
    August 28, 2007 at 3:17 pm — Reply

    Why is that you get irritated when Batman knows everything, but expect the same knowledge from Oracle? :P

  7. matt
    August 28, 2007 at 3:44 pm — Reply

    But why would the Infinity Man want to kill New Gods?

    Motivation and character changes have not been big concerns in the big two universes these past few years… . Who would have thought that Alex Luthor, Superboy Prime, and Golden Age Superman would be behind Infinite Crisis, or Iron Man and Captain America would be on opposing sides of a Civil War?

  8. nu
    August 28, 2007 at 5:43 pm — Reply

    going along with the whole, infinity man is the killer idea; yes he does resemble the outline but if you look at the cover for the death of the new gods infinity man is seen between orion and takion. i thake this as a sign that he is not the new god killer since it appears that everyone on the cover is looking a someone or something. i believe they are all looking at the killer.

  9. Brent F.
    August 28, 2007 at 7:32 pm — Reply

    Darkseid considered Infinity-Man a threat.

    If that doesn’t say something dangerous about him then I don’t know what will.

  10. nu
    August 28, 2007 at 10:11 pm — Reply

    i guess we could consider infinity man the “good” darkseid that everyone kept talking about. maybe his image on the cover is to throw us off, maybe…

  11. August 28, 2007 at 10:38 pm — Reply

    Read Jack Kirby’s Fourth World for a the identity of The Infinity Man and part of the reason (in my opinion) Darkseid considers him a threat. Not sure the exact issues, its been a while.

  12. August 29, 2007 at 12:02 am — Reply

    Why is that you get irritated when Batman knows everything, but expect the same knowledge from Oracle? :P

    Because Oracle is less of a cock-rocket about it…

    Read Jack Kirby’s Fourth World for a the identity of The Infinity Man and part of the reason (in my opinion) Darkseid considers him a threat. Not sure the exact issues, its been a while.

    The Infinity Man was the combined entity that came when the five Forever People (Mark Moonrider, Beautiful Dreamer, Serifan, Big Bear, and Vykin The Black) combined their essences with their Mother Box, and appeared mostly in Forever People. He is not to be confused with Legion of Super-Heroes villain The Infinite Man.

  13. nu
    August 29, 2007 at 1:21 am — Reply

    you should make a special exception for your hero histories and have a “hero histoy special: who is the new god killer?” then profile all of the likely suspects. their origins and powers, possible motive, and of course why they might be the killer (such as the shadowy outline) and reasons why they may not be the killer. for example so far i have heard darkseid, orion, black racer, infinity man, firestorm, martian manhunter, takion, alexander luthor, one of the supermans, waverider, a rouge monitor, and fastbak could all be the killer. some of these seem more likely than the others and some seem just crazy, but are they? also i think that the major spoiler site looks a lot better than most comic book sites, and most of those discussion boards are annoying. so maybe with all of the combined intellect here at major spoilers we might be able to figure out who the new god killer is, or just have fun speculating. and with this i will shut up for now. praise be to batman. amen.

  14. August 29, 2007 at 1:27 pm — Reply

    “a rouge monitor”?!? You mean, one of those fashion-challenged guys who watch over Universes has been assigned to make sure drag queens aren’t using too much blush? Hopefully, this is something which will be rectified in the Final Crisis. ; )

  15. Tremaine
    September 2, 2007 at 1:09 pm — Reply

    Uh, there can’t be 2 Mr. Miracle’s?’ cause Shilo is still in HIS MM costume….

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