Or – “A Chick Fight?  On The COVER?  Gail Simone, Wherefore Art Thou?”

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Lately in the DCU, I’ve seen a trend that I don’t really like.  Gail Simone left Birds of Prey in order to handle a higher profile book, Wonder Woman.  (In her defense, it’s apparently one of her dream gigs…)  Now, Sean McKeever has revealed that he’ll be leaving the title as well, to better concentrate on Teen Titans and higher profile gigs.  There’s no announcement as to who will take over the book when he leaves with #117, but I have to say that I’m disappointed with the seemingly cavalier way BoP is being treated, especially since it used to be among the best books that DC put out on a monthly basis…

BP1.jpgPreviously, on Birds of Prey: The Huntress has worked with Lady Blackhawk for several years now, our time (which means roughly 17 minutes in the DCU, if memory serves) but she was surprised to find that Miss Zinda has some surprising secrets.  Given that she’s a twenty-something woman who was sucked through a time vortex during the Zero Hour conflict, and was the original Lady Blackhawk in WW II, you might expect this is a bit disconcerting.  In any case, years ago, during her run with the ‘Hawks, Zinda (Lady Blackhawk’s real name, and isn’t it pretty?) was pretty routinely kidnapped by a jamoke who called himself Killer Shark, and drugged/hip-MO-tized into thinking she was his lover, Queen Killer Shark.  Zinda is, understandably, mighty pissed to find that Killer Shark seems to be back from the dead, and sets out with Huntress in tow to finally give him a little bit of his own medicine…

The story proper starts with Lady B and Huntress flying in low to approach K.S.’s island fortress, and Huntress a little bit unnerved by Zinda’s resolve.  (Bear in mind, this is a woman who has faced down the Batman…)  Their plane comes in low, and her mood is ruined even more by the battalion of heat-seeking missiles that flare up from the ground in welcome.  Zinda skims in low, then pulls up at the very last micro-second allowing the missiles to crash into a volcano.  “You’re smiling.  You’re insane!” screams Huntress, as a splatter of hot lava wrecks their rudder.  It’s a nice moment, and Nicola Scott’s extra-espressive art really sells Lady Blackhawk’s emotions, from anger to excitement to their inevitable crash in the ocean.

Meanwhile, back in Metropolis, we find Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe (the teen member of Oracle’s force known as Misfit) at the sight of a crater in Metropolis.  I honestly do NOT remember how the crater got there, but I think it has something to do with a transforming robot.  Misfit is angry that Oracle has dragged in Black Alice to serve as her mystic liason, and teleports back home to grouse.  Black Alice teleports in, having stolen Nightshade’s teleportation powers, and reveals that she’s not sure about the cause of the explosion since she’s now on medication for her mood swings…  I really don’t care for this plot point, as it reminds me too much of the “Willow is addicted to magic” lunacy from season six of Buffy…

Back at the island, Huntress and ‘Hawk kick free of the wreckage of their plane, and swim upwards using tiny rebreathers with only a few minutes of air.  Huntress is shocked to see Zinda swimming into a hidden alcove rather than up, her quest for vengeance on the Shark clouding her judgement.  Confused by her friend’s actions, Huntress is taken by surprise by a huge carnivorous fish (of some sort) and loses her air supply screaming from a bit.  Lady Blackhawk catches her, and swims up to safety, but Huntress isn’t breathing.  Zinda quickly applies CPR, but gets surprisedby Killer Shark, who doses her with a syringe (presumably full of rohypnol) before revealing himself to be the grandson of the original…  Zinda blacks out, and all seems lost.

Back at the Bird-cave, Oracle is working with Black Alice to try and capture the magic signature of whomever caused the explosion in Metropolis, and she almost nails it before and angry Misfit arrives, hurt and dejected, and obviously feeling replaced.  Y’know, a few words from Oracle would pretty much shut this whole thing down, but she starts to yell instead, causing Misfit to cry and scream some more, poking Black Alice in the chest.  They slap and poke for a moment in a cute scene, before Black Alice shoves Misfit back HARD, and steals Misfit’s OWN POWER!  (I can’t remember, did we actually know her powers were magic before this?  Meanwhile, back on Shark Island, Huntress awakens in the cave, shaking off her momentary death, shakes it off, and starts her skulking.  She traces the footprints down the hall to find Killer Shark, but is surprised to get punched from behind by…  Queen Killer Shark!  Dum DUM DAAAAH!!!! 

I don’t know what it is, but there’s an unquantifiable something missing from McKeever’s interpretation that Gail Simone brought so effortlessly.  I can’t help but think that Misfit’s tantrums would be easily handled if Oracle took a moment to TALK to the girl, and I don’t entirely know what to make of the uneasy camraderie between Huntress and Lady Blackhawk.  The art is beautiful, as always, but I feel like the story has let both the pictures and the readers down a bit…  To put it bluntly, I just ain’t feelin’ it.  Hopefully there’s a bang-up ending coming, or at least another writer on the horizon who can give the Birds back their shine.  With the whole issue feeling talky and directionless, Birds of Prey #115, unfortunately, earns a very disappointed 2 out 5 stars…

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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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5 Comments

  1. J'osh
    March 3, 2008 at 11:00 pm — Reply

    Actually Tony Bedard got announced didn’t he?

  2. March 3, 2008 at 11:49 pm — Reply

    Got me… Tony Bedard did the book between Simone and McKeever… Is he back on?

  3. J'osh
    March 4, 2008 at 12:23 am — Reply
  4. DrStrangeCubicle
    March 4, 2008 at 12:26 am — Reply

    Yeah, he starts fairly soon…#119 I think?

    I’d agree with your description of the issue. Scott’s artwork is magnificent, but the story was just unimpressive, and the Transformer in Metropolis story was lackluster at best as well.

  5. DrStrangeCubicle
    March 4, 2008 at 12:27 am — Reply

    Eh, I should have just googled first – he’s on with #118

    http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=145654

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