Or, “From Giant Transforming Mafia Princess To Magic Hockey Stigmatism Geeks…”

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Is it just me, or does Manhunter look remarkably like she’s telling that mysterious figure to knock off the bad Tor Johnson impersonation?  “Would you please just get me my Pina Colada with an umbrella in it, please?  Ed Wood is dead and I don’t feel so great myself, dangit!”  Still, this issue heralds the return of Kate Spencer, Manhunter, to the ranks of the Birds of Prey, while another operative makes her graduation to the big leagues and Oracle has to evaluate her strategies…  What are you waiting for?  Click the link, wouldjas?

BP1.jpgPreviously, on Birds of Prey:  Barbara Gordon has been through a lot lately.  Her preferred operative/best friend Black Canary has left the BoP fold, while the ranks of her agents have been slowly culled, with Big Barda murdered, Judomaster inducted into the JSA, (assuming it’s even the same Judomaster) and Lady Blackhawk and the Huntress off jumping a shark.  When a teenage drama queen called Tabby goes nuts, and uses her very own Optimus Prime knockoff to destroy a portion of Metropolis, Superman steps in and shakes Oracle to her very core, opining that she’s not the woman he used to know, and that perhaps she isn’t even a hero anymore.  Babs has tried desperately to keep MIsfit (a teenage teleporter that she’s essentially adopted) out of the line of fire, with limited success, but last issue, Barbara recruited another teenage girl, Black Alice to help with a mystical investigation.  This led to recriminations, whining, and Black Alice stealing MIsfit’s powers (which, by the way, is the first indication that Misfit is powered by magic) but also led to the desert town of Platinum Flats, a city with no native superhero presence…

We start with an annoyed Kate Spencer leaving a hockety game in Platinum Flats, peevishly calling Oracle on her cell, and telling her that this gambit simply won’t work.  Oracle asks if she has a better idea, only to find that Manhunter’s luck is running true to form: she is attacked by three metahuman schmucks.  As a lizardman pins her down and threatens to eat her, Oracle changes her mind, and cries for Misfit to go.  The purveyor of Dark Vengeance doesn’t get it at first, until Barbara yells “GO HELP KATE!”  Seconds later, Misfit is in Platinum Flatstaking on the threat of Tuatara, the Gangly Man, and Mind-Bullet.  (That’s telekinesis, Kyle!”  Gangly Man tries to strangle Manhunter with his legs (I think I dated his sister once) but MIsfit’s presence turns the tide for the BoP… at least until Tuatara bites her and drops her like a bad habit.

Oracle starts to hit the panic button, and call in more superhero guns, but realizes that she’s second-guessing herself.  “You’re letting Superman run the show,” she thinks, pulling up her various satellites and linking into the networks.  “Got two spy satellites on you jerkfaces.  Nowhere to run.”  She tracks them (easily!) to their lair, linking into the network, only to find a hand reaching out of  her computer.  Babs takes a hard drop out of her wheelchair, as her quarry realizes who’s after him, back in Platinum Flats.  Marvelling that Oracle is really real, the magic hacker laughs, as we see the rest of P. Flats superhumans, including a couple of curvy brick-types called Topaz and Diamond, and a natty dresser called Visionary.  He tells the captive Manhunter that he’s going to show her terror like she’s never imagined, but she laughs. “So you know, I’ve already BEEN married.”  Heh. Visionary enters her mind, and leaves her screaming in terror, but is shocked to leave the room and find Misfit standing over a fallen lizardman.  “FEEL that justice!” she cries, and leaps into action, teleporting back and forth, taking out all the idiots with her cry of “DARRRRRK VENNNGEANNNNCE!”  I love Misfit…

Diamond and Topaz overpower her for a moment, only to watch in horror as the doors blow open, and in rush Huntress and Lady Blackhawk.  Staring down the barrels of twin automatics and a crossbow that will penetrate steel, the villains choose the better part of valor and run like hell.  “You’re my favorite hero,” murmurs MIsfit to Huntress, as a horrified Lady B. finds the traumatized Manhunter.  The villains get away, and we jump forward TWO WEEKS to find Manhunter only now coming to consciousness from the horror of what Visionary showed her.  Barbara lets the other shoe drop, explaining that Metropolis is Supey’s turf, and that she’s moving her operations here, to Platinum Flats, and that they’re all welcome to join her…  The Birds stare in disbelief, and we cut away to Arthur the magickal hacker, drawing something through from the hoary neitherworld.  “We haven’t actually met,” says a mysterious voice, “I’m Tabby.”  Wuh-oh!  That can’t be good.

Sean McKeever really gets the voice of Oracle and her agents down this issue, evoking the long-lost Gail Simone era of greatness, giving us a nice taut story with some good plot points, and the revelation that Misfit is tough enough to be an official BoP herself.  The art by Nicola Scott is awesome, as always, with wonderful facial expressions throughout (especially the pure horror in Manhunter’s eyes when her mind is violated) and telling a clear story throughout.  The design of Platinum Flats is interesting as well, giving us a whole new imaginary DCU city to play with, and the overall package is worth 3.5 out of 5 stars.  After some rocky months, Bird of Prey is once again showing signs of the brilliance that made it one of DC’s most consistently entertaining reads.  Nice work, all around… 

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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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