When the break-in to Junior’s HQ goes awry, the Huntress and the Question are called upon to save the day.
Previously in Birds of Prey: To the outside world, Oracle is no more. Yet the Birds of Prey (and, in fact, Oracle) live on, continuing their efforts to bring criminals to justice. Black Canary, Lady Blackhawk, Hawk and Dove have infiltrated the headquarters of a mysterious off-the-grid crime boss, who turned out to be Ragdoll’s evil sister, Junior. As plot would have it, the mission goes poorly, and a team of Renee Montoya and the Huntress are forced to go rescue them, action-movie-hero style.
Gail Simone is listed amongst my favorite writers for a reason: She consistently delivers quality dialogue and an intriguing story. Yet in this issue I feel she falls into a minor pitfall that many authors do–making a minor villain who has had little to no impact on the DCU somehow able to take down major heroes without some explanation why. Junior is a Gail-created character, and as such it’s understandable she has an affinity for the character. But the idea that Junior–who has no discernible superpowers other than extreme creepiness, and triple-jointedness–wouldn’t be completely destroyed by a Justice League-level fighter like Black Canary is absurd. Gail does touch on this slightly, having Barbara demote Canary from field leader of the Birds and appoint Huntress in her stead (a fine choice; I love how much Helena has grown under Gail’s care). The reason given is Canary not being the same, and not having her head in the game after her divorce from Green Arrow (note: an official divorce never occurred; Dinah just gave him back the ring. As a diehard Ollie/Dinah shipper, I’m still holding out hope they’ll get back together… Maybe with this relaunch).
Besides the “main” story featuring the attack on Junior’s tower, there’s a side plot with Huntress and The Question happening that ultimately coincides with the defeat of Junior. The interaction between Huntress and The Question is hilarious, and really showcases the clever banter that Gail writes so well. The pacing between the goings-on at Junior’s tower and the Huntress/Question plot is masterfully done, as Gail gracefully leaps back and forth between perspectives. From the cover of issue 12 there was an action movie ambiance surrounding the arc, and that is really driven home by these deft scene changes. Adding to that are a couple “heck yeah” action moments, as when Huntress does her whole “save the day and be a boss” schtick, and Hawk… hawks out.
Gail’s writing is great as always, a solid 4.5 stars.
According to the DC Comics website, the art on this issue was supposed to be done by Jesus Saiz. In the actual issue, it is credited to Diego Olmos. The change is noticeable from page one; Olmos’ lines just aren’t that crisp, and while his art isn’t necessarily bad, it detracts from the whole action movie feel that the pacing and writing of the book capture. Saiz did the cover, which is gorgeous and action packed. Olmos’ rendition of Zinda Blake was especially poor; I didn’t even recognize her until she said her name.
The inconsistency of the artists has been Birds of Prey’s biggest weakness as a series; Gail Simone’s writing is always spectacular, but the series hasn’t been able to settle into a steady groove with the ever-shifting artists. When Ed Benes started out on the series I was extremely excited, but since he left the art has been up and down. Jesus Saiz had a lot of promise, and he’s going to be the artist post-relaunch, but if he couldn’t even do two issues in a row for BoP now, I don’t know if I trust him on the pencils come September. Overall I give Olmos’ pencils 2 stars.
BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT
This is Gail Simone’s last issue of Birds of Prey for the foreseeable future; the next two issues will be written by Marc Andreyko, and penciled by Billy Tucci (who I got a gorgeous Green Arrow / Black Canary print from at C2E2), and after the relaunch it will be Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz.
Overall I’d give the book 3.5 stars; the two scores average to 3.25, but Gail’s Question-related jokes give it that extra push it needs to round up. I bought it, and you should too!