The Cruelest Cut
This is an important issue for Birds at least in my mind. Birds of Prey has been lousy for quite some time, but this last issue was good. It wasn't great, but it was good, and for Birds of Prey, that is a major step up, so I'm a little anxious. I would love to love what the new writer Christy Marx (current writer of Birds of Prey and Sword of Sorcery) is doing with the series, but I know that one good issue does not prove a writer's skills. However, two good issues in a row, though not conclusive, at least carries some weight.
Does Birds of Prey finally have some solid writing talent or does this issue just clip the Birds wings?
In this issue, the Birds face off against Starling and Mr. Freeze.
Justifying the Betrayal
Last issue revealed that Starling was the traitor working with Mr. Freeze which was not terribly surprising but still a little confusing. On one hand, it has been clear that Starling has loyalties apart from the Birds for quite some time. On the other hand, those loyalties seemed to be to Amanda Waller and perhaps her Suicide Squad not Victor Fries. Why has Starling decided to join forces with Freeze?
Her betrayal is explained in this issue, but it makes no sense. There is a very good chance that Starling might have another agenda which she has not yet revealed, but her stated motivation is that she knew Freeze from way back, he wanted vengeance, and she figured that it was all good as long as it hurt the Court of Owls. That sort of makes sense, but there is no reason to keep this agenda secret from the rest of the Birds. They would have gladly fought to stop the Court of their own volition, and considering the Birds were teamed with Poison Ivy for the first twelve issues of this series, it is not hard to imagine that they would work willingly with Freeze given the lay of the land from the get go. No, the whole scenario doesn't make sense, and even if Starling is playing a different con than stated, acquiring Mr. Freeze's healing formula on Waller's behalf for instance, it still seems like she should have come up with a better excuse.
Battle of the Betrayer
Thankfully, the fight scene was pretty satisfying. The action seems to have taken a much more thought out approach under Marx's writing. Rather than plot convenient things just happening, it seems like each player is acting in a character specific way, and the outcomes of the battles all track because of that. It is also well rendered by the art team to led by penciler Romano Molenaar. (current artist for Birds of Prey)
Unfortunately, the battle seems to drag on a bit. In fact, the battle pretty much lasts the whole issue. My only real criticism of the fight is that Black Canary waits around for quite some time being indecisive, and though I know that is a well established characteristic of her at least post-Flashpoint, it gets a bit tiresome.
(Spoilers) Another little detail that annoyed me was that Black Canary had plastique and thermite grenades, but she chose the wrong tool for the job of escaping the ice prison. Plastique is a powerful explosive that can be shaped to explode in certain directions or even cut out holes in walls if used properly. Grenades are a weapon designed to explode with concussive force in all directions. Thermite is an incredibly flammable compound which will burn at very hot temperatures once ignited. Instead of using the plastique which would explode in one direction, Canary chose the thermite which would explode in every direction bathing both herself and Condor in a painful coat of sticky fire. I'm guessing Marx consulted an expert but then failed to get all the details nailed down.
1. Black Canary and Batgirl working together to try and free Strix was clever. This is the more slow paced, intelligent action scene I mentioned earlier. Good work.
2. Condor bending bullets was pretty cool.
(Spoilers) 3. The appearance of Talon at the end was pretty cool though not entirely unexpected considering the next issue was solicited as costarring Calvin Rose. The timeline on this is important though. Something very big happened to Talon at the end of his last issue, and how that turns out might make this a very different version of the character. Sadly, Calvin is in shadows, so we cannot tell if his appearance has altered. This could happen before the events of Talon 7 or even during Talon 7 depending on how long this crossover takes.
Does Birds of Prey finally have a good writer in the driver's seat? Well, I'm still not ready to make that call, but I will say she is definitely more talented than the last driver. If you are a fan of Birds of Prey, you should consider buying this because it's a solid issue.
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