birds of prey

Collects Birds of Prey issues 104-108. Simone’s final arch!

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Nicola Scott, Doug Hazlewood

Birds of Prey versus Sinister Six!

In the previous collection the Spy Smasher managed to blackmail Oracle, and her expanded team, to work for her and now she’s sent the team to Russia to retrieve (steal) a prototype of a new Rocket Red suit. A Russian general nicknamed “The Butcher” is about to get his hands on the improved weapon and Spy Smasher can’t have that. Unfortunately, the Butcher has hired a villainous group of mercenaries to watch his back. And, no surprise there, the Spy Smasher isn’t telling the team everything she knows.

Also, the collection builds towards a showdown between the Spy Smasher and Oracle. The Smasher used to be Barbara’s friend/worst rival in university and they haven’t seen eye to eye since then.

In the previous collection, Dinah quit the team. Now, the Birds of Prey consist of Huntress (as the team leader), Big Barda, Hawkgirl, and Manhunter. Also, a teleporting teenager Misfit appears quite often, despite Oracle’s wishes. Lady Blackhawk is still the team pilot.

This was a fun, very action-oriented collection set in Russia. It’s starts with a great gala scene where the team is undercover, only to be spotted by the Sinister Six, also undercover. Thing escalate from there. Huntress flirts a little with Catman while Barda and Knockout pummel each other.

We also get a bit of mystical mumbo-jumbo but not enough to be really annoying. The best parts are, again, the characters. Barbara’s rivalry with the Spy Smasher. Barda vs. Knockout. Harley Quinn is part of the Sinister Six line-up and pretty funny. We also find out Misfit’s past. The final issue gathers most of the previous and current cast which was great.

A strong ending for Simone’s run.

Collects Birds of Prey issues 86-90, 92-95.

Writer: Gail Simone

Artists: Adriana Melo, Will Conrad, Bruce Timm, David Lopez, Fernando Blanco, Joe Bennett, Jack Jadson, Eddy Barrows, Robin Riggs, Paulo Sigueira, Adam Dekraker, Joe Prado, Dick Giordano

This trade includes the Infinite Crisis event during which the comic skips a year ahead. That happens in the middle of the trade which was kind of jarring.

The first issue has three shorter stories with Babs getting out of hospital and getting a party, Dinah fighting a supervillain in Metropolis, and Helena using her mob background to protect one of her students and his family.

In the next couple of issues, Helena starts to infiltrate the Gotham mob. Namely, her father’s mob the Bertinelli family. To start things, she takes Creote (the Russian muscle, and lover of, Savant), Dinah, and Lady Blackhawk and they head to Istanbul to shake up the people who supply stuff for the other Gotham mob families. Meanwhile the Calculator is trying to find out who Oracle is and kidnaps Savant. They torture him for a couple of days before the ladies and Creote realize that he’s gone.

Batman appears and shows his complete lack of trust in Helena by demanding the Oracle and her team stay out of Gotham. However, Oracle sticks with Helena’s plan. Barbara also tells her father that she’s Oracle and used to be Batgirl.

Then the comic skips one year ahead.

The Crime Doctor wants to defect from the Crime Syndicate to the good guys. Oracle tries to help him, despite the fact that he’s a serial killer and psychopath. He’s willing to reveal the secrets of the Syndicate to her, after all. Helena, lady Blackhawk, and lady Shiva are protecting him from a bunch of super criminals. But the Doctor also has a young daughter whom he wants to be safe.

Meanwhile, Dinah is in Vietnam. She’s deep in jungle and is handed over to an old, very stern woman called Mother for training. We find out that Dinah has agreed to exchange experiences with Shiva, so Shiva is now part of BoP while Dinah is trained really hard.

I liked almost all of the storylines in the trade. Helena dealing with the mobsters fits really well for her character and it was nice seeing that Barbara finally trusts her. However, I wasn’t too wild about yet another story about people trying to find out who Oracle is. Of course, Savant kidnapped and tortured was a really ironic reversal and his ultimate loyalty to Babs was actually touching.

The Crime Doctor story was nice and pitted BoP against a variety of supervillains, which was a nice change of pace for them. However, the Dinah/Shiva story was much more interesting. It really brought out Dinah’s character. The ending was fitting to both characters.

This was another enjoyable collection. Of course, the jump in time in the middle of things was jarring but I liked the stories after it better. Oh yes, Gypsy appears. I wasn’t familiar with her beforehand and she wasn’t really introduced much. Also, the art of the second half has thankfully less cheesecake than before. Shiva keeps her cloths on and zipped up. I think the biggest cheesecake is Lady Blackhawk’s teeny tiny skirt. Maybe DC was finally getting the note that these are awesome women, not just a chance to draw as much tits and ass as possible. Dinah gets awesome fight scenes, first against Deathstroke and then in the Vietnamize jungle.

Collects Birds of Prey issues 69-75

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Ed Benes, Ron Adrian, Jim Fern, Eduardo Baretto, Eric Battle, Rob Lea, Steve Biro, Andrew Bepoy, Rodney Ramos

This collection has one main storyline and a couple of more stand-alone issues at the end.

Three teenagers have killed themselves wearing the costumes of dead superheroes and Oracle is convinced that they’ve actually been murdered. She sends Huntress to Oregon to a cult with a charismatic leader. His followers seem hate women and Huntress is almost immediately captured and brought to the cult’s farm. Meanwhile, Dinah questions the parents of the dead kids. Only one of them agrees to talk to her and it seems that the kid was a part of the cult and the cult had been blackmailing her parents. When they couldn’t pay any more, the cult persuaded the kid to kill herself.

Helena investigates the cult from the inside. She even has a supposed ally: Vixen. Unfortunately, the cult has brainwashed Vixen, too. At the same time, Barbara has to confront another sort of threat.

Meanwhile, Oracle is trying to rehabilitate Savant and his friend Creoto. She gives them an apartment on a run-down part of Gotham and orders him to fix it, without killing anyone.

In the next to last issue, Dinah confronts Savant. He did ambush her and break her legs, after all, so she has to do it. The final issue seems to be an aftermath to a Batman story. In it, Barbara had to blow up the clocktower which has been her headquarters and home for years. She takes the Birds of Prey out of Gotham and into a plane which is piloted by Lady Blackhawk. At the end, there’s a shorter story about Lady Blackhawk.

Once again, this is very entertaining stuff. Dinah and Barbara are very clearly good friends and they need that bond against a common enemy. Helena is more “rough around the edges” as Babs says. Her faith is questioned in this story and she gets to kick ass a lot. She’s clearly still the outsider in the team, though. But even Dinah is more accepting of her and they bond a little when they infiltrate a gathering of various supervillains’ minions.

The only bad point, really, is the cheesecake art with gratuitous butt shots on pretty much every page.