DC comics

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.

A stand-alone book which stars Catwoman and Batman. Not romantically.

Publication year: 1993
Format: print
Publisher: Warner Books
Page count: 196

Catwoman, Selina Kyle, must steal to survive. She doesn’t do it often and usually steals from local drug gangs, but she also has no qualms about it. Sometimes she runs into Batman but avoids him whenever she can. She lives with her cats in a small apartment, but is content in her life.

Rose is a local young woman who returns to meet the nuns who helps her away from a bad situation once. But when the nuns realize that Rose is afraid of cats, the contact Selina thinking that she will have a kitten which will sooth Rose. Unfortunately, when Selina shows up with a kitten, Rose is terrified of it. Selina’s curiosity is gets the better of her and she starts to investigate.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon warns Batman that a group of foreign people are buying and selling heavy armaments in Gotham. Higher ups are interested, and Gordon’s doesn’t want his own men getting caught in the middle. Batman promises to investigate, and the case seems to lead him to a very clever and manipulative man only known as the Connection. Along the way, Batman stumbles upon a man, Eddie Lobb, who collects illegal items made from tiger bones, skins, and other parts. Lobb believes that he will get the powers of a tiger spirit through them.

This story was written before various DC reboots which have changed Selina’s character quite a bit. This Selina isn’t a hero. Still, she definitely cares about not only cats but also wildlife: when she steals a lot of money, she donates most of it to Wilderness Warriors hoping they will do good with it. She doesn’t really care for other people; she’s definitely a loner with a tough past and inability to trust anyone. She doesn’t have any romantic thoughts about Batman; he is the vigilante who should be avoided. She doesn’t own much and prefers to live this way. It was interesting to see her get acquainted with a character who is pretty much the opposite of her and to work with that character. I also rather liked the nuns whose work was portrayed as an army against evil.

Lobb was a good villain for Selina. He’s ruthless and somewhat insane. Unfortunately, he’s just a lackey for the Connection. Even though the book’s description claims that the bat and the cat will team up that doesn’t happen. They almost have two separate storylines.

Collects Birds of Prey issues 62-68.

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Ed Benes, Alex Lei, Michael Golden, Joe Bennett, Cliff Richards, Ruy Jose, Mike Manley, Scott Hanna

The Black Canary’s martial arts sensei is dying, and she’s travelled to Hong Kong to meet him. However, at his side she finds another former student: Shiva. Shiva is the best assassin in this world, she’s merciless and competent. Dinah doesn’t like her at all. But they both care for the old sensei and so they agree to get to know each other, at least a little However, going out to eat and having a fight with one of the local gangs comes at a terrible price: Cheshire has poisoned and killed their teacher. So, Dinah and Shiva team up to get Cheshire. However, Cheshire reveals that she was set up, that someone else poisoned their sensei. Reluctantly, Dinah and Shiva agree to take Cheshire to Gotham where she will reveal who the real culprit is.

Meanwhile, Oracle is working with the JLA helping them find out where the criminals are holed up. Or trying to: she’s wrong every time. It turns out that her unhackable computers have been hacked. She turns to a group of mysterious computer wizards for help. However, they only advise her to abandon her place. She’s arrested and taken to a secret government facility.

I again enjoyed this comic: it has a lot of elements I enjoy. Both Dinah and Barbara are taken out of their respective comfort zones and yet, they’re able to rise to the challenge with flying colors. Dinah has to deal with both Shiva and Cheshire while Babs is taken away from her computers. Also, there are moments of humor which makes this comic so great. The last issue deals with the aftermath, when the Huntress joins the team. One issue is a flashback to the original Black Canary, Dinah’s mother, and while I’m a bit dubious about how it really fit in with the rest of the story, I enjoyed it a lot.

The villains return mostly from the previous arch. Again, they’re not my favorites but quite appropriate for BoP team. Both Dinah and Barbara dislike Helena and I really, really wish they wouldn’t constantly shame Helena for being sexually active. Also, the art continues to be rather inappropriate for the story. So many buttshots…
But still a very good read.

Collects Birds of Prey issues 12-21 and Nightwing 45-46 (1999-2000).

Writer: Chuck Dixon

Artist: Dick Giordano, Jordi Ensign, Patrick Zircher, Greg Land, Drew Geraci, Butch Guice, Jackson Guice

The collection starts with a bang, when Dinah is sneaking to a train guarded by heavily armored U. S. Marshalls. It turns out that they’re escorting supervillains and Oracle has been tipped off that someone is going to try to stop the train and get the villains. Also, Catwoman is on the train, too, which causes a misunderstanding between the Marshalls and Dinah. However, when a Boomtube brings the whole train to Apokolips, Dinah, the Marshalls, and Catwoman must combine forces to find a way out. Oracle is left behind. She contacts Power Girl but even Karen can’t follow Dinah to another planet. The story runs for three issues and we also find out who was the mysterious being who has manipulated Oracle lately.

In the next issue, a long-running subplot comes to an end when Barbara finally meets the person she’s been “seeing” on-line. The meeting takes place in a sci-fi convention which allows for a few gags. Meanwhile, Dinah finds out that her neighbor is in an abusive relationship and tries to intervene. On the background, news are talking about escalating conflict at the border Quarac and Karrocan emirate and in the final page we see a surprise envoy from that region who turns out to be none other than the Joker!

Perhaps not surprisingly, the next issue deals with the Joker and how he got involved in the foreign conflict. He also reveals to his interrogator that Quarac has armed missiles trained to New York.

In the next issue, Power Girl and the Black Canary try to destroy the missiles. However, some are launched and Oracle has to call in help from the US Government, in fact from the same people who are hunting her on-line. PG also reveals that she’s worked with Oracle before and that didn’t end well. Apparently, she’s still holds a grudge. This is an older version of PG without the infamous boob window and powers which come from Atlantean magic.

Next, Dinah is in Transbelvia, caught in an air raid. She and a group of locals are trapped on an underground station and she’s caught up between the two local groups of people who have different languages and customs, and a long-running and deep-seated hatred towards each other. While this is a serious and deserving issue, the story felt unconnected with the rest of the storyline.

In the next issue, Barbara is hanging out with the men in her life. Robin (Tim Drake although Barbara doesn’t know his identity) is helping her to wire her new VR room where she intends to train herself again for the field. Dick comes calling and soon both Ted Kord and Jason Bard come along, too. Meanwhile, Dinah is working in Hasaragua to stop an arms deal.

Then the longest storyline in the series starts. It’s a cross-over with Nightwing. Oracle has been stealing her funds from a Gotham crime boss Blockbuster and now he’s determined to find out and eliminate Oracle. His cronies Lady Vic and Brutale have ambushed the Black Canary in Hasaragua. He’s also captured Nightwing and his strange sidekick Tad and is torturing Dick for any information about Oracle. Meanwhile, Oracle is on the run. Blockbuster’s hired computer experts Giz and the Mouse are tracking her down.

This collection ends in a huge cliffhanger and it seems that the rest of the issues haven’t been collected (yet?). For the most part these were fun, action-packed issues but the abrupt ending is, of course, a disappointment when there’s no follow-up collection. So next I’m going to move to Gail Simone’s collected run.

Since the Joker is the one who shot Barbara and put her into the wheelchair, some sort of confrontation between them was inevitable. But this didn’t bring any closure. Of course, I didn’t expect Barbara to kill him or anything but… somehow the personal level just didn’t come through. Then again maybe I was expecting too much considering that both characters’ lives must continue the same.

Collects Birds of Prey issues 1-11 and Birds of Prey: Ravens 1 (from 1998).

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Greg Land, Drew Geraci, Nelson DeCastro, Peter Krause,

The first Birds of Prey run collected! The teamwork of Oracle and the Black Canary strengthens and so does their friendship, even though Dinah still doesn’t know who Oracle is.

In the first three issues Oracle sends Dinah to the small, tropical island of Rheelasia. The local warlord was deposed, and other men are trying to usurp his former position. Oracle has noticed that the place is attracting the scum of the world and sends Dinah there to sort things out. However, Dinah stumbles upon a very nasty man and his slave ring. She also stumbles upon Jason Bard, Oracle’s former fiancé. They’re captured together, and Dinah has to use all of her skills and ingenuity to get them free.

Next, we’re introduced to the Ravens, a group of bloodthirsty female mercenaries lead by Cheshire who is planning to betray her group right from the start. The four women are going after a huge bomb and not to disarm it, but to use it for themselves. At first, this seemed rather strange, and quite bloody, interlude but the Ravens are in the next storyline, too.

Then we return to the regular Birds of Prey. Dinah is taking a vacation at Lake Mackachithoo. Unfortunately for her, international crime syndicate Kobra has employed the three remaining Ravens to retrieve something for them at the same place. Also, the locals think that there’s a monster in the lake. This was good fun with time-travel to boot!

Then we have a couple of one-shot issues. First, Oracle sends Dinah to free a general from lynching. He’s a war criminal. Oracle wants him to get a fair trial which he isn’t likely to get without Dinah’s help. Dinah is, understandably, less than thrilled about her mission and the general. But she does her best.

Next one-shot guest-stars Nightwing when Dick and Barbara have a night out and go to a circus. They discuss their various lives and possibly maybe getting together again, but Babs doesn’t want that. (Too bad. While I’m always team Dick and Kory, Dick and Babs are very cute together, too.)

In the final storyline, Oracle sends Dinah to Koroscova to free a man who has been imprisoned unjustly. Unfortunately, that turns out to be a ruse by the Kobra Prime. Guest-starring Joe Gardner, Guy Gardner’s alien clone!

While all this is happening, Oracle is texting with someone on the internet and some (else?) is watching her through cameras. The latter was rather creepy but ended well. Also, she’s hacking a lot into the US government computers and using their satellites. This doesn’t go unnoticed and a team of US hackers assemble to take her down.

This was a fun read even though it touches on more somber stuff, like slavers and international human rights violations. Dinah and Oracle have their own battles. Oracle supports Dinah as much as she can but when the jewelry through which Oracle communicates is removed, Dinah is on her own. Of course, since Barbara refused to tell Dinah who she is, she’s also on her own.

Even though Greg Land is these days doing rather pornographic and/or blandly generic art, here he’s still better, rougher and more individual. Still, there’s a lot of cheesecake especially in the first storyline where we have Dinah running around in just a couple of skimpy, tattered rags. Then again, in the Ravens storyline, most of them have costumes that cover them completely! However, the way that the Ravens ended up stranded in time was really strange. Maybe they got their own comic with time travel adventures? I don’t know.

Collects issues 1-18 of the digital comics.

Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artists: Marguerite Sauvage, Laura Braga, Stephen Mooney, Ted Naifeh, Garry Brown, Bilquis Evely, Mirka Andolfo, Ming Doyle, Sandy Jarrell, M. L. Sanapo, Marc Deering

This is an alternate history story where the world is still embroiled in WW II. Many men are off in the war and so women have taken up their roles. The majority of heroes (and villains) in this story are women, reimagined into 1940.

Gotham is defended from muggers by Batwoman who is billionaire Kate Kane who lives with her lover detective Maggie Sawyer. Then commander Amanda Waller recruits her for the war effort. The Batwoman goes undercover in Berlin.

Meanwhile, near Greek coast Steve Trevor is fighting Nazi warplanes. He sees a group of women attacking all planes and his fighter goes down. The Amazons take him prisoner but their Princess Diana is interested in the news Steve brings from the outside world: of a great war where millions of people are being killed. The Amazons aren’t interested in the war and indeed their queen is going to execute Steve. But Diana together with her friend Princess Meru from Atlantis free Steve. They want to help fight the Nazis.

In Russia, Kara Starikov and Kortni Duginovna are part of the Russian female elite pilots, the Night Witches. However, on their first mission, Kara’s plane is destroyed and she’s forced to show her great powers. The Russians take her prisoner. In exchange for the lives of their parents, the girls agree to become figureheads for the Motherland: Supergirl and Stargirl.

In Berlin, Joker’s Daughter and Zatanna are preparing to bring about something monstrous to help the Nazis.

This is a very interesting reimagining, with many, many female characters. Big Barda is part of Waller’s organization. However, the story has lots of storylines, which makes it a bit fragmented. However, I’m sure all the storylines will join near the end. Personally, I would have liked to know the characters more and more about the world. Now we get quite short scenes with each character focusing heavily on the plot.

Zatanna is an interesting, conflicted character. She’s the daughter of a Jew and a Romani. So, Joker’s Daughter is essentially blackmailing her into working at the club and with the magic. Meanwhile, Diana, Mera, Kara, and the rest are very straightforward heroic people.
Despite having lots of artists, their styles actually seem pretty similar, so I didn’t have a problem with the art.

This is loads of fun! The only section that didn’t work for me was the Harley Quinn one, others I quite enjoyed, even if the art is rather cheesecakey.

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