DC comics

Collects BoP issues 109-112, 118.

Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Nicola Scott, Doug Hazlewood, Jason Orfalas, David Cole

This collects Bedard’s first issues. It’s a collection of stand-alone stories.

In the first issue, Barbara and Dinah talk about the Green Arrow. Oliver has proposed to Dinah and Babs is trying to stop Dinah from making a huge mistake.
Meanwhile, Big Barda is learning to play… Pokemon! In a far more serious note, the Death of New Gods event starts to roll along, and the first casualty is Knockout. We see her with her girlfriend and then she’s dead.

The second issue focuses on Helena. The Huntress is working while Oracle is trying to persuade her to take another, very urgent job. This creates a very familiar contrast where Helena and Barbara talk about various things (in this case, about other members of the BoP and why they aren’t suitable for the job) while Helena takes down a group of men who have hijacked a school bus.

In the third issue the Calculator reappears. He goes to a computer con looking for info that will tell him who Oracle is. Barbara is at the came con with her own mission.

In the next issue, the Death of New Gods continues and this time Big Barda has died. The team goes to her funeral while Lady Blackhawk gives her own wake in a bar. However, two of Calculator’s goons are after her and she ends up hijacking a taxi (sort of) and driving almost across the country.

The final issue is 118 which appeared originally after the next collection (Metropolis or Dust) and it shows. Oracle and her team are now in California instead of Metropolis and apparently Misfit has been missing for a while. Also, a new character Black Alice appears and she already hates Misfit. In this story, they’re both captives in a fight ring which is lead by a metahuman who has some serious help from Darkseid’s minions. Granny Goodness has drugged Misfit and the other fighters so that they won’t use their powers to escape but to fight each other. Fortunately, Black Alice’s own medication seems to be working against the drug.

Unfortunately, she hates Misfit but has to convince her to use her teleporting powers to escape.

These are ok stories but nothing special. I don’t think I’ve ever read the Death of New Gods story so it’s pretty baffling to see the characters murdered, especially since I rather enjoyed Mr. Miracle in Big Barda in JLA and Birds. Still, I think Bedard has a good handle on the characters. Especially the interplay between Helena and Barbara in the second issue was great.


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.

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.

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