13 February 2013

Faster than a DC Bullet: Birds of Prey, Part V: Sensei & Student

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2004 (contents: 2004)
Borrowed from the library
Read January 2013
Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student

Writer: Gail Simone
Pencillers: Ed Benes, Michael Golden, Joe Bennett, Cliff Richards
Inkers: Alex Lei, Ed Benes, Ruy Jose, Mike Manley, Scott Hanna, Michael Golden
Letterers: Jared K. Fletcher, Rob Leigh, Nick Napolitano

This cover indicates that Greg Land isn't even trying anymore; he'll just trace any old woman if they vaguely match what he's going for.

After the very Gotham-focused Of Like Minds, Sensei & Student sees a return to the globe-trotting antics of Chuck Dixon's Birds of Prey stories, though there are no third-world dictators here. Dinah "Black Canary" Lance travels to Hong Kong to pay homage to a dying master who trained her... only to discover that the assassin Lady Shiva was trained by the same master. (The two characters previously appeared together in Green Arrow Annual #1 back in 1989, though there was no such link between them then.) Black Canary and Lady Shiva must team up to find their sensei's killer-- which eventually brings them into contact with Cheshire, the supervillain Dinah once stranded in the distant past. This means lots of opportunities for Ed Benes to drawn cheesecake, of course, but it also means lots of opportunities for fun banter and interplay; the airplane flight is definitely the best part.

Meanwhile, in Gotham, Oracle and the Huntress are looking into a senator who appeared at the end of the previous volume, in a storyline whose complications and rationales always remained a little obscure to me. Also, they improbably conveniently dovetail with both Oracle's Hong Kong plot and a case never solved by the first Black Canary, which we get to see in flashback. (Which was awesome; I love any and all versions of the Black Canary, and the art on this story was certainly the best in the book.) There's some pretty creepy stuff when Oracle gets hacked, and then she gets captured (I feel like this happens a lot). In the end, the heroines win, of course, in a blockbuster final battle. Fun, if not entirely coherent.

The final issue takes a break from the superhero hijinks to show the Birds relaxing; I'd've found this a lot more charming if the art wasn't so anatomically distorted and just plain awkward. (The previous volume was 100% Ed Benes on pencils; this volume sees a number of fill-in artists, which shows that though I might not like Benes cheesecake, other people's cheesecake is a whole lot worse.) I'm not sure what I think of the ending of the plotline about Huntress and the guy who won a date from her. On one hand, she can sleep with whoever she wants. On another hand, this guy is pretty skeevy! On the final hand, it's hard to imagine Batman in this plotline, at least quite this way. The final page is excellent, though; probably the best in the whole book.

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