16 November 2016

Faster than a DC Bullet: Birds of Prey, Part XXI: A Clash of Daggers

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2013 (contents: 2012-13)
Borrowed from the library
Read June 2016
Birds of Prey, Volume 3: A Clash of Daggers

Writers: Duane Swierczynski, Gail Simone
Artists: Romano Molenaar, Vicente Cifuentes, Admira Wijaya, Daniel Sampere, Juan Jose Ryp
Letterers: Dezi Sienty, Dave Sharpe
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor

A Clash of Daggers opens with a standalone tale about Batgirl, Jim Gordon, Catwoman, and a leftover Talon from the Night of the Owls. It's a neat, character-driven story, where Batgirl, Catwoman, and the Talon, later given the name Strix, all have to learn to trust one another, making leaps of faith for their various own reasons: Catwoman allows herself to be arrested to delay the police so that Batgirl can take Strix in and help her reacclimate from being a tool of the Court of Owls.

But it's okay for Batgirl to be a roommate to a girl who's never known anything but killing?
from Batgirl Annual vol. 4 #1 (script by Gail Simone, art by Admira Wijaya & Daniel Sampere)

The next story must take place before that one, because the Birds, Batgirl included, are still recovering from Poison Ivy's toxin in Your Kiss Might Kill. Katana's sword is stolen by the Dagger clan, and the Birds accompany her to Japan to steal it back; they also bump into Condor, a sort of clumsy oaf of a superhero. Though the details of the Dagger plot kind of escaped me, this is one of Duane Swierczynski's better Birds of Prey tales: the girls work together as a team, Condor is fun, the banter is good, and Romano Molenaar and Vicentue Cifuentes turn in the best art the book has had in a long while.

No, it's okay, pick on Condor.
from Birds of Prey vol. 3 #14 (script by Duane Swierczynski, art by Romano Molenaar & Vicente Cifuentes)

The last story sees Strix joining the Birds as a replacement for the departed Katana as they track down a terrorist arms dealer. I don't really care for the subplot about Dinah's malfunctioning powers, but other than that this is a decent, solid tale-- not quite as good as the previous one, but still entertaining enough. It's amazing how much good a consistent art team goes, making the characters feel like real people. It's pretty action-heavy, though, so I hope what comes next can draw out the character dynamics of this constantly fluctuating team a little bit more clearly: I like Dinah, Batgirl, Ev Starling, and Condor, and am prepared to like Strix, but I don't think these birds have yet been allowed to soar.

I couldn't decide if I wanted to do the top half of the page (for some good Starling banter) or the bottom half of the page (for some good Black Canary/Condor banter), so I ended up not cropping it at all.
from Birds of Prey vol. 3 #16 (script by Duane Swierczynski, art by Romano Molenaar & Vicente Cifuentes)

Next Week: A new writer takes over when the Birds of Prey face The Cruelest Cut!

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