23 November 2016

Faster than a DC Bullet: Birds of Prey, Part XXII: The Cruelest Cut

Another pair of USF Torchwood reviews, featuring my two favorite recurring characters: PC Andy in Ghost Mission and Suzie Costello in Moving Target.

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2014 (contents: 2013-14)
Borrowed from the library
Read July 2016
Birds of Prey, Volume 4: The Cruelest Cut

Writers: Christy Marx, James Tynion IV
Artists: Romano Molenaar, Jonathan Glapion, Vicente Cifuentes, Julio Ferreira, Scott McDaniel, Graham Nolan, Miguel Sepulveda, Robson Rocha, Sandu Florea, Oclair Albert
Colorists: Chris Sotomayor, Rain Beredo
Letterers: Taylor Esposito, Dave Sharpe, Travis Lanham

This volume of Birds of Prey sees a new writer and the beginnings of a new direction, opening with a story about yet another team member leaving. This is the third volume in a row to feature a departure of an original team member; the lack of a stable dynamic is getting annoying. What's even more annoying is that it's completely terrible: Ev Starling, who has been a mainstay of this version of the team since Day One (her and Dinah were the original members), turns out to be a criminal working for Mr. Freeze. Like, lol, what? The last volume had hinted at some kind of conflict between Starling and Dinah-- but based on Starling secretly working for the government, not a criminal! It comes out of nowhere, removes the most fun presence on the team (at this point, Batgirl is pretty dour, Dinah is way too much into self-doubt, and Strix is silent), and is completely out of character.

Surely an incredibly implausible con, too, yeah? Starling had to help Black Canary fight crime for months or years so that some day she could be in position to help Mr. Freeze recover his freezing technology from the Court of Owls? Lucky for her that a Talon joined the team! Also does she really have to be such a jerk about it? Show some remorse!
from Birds of Prey vol. 3 #20 (script by Christy Marx, art by Romano Molenaar & Jonathan Glapion)

This is followed by a story where another ex-Talon (apparently the star of another DC book, one called Talon) shows up to fight Strix. I wish I had ever read Court of Owls or even gave a shit about Talons, because Birds of Prey is super-invested in them for some reason. This story isn't complete within Birds of Prey, but continues into an issue of Talon, which is included here. Kudos to DC for including that issue, but they really should have just included the first eight pages, because the rest of it is the most boring nonsense about our angsty hero going to Santa Prisca to fight Bane while his wife rots in a Court of Owls prison. Blah blah blah, who cares.

Like, who are these people? No one even pauses to explain it.
from Talon #9 (script by James Tynion IV, art by Graham Nolan & Miguel Sepulveda)

Other things I don't care about: Black Canary and Condor are apparently into each other now. There has been some flirtation previously, but all of a sudden it's a big kiss and drama, and it's too much and too overplayed:
C'mon, as soon you kiss a dude in a book like this, you know he's gonna betray you!
from Birds of Prey vol. 3 #22 (script by Christy Marx, art by Romano Molenaar & Robson Rocha, Scott McDaniel, and Jonathan Glapion & Sandu Florea)

And it weakens Dinah's character, because now she's mooning over two men, and all her moaning about Kurt (who died three or five years ago!) was bad enough. But of course this is all just set-up for the melodrama to come, because it turns out that 1) Condor used to work for Basilisk, the terrorist organization the Birds have been fighting and 2) Basilisk has Kurt Lance! Nope, I still don't care. Perhaps if Team 7 had done a better job of selling the Kurt/Dinah relationship, and if I cared at all about the Dinah/Condor relationship, but neither of these things really moves me, and so neither does a story built entirely upon them.

Shame neither of these code names WERE EVER USED in Team 7.
from Birds of Prey vol. 3 #19 (script by Christy Marx, art by Romano Molenaar and Vicente Cifuentes & Julio Ferreira)

I was kind of regretting having read Team 7, but The Cruelest Cut draws on it a fair amount, so I guess my suffering wasn't without purpose. Well, sort of. This book does contain a flashback to Dinah meeting Kurt for the first time-- which has them meeting when Dinah and Amanda Waller were transferred to Team 7 together. Which totally contradicts what actually happened in Team 7, where Dinah and Kurt had a well-established relationship when Lynch recruited them to Team 7, and then they're the ones who bring Waller in! Like seriously, if you're going to reference another book, then maybe actually read it? Then, at the end of this book, the bad guy behind Basilisk is revealed as Regulus, who is Kaizen Gamorra, the big bad from Team 7, merged with Dean Higgins, a member of Team 7 I do not even remember despite having read the book a month ago. This book doesn't do a whole lot to explain the backstory of Gamorra, so I guess it's helpful to read Team 7, but it's not that helpful since I still didn't follow a lot of what was said.

I guess what I'm saying is that there's not a lot to care about in Birds of Prey these days.

Next Week: At last, the end comes. The team breaks up in Soul Crisis!

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