Tuesday, October 1, 2013

BIRDS OF PREY #11 (New 52)

I don't care enough to write a meaningful intro to this comic.  Let's get into it already.

Birds of Prey #11: "Tangled Up Inside" was written by Duane Swierczynski with art by Travel Foreman and Timothy Greene, inks by Jeff Huet and Joseph Silver, and colors by Gabe Eltaeb.  The manga-infused cover, complete with tentacles, was provided by Stanley Lau.

The issue opens in a corporate boardroom in Dubai, where the CEO of some unscrupulous wants the company to make money with deep core fracking, environmental concerns be damned!

Can you guess who has a problem with that?

I think a ficus would have been easier, but that's me.
The story cuts back to where we left off in issue #10, which is a week earlier than the scene in Dubai.  The Birds and Starling's drug smuggling buddy, Leyden, are on the run in the Amazon rainforest.  They're bringing Poison Ivy to a laboratory to save her, while some conspicuous plant monster creatures chase them.  An important point that I'm not sure I made last week is that each one of the ladies was pricked by the plant creatures, although there didn't seem to be any immediate effects (foreshadowing!).

Last issue, it seemed the Birds escaped from the monsters thanks to Black Canary's newfound powers of flight and Starling's timely detonation of plastic explosives.  Also, there were a lot of heatseeking missiles blowing $#@% up that never got explained.  Anyway, once inside the facility, it appears the plant monsters are still a threat.

At this point, Swierczynski realizes that this Leyden character should have been killed off in the helicopter crash last time, and conveniently eliminates him.  I know that the plant monsters snap his neck because Starling says, "Oh, God! It's snapped his neck!"  That word balloon was useful, because from the panel above it, I thought Katana killed him with her soulsword.  Either way, she doesn't sound terribly upset by his passing.

What the--when did Etta Candy join the team?
I don't often criticize artists because it's so subjective.  There are very popular and critically acclaimed artists whose styles I don't prefer.  What's more, I greatly enjoyed Travel Foreman's work on Animal Man.  But the above depiction of Black Canary… I'm not sure if Foreman or Green drew that but they need a redo.  Seriously, I get that women in superhero comics are already over-sexualized, but Black Canary is supposed to be sexy!  I shouldn't look at Dinah and think of Eric Cartman shouting BEEFCAKE!

The ladies get Poison Ivy down to the lab's greenhouse while she explains that the plant monsters are a genetically created organism called the Perennial.  She finally explains her New 52 costume and power change is the result of a specially created bio-suit.

Wait, she accuses Batgirl of not noticing her increased power levels because they encountered each other before Birds of Prey #1.  All of their interactions since then have been in this series written by Duane Swierczynski, so if Batgirl was going to comment on Ivy's powers, Swierczynski would have written that exchange.  Is he calling out his own failure to develop this relationship, or is this just more bad writing?

Poison Ivy reveals that her new powers are killing her, but the bio suit is sustaining her.  For now.

Then we cut back to the present time in Dubai.  As Poison Ivy targets the greedy board members, the company's chief of security comes in with a hose full of extra toxic weedkiller.  And to prove that these are cutthroat businessmen, the CEO gives the security chief the thumbs up to kill as many board members as it takes to stop Poison Ivy.

Back in the Amazon a week earlier, Poison Ivy surprises no one but Black Canary and Batgirl by revealing her true nature.

Yes, please. Spare us. Kill us now.

Poison Ivy poisoned them so they're all dying, but she'll cure them as long as they help her kill wicked businessmen and keep Batman from capturing her.  Poisoning.  Blackmail.  Murder.  Sounds exactly like the Poison Ivy we all know and love.  Sounds exactly like the Poison Ivy Batman told Dinah not to trust.  Sounds exactly like the Poison Ivy Batgirl told Dinah not to trust.

That's what kills any semblance of suspense in this plot.  A physically compromised hero having to work with the villain in order to survive; that's a tried and true plot that can be epically entertaining (see: Batman: Arkham City).  It doesn't work, though, if the plot reinforces the notion that our hero is a bumbling idiot.

And then Swierczynski reveals Ivy's Plan B…

If any of the Birds die before Ivy gives them the cure, their bodies will release the toxin into the air causing some kind of environmental cleansing.

Essentially, the women have been turned into walking bombs.  That sounds a little familiar…

Oh yeah, that was the premise of the first seven #@$%ing issues of this series!

The issue ends in Dubai again.  The security chief is taken out by Batgirl before he can stop Poison Ivy, and then Starling appears to execute the CEO, but it's a little vague.  Maybe intentionally vague, or maybe just lazy art.  It's also worth noting that neither Batgirl nor Starling speak in this final scene, which may suggest they're not just going along with Ivy's plan but actually being controlled by her.  We'll see.  I guess.


Poison Ivy is exactly who everyone knew she was.

Black Canary is exactly what I dreaded she was.


Poison Ivy's betrayal was inevitable.  I'm glad we finally got to that point.  Her treachery, however, only highlights the stubborn ignorance of the so-called heroes in this story, and her plan to turn Black Canary and the others into biological WMDs is more of the same bad.

Also, what the hell happened to the heatseeking missiles last issue?  Somebody was shooting freaking missiles at our characters!  Hell, that was the title of issue #10 and we just completely forgot about it!

Grade: F


  1. Marginally better issue than the last.
    Liked the sequence where those execs got killed and he didn't care, very Robocop-inspired.
    So we finally get Ivy's treachery and its a doozy. Thought the premise was really good and she has the Birds right where she wants them. Theres even a decent explanation for her new costume which makes sense. What doesn't make sense is why/how Black Canary, Batgirl etc didn't think Ivy would betray them at some point, their naivety/trust is far too reckless for them.
    Ivy's treacherous behaviour is in line with this months Forever Evil one-off featuring her.
    The art was a bit much in this issue, some odd close-ups and strange angles.

  2. Yeah, again I would appreciate her turning them into walking bio-chem bombs… except that was the plot of the first long story arc.