Tuesday, October 8, 2013

BIRDS OF PREY #12 (New 52)

Poison Ivy betrayed the Birds, infecting Black Canary, Batgirl, Katana, and Starling with a toxin that will release plague viruses if they don't help her environmental crusade.  Couldn't you just die?

Like the first eleven issues of this wretched series, Birds of Prey #12: "Heartbreak and Vine" was written by Duane Swierczynski.  Cliff Richards comes aboard this issue for art duties, with colors again provided by Gabe Eltaeb, and a cover by Stanley Lau.

Sadly, most of us knew this team/book was finished long before Starling poisoned a murderous corporate fat cat because Poison Ivy made her.  I've had misgivings since the first ish.

Despite not having any apparent leverage, the Birds managed to convince Poison Ivy to not kill anyone in her quest to rid the world of polluters.  Ivy has the CEO poisoned, just like her "teammates" claiming he'll die horribly if he doesn't change the awful drilling practices of his company.

"We're not friends," Dinah thinks, in what might be the understatement of the first year of the New 52.  It's true, friends don't try to kill each other.  At the height of the original Birds of Prey, the ladies were really, truly friends.  They cared loved each other.  They spent time with each other.  Dinah, Babs, and Helena didn't just look out for each other during field ops, they took care of each other's personal lives, too.  Do the new Birds even have personal lives to protect?

Thank you, Mister Swierczynski, for once more reminding us that this series is nothing more than a handful of mediocre action sequences strung together by the thinnest of cliched plots.  And then this happens:

To recap: If the Birds don't do what Poison Ivy says, they'll die in six months, releasing a cataclysmic airborne virus on the planet.  If they die before then, the same result will occur.  So Black Canary starts to fight Ivy while they're in a Gulfstream jet!

Dinah, Batgirl and Katana all attack Poison Ivy because she violates their "no killing" policy, even though, as Ivy points out, Katana has a sword that she routinely uses to kill people, and Black Canary confessed to murdering her husband.  Starling, who is piloting the jet, spins it around upside down a couple times to break up the fighting, and then tells them to get ready for their next target.  Said target is an offshore oil drilling platform.

The Birds parachute out of the jet, while Starling ensures that it crashes into the platform.

Okay, I gotta call bullshit on this right away.
  1. They crashed their plane?  How are they planning to escape?  They mention that the explosion is meant to scare away the crew so presumably the lifeboats and escape craft will be taken by the time the ladies conclude their mission.  So what's their exit strategy?
  2. Why did they parachute so far from the rig?  It might take them an hour to swim towards their target while emergency response vehicles--as well as news helicopters--will fall on the drilling platform like something in an analogy.  What if not all of them are strong swimmers?  Any of them could drown and release their plague virus?
  3. Starling crashed the plane into the drilling platform?  The platform that drills for oil?  First of all, causing a major explosion on a big rig like that would endanger every life on the facility.  In fact, it would be miraculous if every crew member wasn't blown to hell, so the Birds' ban on killing is a sham.

Whoever came up with this strategy is a goddamn moron, and I'm not talking about Poison Ivy or one of the other characters.  I'm referring to the so-called talent who thought up this sequence.  Whoever it was did absolutely zero research into this kind of attack.  And the reason I know he/she did absolutely zero research is that any research, any at all--the bare minimum--would have show how impossible this strategy would be.

While sabotaging the drill, they find unexpected survivors trapped onboard, probably because the fiery debris of a jet airplane just dropped onto their break room.  Starling refuses to go ahead with their plans while innocent lives are at risk.  Poison Ivy knocks her out and blows up the rig.

Somehow, everyone gets out alive.  Ivy even carries Starling outside.  I guess she wanted her alive instead of releasing the virus that would make the world exactly the way she would like it.

After that, they return to Gotham so Poison Ivy can recuperate in a weird chemical bath being operated by someone who looks vaguely doctor-ish.  The "doctor" doesn't give a name, because who cares what his name is and Swierczynski couldn't think of anything.

I don't know if the image of Batgirl tugging on her glove like she's about to perform a rectal exam on someone is the creepiest panel of this series or the best, but it's one or both of those.  Then she flashes her gang sign which is the cue that they're not going to take being used by Ivy any longer.

Wait.  Batgirl is… going for help?  What is she six years old?  She's a superhero!  She wears the bat symbol.  She is the help people seek!  I get that she's presumably running to Batman so he can work on a cure for the toxin in their system, but this could have been handled in a less spastic, juvenile manner.

The others fight Poison Ivy again.  Starling gets her wrists possibly broken or hurt.  Doesn't matter.  Katana slices up Poison Ivy's back severely enough to take her out of the fight and maybe even kill her.

Black Canary questions Katana's methods, which once again calls everything about this team and its nature into question.

The Characters

Black Canary acknowledges that she was a fool to ever trust Poison Ivy.  Admitting it is the first step, I guess…

It sure seems like this is the last time we'll see Poison Ivy in this series.


This issue begins and ends with Black Canary addressing questions that point out the faults in this series.  "This is not why I formed this team," Dinah says at the end.  Probably true, but the fact is, we don't know why she formed the team.  We still don't know the team's agenda or their purpose.

Maybe those questions will be answered in issue #0 that comes next, but I doubt it.

Grade: F

Next week I'll start pulling double duty on my coverage of Black Canary in the New 52.  I'll continue to recap this series every New Fifty-Tuesday, but before that, come by over the weekend when I review Team 7 #0.

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