Tuesday, October 29, 2013

BIRDS OF PREY #14 (New 52)

With the ladies heading to Japan to find Katana's stolen sword, this series seems to have come around.  I mean, the writing still sucks.  Really, really sucks.  Swierczynski is awful!  But the story, at least, is more interesting than anything we had in the first year of publication.

Birds of Prey #14: "Three Hours of the Condor" was written by Duane Swierczynski, penciled by Romano Molenaar, inked by Vicente Cifuentes, colored by Chris Sotomayor.  Trevor McCarthy did the cover.

Last issue, the mysterious Dagger Clan stole Katana's sword, the Soultaker, and transported it back to Japan in an effort to bring her back, as well.  Along the way, the sword was captured again by the equally mysterious Condor, a man with a flying suit.

Issue #14 opens with Condor attacking another group of Dagger Clan ninjas carrying a package, only this time, the transport is a lure to catch Condor, and the ninjas are really the series' leading ladies.    On the roof of a Yokohama high rise, Black Canary's team demand the sword from Condor.  He responds by fighting and showing off an unexplained unexpected unexpected and unexplained telekinetic superpower.  

Condor forces Canary to kick Katana in the face, shattering her mask.  Then he forces the ground under Batgirl's feet to collapse, knocking her off the roof of the building.  Then he deflects the bullets Starling unloads on him, before hitting her, knocking her off the roof of the building.

You read that right, and I want to make sure you got it because it's important for what comes next.  Condor knocked two of Dinah's teammates--who cannot fly--of the edge of the building.

Then Black Canary manages to land a kick that--you guessed it--knocks Condor off the side of the building.  (Seriously, how small is this roof?)  What does Dinah do then?

Yeah, she leaps off the building to save the enemy who is wearing a flying suit with wings.  She didn't leap off the roof to save either of her friends, and we never see what happens when they fall, so for the moment we're left assuming they died while Team Captain Canary risks her own life to save the man who likely killed them.

Maybe this was an art mistake, not showing us what happened to Starling and Batgirl, but I'm leaning more toward Swierczynski's shitty, shitty writing being the culprit.  He's clearly more interested in sophomoric deaf jokes than maintaining continuity with his cast.

We briefly cut away to a scene with the Dagger Clan leader addressing an underling who questions his judgement.  They refer to Katana as the disgraced one, and remind us that somewhere in the city is a "device" that is going to go off in a matter of hours.  We don't know what it is or what it's capable of because shut up, that's why.

Six hours until the mystery event, Condor brings the ladies to a factory in an industrial part of down.  Note that Starling and Batgirl and present and not dead, though we're never told how that happened.  Condor gives Katana her husband/sword back, then we get more deaf jokes.

Also note how Swierczynski uses a period between every word to stress the slow, deliberate, patronizingly annoying way Dinah speaks to Condor.  That gets the point across, and it could almost be funny.  Almost.  If Swierczynski was a better writer.

Say her line out loud, or even just in your head.

"Do.  You.  Really.  Want.  Us.  To.  Kick.  Your.  Ass.  Again?"

Did that seem like it took... an awfully long time to get the point across?  That's because it's too wordy.  That type of joke only works if the sentence is half as long as it is here, but again, shitty writing.

Anyway, Katana says she wants to destroy the Dagger Clan.  Condor says that's crazy because they're too big and too powerful.  Then the Dagger Clan says hi, we're here now, let's fight.

Dinah and Condor have a kind of strategic mind meld, because they're so in-tune with each other after she saved him at the expense of her friends.  She uses her sonic scream and he uses his telekinesis to level half the enemy, while everyone else scrambles.

Then something as equally inexplicable as Canary letting her friends fall of the roof while she jumps after Condor happens.  Dinah grabs Condor, tells him to open his wings, and then she screams so the force blows them through a window and out of the factory.

Suss that out.  Dinah leaves the battle with Condor.  Not with Batgirl, or Starling, or Katana.  She doesn't exfiltrate with her team--that she is supposedly the leader of--she grabs the new guy--new guy--and bugs out leaving everyone else to exit on their own.  There is no coordinated escape; it's just chaos.  Batgirl crashes through a window on her own.  Starling calls Amanda Waller for some reason, and Katana seems to be captured.  Who the $#%@ are these characters and why don't they work together?  Why isn't the writer and/or editor of this book pouring concrete into potholes instead of working in professional comics?

The issue ends with Dinah and Condor getting to safety.  Dinah is more concerned about some strange new feeling inside than with the safety of her so-called friends.

Then Condor knocks her unconscious with a TK blast, despite thinking she's pretty, and walks away.

The Characters

I think if you took Batgirl out of every issue of this series, the stories would not be affected in the least.  The only noteworthy thing she does in this issue is say a line that Swierczynski must have thought was funny while he stole it from Die Hard.

Katana does nothing in this issue except whine about her sword and get captured again.  I thought this story arc was going to be about her, but this issue was more about Dinah connecting with Condor in a way that only a nine-year-old girl would understand.

Condor was piquing my interest, but the telekinesis power seems a little too much.

As for Black Canary, either Swierczynski hates her and wants her fans to be ashamed of her, or he doesn't understand how people interact with each other.


Everything that might have been enjoyable about this issue is ruined because the characters are abominable.

In the past I have thought that maybe Swierczynski's real talent has been eclipsed by wretched editing, but I can't stand by that excuse forever.  The writing is atrocious and I will never buy another book written by this author.

Grade:  F

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