Thursday, December 12, 2013

BIRDS OF PREY #24 (New 52)

Black Canary and Condor were captured by Condor's former teammates--Hydra, I mean Basilisk terrorists!  Regulus, the leader of Basilisk, has mysterious plans for Canary.

Birds of Prey #24: "Together Again" is written by Christy Marx, with art breakdowns by Scott McDaniel, pencils by Romano Molenaar and Robson Rocha, inks by Jonathan Glapion and Oclair Albert, and colors by Chris Sotomayor.  Jorge Molina provided the cover art depicting Dinah's agonizing moment of discovery that her husband is alive.

We pick up with Batgirl and Strix scrambling to the roof of the Birds' hideout only to watch their comrades whisked away in an air transport.  They have no idea where Basilisk is taking Black Canary and Condor, which doesn't matter because even if they did they have no means to follow them.

Luckily, there's a storytelling thing called deus ex machina that Marx utilizes effectively albeit overtly right here.

A mysterious stranger in a suit and shades shows up on the roof at that exact moment and offers his help.  Basically, he tells Batgirl, "I know where your friends are going...but I can't tell you how. And I'll help you get them back...but I can't tell you why."  Batgirl is justifiably suspicious, but desperate enough that she trusts this guy who she vaguely remembers as a former Gotham detective that worked for her father once.

Yes, this mysterious "benefactor".  That's a convenient enough cover that never needs to be explored if this plot hole is ignored.  Okay, I'm going to assume that the benefactor is Amanda Waller.  Why?  Well, last issue we saw that Regulus has Kurt Lance's body preserved in a stasis pod, but way back in issue #0, we saw that Amanda Waller was in possession of Lance's stasis pod.  That means, at some point in the last year Basilisk acquired Lance, and I'm betting that Waller wants him back.

We return to Basilisk's fortress in the Andes Mountains, where Dinah comes face to face with the husband she thought she killed five years ago.

Then, after a pretty lackluster kick, Dinah discovers the truth about Regulus!

That's right, Regulus is Dean Higgins...sort of.  Dean Higgins, the member of Team 7 that nobody cared about and that the writer(s) as often forgot about.  The teammate so useless and devoid of character, that he didn't even get a death scene in the final issue.  They just stopped drawing him on the pages!

Well, Marx decides to pounce on that continuity gaffe, by explaining that when Dinah used her sonic scream to level Kaizen Gamorra's palace, Higgins, the Kaizen, and some creepy psychic children all fused into one being: Regulus.

Okay, whatever.  It's strange, it's not clean, but it works and it creates a powerful villain with a genuine tie to Black Canary's history and a personal beef against her and her former teammates.  I'll take the consolation prize over nothing.

Meanwhile, Condor wakes up in another part of the compound.  Like Dinah, he cannot access his telekinetic powers.  Tsiklon leads him around the place where he meets up with Hammerdown and Whipcrack and discovers that Regulus has been kidnapping civilians for some reason.  I guess Condor is like a prisoner but they're not worried about him fighting back or trying to escape.  It's like they've brought him back into the fold on a probationary basis.

Batgirl and Strix parachute down to Fortress Basilisk with a crew of paramilitary soldiers waiting to back them up at the base of the mountain whenever Batgirl calls for help.  The ladies take out the fort's surveillance equipment and then go to work on the guards when they discover the captives Regulus had been collecting.

Back in the, um, stasis room, Regulus tells Dinah that he has learned to control Kurt's brain functions, which means he can control Kurt's powers to augment or dampen superpowers.  That's why Dinah and Condor can't access their abilities.

Regulus' plan revealed.  He can shut down all of the superpowers in the world, making everyone a base-line human like he is was.  But he can also activate them again at his whim, which gives him a lot of power to blackmail or auction his control of the superpowers.

Elsewhere, Condor is mouthing off to his former teammates when he sees Batgirl and Strix.  He leads the Basilisk crew right to his new friends.

Is this another betrayal?  Or is Condor going to help Batgirl and Strix fight the others and save Canary...which, I guess, would be another betrayal...?

The Characters

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by Black Canary in this issue.  Upon seeing her husband relatively alive in a stasis pod, she didn't freak out and start crying.  She didn't try to get him out either, but I'll ignore that for now.  Instead, she was active and tried to fight Regulus.  At this point, it's pretty one-sided, but at least she's taking the fight directly and trying to stop him.

Condor clearly hasn't defected back to Basilisk.  He's playing them so he can help Dinah and Batgirl, though I don't know why Tsiklon gives him the chance to betray them.  I guess everyone in this universe trusts obvious enemies or total strangers with hidden agendas.


I was happy that Dinah's crew were finally getting their own distinct villains, and this issue further solidifies Regulus as a worthy nemesis.  He's not the most nuanced or interesting antagonist (let's be real, he's as cookie-cutter as any '90s hero or villain), but at least he has a layered backstory that is intimately tied to characters like Black Canary and Amanda Waller.  I wouldn't miss him if he was killed, but I kind of hope he survives this encounter to plague the Birds of Prey in the future.

Since the end of the so-called crossover with Talon, this series has picked up a lot of steam (for a series as bad as it was), and Christy Marx is starting to win me over that the book could be salvaged and taken into new and interesting directions.

Of course, next issue is another shameless tie-in to a Batman event.  Oy...

Grade: B+


  1. It was a marginally better issue that the one before, tho it still has some way to go I feel.
    Two things irk me tho - Batgirl playing the parachuting revolutionary going to rescue Dinah; yes she used a parachute early in her run here but its so unlike her to act like a soldier type.
    And the second? Batgirl and Strix getting in that air transport - what the hell?!? They just step in and let this whoever he is just whisk them away, are they that stupid? He could've been anyone, but then the amount of betrayals going on in this book we shouldn't be surprised anymore.
    Dinah and Condor were refreshingly well-written within the limitations of this book's characterization, and even this Regulus [reminds me of Dr. Regulus from the LSH] is a curious Image-looking type villain.
    Theres a real effort tho to have some real storytelling going on in this book and some attempt at giving some depth to the lead characters, and that is some consolation.

  2. Yeah, the convenience of the stranger offering to put them on a transcontinental transport induced eye-rolling on an epic scale, but with the history of illogic and bad decision making in this series, it's pretty easy to just say "whatever" and let it go.

    When taken on their own, these issues aren't anything special, but they're not bad. They're just mediocre. However, when compared to where the series was a year before, a little mediocrity looks like solid gold.