The ladies went to a Court of Owls laboratory to rescue their friend Starling from the cold clutches of Mister Freeze, only to discover that Starling had been in league with Freeze all along. Words were said, punches were thrown, and it was all very messy. Mister Freeze escaped, and probably Starling did, too. Batgirl took Strix to the rooftop where they were confronted by another Talon.
Birds of Prey #21: "Talon vs. Talon" was written by Christy Marx with art by Romano Molenaar and Jonathan Glapion. Molenaar also draws the cover with Vicente Cifuentes inking. This issue was hyped by DC in the solicitations as the first part of a crossover with Talon #9.
The issue opens with Calvin Rose, a rogue Talon who has turned against the Court of Owls just like Strix has, attacking Batgirl so he can kill Strix. I haven't been reading Talon other than the zero issue, because the premise didn't appeal to me (like Strix doesn't appeal to me), so I don't know why he is working for the Court again, but it's kind of explained later.
Anyway, Rose attacks Batgirl, but she senses that he's not bringing his full force to the conflict; it's clear that he's targeting Strix and doesn't want to seriously injure Batgirl.
Rose manages to separate Batgirl by tossing her down the stairs and jamming the roof door shut. He offers to make Strix's death as merciful as he can.
She responds by tackling him off a roof, because it's been like, three issues since someone fell off a roof in this comic.
Meanwhile, downstairs in the Owls' laboratory, Condor makes himself useful by boosting their computer hard drives to gather valuable intel. Black Canary is less useful as she continues to fume over Starling's betrayal last issue.
Condor reveals a little more about his mysterious past, rehashing the lines he dropped back in Japan when he told them he used to be part of a team and things didn't work out well. He tells Dinah he knows how it feels to be betrayed by someone he trusted.
Before they can start making out, Batgirl tells them they have a Talon trying to kill their Talon and they should meet up on the roof.
Meanwhile, on the street down below, Strix and Rose both survived the fall on account of their regenerative abilities.
When Strix sneaks back into the building, Rose understands that she wasn't trying to kill him; she was protecting her friends in the same way that Rose is trying to protect two people I've never heard of.
Dinah, Batgirl and Condor get to the roof to find neither Talon around. Condor does some aerial reconnaissance to confirm they haven't taken the fight to another building. Batgirl knows they're still in the building so they split up. She goes back downstairs to find her friend, giving her alone time to think about the mess of her life currently playing out in the issues of Batgirl.
As soon as Dinah and Condor are alone again, they stop caring about Strix or anything other than their raging hormones.
Oh god... Seriously? You're surprised that he knows your name, Dinah! You've been working together for three months. Why wouldn't he know your name? Why would you keep it from him? What kind of trust does that build? What kind of leader are you? This is why everyone you recruit betrays you!!!
You didn't know his name?!!! Why are you recruiting teammates you don't know?!!! The problem isn't everyone you trust lies to you--the problem is you're stupid and you put your trust in villains!!!
The only reason they don't get pregnant in this scene is the interrupting sound of the fight taking place upstairs where Strix is about to be executed.
Calvin Rose chooses not to kill Strix, even at the risk of his own life and the two hostages the Court has taken from him. Strix shows some sympathy for him, given that she knows a thing or two about being used as a soulless killing machine by the Court of Owls. She comes up with a plan to help him and the two Talons rush off together.
And the last page says "To Be Concluded in Talon #9" which I will discuss after my thoughts on this chapter.
We learn more about Condor in this issue. His first name is Ben, for one thing, and he knows a lot about Dinah--her name for one thing--including the connection her husband, Kurt Lance, had to her powers. He suggests that he can be a focus/control the same way that Kurt was. Is this just a line so he can see her naked, or is there really something about Condor that can help her focus her Canary Cry?
I give Christy Marx credit in this issue for not only delivering an action-oriented script that also moves Dinah and Condor closer together, but also doing her homework about other series. This issue features two different narrators, Batgirl and Calvin Rose, and each feels relatively authentic and natural. Clearly, Marx read enough of Gail Simone's Batgirl and James Tynion IV's Talon to get a feel for these characters and present this tale from their differing perspectives. That's more than I can say for Tynion's script for Talon #9, which I'll come back to.
Most of this issue is about Calvin Rose, which is unfortunate because I don't care about him and I found his part of the comic and the fights with Strix to be a little boring. I hate that Dinah's incompetence as a leader is reinforced yet again, but at least she's getting some action and some use of out of her lips that don't involve shattering walls.
My biggest complaint with this issue is that DC continues to lock this book into the Batman community of comics without utilizing Batman himself to boost its popularity. Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Penguin, Mister Freeze, the Court of Owls, Talon... lots of second or third tier Batman characters, but never a substantive connection to Batman or a chance to branch out and form its own identity.
We're almost two years into this series and I still don't know why the Birds of Prey formed or what they're supposed to do.
But wait, there's more!
Talon #9: "Uneasy" is written by James Tynion IV, with art by Graham Nolan and Miguel Sepulveda, the latter of which provided the cover. This issue was billed as the second part of the crossover with Birds of Prey.
That's a big fucking lie! The Birds do not "guest-star" in this comic.
Black Canary appears on the cover only. Batgirl appears in a recap panel on page 1. That's all the first page is, a recap of BoP #21. Strix appears in the next three pages and that's it. She doesn't say a word (because she doesn't say a word) and she doesn't do anything (because she doesn't need to). She's less than a background characters; she's set-dressing. The rest of the story is just another chapter in Calvin Rose's normal adventures.
I feel like Christy Marx at least took the time to figure out who Rose is and what his situation was in the current series because she mentions it and even writes from his POV. Tynion, on the other hand, clearly doesn't give a fuck about the Birds, and if he bothered to put any research into their series, he certainly didn't transfer it into his script.
This issue was a cheap and blatant example of false advertising. I paid $2.99 for this comic based on the claim that the Birds of Prey guest-starred in it. They didn't. DC lied to me and stole my money.