Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Birds of Prey #7 (July 1999)

Previously in Birds of Prey...

Birds of Prey #7: "The Villain" is written by Chuck Dixon with pencils by Peter Krause, inks by Drew Geraci, and colors by Gloria Vasquez.  The cover, once again, was penciled by Greg Land over a Brian Stelfreeze sketch, who then inked over Land's pencils.

General Garanza of the sovereign nation of Bosqueverde has been captured in Markovia and slated to be executed for war crimes.  Thing is, Markovia wasn't too concerned about Garanza's right to a trial, so Oracle sent Black Canary on a one-woman mission to rescue Garanza and bring him back to his homeland... so they could put him on trial for war crimes.

When we find Black Canary, she's throwing the general in the back of a Stryker infantry assault vehicle and crashing through a Markovian barricade.

Oracle feeds Black Canary directions to her extraction point, but the counterattacks force Dinah and the General to take a different course.  And then, a local driver in a suicide vest forces them out of the IAV.

As Black Canary and Garanza take their escape to the rooftops, her conversation with Oracle fills in the backstory I already summarized above.  We also learn how Dinah feels about this mission: she ain't thrilled.  She thinks Garanza is a Pol Pot-level monster, and if he died unglamorously during their escape, Dinah would call it righteous and sleep just fine.

Then a sniper challenges her resolve by shooting the general from a building across the street.  She pulls Garanza out of the way and says, "One Canary Cry coming up."  Of course, Dinah lost the use of her sonic scream in The Longbow Hunters, so when she refers to the Canary Cry this time, she's talking about a weaponized grenade that fires off damaging sonic pulses.  Just like the device used by Canary in Arrow.

When she gets back to Garanza, she finds that he was wearing a bulletproof vest that saved him from the sniper's round.  Oracle tells Black Canary that her window of escape is closing; the authorities are beefing up security, but the media revealed Garanza's escape and now mercenaries are flocking to the area hoping to kill him.

Black Canary and her charge make it to the subway, but instead of keeping a low profile and staying off the police's radar, they engage in a heated shouting match about the people he killed.  Garanza defends his actions because the Bosqueverdan citizens he executed were violent separatists who themselves would have committed crimes against humanity if he didn't put them down.  Garanza is actually hoping for a trial in his homeland because his people will vindicate him whereas the world media condemned him.

Naturally, a cop engages them, drawing everyone's attention to Garanza.  Some assassins open fire, killing the cop and forcing Black Canary and the general to run.  The gunmen follow them into the subway tunnel, but Black Canary uses the dark to her advantage to takes them out pretty quickly.

Garanza shoots and kills the gunman who got the drop on Dinah, but she doesn't sound grateful, no, sir, she all mad.  She accuses him of murder while he debates the morality of killing an enemy.

They take the argument all the way to the building where Oracle set up their extraction, but when the elevator door opens, a man inside pulls a gun.  Garanza pushes Dinah out of the way and takes three bullets to the chest.  I guess these bullets went around the vest or he took it off, but it definitely looks like they tagged him.  Black Canary takes out the gunman.

After the general dies, Black Canary makes her way out of Markovia using an ultralight aircraft.  Now she's all sad about the guy she hated and wanted dead dying for her.  Oracle tells her it wasn't her fault, but Dinah thinks she let her emotions cloud her judgement and that's why she didn't see the final gunman until it was too late.

The last three issues of this series felt atypical, what with the time-travel and the sea monsters.  This one, however, is like the quintessential Birds of Prey adventure from Dixon.  It's a smaller, simpler version of the one-shots that preceded the ongoing series.  Oracle's position is clearly defined by her intellectual attachment to law and order.  General Garanza, however evil, deserves the same rights as anybody.  Black Canary, on the other hand, comes from a more emotional place.  Her loyalty is to the innocent dead, but she'll do the job out of respect for her boss.

It's not a complex story, which is good, because Dixon doesn't excel at complex stories.  Peter Krause's art is a nice change from Greg Land; Krause might not draw as photorealistic beautiful a Black Canary as Land, but his panel construction and action beats feel more organic.

Come back next Tuesday for a review of Birds of Prey #8.


  1. I didn't really like this story at all...it al felt too right-on for me, too preachy, from Dinah and Babs' opposite viewpoints [which felt a bit 'forced' to me] to Dinah eventually thinking she may have been wrong all along...I just felt Dixon was making some sort of political point thru this story instead of just getting ON with the story.
    One particular unfortunate 'preachy' aspect of this for me was when Di and Garanza were in the subway and instead of concentrating on the guys with guns chasing after them, instead they had a dragged-out debate on the rights and wrongs of Garanza's regime. Talk about pick your wrong moment[!]
    I did like her googles she wore here, very Catwoman-esqe. Even the little grenades that gave off a Canary Cry were cute but barely used again [thank God, I wanted Di to get her actual Cry back, not rely on mechanical devices].

  2. The funny thing is, if Dixon's plot and dialogue was getting a little preachy--and I agree that it was--is he trying to say Dinah and the readers should be more open minded about genocide and war crimes?