Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Birds of Prey #12 (Dec 1999)

Previously in Birds of Prey...

Birds of Prey #12: "Hellbound Train" is written by Chuck Dixon with pencils by Dick Giordano, inks by Jordi Ensign, and colors by Gloria Vasquez.  The cover was done by Greg Land and Brian Stelfreeze.

We open with Black Canary dropping on top of a military train, guarded by U.S. Marshals in high tech armor, transporting a group of meta-human super-criminals.  As soon as Dinah lands on the roof of the train, the Marshals are hip to her presence and hold her at gunpoint.  Black Canary tries to warn them that the train is under threat of a jailbreak and she's there to defend it, but the guards aren't buying her story.  Oracle pleads with Black Canary through her transceiver to go easy on the marshals; they're not bad guys.

Unfortunately, Catwoman doesn't really care who or what they are, and she dives onto the train and knocks out two of the marshals before Black Canary can stop her.

Neither Canary or Catwoman are aware that their train ride is being observed by the mysterious, inhuman-looking stranger who set up Oracle and Black Canary to free Joe Gardner in the previous issues.  But Oracle already suspects a similar sinister presence behind this snafu.

While Black Canary and Catwoman argue about how they should proceed, more Marshals arrive, and open fire on the ladies.  The women drop down between two train cars.

The sonic bomb disrupts the marshals on the train roof while Catwoman gets herself and Canary inside the train's armory.  Catwoman says she was hired by some strange-o with a scary voice to knock out the train's communications network.  That's enough for Oracle to connect this operation with the Koroscovan op that went so terribly.

Then Black Canary shows Catwoman how little she wants to team-up again.

At that moment, a squad of marshals kicks in the door and demands Black Canary's surrender.  At the same time, more than a little conspicuously, Oracle gets a chat message from her online boyfriend, Bumblebeeb.  He still wants to meet her in person and asks her out on a date.  She reveals that she has tried to uncover his real identity and has failed, which means he could be more than just a really good hacker; he could be extremely dangerous to her.

But Bumblebeeb presses on with his flirtations and reveals something else that--if true--could be very interesting for Oracle.

Back in the train, Black Canary has been captured by the marshals who threaten to lock her up with the other super villains they have caught.  She continues to warn them about the pending breakout, but they don't want to listen.  We learn that the train is transporting five meta-humans: Shrapnel, Mammoth, Sudden Death, Spellbinder, and Joe Gardner, the last two of which the Birds of Prey have had some recent encounters with.  The military is shipping the villains to S.T.A.R. Labs so scientists can operate and see if they can cure them.

Black Canary keeps arguing that the marshals are in danger and someone or something is coming to steal these five super-villains.  Inexplicably, the head of the marshals listens to her.  Maybe because her name is Dina and that's sort of like Dinah?  I don't know.  Anyway, Dinah and Dina rush to the front of the train where the engineer tells them all of the reasons why nobody could penetrate or derail the train.

Then the mysterious stranger shows up standing on the tracks and summons a gigantic teleportation tunnel with a massive BOOM!  (Almost a boom-tube, if you will.)  The train passes through the tunnel and vanishes while also generating enough feedback to fry Oracle's entire system.

Oracle scrambles to get a backup computer online, but when she checks, the train and Black Canary have no signal.  They're gone.  So Oracle calls someone else she thinks might be able to help her.

I've said it before: at this point in his career, Dick Giordano's art was inoffensive, but hardly as stylish and great as it was in the '70s and '80s.  Still, I prefer this to Greg Land's artwork nine times out of ten.  The story, too, is better than what Dixon has given us over the last few months.  The train robbery is a nice, classic setup with some interesting twists.

Throwing Catwoman in the mix didn't really seem to add much to this chapter, but hopefully more will come of her inclusion next time around.  Meanwhile, I'm really excited to see what Power Girl brings to the table.  I'm also further intrigued who Oracle's mystery suitor is and whether or not it aligns with my prediction.

Come back in two weeks for a review of Birds of Prey #13.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh, as much as I should have enjoyed this issue, Im afraid to say that I didn't - it had a thrilling train ride, a side-trip to Apokolips and two BoP stunners in Dinah and Catwoman.
    But it was the contrivance of all these things that sucked, and then there was the art - Dick Giordano for all his classic style is past his best here. sad to say [and that's as a fan of his].
    Catwoman looks so...slow and fat, even. and Dinah looks sluggish. and don't get me started on Power Girl...!