Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Birds of Prey #8 (Aug 1999)

Previously in Birds of Prey...

Birds of Prey #8: "On Wings" is written by Chuck Dixon with pencils by Greg Land, inks by Drew Geraci, and colors by Gloria Vasquez.  The cover was done by Land and Brian Stelfreeze.

The issue begins with Black Canary trying to contact Oracle only to hear a man's voice pick up the communicator.

Dinah has picked up on the stranger's reference to "Babs", the closest thing to a name she has for Oracle.  She asks the man we know is Nightwing if he's friends with Babs, or "more than friends".  It turns out, the answer to that question isn't so simple.

Nightwing thinks back to the last time he saw Barbara Gordon.  She came to visit him in Bludhaven and they got dinner and a show.  Not a movie, though; this is Dick Grayson.  When he takes someone to a show, he means the circus.  For Dick Grayson, revisiting Haly's Circus brings back all the joyful sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood.  But for Barbara, the circus brings back much darker memories.

Barbara teases Dick as much as she can, but he knows she's having a good time.  Though Dick is the owner of the circus now, he introduces her to Mr. Haly, the manager and one-time surrogate uncle.  Haly tells Dick about the hardships they've had lately and then bids them goodnight.

Barbara asks Dick if it's painful for him to return to the place where his parents were murdered.  He says no; he still thinks of the place as a second home full of good memories.  Dick says he's at peace, maybe because the man who killed his parents met justice, unlike the man who killed Bruce's parents or the Joker who shot Barbara.

Barbara tells Dick that she has dealt with her pain and she's moved on.  She won't dwell in the past and feel victimized like she thinks the "Batguys" want her to.  She has a new life and a new direction; it's different but it fulfills her.  Dick respects her words, but asks what's the one thing she misses most about having full mobility.  She describes swinging from a rope as Batgirl.

Dick can make this particular wish come true.  After the bigtop has been cleared out, he changes into his Nightwing costume and puts her in a leotard.  They swing from the acrobatics bars and he runs her through the routine that The Flying Graysons used to perform.  Then Dick drops away from her, bounces off the trampoline and grabs a ladder.  He climbs up to the next platform leaving her to swing alone.  She has to swing and let go for him to catch her--a flying transfer he's performed hundreds of times.

But she hasn't done this, certainly not since she was paralyzed, and she's scared.  And angry.  But she trusts Dick, and she swings alone and let's go at the right moment.

Alone on the platform after their death-defying tricks, Barbara and Dick kiss... and perhaps more.  When he takes her to her car, he asks if they can see each other again and often.  Barbara says she had a great time but she doesn't want to date him.  Their relationship can never work because of the lives they live.

Dick ends his reminiscence thinking of how much he loves her when Dinah presses him for more details.

So... this was an issue of Birds of Prey in name only.  Really, this was a Nightwing story.  Nightwing narrated it and it was about Dick's feeling for Babs.  Black Canary appears in the first and last pages, but doesn't do much.  Barbara Gordon is a major character in the story, but she's not being Oracle, she's being Dick's ex-girlfriend.

Apparently this is an important issue because of what happens in the Nightwing series after this story.  That should be further evidence that this story was misplaced.  The only thing of significance for Black Canary in this issue is that she realizes her boss is dating Nightwing and Nightwing called her boss "Babs".  Will she be solve the mystery of Oracle's identity on her own?

One other note: the first panel on page 8 where Barbara says circuses are corny and goofy... Greg Land has drawn her face many times since then.  He's a tracer and frequently reuses the same poses and pictures for other stories.  I can't find the exact image, but I know he's used that shape for a woman's face since then.

Come back next Tuesday for a review of Birds of Prey #9.


  1. I think somewhere in this issue, Babs and Dick kiss - the first time they do that 'on screen'. As a result, at least pre-New 52, this was a wall book at many cons.

  2. THAT would explain why print copies of this issue are so pricy. Thanks.