Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Birds of Prey #15 (March 2000)

Previously in Birds of Prey...

Birds of Prey #15: "Face Time" turns a corner as Chuck Dixon finally gets an artist who can elevate his limited scripts into something special.  Butch Guice comes aboard as the regular artist and his first issue is possibly the best of the series for his involvement.

After spending the last couple months dealing with super-powered villains and other-dimensional landscapes, Dixon lets Black Canary and Oracle let their hair down a little and spend some free time on character progression.  Of course, Dixon's better angels can't shout down all of his problems as he still wastes precious comic page real estate at the beginning of the issue.  This time, thankfully, it's not an unnecessary splash page followed by an equally unnecessary double-page splash.

Instead, he devotes the first two and a half pages to TV news coverage of horrible violence in the nation of Qurac.  Guice does a great job rendering the ugliness of the war and its combatants, but then we pull away from the news footage to reveal a salesman hocking high definition TVs and computer monitors to Barbara Gordon.  She ends up rolling over his foot with her wheelchair.  Yeah, the first four pages are just set-up for a not-that-funny gag.

Babs has come to a tech convention, but not to shop for new products.  After months or years of dancing around cyber-dating, she has finally come to meet her online friend, "Bumblebeeb".

Meanwhile, Dinah Lance spends her day off retrieving piles and piles of junk mail from the mailbox of her apartment.  She complains to Henry, the doorman.  Another tenant comes home, and when she goes up the elevator, Dinah notices the woman has a black eye.  Henry tells Dinah the woman is Olivia Crichton, Dinah's next-door neighbor, and she's single but has one gentleman caller.

Later, Dinah goes to Olivia's apartment and makes up a lame excuse to get inside and check out the bruise on her face.  Olivia insists that she's fine and her situation is none of Dinah's business.  Dinah offers her friendship and any help she can provide before Olivia makes her leave.

Back at the tech convention, Babs avoids more cheesy product placements while the news talks about the United Nations new, mysterious ambassador from Qurac.  This is foreshadowing, so you know.  Then, at last, she meets her blind date.  Bumblebeeb reveals his real identity, and would you believe it  it's Ted Kord!  They awkwardly introduce themselves and make up some half-truth cover stories for their jobs.

Elsewhere in Gotham, Babs' ex-boyfriend Jason Bard goes to see her at her apartment.  But instead of Barbara Gordon, he finds her other ex-boyfriend Dick Grayson hanging around, making repairs to stuff damaged during the Gotham Earthquake.  Boy, that's a little awkward; two exes meeting each other at Babs' apartment while she's out on a date with someone else.

Meanwhile Dinah gets more junk mail as a menu is shoved under her door.

I love this page, not because of Dinah's skimpy outfit but because of the Toth's Gym shirt, a nice little reference to the work of Alex Toth who drew a gorgeous Black Canary in Adventure Comics.  Anyway, out in the hall Dinah notices Olivia's "gentleman caller" go inside with two bodyguards left standing by the door.

Babs and Ted go to a diner to get to know each other better.  Ted tries to impress Babs by saying he  works in a similar law-enforcement capacity by designing nonlethal crime-fighting hardware such as gases, armor, and other kinds of deterrents.  She asks if he ever gets out in the field and he says no way, he's just in R&D.  Then she asks why he chose the avatar Bumblebeeb and he insists there is nothing significant about the name.

Meanwhile, Dinah watches TV in her bedroom in the fourth different outfit we've seen her wear this issue, and presumably only about an hour has passed.  She flips through channels and we get more foreshadowing of the mysterious, unseen ambassador from Qurac going to speak at the U.N.  Above Dinah's bed is a portrait of her father, Larry Lance.  A bump on the wall from next-door nearly knocks the photo on her head.  Sounds like Olivia is getting beaten by her man again.

After knocking out the bodyguards, Dinah hears gunshots coming from Olivia's bedroom.  When she sneaks in, she finds Olivia with the gun and the man lying dead on the floor.  Olivia sobs, saying she warned the man not to hit her again.

Babs and Ted walk through the lobby of the tech conference.  She confesses to knowing the truth about him, that he's secretly the costumed adventurer known as Blue Beetle.  He freaks out at first, telling her to keep it secret, but then he puts two and two together and realizes the only way she could know his double identity is because she had one of her own.  He stops her from rolling away and calls her Oracle.

They go back to the diner to start their date over again with their cards metaphorically on the table.

Then the news in the restaurant turns to coverage of the Quraci ambassador addressing the United Nations.  As he begins to speak, Babs is horrified that she recognizes the voice.

No costumes and no superhero antics, but still probably the best Birds of Prey story up to this point.  It's great seeing Babs and Ted Kord feel each other out on their date.  It reads like Barbara was legitimately surprised to find her date was Ted Kord, but once he introduced himself, she knew who he was.

Dinah, meanwhile, gets to kick ass and show her compassion for a victim of abuse.  The best parts of her story, though, are the artistic flourishes that Guice adds, such as the portrait of Larry Lance in the bedroom and the Toth's Gym shirt.  I am so glad Butch Guice becomes the regular artist for the next couple months.

Come back next Tuesday for a review of Birds of Prey #16.


  1. I think Butch Guice is a genius and, like you, think this is the best issue to date. Dinah is perfect in this issue, running to save the neighbor and laying the smack down. That flying kick is great.

    And yes, the Toth shirt is a nice touch!

  2. Yeah, Guice doesn't depict the women as poster-model beautiful, but instead they look real. The emotion he captures is genuine and the action flows more organically. I'm a big fan of his work and I'm looking forward to reading his run on Birds of Prey for the first time.

  3. He did a stint on the Superman books (around Reign of the Supermen) which meant he was drawing the Matrix Supergirl a ton. I thought his stuff was superior on those books.

  4. Cool! I've never seen any of those issues; I know his work more for Aquaman and Captain America.