Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BIRDS OF PREY #19 (New 52)

Mister Freeze attacked the Birds in order to capture the silent assassin Strix so he can crack the secret of the Court of Owls' regenerative process.  The Birds defended their new teammate, but Mister Freeze captured Starling and escaped.  He demands a trade--one bird for another.

Birds of Prey #19: "A Cold Day in Hell" is written by Christy Marx with art by Romano Molenaar and inks by Vicente Cifuentes and Julio Ferreira.  Ardian Syaf provided the foldout cover in the same fashion as all of DC's "WTF" comics from April, 2013.  In this case, like many of the covers from that month, the foldout spoils the big cliffhanger moment of the issue, making reading the twenty pages in between kind of pointless.

Mister Freeze has given Black Canary's crew one hour to hand over Strix in exchange for Starling.  The tradeoff is to be at the Court of Owls lab where Strix was revived.  Condor acts overly defensive, insisting that he's not a traitor when neither Dinah nor Batgirl accused him of anything.  However, this is as good a segue as any to reveal what the ladies know about Condor for his benefit as well as that of the readers.

Condor might be Native American?  So, I guess this is the New 52 Black Condor... Okay, I'm cool with that, but I still don't like his costume any better.

Also, this characterization is clearly for the readers who never learned a damn useful thing about Condor back when "the other guy" was writing this comic, because all of this intelligence should have been shared by Dinah and Batgirl back when Condor first joined the team weeks ago.

While the ladies provide a Who's Who entry for Condor, Strix runs away in fear of returning to the mad scientist lab that spawned her.  Condor and Batgirl track her down, while Dinah "puts some gear together" and reflects on the first time she met her late former missing husband, Kurt Lance.

Two things.  First, she says she first met Kurt after she and Amanda Waller joined Team 7.  Well, that don't square with Team 7 #0, in which she and Kurt were already a couple when Lynch recruited them for the team, and Dinah and Kurt recruited Waller together.

Second, if she hated her codename "Canary" she probably didn't come up with it herself.  That means she was assigned that codename.  Um... Canary's are known for being sacrificial animals that go into dangerous situations to die.  I would have some concerns if that was my assigned codename.

Elsewhere, Batgirl finds Strix on a rooftop crying like the tortured little girl that she is.  Strix is afraid of going back to the lab.  Batgirl plays big sister and assures her that she will be protected.  And Stryx is all like, okay, let's go, but in a totally silent way!

Condor carries Black Canary, who can't help but enjoy the feel of being in a man's arms.

To their surprise, they don't find Mister Freeze waiting for them in the lab, just a couple of cosplayers from San Diego ComicCon wearing Owls masks.  The lab is still being used for the Court's crazy experiments.

Yeah, Dinah, thank God it's not your friend, just some random dead girl.

Batgirl realizes they weren't meeting Mister Freeze here, they were leading him.  That's when he attacks.  He freezes Strix and Condor with his cold gun, but when Dinah gets the edge in their fight...

...she is ambushed by...

Yep.  Starling is a traitor working with Mister Freeze.  Total shocker, right?  Unless, of course, you looked at the cover.

The Characters

We get more characterization for Black Canary, but once again it's a little forced, a little cliched, and not that compelling.  She "met" her husband by fighting in a training session.  Okay, been done, but not awful.  They had a competitive relationship, I guess, but we've never seen anything like that because despite his eight or nine appearances in Team 7, we still never really knew anything about Kurt Lance or cared about him.

Strix shows some emotional depth, some fear, some courage, some rage.  That's about it.

We know more about Condor.  He's probably the best character in the book by default just because he doesn't act like a fool, just sort of a cavalier macho cowboy type of superhero.

Starling's betrayal is surprising only in that she claims to be working with Mister Freeze.  But we already knew she was a traitor...except she was working with Amanda Waller.  I'm glad her duplicity has been exposed because I don't like her and I want her to leave the book, so...whatever.


So far, the two Marx-written issues have been vastly superior to those written by "the other guy".  I get the sense that Marx really wants to flesh out Dinah and the others and make them deep, interesting characters.  That's great, but it shines a harsh light on how horribly mishandled the comic has been since the start.  That's not all on the previous writer; a lot of that is on the editor(s).

The threats seem forced or lacking or boring, and the characters still feel off.  Mostly, this book has yet to find its identity.  Why does this comic exist?  Why are these people a team?  What are they fighting for?  Why are they together?  Why should I care about them?  Because I don't!

Grade: B for boring.

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