Reviewing the Birds of Prey
Green Arrow #115
"The Iron Death: Discovering Japan", December 1996, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Will Rosada, inked by Robert Campanella, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by John Constanza, edited by Darren Vincenzo, cover by DiMaggio & Campanella
Green Arrow #116
"The Iron Death: A Gathering of Wolves", January 1997, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Will Rosada, inked by Robert Campanella, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by John Constanza, edited by Darren Vincenzo, cover by DiMaggio & Campanella
Green Arrow #117
"The Iron Death: The Death That Walks", February 1997, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Will Rosada, inked by Robert Campanella, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by John Constanza, edited by Darren Vincenzo, cover by DiMaggio & Campanella
A terrific miniseries, though this one does not, obviously, focus on our heroines. Dinah is teamed back up with the Green Arrow — only this time he's the son of her late, long-time love Oliver Queen. Written as it is by Chuck Dixon, the story uses the Birds of Prey to good advantage, and they both are characterized perfectly. The story is smart and engaging, filled with little homages to the Green Arrow Who Was. This story piqued my interest in Connor Hawke who has retired as Green Arrow only a couple of years after this storyline and has mostly gone back to his ashram. This was done to make way for Ollie's return which finally came to be in 2001.
Brotherhood of the Fist
"Parts 1-5", July 1998, all five parts written by Chuck Dixon, various artists
The Birds of Prey play a minor role in this five-part series, first appearing in part two (Detective Comics #723) and either or both appearing in all the subsequent issues. Their participation was minimal, and while Black Canary started out with a promising storyline, it sort of faded out, and she ended up having to be rescued (!) Oh, well, I suppose I should just be happy to see the Birds participating in the DCU. Better luck next crossover! The Brotherhood of the Fist storyline takes place in Green Arrow #134 & #135, Detective Comics #723, Robin #55, & Nightwing #23, and, aside from the lack of BoP quality time, it was a terrific roller-coaster ride.
"Six Degrees: Next of Kin", October 1998, written by Devin K. Grayson, pencilled by Rick Mays, inked by Sean Parsons, colored by Moose Baumann, lettered by Comicraft, edited by Eddie Berganza, cover by Mays et. al.
Finally, Roy Harper, Oliver Queen's ward (and the sidekick formerly known as "Speedy") gets to take center stage. Issue #1 is really a co-starring story about Arsenal and Black Canary (yay!) and their relationship and history which brings their Silver Age, pre-Crisis first real meeting into post-Crisis continuity. Very interesting and complex — seems they have sort of a mother/son-sister/brother-flirt/flirt thing going on and of course their strongest connection is through Ollie. The implication is that they are each other's closest family, and Dinah lets her guard down more in this issue with Arsenal than she has in the the Birds of Prey titles or anywhere else she's turned up since leaving the Green Arrow monthly in issue #75. Nice. There's also a neat name-dropping moment where Canary refers to Connor "Green Arrow" Hawke which implies that she makes sure to maintain a connection with Oliver's blood son as well as with his ward. I like Ms. Grayson's take on the whole milieu, though I do question what the heck that picture of Canary on the cover is all about.
"Six Degrees: All in the Family", November 1998, written by Devin K. Grayson, pencilled by Rick Mays, inked by Sean Parsons, colored by Moose Baumann, lettered by Comicraft, edited by Eddie Berganza, cover by Mays et. al.
Issue #2 continues this terrific story, opening with Canary (in costume this time) interviewing a babysitter for Lian (issue #1 opened with Arsenal doing likewise and the two interviews are hilarious). She looks terrific. This story introduces Connor Hawke into the mix and things get really interesting when Roy decides to call Oracle and they "meet" presumably for the first time — major flirting. Again, I love Ms. Grayson's style. Everyone in the hero community — especially the non-super-powered bunch — is portrayed as being very interconnected. A special treat is Arsenal's rant about Nightwing's inferiority complex in regards to Batman versus his own in regards to Oliver Queen.
"Six Degrees: Blood Thicker", December 1998, written by Devin K. Grayson, pencilled by Rick Mays, inked by Sean Parsons, colored by Moose Baumann, lettered by Comicraft, edited by Eddie Berganza, cover by Mays et. al
Issue #3 doesn't disappoint. This is such a great character story that the central story is almost beside the point (though, of course, it provides the raison d'etre for the character development) which I do not mean in any way as a criticism. Vandal Savage is a great bad guy, and I like the way Rick Mays draws him as so much bigger than our heroes (Lian looks like a doll in his hands) that he even dwarfs Roy. Dinah's in this issue, too (natch!), and the depiction of their relationship continues to be a highlight of the series. This is one of the strongest books, visually, that I've ever seen. The art is a completely original fusion of manga and classic comic art styles which, along with the clean, spare backgrounds and cinematic mise en scene, enhances the feeling of motion as one reads. This book moves. Great moments include Roy calling Connor Hawke "bro" as they take a moment to pay homage to their mutual father and the entire flashback sequence which follows Savage's disturbing question, "Tell me, Roy Harper... are you a lucky man?" The more you know about Roy's history, the more of a gut-wrencher that question is. The new costume is very nice, too, though I like the color scheme on issue #4's cover better than what's shown in issue #3. Devin Grayson's "interview" with Roy which was meant to be offered in three parts at the end of issues #2-#4 (space constraints left the final installment out of issue #4 but it can be found at Scott McCullar's wonderful Unofficial Green Arrow Compendium thanks to Scott, DC, and Devin Grayson) is as much an insight into the writer's mind as it is into the character's. Lots of fun.
"Six Degrees: Imprinting", January 1999, written by Devin K. Grayson, pencilled by Rick Mays, inked by Sean Parsons, colored by Moose Baumann, lettered by Comicraft, edited by Eddie Berganza, cover by Mays et. al.
This mini concluded with the this issue (and a big "PHOOEY!" — Give this boy a monthly of his own, dangit) as Arsenal had to decide how to handle the immortal Vandal Savage's Faustian offer while his daughter Lian's life hung in the balance. The way Roy works things out is smart and funny and proves this boy can think on his feet as well as anyone. Best line: "Note to self. Next time you decide to change your moral alignment — don't do it in the middle of a firefight." And, appropriately, the whole thing ends with a party. As Dinah says, "Ollie would have loved this."
Legends of the DC Universe #10
"Folie a Deux, Part One", May 1998, written by Kelley Puckett, pencilled by Terry Dodson, inked by Kevin Nowlan, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Bill Oakley, edited by Scott Peterson
Legends of the DC Universe #11
"Folie a Deux, Part Two", June 1998, written by Kelley Puckett, pencilled by Terry Dodson, inked by Kevin Nowlan, colored by Lee Loughridge, lettered by Bill Oakley, edited by Scott Peterson
A two-part story which deals with Barbara Gordon's original decision to become a hero — as well as her early relationship with Batman. First issue is strikingly beautiful and very well done BUT — again! — it rewrites her origin. Grumble, gripe. This story portrays both of Barbara's parents dying in the car wreck which previously (and yet still post-Crisis) was supposed to have only killed her mother while her father died some time later from complications due to alcoholism and depression. Aside from this annoyance, it's a good story largely told via the pictures and with very little dialogue. Part two continues this striking style. It's a good story and Barbara is extremely likable. Another new twist (expanding on hints and outright mentions in the Bativerse since The Killing Joke) is that Gordon knows Barbara is Batgirl pretty much right from the beginning but he decides not to tell her he knows due to... well, due to what happens in this story. A very good, solid story with strong art and characterizations.
"Mosaic, Part One", May 1999, written by Greg Rucka, art by Frank Teran, colored by Gloria Vasquez, lettered by John Constanza, edited by Darren Vincenzo
Detective Comics #732
"Mosaic, Part Two", May 1999, written by Greg Rucka, art by Frank Teran, colored by Gloria Vasquez, lettered by John Constanza, edited by Darren Vincenzo
This is a powerful story which deals at its heart with the strained relationships of several of the central Bat-characters. Barbara Gordon finds out about the new Batgirl's existence and must deal with her feelings of rage and betrayal. There is a beautiful symmetry between her conversation in this story with Batman and in their interactions in Killing Joke and in "Oracle: Year One." That Batman respects Oracle completely and needs her support more than he'd ever admit becomes very clear. The new Batgirl's existence only serves to exacerbate Barbara's feelings of helplessness as she daily faces the technological black hole Gotham has become and tries to continue fighting the good fight in spite of the fact that her Oracle persona is now almost as handicapped in Gotham as her once-powerful Batgirl self is. Meanwhile, Commissioner and Captain Gordon make peace with each other, and careful observers should probably cross Sarah Essen-Gordon and Detective Montoya off their lists of possible Batgirls. Fast-paced with a great deal more going on than I've touched on. If only for the Babs subplot (and for so much more than that) this is a must-read.
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #120
"Assembly", August 1999, written by Greg Rucka, pencilled by Mike Deodato, inked by Sean Parsons, colored by Pam Rambo, lettered by Willie Schubert, edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkle
And now the moment we've all been waiting for! The No Man's Land event has been a consistently wonderfully written and wonderfully realized achievement in comic storytelling, but the series of two-parters which led to this story ("Mosaic," "Claim Jumping," & "Mark of Cain") were brilliant and worth rereading all together to pick up the nuances missed the first time. "Assembly" brings the Bat-team back to Gotham, unmasks the mysterious Batgirl II, and "knights" the new, even more mysterious and fascinating Batgirl III. This is all handled wonderfully, from the camaraderie Batman's partners show towards each other (Oracle, Nightwing, Robin, Azrael, and the new Batgirl — uh, where's Alfred?), to the tension portrayed between Batman and Nightwing, to the brutally harsh scene between a penitent, almost pleading Batman and an unforgiving, angry Jim Gordon, to the revelatory scene where Huntress is revealed as Batgirl II.
I know lots of people thought Huntress turning out to be Batgirl was a let-down or a rip-off, but I think it was a clever move. That Huntress — who desperately wants but has never been able to earn Batman's approval and spoils the possibility every time she comes close to succeeding — at some point early on in NML (as we'll see in the upcoming No Man's Land #0) realized the Bat was needed in Gotham and undertook the mantle on her own is something that makes sense. As she is written now (and it may change with Rucka taking her on in a forthcoming mini), Huntress verges on the sociopathic. She wants vengeance and calls it justice; she wants approval but seemingly does everything she can to anger Batman. Bottom line is that Huntress doesn't want Batman's approval, she wants to be Batman — be what he is to criminals, to his fellow crimefighters (vigilante and cop), and be what he is to Gotham itself. She took on the mantle in an attempt to be what Batman is, to capture whatever it is that he has, and she doesn't. Her failure to stop Two-Face's invasion of Batman's territory ("Claim Jumping") — her failure to even try to stop him — is a monumental one in the face of all that Batman expects of himself and of his allies.
She knows the moment she walks away from the fight that she has destroyed her Batgirl self and the ensuing scene in "Assembly" between Huntress and Batman is definitive of their relationship. She will not live up to his expectations and instead blames him for raising the bar so high — in spite of the fact that Nightwing, Robin, Oracle AND the original Batgirl she once was, and Azrael and even Catwoman have all managed to do so. She doesn't have what it takes. At least not yet. Her pride is too great for her to be a great hero. It is a breathtaking moment in a terrific story. The best moment of all, however, was when a somewhat humbled Batman introduces the new Batgirl to the troops and Nightwing requires him to give something more than his own word that she is worthy of the role. Without missing a beat, Batman turns to Oracle who says, "You can trust her." Oracle's word is the one no one doubts. This is a great story and a landmark issue in the Bat canon.
DC First: Batgirl/Joker #1
"Clowntime", July 2002, written by Steven Grant, art by Bill Sienkiewicz, Terry Moore, and Jimmy Palmiotti, colored by Sheri Van Valkenburg, lettered by John E. Workman, Jr., edited by Lysa Hawkins.
This is a really good overview of the Batgirls of the DCU that features excellent artwork by Sienkiewicz and Moore. The art works to underline the difference between the world Cassandra Cain as Batgirl faces versus the world Barbara Gordon as Batgirl faced — or perhaps it only underlines the different ways each looks at the world while wearing the costume.
In her typical style, Cassandra takes Barbara's story of her own first encounter with the Joker when she was Batgirl in a skewed way and decides she needs to face off against the Clown Prince of Crime in order to properly prove herself as Batgirl.
Realizing how her words were twisted by Cassandra, Barbara panics — a wonderful character moment showing some oft-overlooked human frailty lurking beneath Oracle's perfect facade — and calls in Black Canary to help. Canary wisely points out that in a situation involving the Joker, one should call in Batman and apparently holds her ground until Barbara caves in and does so.
Canary and Bats pursue Cassandra but keep watch from a distance to see if she can handle the Joker herself, planning only to intervene if it becomes necessary.
The difference in the Batgirls' confrontations with the Joker, while Barbara had less physical skill than many vigilantes and certainly less than Cassandra, she more than made up for this with her intellectual skills and her ability to use them strategically. Cassandra's incredible physical and martial skills are always at the fore over her method, meaning she often has to take several hits before she shifts into strategic mode. By the end of the story, we discover that Cassandra sees this difference as a deficiency on her side.
This is a very successful entry in the DC First collection, with pitch perfect portrayals of all involved characters both artistically and from the writing side, and giving us a nice glimpse back at Barbara as Batgirl.
Batgirl: Year One #1
"Masquerade", February 2003, written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Marcos Martin, inked by Alvaro Lopez, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by Willie Schubert, edited by Matt Idelson, cover by Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I think the art is good for the story, harking back to the "simpler" days when Barbara was young. Her Batgirl days always seem cleaner, crisper, very Silver Age and primary-colored, with sillier villains and lots more flirting. Marcos Martin's art works subliminally to underscore that while at the same time showing shadows and mystery implying that there's more there than nostalgia necessarily remembers.
But I am getting so tired of the arbitrary rewriting of supporting characters' origin stories. I personally thought the Secret Origins #20 tale summed up her story and updated the details very well to post-Crisis continuity; I then thought that the Legends of the DC Universe 2-parter (#10 and #11, "Folie a Deux") made minor (somewhat annoying, but still minor) changes to the Secret Origins story and fleshed things out very well.
So why change the source of Barbara's inspiration? Why change her height so drastically? Barbara has ALWAYS been tall, all the way back to her debut. She has always, from the dawn of her character, been upwards of 5'10" — perhaps she's supposed to have a growth spurt later in the story... but I have to say that did bother me. Canary's the short one; Babs is the tall one.
I don't mind a bit of origin tweaking, but WHY!!!! They wouldn't let this stuff happen to BATMAN!!!
While I enjoyed this story on the surface very much, on a deepr level, I'm pretty ambivalent about this. It looks like a good setup, and I like the direction it's taking and Babs' characterization on a broader scale, but I'm not pleased with the canonical changes being made to her origin.
Batgirl: Year One #2
"Future-Tense", March 2003, written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Marcos Martin, inked by Alvaro Lopez, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by Willie Schubert, edited by Matt Idelson, cover by Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez
I really like the art in this story. It just works very well with the Silver Age villain and the modern, dark undertones and overtones, the looming menace... I like the art.
And taking a deep breath and accepting the origin story changes, this is a good story so far. Barbara is smart and driven by a sense of her own value which she believes (for good reason) is not appreciated by those around her.
Her ambition is also well-illustrated as well as her recklessness — qualities she's often shown in the pages of Birds of Prey
An excellent character study and so far, so good.
Batgirl: Year One #3
"Afterglow", April 2003, written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Marcos Martin, inked by Alvaro Lopez, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by Willie Schubert, edited by Matt Idelson, cover by Marcus Martin.
The retelling of Batgirl's origin continues, with forays into Robin's early crush on Barbara "Batgirl" Gordon, Jason Bard's attempts to romance Babs, Batman's first attempts to discourage her from "the life."
The most interesting aspect of this installment is its portrayal of Barbara's first minor attempts at really being a vigilante, her close calls, and her determination to be better. She revamps her costume-party costume into a real crimefighter's costume (by DCU standards) complete with a useful utility belt and sensible boots.
The best thing in the series is the way Barbara's personality is explored. As Batgirl, she has a lot of doubts about her abilities ("that was stupid!") but still has that superiority complex that is Oracle's hallmark. The path from Batgirl to Oracle is made clearer by this story.
Batgirl: Year One #4
"Cave Dwellers", May 2003, written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Marcos Martin, inked by Alvaro Lopez, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by Willie Schubert, edited by Matt Idelson, cover by Marcus Martin.
Really, the art and coloring in this series are just gorgeous. Very specific, style-wise, but they fit this flashback tale of Barbara Gordon's past.
And this issue is all about Babs' first visit to the boy's club — the Batcave! Naturally, Robin is all for letting Batgirl join the team, but Batman — being Batman — would prefer if she'd just go away.
Batgirl gets run through her paces and has a good ol' Huntress-style yell at Batman about being treated badly, but in the end, she's impressed (or smitten) Robin, and he secretly supplies her with official Bat-gear.
He also believes he's scooped Batman by knowing Batgirl's secret... has he? Future issues, I'm sure, will tell.
Batgirl: Year One #5
"Moth to a Flame", June 2003, written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Marcos Martin, inked by Alvaro Lopez, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by Willie Schubert, edited by Matt Idelson, cover by Marcus Martin.
This issue deals with Batgirl's self-nominated archnemesis, Killer Moth, and his life post-humiliation at Batgirl's hands. He's lost everything — his henchman, his home, his money — and is in despair, impotently dreaming of revenge, until a new partner offers himself up: Firefly. Now, Firefly is quite the despicable character — a pyromaniac film FX man who is fired from his latest job for rigging an effect which almost kills the film's leading lady. Ewwww.
Once again, Moth is in over his head, teamed with a psychopath while he's just kind of a loser wannabe criminal who was in it for the money and prestige (only in Gotham!) But this new partner makes Killer Moth's revenge a true danger to the unsuspecting Batgirl.
Batgirl: Year One #6
"Bird of Prey", July 2003, written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Marcos Martin, inked by Alvaro Lopez, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by Willie Schubert, edited by Matt Idelson, cover by Marcus Martin.
Another origin story! This time of the team that will become the Birds of Prey. The first meeting of Barbara Gordon and Dinah Lance (unbeknownst to either of them at the time) is told in this issue.
Canary calls Batgirl "kid" several times in this story, which is funny. Because they aren't that far apart in age, and in the real DCU, Barbara is taller than Canary, so she should be towering over her... But hey.
Babs graduates from "kid" to "sister" pretty quickly, and the reason behind their team-up soon becomes clear. A mobster has hired two baddies to be fake Killer Moth & Firefly and have sent them off to kidnap someone (a set-up within a set-up!) Their target? James Gordon.
Now, a note here. When Dixon first referred to Batgirl & Canary's first meeting in the pages of BoP 15, the case was the kidnapping of CANARY's dad. However, I (yes me) pointed out to him on his message board, that there is no way in any version of DC continuity that Larry Lance could have been alive at the time. He was always dead before BC II took up the mantle. So this redirection of the story may have happened anyway thanks to some alert DC editor or continuity cop, but I happen to know I'm the first one who pointed it out to him!
Back to the story! Gordon visits an old friend and source, the late Larry Lance's partner, and on the way out is set upon by the fakes who injure his sidekick Jason Bard and make away wth their quarry, destroying Lance's old office building and killing his partner. This calls Black Canary's attention to the case and brings her onto the scene.
Mayhem ensues, our heroines unite in their common cause, the real Killer Moth and Firefly follow along to see what all the fuss is, and in a great final image, the Moths & Flys square off while Batgirl and Canary, weirdly outnumbered, react with disgruntlement rather than fear at their predicament. This all works amazingly well. The banter, while a bit off (I mean, do women talk like this? Not so much though maybe some do...), is fun and action-filmish and both heroines are strong, determined, and just keep movin' on. The cliffhanger is a good one, not really scary but funny and with enough of the unknown danger looming to add a bit of "what next!" to the sting. Groovy story
Batgirl: Year One #7
"Bird of Prey", August 2003, written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Marcos Martin, inked by Alvaro Lopez, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by Willie Schubert, edited by Matt Idelson, cover by Marcus Martin.
The BoP team-up wraps in this issue with Babs' new motorcycle (bestowed last issue by Robin who pretends its on the sly though it's actually at Batman's behest who wants to help her survive until she quits ;-)
The team manages to rescue the innocent and not-so-innocent victims of the Fireflys and Killer Moths but don't manage to save Bressi's house (the mobster who started the whole mess by hiring the fakes). Canary goes back "home" to the JLA Watchtower, getting all the credit for the rescue in the papers the next day, and Barbara goes home with a heatburnt face which shows the outline of her cowl quite clearly! This is a funny and realistic touch which leads to some amusing interplay between Babs and her dad.
A poignant moment with Jason Bard — now in the hospital and off the force due to permanent disability — as Babs realizes she really does like him. But they're interrupted by Gordon and Babs runs off, deciding to hit the rooftops for some stress-relieving crimebusting which leads to another meet-cute with Robin who's delivering a replacement for the batcycle she trashed...
But that's not all! Batman's away and Robin wants to party. And the teen vigilante's idea of a fun date? A team-up with the new Batgirl.
This issue and the last are the strongest ones in this story so far. The characters are very well-drawn, interesting, and funny. Robin is endearing, Babs is confused and shaken but still determined, and Canary was just flat-out fun! Where was THIS Dinah Lance in the pages of most of Dixon's run on BoP? That would be my only criticism...
Batgirl: Year One #8
"Seasoned Crime-Fighter", September 2003, written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Marcos Martin, inked by Alvaro Lopez, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by Willie Schubert, edited by Matt Idelson, cover by Marcus Martin.
The penultimate issue of this maxi-series features the first team-up adventure of the original Batgirl and Robin, their first encounter with the Condiment King, a forshadowing first match with the original Blockbuster, and an important first kiss.
This is another delightful outing in the series. Batgirl and Robin both come across as age-appropriate but also very talented at their chosen pastime. Even though they both have some idea of how dangerous their lives are, they also have that youthful sense of immortality necessary to leap into things whole-heartedly when perhaps they don't quite know what they'll do next let alone if anything goes wrong. One of the major talents of both characters is their ability to think fast, and this saves their lives more often than not.
Barbara's father has deep suspicions that his daughter is Batgirl, and their rocky relationship seems about to blow up as the issue ends with a huge fire.
There's a nice cameo by historic Bruce Wayne girlfriend and reporter (all the superhero guys dated "nosey" girl reporters back in the day) Vicki Vale. The art is truly excellent; consistent, beautifully colored, and clean. Barbara's internal monologue is realistic and shows a smart, maturing, but imperfect human being — a quality it would have been nice to see shown in the older, more experienced, but still dangerously headstrong Oracle during Dixon's BoP tenure.
Batgirl: Year One #9
"Ashes and Blood", October 2003, written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Marcos Martin, inked by Alvaro Lopez, colored by Javier Rodriguez, lettered by Willie Schubert, edited by Matt Idelson, cover by Martin, Lopez, and Rodriguez.
It ends not with a bang or a whimper but with a triumphant carpe diem attitude. This limited series was a bit wobbly at first, but the last few issues have been wonderful, really capturing the characters — epecially Barbara and Dick Grayson/Robin — and making the action and villains really work. The art has been uniformly wonderful, very clean and crisp, Silver Agey without looking old, and capturing the Gotham Noir feel.
I still don't know why Dixon went to all the trouble to make Barbara short (which she never was and still isn't). I'm sure he could have found some other obstacle (eyesight, maybe? I have a cousin who was discharged from the Air Force for some obscure eye problem...) to throw in her path to "legitimate" law enforcement.
But in the end, this series is highly recommended for all Barbara Gordon fans. We finally get to see Barbara in the Batcave, Barbara learning "the secret," the early Batgirl/Robin flirtations, and all that good stuff that was either not exactly done "then" as it is now (post-Crisis) or never actually told before. All hail, Batgirl! She was one of the greats, and this series shows us just why.
JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice
"", 2002, written by David S. Goyer and Geoff Johns, pencilled by Carlos Pacheco, inked by Jesus Merino, colored by Guy Major, lettered by Ken Lopez, cover by Carlos Pacheco, Jesus Merino, and Guy Major
This is the best JLA/JSA crossover I've ever read. After the abyssmal first matchup of the two modern teams in Morrison's run on JLA, I despaired of a good story, and didn't even buy this story the first week it was out. But then I heard the decidedly positive buzz on this, and decided to risk it.
And I was entirely pleased that I did! Not only is it a really good, well-thought-out story involving the two current teams in a "widescreen" battle against a really great villain, it is also a marvellous showcase for the JLA and JSA reserves, particularly Black Canary (much to my amazement!).
After things fall apart early in the story, the backups are called in and Canary, as the senior JLA reservist (can't get more senior than being a founder of the original team) takes charge, strategizing and giving orders like she knows what she's doing. I was not only thrilled but completely impressed. Here was the Black Canary the way she should be but rarely seen outside the pages of JLA: Year One and a few of the JSA issues (plus the wonderful JSA: Annual #1). She's now showing up more and more in her own title (BoP, of course), which is great news for we Canary fans.
But aside from the great Canary portrayal, this is just a great story which uses an enormous cast of characters very well indeed. Too often with these gang-up stories, you get the equivalent of everyone waving at the camera and only two or three characters doing anything. In this story, everyone who is in the story seems to have a reason to be in the story. This is no small achievement in comics, and I applaud Messrs. Goyer and Johns for a job very well done.
The villains are well-chosen and well-used, the mystery is well-done, the battle is well-fought, and the cast is well-chosen. The writing team shows a grasp of current continuity usually associated with Mark Waid and no one else, and they use it very well.
I've sometimes begrudged the $2+ cover price on a comic I didn't love, but I enjoyed every page of this $24.95 hardback and don't feel I wasted any money. That's really saying something about how good a story this is.