Reviewing the Birds of Prey
Year Eight: 2006
Birds of Prey #88
"Perfect Pitch, Part Two", January 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Joe Bennett and Eddy Barrows, inked by Jack Jadson and Robin Riggs, colored by Hi-Fi Design, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Joan Hilty, cover by Adriana Melo and Will Conrad
Savant is having another very, very, very bad day. Which is really too bad, because he's been trying so hard to be good (though his concept of good is admittedly shaky). And it's too bad because the rest of the team is having such a very good day. Doesn't seem right, somehow, that he's going through such hell, and they don't even know it. Sure, he put Canary through hell, but at least she had people who knew about it.
The Calculator is not a nice man.
But the mall trip. What FUN is the mall trip? A lot of fun. A lot. Especially the part where Dinah freaks out and buys up all the hideous post-(first)-Crisis-costumed action figures of herself. And the "living emoticon" quip.
The entire sequence with Black Canary and Green Arrow together again was pure bliss, though. Great interaction, great flashbacks, and great fights. This guest-star appearance to address the long-unanswered questions about these two characters and their relationship is such a great thing to have. Again with the closure being wonderful!
Speaking of great fights, Huntress kicks serious butt. She's like Lucy Lui's character in Kill Bill but without the decapitating.
This is a middle story, setting up the cards for the all-fall-down that's coming in the next issues, but it's a solid one, working out some side issues, having some fun, and then having some not-so-much fun if you're Savant.
Birds of Prey #89
"Perfect Pitch, Part Three", February 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Paulo Siqueira, inked by Robin Riggs, colored by Hi-Fi Design, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Joan Hilty, cover by Adriana Melo and Will Conrad
I present to you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Exhibit One: How to Write a Cross-Over Tie-In Issue. Let us say, for argument's sake, that I only read Birds of Prey. When I pick up this issue, am I able to follow the story? Does it make sense to me as a BoP reader? Does it further the plot of the BoP title?
My answer, ladies and gentlemen, is unequivocally, Yes.
We on-ramp with the new artist on a really busy issue of BoP where years-old (and perhaps decades-old) secrets are revealed, alliances are tested, and competent bad guys are lying in wait for our heroines.
Oh, and Batman is lurking in the window.
For the entire part of the story devoted to Babs' revelation to her father, ex-Commissioner Gordon, this issue has already earned an "A" and it makes no other stumbles to reduce its grade. Canary and Huntress are competent and quick and able to take down a whole raft of bad guys with style. The bad guys are not bumbling and are therefore a real threat. Calculator is properly unnerving and weird and amoral without becoming that lovely cliche of the outright, blithering crazy bad guy.
And yet, in spite of all this good work, the center does not hold. Things fall apart. And that's good, too, because you can't win 'em all, and this is an earned fall from if not grace then probation. We didn't first meet Savant a couple of issues ago JUST for this moment. We met him ages ago, we never quite got to trust him; but we accepted that he had problems that led to his bad behavior; we accepted -- along with Black Canary -- that he was really trying to change; we liked him as Huntress's backup. And we... y'know, we understand this fall. But that doesn't make it any less awful to see such potential destroyed.
As for new artist Paulo Siqueira, it's nice, clean work but a bit uneven. Oracle isn't quite pretty enough, and there isn't quite enough detail to convey the darker expressions in some cases. It reminds me, actually, of Kevin Maguire's work on the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League run which I don't find quite the right fit for BoP. But it is nice, and this is just the first issue, so we shall see how things progress, eh?
Up next? Deathstroke.
Birds of Prey #90
"Perfect Pitch, Part Five (which is a mistake as it's only Part Four)", March 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Paulo Siqueira and Adam Dekraker, inked and finished (pages 17-21) by Robin Riggs, colored by Hi-Fi Design, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Joan Hilty, cover by Adriana Melo and Will Conrad
This issue contains a panel that made me squee like a thirteen-year-old fangirl. Yes, it was that panel. Hello, my name is Jennifer, and I'm a Black Canary/Batman shipper.
But, about the issue, really the greatest thing in it is not The Panel In Question.
No, indeed it is not.
The greatest thing in this issue is Black Canary stepping up to Deathstroke's level. Honestly, if it hadn't been for Zinda, she may very well have won the day. Not that I'm blaming Zinda -- she didn't know, but she could learn a thing or two from Savant: Just shoot; don't announce the forthcoming shooting. Seriously, the fight is on. It isn't dishonorable to just shoot the guy.
I really loved this issue. It had a lot of emotion and much of that was glee, which is odd considering a large chunk of the issue is the very messy fight with Deathstroke. But even that is glee-inducing. They do SO very well against him, it's just a joy to watch them almost kick his ass.
It's nice, too, that Savant retires from the field with no (new, at least) deaths on his hands. Maybe he'll be back? Maybe he'll go bad again? At least that is out there to find. There is still hope for redemption, and with the loyal Creote at his side (who has also been very influenced by our team over the months they've been working together), perhaps redemption is possible.
Huntress's glee is the best, for she has had so little of it over the years, and that she is praised by Batman? Well, gosh darn if that doesn't just jerk the tears a little.
Oracle is gleeful, too (You know she's thinking, "See, Batman? TOLD YOU!") and Canary. Like a proud mom, she is, and then we get The Panel.
Oh, and BATMAN IS WRONG! Heee-hee-hee. That's cool.
Also great: Zinda discovers the truth about Creote; her response is priceless. And Calculator FAILS! Superfail! Yay!
Birds of Prey #91
"Donor", April 2006, written by Jim Alexander, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti, colored by Hi-Fi Design, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Joan Hilty, cover by Jesus Saiz
First off, the cover is a bit muddy-looking. I think the pencils were probably pretty sweet on this picture, but the finished piece doesn't quite work.
This is guest-issue from writer to inker to cover artist (though valiant Jared K. continues on the letters!), and it reads like a filler. However, it reads like filler written by someone who really did his homework on the state of the BoP title. He respected the continuity in place and put a nice, non-status-quo-changing story into the space made available while having fun with the Metropolis milieu. So the "filler" thing isn't a knock.
It's a solid story, but it suffers from what several of the Dixon-era stories suffered from which is this: it posits a sticky moral question, takes a stab at answering it, and then walks away. Stories like these resonate when there are longer-term consequences, when repercussions are felt. It's one thing to have a gut-kick from a story and stop there; it's another thing entirely to feel the pain of the aftermath of that gut-kick And this wasn't really a gut-kick. I doubt this guy will change -- but we don't know anything about him and so have no way to know if Oracle's gambit has a chance or not.
So not a bad issue at all. It rates a B. I'll also give the art a B. His guys are better than his girls, but no one is too consistently rendered. However, they all have lots of personality and are very expressive which is nice.
Birds of Prey #92
"Progeny, Part One: Inseparable", May 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Paulo Siqueira, inked by Robin Riggs, colored by Hi-Fi Design, lettered by Pat Brosseau, edited by Joan Hilty, cover by Terry & Rachel Dodson with Hi-Fi Design
Oooo. Pretty cover by Terry & Rachel Dodson... bu-bu-but... what's happened to Adriana?! (*Wail!*)
It's One Year Later (hereafter OYL — and that's OYL than the end of Infinite Crisis for those of you not following along at home) and Things Have Changed all over the DCU, and in BoP-land, too.
First off, Huntress has decided the massive white X on her chest wasn't quite a big enough target in the dark, so now it's even bigger. THAT'll sure make lurking around in the dark safer! Great idea! Pretty, though. And it is more important to look good than to... oh, blah-blah-blah. :)
But I kid the comic book. I kid because I love.
One more costume critique, though, 'cause it's really bugging me. Oracle's glasses are AWFUL! They look so marm-ish. YUCK. Hate 'em. PLEASE REDESIGN THE EYEWEAR! The bad-guy doctor's glasses would be better. Seriously. Ick.
Speaking of bad-guy doctor, Oracle is working on a defection from whatever is left of the organized supervillain community after OYL. We get hints as she talks to this guy on his cell, so we soon know that she's still in a wheelchair, still Oracle, still working her mysterious ways, and still working with Huntress. Soon we discover that Oracle "doesn't have an operative" by the name of Canary.
WHAT?! But, she's on the cover! Plus, also, apparently she DOES have an operative by that name, only it's a Canary of a different color. Make that Jade.
Make that Shiva.
What. The. Hell?
Now, OUR Canary is in a far-off, very muddy land, having made some sort of deal to be there. She's there to learn something. And it's going to be, by all indicators, a very painful education.
Whatever is going on between Shiva and Canary -- for that does seem to be the odd, connecting factor between these two divergent fight scenes -- it's resulting in some truly strange moments for the Birds. Huntress being the calm, reasonable one, for instance. I think my favorite moment in the story is Shiva's reaction to the Ventriloquist. And Huntress's reaction to THAT.
They do manage to get their wounded defector to the hospital -- and look! There's Zinda! -- but the Society is not going to stop trying to kill him, and now there's a new twist. They'll punish him by going after his little daughter, too. Great.
And little girls are also a theme as the child Canary befriends in the godforsaken place she's landed herself latches onto this first nice person she's ever met.
We end with Oracle's mission objective's success very uncertain, another new operative about to be revealed (well, many of us already know who she is, but...), and Canary beaten possibly to death and definitely unconscious in a strange and brutal land.
There is a great deal of set-up in this issue, so it's hard to assess it fairly. The OYL stories are intriguing, though, and in spite of the replacements, a certain level of banter and liveliness is still maintained. The DCU is a darker, more dangerous place with the Society of Supervillains not only still active but quite possibly even more dangerous than ever. It'll be interesting to see how this unfolds.
Birds of Prey #93
"Progeny, Part Two: Gutshot Redemption", June 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Paulo Siqueira, inked by Robin Riggs, colored by Hi-Fi Design, lettered by Pat Brosseau, edited by Joan Hilty, cover by Terry & Rachel Dodson
This is a solid, middle issue that wastes no time assuring us that our heroines have not gone soft on us -- more specifically, that Canary may have been down last issue, but she is most certainly not out. She is, in fact, kicking la snot out of the same dudes her beat her up before. That she was blindfolded, disoriented, and handcuffed before may have had something to do with her defeat. This time? The other guys are toast.
Gypsy (new kid!), Shiva, and Zinda are off to pick up the bad guy's spawn who is quite the precocious little brat and a delight to all. But, hey, her dad's a super-bad-guy. There's bound to be some fallout from that.
Paulo's art is just gorgeous in this issue with everyone looking a lot better, more detailed, and consistent (Oracle glasses still hideous, though). Zinda, especially, gets some just gorgeous panels and the opening fight scene between Canary and the big pile o' guys is wonderfully done. She is far too pretty, considering the beating she'd had the day before (no bruises or abrasions visible... 'nother superpower? Also, what's up with all the blood being black? It's red on the COVER!)
The kid-retrieval-team is attacked by HIVE drones which leads to a great car chase scene and Zinda's Great Action Panel, and while Huntress is holding down the hospital front all by herself, more drones attack. Shiva dives in full-force, then takes a break for a phone call to Asia and a chat with Canary. this is an illuminating call as it fleshes out just a bit the deal these two have struck.
Things aren't going too well on any continent, and as Canary discovers her temporary village is about to be laid waste by warlords, Huntress and Oracle discover that all their work may have been for nothing. The Crime Doctor is gone. And it looks like Prometheus has him.
The character work in this arc so far has been incidental, but it's still there. Canary, especially, is getting put through her paces, but it's probable we won't see the results for awhile. Too much is happening for her to do more than keep up with it all. The same is true for Huntress and Oracle, but we do get glimpses into Shiva's heart of darkness. Gypsy proves herself an interesting addition. Is she permanent? Don't know yet, but so far I don't object. She fits nicely.
Birds of Prey #94
"Progeny, Part Three: Stolen Inferno", July 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Paulo Siqueira, inked by Robin Riggs, colored by Hi-Fi Design, lettered by Pat Brosseau, edited by Mark Carlin, cover by Terry & Rachel Dodson
Wow. An issue in which the Black Canary takes down a military column while Shiva falls to a single opponent. And it works! That's the brilliance of this arc. The Canary character work is starting to show results as she does take time to analyze herself, her motivations, her reasons for being where she is, for making the bargain she made. The depth and sheer ability this arc demonstrates the Canary possessing -- convincingly -- is awesome. You want to see her spar with Batman, go another round with Wonder Woman, and match herself against Cassandra Cain one more time (who I imagine is one of the two fighters Prometheus rates above Shiva in his off-hand "number three, actually"). Because she is gooood.
Also good? Seeing Shiva in Black Canary's costume. That's fun. Also, a quick cameo by Creote, roped into helping these crazy superheroines once again. Yay! He hasn't vanished entirely.
Little side note on character development. Canary's getting all the glamorous moments, but Huntress... wow, has she changed. She's tough, in charge, smart, calm, and centered in a way that is completely consistent with the changes she went through in the previous many issues of BoP. Whatever's happened in the missing year only continued this progress. She's still Huntress -- still quicker to draw and sharper of knife than most other heroes -- but she's no longer the scattershot almost-crazy woman she used to be. It's neat to see.
Prometheus has changed, too, and he's back to being the scary guy who took down the JLA once more. Only worse. No one has stayed put in all the passing time since we've last seen them. Everyone's gotten better, badder, tougher. This is good. People like this -- living lives like this -- they'd have to. Shiva points this out in her explanation for why she should take on Prometheus alone. He'll have her old moves, and she never stops learning new ones. A necessary thing to survive in their world.
Too bad Prometheus has the moves of someone who was even better than Shiva on file.
And too bad for the warlord's men that Canary is a worthy -- if reluctant -- successor to Lady Shiva...
Birds of Prey #95
"Progeny, Finale: A Cup of Kindness Yet", August 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Joe Prado, inked by Dick Giordano, colored by Hi-Fi Design, lettered by Pat Brosseau, edited by Mark Carlin, cover by Brian Hurtt
Argh! JUST as Paulo was getting SO AMAZING at the art, we get a new artist. Please say it isn't a new one! The credits don't say "guest" though... grrrrrrrr.
Joe Prado has a nice, almost Butch Guice style, but it's rough and inconsistent and jarring since it takes over for the last chapter of the arc. Boo. There are some great panels, however.
On the other hand, the cover womps. We are spoiled for BoP covers, granted. They have been almost always amongst the best covers out there, but this one is really... weak.
Which is too bad. The art issues are all too bad because, really, this arc has been great and the ending is pretty damn good, too, but the art weakens it overall, and that's just a rotten thing to happen to a good story arc.
What we do get, finally, is Crime Doctor backstory, a really good fight with Zinda, Huntress, and Gypsy taking on Prometheus and doing a pretty darn good job of it, and Canary beginning to come to terms with what she's done to herself. There will be repercussions. We know this because Gail's writing this book and she does repercussions.
Our heroines don't really succeed in their mission -- the Crime Doctor dies -- but he saves his daughter and the team's determination allowed for all of this to take place. However, Shiva is not to be trusted, and as Canary returns and she and Shiva end their deal, an exchange of hostages -- unwitting though this exchange may be on our heroines' part -- has taken place.
The introduction of Sin (please rename her!) into the mix is interesting, and I pass no judgements on it at this point. It could be great or not so much, but I trust Gail and will wait and see.
The Shiva stinger, however, is a bit irritating. I'm not sure why she'd go for Bethany. The girl is smart and has a mouth on her, but where is the potential as a fighter? Cain bred Cassie and trained her from birth to become the ultimate fighter she is. Bethany is older, with no background or training to indicate she'd have any aptitude for martial arts, and the benefit to Shiva is difficult to discern. AND Canary has no personal interaction or relationship or emotional investment in this girl AT ALL, so the choosing of this child seems... well, weird.
We wrap up the story with a little repair work at Oracle Central which acts as a bit of a bonding situation and intro to the new sidekick/daughter/little sister who has been imported thanks to Ollie's new mayoral connections.
And next month? Black Alice returns.
Birds of Prey #96
"Headhunt, Part One: Through the Shards of a Looking Glass", September 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Paulo Siqueira, inked by Robin Riggs, colored by Hi-Fi, lettered by Jared K. Fletcher, edited by Mike Carlin, cover by Jerry Ordway
"...this is home, and these are my she-peeps."
"...I think we're getting away from the key point... that Babs cyber-did it with the Blue Beetle."
~ the Quotable Black Canary ~
The opening scenes of this issue are wonderful with a great sense of the reunited and expanded Birds team (minus Zinda for some reason?) gathering for a meal and a visit to the Blue Beetle memorial (which makes its debut in this title, which is nice since it was in the pages of BoP, along with I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League, that Beetle had his last hurrahs in the DCU). The pitch is perfect, the art is light and clean and very nice (Paulo is getting better and better), and the repartee is as snappy as ever (see above quotes).
But the main part of this issue, featuring the return of Black Alice, just didn't work well for me. After what Lori saw during the Crisis while she was working with the Shadowpact, I'd expect her to be a bit more savvy and a bit more cynical. She starts out so — immediately mistrusting the baddies — but it takes so little to convince her to go postal on the people she's met before and who are "good guys." Sure, she has reason to have trust issues, but it seems she should just mistrust EVERYONE and not immediately blow things up. She's Gail's baby, and so her interpretation of the character should be prime, but this portrayal doesn't mesh well with the development she underwent during the Crisis. On the other hand, a lot of time has passed since then and a lot has happened...
Part two is still to come so things might work out in the end.
As for the teaser: I'm a goober. It didn't occur to me at all until I read someone else's post on the issue, that the costume in question was not the already-revealed Batwoman red and black but the old-school Batgirl's yellow and black! So! Is it Babs who had a mysterious other commitment on the night in question? Is it someone else? Is it Batwoman whose other costume was at the cleaners? It looks as if we'll find out in the next issue or two...
Birds of Prey #97
"Headhunt, Part Two: The Piper Must Be Paid", October 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Paulo Siqueira, inked by Robin Riggs, colored by Hi-Fi, lettered by Pat Brosseau, edited by Mike Carlin, cover by Jerry Ordway
Wow, the art's pretty. I think Paulo really hit his stride with the title. It's so clean and easy to follow without being simplistic and undetailed. Nice.
The story is okay. Part two is better than part one, and though it is -- again, as the first Black Alice story was -- too short to do justice to the story being told, it is pretty effective, and our heroines all get a bit of screen time to shine as best they can in this mess of a fight.
Black Alice has the problem too many supers do -- she is too powerful. You can't really fight her because she can yank anyone's power to her command and smoosh you. She seems to be able to do it at will and for as long as she wants to now, too, which was not the case before. Why the change? She was scary-powerful before and now she's just ridiculous. Even Superman would be vulnerable to her since her powers are magic, and that's his weak spot. Even Zatanna would because Black Alice could steal her powers. We've seen no weakness, no kryptonite, if you will, that she's vulnerable to. This is a problem and makes the character pretty uninteresting. That she's also kind of nuts makes her yet another one of those unstable, not really evil but not really good females running around the DCU which makes her even less interesting.
She's a teenager which excuses things a little -- she's overdramatic and full of herself and easily offended. Maybe she isn't crazy, though she seems to be (as teenagers can do), and now she's got this bizarre, creepy mom back from the dead and a father who probably IS crazy after all of that mess.
And what was the point by the end of the story? That you can't win 'em all? That good intentions aren't enough? Okay, that works. But now we all walk away from the time bomb that is Black Alice. I still can't help but wonder how she figured out her powers so quickly and how she got them in the first place and why and what happened between the time she helped out the Shadowpact and this story to make her so quickly mistrust the "good guys" when she'd been an active participant against Talia et. al. during the run up to the Crisis. And what happened that she's so readily using her powers again after so strenuously not wanting to (again, with the Shadowpact). Too much action, not enough character development!
Meanwhile the Batgirl mystery is going along and will be center stage next issue. That should be interesting!
Birds of Prey #98
"Headhunt, Part Three: False Idol", November 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by James Raiz, inked by Robin Riggs, colored by Hi-Fi, lettered by Pat Brosseau, edited by Mike Carlin, cover by Jerry Ordway
I like the art! Very nice. Bit rough here and there, but overall very nice. Don't think we've seen Mr. Raiz 'round these parts before, but he's welcome to stay a spell. But, argh-- Oracle still has those awful glasses! Which begs a question. Is this woman nearsighted or farsighted, 'cause I would have said farsighted, but she wears her glasses ALL the time, so she's probably nearsighted... so what did she do as Batgirl? Contacts? Why no longer with the contacts even on outings away from eyeball-drying computer work?
Now, as to the plot! Yeah, the plot...
Let's look at this. Miss Yasemin is getting out of prison in full-on tramp gear, a year after her arrest? Really? A year? What was she in for, insider trading? But let's not quibble. Okay, she's out. She's determined to exact revenge upon Helena Bertinelli, and she's not afraid to perforate anyone who dares stand in her way.
So not a fun person to have mad at one. 'Kay.
Meanwhile, our gang is in the park AGAIN! They're PARKIES! I don't think a member of the Bat-crew has seen this much daylight since the Silver Age. Kind of nice, though. Hope they're wearing sunscreen.
Dinah -- who hasn't had a visible relationship or even a date since she ended things with Ollie ages ago -- is accusing Babs and Helena of being dateless wonders? Is she dating on the sly? When is she cramming this superior social life in? She's also, for some reason, teaching Sin (EUGH! NAME CHANGE!) to call strangers and friends alike names! Am I missing something that is supposed to be charming here? 'Cause I am uncharmed. Nine can be quite the awkward age already, transitioning from cherubic to preteen -- let's add being a bratty little name-caller into the mix. Delightful.
And Dinah has her flower shop again and has hired...
Rose! Of And Thorn fame. That should be... neat? Rose is talking to... is that supposed to be Yasmine? Or a Mystery Person, possibly Shiva? Nail color matches betwixt Yasmine earlier and back-of-mystery-woman-with gun in the flower shop.
For a part three, this issue has a heck of a lot of setup going on.
But to the meat of the issue: New Batgirl. New Batgirl is a practical dresser. You gotta dig that. Actually, I completely dig New Batgirl so far. I love how they're all "We're gonna get you!" and she's all "Yay! This is fun!" but when it comes down to real danger, she's right in there, protecting the weak(er than her). She seems a bit... wack-o, but she also seems to have the right instincts. I'm interested to see where this goes.
Overall a solid issue, better than the last two and setting up lots of interesting things for future issues.
Birds of Prey #99
"Headhunt, Part Four: Class Dismissed", December 2006, written by Gail Simone, pencilled by James Raiz, inked by Robin Riggs, colored by Hi-Fi Design, lettered by Travis Lanham, edited by Mike Carlin, cover by Jerry Ordway
Hmm... Where to start on this. There is no way to write this review without including major spoilers, so consider yourself warned.
Art first: Raiz does an all-right job on the art, but it isn't spectacular nor entirely consistent. It's a bit rough here and there, but, in the end, a solid job.
The opening scene deals with the fallout from Yasemin's vendetta, continued from last issue. Canary and Huntress continue chasing their attacker who makes herself known right away. And for some reason, she makes herself known with her top unzipped to her navel. Why is it that villainesses always go around in costumes requiring double-sided tape?
We learn that since Canary's return from her time away, she's gone completely off the wagon and is apparently eating and sitting around all the time. This is a bit hard to believe since, of course, she looks no different in the art, but we'll take her word for it. There is a funny bit where she and Huntress banter about her out-of-shapeness and Canary lapses into Bizarro-speech.
Cut to Babs who is dealing with her Batgirl-wannabe intruder. The art is good in this section and the action nicely done. As with the Black Alice storyline, this one feels rushed which is too bad as this new character is interesting if very naive and odd. Babs' inner monologue is a little confusing here, though, glossing over ex-Batgirl Cassie Cain's turn to the dark side completely.
She talks "Batgirl" down by showing her what has happened to other Bat-wannabes. The girl promises to give up the cowl but not the superhero game. Which makes. No sense. At all. But, she's a kid, and kids can make no sense. Whether the intention is to imply she's a bit off or that she's now somewhat disenchanted with the Bat idea anyway so Babs' asking her to give up was asking for something she'd already discarded, I don't know. There are implications that the character will return under another moniker.
The theme of multi-generational issues plays a major role in the Huntress/Yasemin fight, too, with Yasemin's foolish threat against Helena's students bringing out the mother bear. Huntress gets the best line in the issue at this point: "I want you to understand here. I don't know how to bluff."
And that wraps that storyline, at least for now. Canary does very little in this issue up to now, but this is the crux of the story. Canary dons her mother's costume once more (argh) and quits the team to go play mom to Sin (who she would BEST SERVE BY RENAMING BEFORE SCHOOL STARTS!) Which would be an understandable write-out IF we didn't all know she was going to be in the JLA and is, at this moment, on a road trip with Arsenal and Green Lantern and IN her current costume and NOT taking care of Sin.
Her departure touches on the multigenerational aspect of this particular story, too, as we find out the book she'd begun writing back when Gail first came aboard the title many moons ago, has been finished and published. This is a book in when Dinah writes about living in her mother's shadow, and she decides to leave to be "something... a little bit like a mother." Maybe it's just my own lack of a biological clock or a maternal side, but this is a bit of a false note for me for the character. She resisted becoming a mentor to Spoiler so hard and for reasons that seemed more about not wanting some kid around rather than not wanting to train the next generation. And it rings false because of the aforementioned JLA membership. And it rings false because people do jobs every day which entail great personal risk, and they still manage to be parents. And it rings false because a child like Sin would likely be best raised as Dinah herself was, surrounded by extraordinary, talented people of high moral and heroic stature who could help mould the girl's training so that she would become a force for good.
I've never liked the introduction of Sin into the story. I gave it some space when it first happened a few issues back because I thought it was going somewhere, but this is where it's gone. And if Gail doesn't continue to do something with Canary in the story — meeting the girls for lunch in the park — I think Sin will vanish from the DCU without a trace.
But the reason I didn't like her is that she wasn't a terribly interesting character. She's yet another amazingly-skilled killer kid — a type that crops up all the time in the DCU. But she's no Cassie Cain. And she's kind of annoying when she has been shown (Canary's fault, apparently). Canary as a parent could be interesting, but Canary as "just" a parent? Even Strangers in Paradise has an action 'n' intrigue ongoing subplot to keep things spiced up.
This write-out doesn't feel temporary to me. It feels like a character write-out, like so many others I've read involving Dinah Lance, the Black Canary. And without Canary, I don't consider this title Birds of Prey any longer any more than the Detroit Justice League was really the Justice League. I'll probably still read it, and I imagine it will be good. I love what's been done with Huntress, and I think Oracle's a great character, but the heart of the book and the team is Canary, and she's leaving. I am — no big secret — a Black Canary fan more than anything else. I'm going to see what the next issue brings and see how the departure is handled, but, after all these years, I think more than Canary's tenure with the Birds of Prey has probably just ended.
Unless we're all being royally punked. Wouldn't put it past Gail, to be completely honest ;)