Birds of Prey #100
“Blood & Circuits: Part One – A Chance To Do Good”
Writer: Gail Simone
Pencils: Nicola Scott
Inks: Doug Hazlewood
Writers: Tony Bedard & Gail Simone
Pencils: Paulo Sequiera
Inks: Robin Riggs
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover artist: Jerry Ordway
Editor: Mike Carlin
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99 US/$5.50 CAN
DC’s all-female super-hero title reaches a milestone that one doesn’t often see in the industry anymore, and it merits this special, oversized issue. Writer Gail Simone has wisely opted to make this landmark an accessible jumping-on point for new readers, and both stories work well on that level. I wonder if longtime readers of the title won’t be just a little disappointed, feeling as though something is missing. Don’t get me wrong… the writing is tight and occasionally clever in the main story, but the foundation of this property for years has been the friendship between Oracle and Black Canary. Readers have invested in that relationship, and the connections among the new lineup just doesn’t grab my attention as much. It’s something of a necessary evil in order to offer this new beginning, and I expect the approach will pay off with more new readers than lost ones.
Barbara Gordon, AKA crime-fighting cyber-genius Oracle, embarks on a new recruitment drive, not only because her longtime friend and ally Black Canary has left her Birds of Prey but because she has a new mission that requires some specific skills. That mission: a Mexican jailbreak. Meanwhile, Canary, in her private life as Dinah Lance, tells her innocent young ward Sin about her childhood and how she became a costumed heroine.
Nicola Scott’s artwork tells the main story clearly. Scott — who’s done some work for Dark Horse/Lucasfilm Books and Tow Cow Productions — boasts a bright, crisp, standard super-hero style. Actually, the only thing I can find wrong with it is that it’s too standard. It’s capable but unremarkable. There’s nothing in it I can really point to and say that it’s unique to her style. I suppose I’m praising by faint condemnation. Paulo Sequiera’s linework in the backup Canary story is much more striking. It looks like a cross between the styles of Phil Noto and Drew Johnson. Mind you, the visuals focus far too often on various characters’ cleavage. Sometimes, it’s just the result of the Canary costume, but not always.
The Canary story uses her new status as a mother figure to an orphan girl as a framing sequence to tell the protagonist’s life story and demonstrate how she’s grown over the years, but basically, it’s an origin story for newer readers. There’s nothing really new here for the existing audience.
Another element about Canary’s new status quo that irks me has nothing to do with the writing. It stems from continuity. We see Dinah here dedicating herself to a new, peaceful lifestyle in order to provide a solid upbringing for Sin, and that’s in keeping with what transpired in the previous story arc or two. But in DC’s top-selling Justice League of America, Canary’s back in the super-hero game, clearly willingly. The two takes on the characters don’t jibe, and for those who read both books, it’s a distraction.
After the initial recruitment scenes, Simone offers up a prison-escape plot that’s fun and helps temper the super-hero elements with more of a military feel. There’s a palpable intensity to the plan and action that’s a lot of fun. Furthermore, I’m intrigued by the new character introduced on the final splash page of the first story. However, the escape plot hinges on a twist that challenges the reader’s suspension of disbelief. It requires a hard-to-swallow ruse and the co-operation of a player who’s unaware of what’s going on and how things are supposed to play out. The focus on the scheme and the action precludes much in the way of character development for the new members of the team. I’d be interested in seeing how the interplay among these new players will work, and I hope Simone finds a way to bring a couple of them down to earth. 6/10