Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Birds of Prey #124

Where I'm willing to give Gail Simone and Wonder Woman the benefit of the doubt, I don't know Tony Bedard well enough to do the same for him and Birds of Prey. If this issue is indicative of his others on the series though, I'm glad I'm not reading it anymore.

I quit reading Birds of Prey when Black Canary quit being a regular cast member and only picked this up because she's back for a couple of issues. But there's so much ludicrousness going on here that I wasn't able to get into the story at all.

It starts off cool enough with a villain who turns the Birds' plane into a giant robot and Black Canary shows up with some friends to help fight it and the other bad guys attacking the team. I didn't know many of the villains, but they include a little guy in a jetpack and were otherwise interesting enough to keep my attention. Except that one of them is named Kilg%re. How the heck do you pronounce that? Unfortunately, it's a portent of other problems with the issue.

The real draw of the issue should've been the showdown between Barbara Gordon and the Joker. I don't think this is the first time they've faced off since he shot and paralyzed her, but I don't specifically recall when they might've met before this. Let's pretend that it is the first time though. It's certainly played up as a big deal. It should be powerful, right? The Joker ought to be frightening. He's infiltrated Barbara's hideout. He's coming after her. Shouldn't there be some tension?

There's not. I guess it's because Barabara's empowered now, which is cool, but she goes into battle against the Joker with as much anxiety as Batman would. As the Joker disturbingly, creepily reminisces about the night he shot her, she glares at him resolutely and claims that he took nothing from her. "Bah, I loss the use of my legs. Who cares? Big whoop!" I'm not saying she should be all tearful and "You took everything from me!" but c'mon. A little emotion? Please? Else, why am I supposed to care about any of this?

Then she calmly beats the crap out of him. Oh wait, that's after she dodges bullets. In a wheelchair. But yeah, she beats the crap out of him and smashes his teeth.

"Violated you in a way that thrills and sickens me?" From breaking his frickin teeth? How many times has Batman smashed the Joker in the mouth and broken out his teeth? A hundred? A million? This is special how?

The Joker goes even crazier than usual, throws Barbara down some stairs, and escapes. She's okay though (I actually have no problem with that) and later explains to the rest of her pals...

Um. No he won't, Barbara.

I don't know if we're supposed to believe Barbara's speech or just believe that she believes it, but either way it's pretty sad. At best, Barbara's deluded herself into thinking that she's just affected the Joker in a lasting, meaningful way. At worst, it's a sloppy story.

Even sloppier, she declares that since the Joker will come back eventually, they now have to shut down their headquarters and move. Because why? She just proved that she could beat him all by herself. With added security and her pals around, they've got nothing to fear from the green-haired bozo.

And even weirder than that, Barbara declares that before they leave town, they've got to finish off the local bad guys they've been fighting for the last several issues. But not the whole Birds team though. Oh no. She and Black Canary (you know, who's not even on the team anymore) will take care of it personally. While Huntress and Manhunter and the rest of these awesome fighters sit around and catch up on Grey's Anatomy, I guess.

All in all, a thoroughly WTF issue. I'm a sucker for Canary though, so I'll be back next issue to see what happens. Maybe it'll make some sense of the things that bothered me here. That would be a nice surprise.

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