Birds of Prey #29 “The Eve of Battle”
Written by Christy Marx
Art by Robson Rocha

Before I jump into “The Eve of Battle,” I want to briefly cover issue #28. It was a “Gothtopia” tie-in, and considering Marx didn’t even devote the whole issue to “Gothtopia,” I think it’s clear she didn’t want to be part of it. The previous issue left off with Canary quitting the team, and the Birds going to Gotham to investigate some strange behaviors. Birds of Prey #28 jumped right into the “Gothtopia” illusion, with Canary joining the team “hoping she isn’t late.” Ok… Fast forward through the “Gothtopia” portion, and we find the team asleep in what looks like an abandoned apartment. Ra’s al Ghul tracks the team down, and wakes Canary from the trance/toxin, then goes into all of this exposition about what’s going on in Gotham, who he is, and that he’s been after Mother Eve for decades, but can only act now (how convenient). The only interesting aspect in all of this, is that Ra’s offers Canary a deal: If she doesn’t interfere with his plan for Mother Eve, he’ll save Kurt. As proof, he gives her a tiny extract from the Lazarus Pit. The team eventually makes their way back to Mother Eve’s barge, where Babs and Dinah start to fight. Babs then realizes she’s acting like Dinah was acting in the previous issue, then the two apologize and get chummy. It’s annoying, and I’d rather move on. Oh, Molenaar covered the art for this issue, and it was horrendous.

In “The Eve of Battle” it’s… well, the eve of battle. Everyone is preparing for the fight that’s to come. Condor is training with Mother Eve’s team, Barbara is dealing with issues in Gotham, Dinah is having a meltdown because of Kurt’s condition, and Strix is… missing? Yep, so only Condor is preparing for the battle. Apparently, Strix fled to Gotham to find Batgirl. What are they doing? To find out, you’ll have to pick up issues 28 and 29 of Batgirl! Ah hell, they’re fighting vampires. There you go. Condor is sent to find them and bring them back to the barge, removing another team member from the issue at hand.

With the Birds all separated, Dinah takes the opportunity to give Kurt the vial from the Lazarus Pit. The results of the Pit heavily take a further toll on Dinah’s mentality, and greatly impacts her decision on whether she should side with Mother Eve or Ra’s al Ghul. It’s crunch time, and the Birds are anything but prepared. Will they be able to move past their personal hurdles to help Mother Eve? How will Mother Eve react to Kurt’s sudden change in condition? And what happens when Ra’s al Ghul strives to coerce another member of the team?

Recommended if:

  • You’re curious about the coming battle between Mother Eve and Ra’s al Ghul
  • You’re invested in Dinah and Kurt, and want to know how she responds to Ra’s offer
  • You want to keep up with the team as they separate to deal with their personal struggles

For more details, opinions, and spoilers, see below!

The Art: Rocha’s art is decent, but it’s definitely not consistent. There are panels that appear to be drawn really well, then there’s some that aren’t at all. There are times that Mother Eve looks more like a burn victim or mutant than an elderly lady. It’s just bad. No really, look at it.

Birds 29

Condor seems to be drawn really well, but the female characters are all hit or miss. I was also a little bothered by how Ra’s was drawn. I just feel like he looks off. Overall, it looks like a lot of these panels were rushed, and it was a disservice to the book.

The Good: Honestly, I didn’t find much good in either of these issues. What should’ve been gripping and interesting, wasn’t due to how it was handled. I’ll explain more below. What I did enjoy, was Ra’s working to turn the Birds from their mission. By dangling Kurt’s life in front of Canary, he really put her in a challenging situation. He then turned his attention to Condor. I felt like it was a great approach, and very on-point for Ra’s as a character. I also enjoyed that Mother Eve stayed the course in trusting Canary after realizing she had been compromised by Ra’s.

The Bad: Issue #27 was spent setting up this conflict between Mother Eve, Ra’s, and the Birds, then in #28 we jerked right for “Gothtopia,” quickly course corrected (albeit poorly), and now we’re chasing rabbits again. Instead of building tension for the battle, we move right back into juvenile story telling. Canary is having temper tantrums, and Condor is butt-hurt that Canary isn’t giving him attention – which is unfortunately what Ra’s uses to try and turn Condor against the team. I’ve noticed that this book is always trying to bring the team back together, and after a while, that approach is going to get tired. Well, guess what? We reached that point a while back. After “Gothtopia,” Marx should’ve left everyone on the barge. Instead, she tries to tie Batgirl directly into Batgirl, and then stumbles with an excuse to get her back. By trying so hard to make the stories from Batgirl coexist at the same time as Birds of Prey, she’s actually hindering her book. And then by sending Condor after Batgirl and Strix – which was clearly just to get him off of the ship so Ra’s could approach him – she just pulled the focus away from the actual plot. I feel like it would’ve been much more effective had the team just stayed on the boat. You could’ve kept the mind games, but this would’ve created more tension, and given a stronger illusion of infiltration when Ra’s reached out to Condor. It would’ve also given the story more focus instead of jumping all over the place.

Overall: Marx and Rocha seem to suffer from the same issue: inconsistency and lack of focus. While I find most of the issue to be poor, the high points were strong enough to bring this book to a low-mediocre score. If Marx could learn to focus the details of her plots, then she could potentially be a gem for DC. It’s going to take a lot of work to get to that point, but the potential is there.

SCORE: 4/10