Birds of Prey #31 review

Birds of Prey #31 “Death Jump”
Written by Christy Marx
Art by Robson Rocha

The battle with Ra’s al Ghul has ended. Mother Eve is now physically ten years old, having successfully completed her immortality process, and the Birds are kind of in a weird transition period. They helped Mother Eve by protecting her and the secret to her immortality, so what’s next? Will the team stick around with Mother Eve, or go about their business?

Canary is still dealing/coping with Kurt, who is no longer a vegetable and can actually function to a degree. I’ve made it very clear that I’m over this plot. It could’ve been interesting and moving, but it was just handled poorly in execution – which is essentially Marx’s running theme. Thankfully, there are no awkward scenes with Condor passive aggressively professing his love for Canary. I would say that I hope we’ve moved past this plot, but I doubt it (Actually, I read these issues when they were first released, so I know we’re not).

The focus for this issue though, is the villain Axton. He starts off the book claiming to some other thugs that he is now in charge of all “Asian smuggling operations.” He doesn’t look like much – he’s a thinner, Asian fellow. While he doesn’t appear to be much, he’s determined in his cause, and is willing to kill to fulfill his objective. Oh, and he can teleport. To ensure he gains control of the port, he sets out a plan to kill the one person who will stand in his way…. Batman!.. Wait, no… That’s not right… My bad, its… Commissioner Gordon! (Which the editor then feels the need to tell us this takes place before Batman: Eternal…. Great! Now we now Gordon dies! Sheesh!)

In all honesty, Axton has the potential to be a decent villain. I just can’t take him seriously with Marx’s writing. I feel like his dialogue is so cliché for an Asian character, that it seems like it would fit better if it had a humorous spin, and was used for an SNL sketch. As much as I wanted to like him, his teleportation abilities couldn’t save the mess Marx made of him.

We find out that the Birds are still working closely with Mother Eve, and that she’s had an eye on Axton due to his abilities. I’m glad they’re sticking with Mother Eve and her team. Whatever your opinion is of Mother Eve as a character, she provides something that this book desperately needed: direction. With her pulling the team together for missions, the team has an actual purpose. I also enjoyed how she gains her outside intelligence, because it’s completely normal and believable. But naturally, with her informant discovering that Jim Gordon (who TOTALLY DIES IN THIS ISSUE!!! THAT’S WHY HE’S NOT IN BATMAN ETERNAL!!!) is Axton’s next target, Batgirl takes the mission personally. It’s a violent fight as the Birds try to save Jim Gordon and stop Axton from controlling the ports, but will they succeed? (RIP Jim).

Recommended if:

  • You want the resolution of a one-and-done story
  • You want to see more cultural diversity in your books
  • Mother Eve’s mission intrigues you
  • You enjoy a good, team action sequence.

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

The Art: Rocha’s art is hit and miss with me. There are times that it’s pretty solid, and then there are times that it’s terrible. I find it interesting that there are panels that have quite a bit of detail from him, then in another, similar panel, there’s little to no detail. The thing he could benefit the most from is consistency.

The Good: As mentioned, I love that Mother Eve is bringing a sense of purpose to the team. The book needed, this, unfortunately, it’s too late, and it can’t save Marx’s writing. I also like how she uses her followers to get information. Wallis is a former cop, and friend of James Gordon. So how does he get info on Axton? He takes Gordon for some pie, and talks to him!

The Bad: The dialogue. It’s horrendous. I’ve stated it before, and I’ll say it again. Marx is decent at developing solid plots, but terrible with the execution. The writing in this issue is so bad, that I was cringing most of the time. Also, the Dinah/Kurt scenes make me want to not even touch the book. And I love how Batgirl is accused of potentially killing Axton by punching him twice while he’s down. It’s just two punches people. Let’s calm down! But hey, at least it’s fitting with Barbara as a character. She gets emotional, she punches.

Overall: So… I lied. James Gordon doesn’t die, and he IS in Batman Eternal. This is one of the things that bugged me about this book on my initial reading. We already don’t expect anything to happen to a critical character like James Gordon, especially by a nobody like Axton. Throw in that you already know for a fact that Gordon survives because you’ve read Eternal, plus the editor’s note about when this took place, and it completely destroys the momentum or suspense of this story. After a Marx high in the last issue, this issue just fails miserably with poor dialogue and lack of suspense.

SCORE: 3/10