Birds of Prey #32 review

Birds of Prey #32 “Expectations”
Written by Christy Marx
Art by Roberts Rocha

After reading issue 30, I had the feeling Marx was going to do her best to close Birds of Prey on a high note. Then I read issue 31 and realized that was wishful thinking, because the book took a nose dive… And when a book at its best is just average, nosedives are never good. Needless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to the rest of the book’s run. And to be honest, slapping the (old) Suicide Squad team on the cover isn’t really doing much to help. This issue ended up being a little interesting for me though. To properly cover “Expectations,” I feel like should review this issue in two portions: the mission, and everything else. Why? Because the mission the team goes on is quite enjoyable. Everything else… not so much. Yes, I’m looking at you Dinah and Kurt. You’re at the top of the “everything else” pile. Stop laughing Condor, you’re next.

The book opens up with a pretty cool page of Strix sitting atop a pipe on Mother Eve’s barge.

Birds 1

I know it doesn’t seem like much, but it gives us a glimpse into Strix’s mentality, and we don’t get see much of this. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but there’s so much that can be said about her in this one panel. Clearly, I’m a fan of Strix, so I like to see moments like this with her. I get that she’s kind of a knockoff Cassandra Cain in that she can’t speak and is deadly, but I still like her. Do I think she’s utilized correctly? No, definitely not. They’ve kind of turned her into a “pet” in some ways, and there are times when I feel like she’s just there to be there. Even in fights, I feel like they approach her with the mindset of, “she can heal, so what crazy thing can we do to damage her this time” type of approach, rather than letting her actually be a character. It’s not a major issue, but it is something that bothers me. It just seems like we could learn so much from or about her, even though she can’t speak.

Anyway, back to the story. The two things that I’ve disliked the most in this book recently, are unfortunately about a third of this issue. Can you guess what these two things are? Yep, the Dinah/Kurt and Dinah/Condor relationships. I was going to call this a love triangle, but that doesn’t really seem appropriate. Everything concerning Dinah’s personal life is just forced and uncomfortable.

Kurt is in rehabilitation, working to gain function back in his body. He’s clearly struggling, and Dinah is playing the role of the overbearing cheerleader. As you can guess, his personal struggle isn’t enough drama, so we have to add an altercation between Kurt and Dinah. And on top of that, he doesn’t even remember Dinah, so the whole thing is just way too melodramatic. But guess who’s waiting in the wings like a creeper… Condor! I don’t get it. I just can’t get on board with this. This relationship is worse than the Ricky/Barbara relationship in Batgirl. Don’t get me wrong, I think Condor could be a pretty good character, but all of his motivations are based on Dinah. It’s just creepy. I keep waiting for him to reach that stalker status and say, “You don’t know it yet, but we’re meant to be together.” Anyway, he can tell Dinah’s not in a good place, so he shows her his new loft, and surprises her with a gift. What is this gift? Well, you’re just going to have to read to find out! Or… you can check below where I keep my spoilers.

Moving on – because I honestly don’t have it in me to talk about these relationships anymore – Dr. Mambety, an associate of Mother Eve’s, is in danger. He’s been taken hostage by a rogue Basilisk group in West Africa, and Mother Eve needs the Birds to go rescue him. The team is given a rundown of the mission, and before taking off, Canary asks Condor if he can utilize his former NSA contacts to do a favor for her. We don’t find out what this favor is, and to be honest, I don’t really care.

The Birds reach West Africa and begin their assault on a compound to save Dr. Mambety. The whole rescue attempt is pretty fun! If there’s one thing Marx and Rocha have done well recently, it’s been in planning and executing action sequences. The team encounters some force, must overcome a few curve balls along the way, and each have a moment to shine. Strix also get’s to remind us that she’s a badass, yet again. Once the Birds find Dr. Mambety, they realize their attempts might be futile as it looks like all hope is lost. Canary might have the answer though, and it involves Condor’s gift to her.

Oh, and the Suicide Squad shows up on the last page. Thanks DC.

Recommended if:

  • You’re invested in Canary’s emotional dilemmas
  • You enjoy a good infiltrate and rescue story
  • You want to see each of the Birds showcase what makes them a unique asset to the team.

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

The Art: Although I think Rocha still has problems with faces, his artwork seems much more consistent here. I’m not sure if previous issues were rushed to meet deadlines, but this definitely looks better overall than what was presented before. I also think that Rocha, like Marx, when the story is in the heat of the moment with action.

The Good: As stated previously, the actual mission is pretty enjoyable. I really like when we get to see the team in action, working together, and showcasing why they’re a great unit. I’m typically a big supporter of adding depth and character moments, but considering the teams attempts at providing this, I’d rather they just didn’t try. Stick to what you do best – the action.

The Bad: You know what it is. I’m not even going to mention it. I do think DC did a disservice by putting the Suicide Squad on the cover. First of all, it’s misleading. Secondly, it totally ruins what might have been a nice close to this issue.

On a separate note, I’m not sure how I feel about Condor giving Canary a set of wings similar to his so she can fly. It seems like a cool idea in some ways, and weird in other ways. Maybe it’s just that I can’t stand the interactions between the two of them… Who knows?

Overall: As with the big fight with Ra’s al Ghul, Birds of Prey excels when they’re dealing with action and adventure. Throw any type of substance or emotion into the mix, and this book just falls on its face. If you’re ok with poor characterization, and equally poor dialogue during these times, but can move past that for some decent action… then I would recommend this book for you. Overall, this issue is just average at best. The lows and highs don’t balance out enough to make this worth reading.

SCORE: 5/10