You ready for a shocker? This was easily the most enjoyable issue of Batgirl & the Birds of Prey that I’ve covered! Surprising, right?
Before you get too excited, I’m going to douse your hopes that my opinion of this title is becoming favorable… It’s not. But, this issue did surprise me. After I finished the issue, I had to skim back through the book to pinpoint why I responded differently to this chapter. What about this issue, specifically, was different than the others?
I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, so I started looking at which portions of the story I liked, and which portions I didn’t. The opening featured a generic battle against a villain that was rather lackluster. Nope, that feels like standard fair for Batgirl & the Birds of Prey. There’s also a weird mystery/ B-plot dating back to the first issue involving Barbara’s realtors that is explored… but that also failed to do anything for me. Then there’s the addition of Gus, which is immediately followed by an overwhelming desire for him to be killed off. Nope. That definitely isn’t it. And finally there’s that portion where Helena and Dinah turned an undercover investigation into an apartment hunt. Wait! That’s it! That’s the part that I liked!
I know I’m being a little ridiculous with this title, but it’s mainly because I find the work itself ridiculous. That being said, I really did like the moments with Dinah and Helena apartment hunting. It was fun, and it didn’t feel out of place. Over the past few months, I’ve had some of you guys call me out for missing the point, or not getting that this book is supposed to be fun. I want to assure you, I get it. I just feel that there are times and moments when it works best. This is where Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey and Batgirl and the Birds of Prey differ.
Simone’s run was a lot of fun, and for a lack of better words, sassy. Those fun moments mostly occurred when the Birds weren’t “working” though. When the uniforms came on, the tone shifted to be a little more serious and focused. The Benson sisters, on the other hand, keep a slap-stick vibe running throughout their entire narrative. That, in my opinion, makes the entire book unbelievable. As with all things in life, there needs to balance.
The apartment hunting isn’t the only portion of this book that surprised me though. Barbara Gordon has never been portrayed better in BatBoP than she is in this issue. From her casual conversations with Helena and Dinah, to the incredible brunch scene with her dad, there are some wonderfully written moments crafted for her. These scenes actually match the energy I felt from Julie and Shawna Benson the few times that I’ve met them. It feels natural… Which now has me wondering why they can’t bring that same element to the heroic aspects of this title.
Outside of these two scenes, Batgirl & the Birds of Prey is exactly what I’ve come to expect. All of the problems I’ve had with consistency are still here, as is the lack of logic, and all of those little mishaps that should be caught by someone (the writers, editors, or artists). But for now, I’ll just enjoy the fact that I had something positive to say about this book.
The Art: Ready for another surprise? I actually welcomed Roe’s art this month! Look, let’s not start sounding any alarms. I’m not even close to saying I’m a fan of Roe’s art, but she’s had a few issues off, which means she was able to spend more time with this issue. Knowing that, I expected this issue to look more polished then the last book she worked on. Unfortunately, even that additional time couldn’t save the characters’ faces.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The hunt. The apartment hunt was (surprisingly) a lot of fun. This page below sums it up quite well. If the Bensons reserved their humor for these moments, then I’d be less critical of the dialogue.
Friends. I enjoyed seeing the women together. Even though I don’t believe the build-up leading to this moment (aka: the first arc/ Fenice), I do believe their relationship now. These three women have endured enough together that a friendship would have developed, and it’s believable that these ladies would put their guard down when in the company of one another, in a private setting.
The realters. The realtors are annoying. That’s as simple as I can put it. I did appreciate the meta aspects thrown in about them inquiring properties after criminals are sent to jail… Granted, it’s also completely unbelievable.
The gold. Had the treasure hunt portion of this chapter not been included, I would have enjoyed this much more. If you take away the idea that these realtors are searching for gold, and trying to sneak into Barbara’s home while she’s away, then I wouldn’t be so bothered. Why does this bother me so much? Because it doesn’t make sense. If the realtors know there is gold there, then why are they going to wait until they sell the building to go look for it? Like so many aspects of this book, this makes no sense.
Oracle. A number of people across the globe want Trump out of office. That’s my sentiments for Gus. I want him out of this book. And this team continues to juggle trust. The Birds invite him in, work with him, and put their life in his hands, but then he can’t be trusted to partake in other aspects… Logic, people. Logic.
Underselling Helena. I’ve mentioned this a few times, but seriously… Helena ran one of the top spy agencies in the world. She’s had access to endless amounts of information, created countless identities and backstories, and she suddenly needs help from “Oracle” to pass a standard background check to rent an apartment? This woman knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman. She knows the ins and outs of the government, Task Force X, and the identities of nearly all of the known heroes – as well as their biographies. She knows other organizations like the back of her hand… but she needs help with this? Come on…
How do phones work again? The green button rejects calls, and the red button answers them right? Oh, never mind, this panel just answered that for me.
Drama. Uh oh, Dick Grayson changed his relationship status… I’m rolling my eyes right now… This reminds me of a fourteen year old girl…
- Helena and Dinah house hunting sounds like fun.
- You like treasure hunts.
- Constellation Creep
Overall: There’s some positive headway in this issue, but I don’t expect it to last. When the final page turns, there remains to be immense structural and logical issues with the plot(s) and characters. If the creative team could slow down long enough to ask “who, what, why, when, where, and how” then Batgirl & the Birds of Prey could actually be enjoyable every month. Throw in a little consistency with that, and who knows what could happen. But for now, we’ll have to live with average to poor stories.