As usual, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey makes me want to kick and scream out of frustration due to terrible writing and characterization is, but one thing happens in this issue that makes me happy. No, overjoyed. You know what, I almost reached freaking nirvana, so I’m going to give this chapter an extra point just because of it! Keep reading to find out what that moment is (and for the love of God, spare yourself from needing to read this crap excuse for a book).
I’m reaching a point where I don’t know what to say anymore. Each month I read Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, and each month this book makes me irritable. It literally drives me to drink. I read the book, write the review, then have a glass of whiskey because, yes, it is that bad. I even have to be strategic about when I read this title, because I don’t want my irritation with it to disrupt whatever I have planned afterwards.
What makes this process even more frustrating, is that it’s not like each new arc brings a new set of issues. Nope. It’s the same problems over, and over again. Usually you find certain weaknesses during one story arc of a comic, then (mostly) new or different weaknesses in a separate story arc of the same book. That’s not the case with Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. No, the problems with this book are structural and character based, and it’s fundamentally impossible to tell a good story when you’re incapable of getting at least one of these attributes right. To make matters worse, these two (major) negatives just continue to build upon themselves over time, only making each problem more blatantly obvious.
In the current story, the Birds are helping Calculator rescue his wife and children from a corrupt businessman. I’m going to spare you all from my rant on why this entire concept is unbelievably stupid (and also spare myself the task of explaining the “logic” – of which there is none – that initiated this story, but if you want to know then you can read my reviews for issues #11 and #12), and continue summarizing what’s taking place. As it turns out, Calculator’s family is being held hostage because he sold blueprints of the building to Catwoman so she could steal something from the company. To continue this rabbit hole of “Who’s Who in Gotham,” we eventually learn that Catwoman only wanted the plans to the building so she could help her gal-pal Poison Ivy – who didn’t really need Catwoman’s help because she already worked for said company.
Anyway, the Birds work with Catwoman and Calculator to try and rescue his family, but Ivy decides she wants to go all – wait… how did the Benson’s put it – “full eco-warrior mode.” Yep, you guessed it, that means she’s got giant, thorny vines overtaking the building… because bad clichés are always fun. The mission then turns from a rescue mission, to a need to stop Ivy.
We learn more details concerning why Ivy is attacking the company and its founder, only for her to claim she’s not seeking revenge against them as she seeks revenge against them.
This is followed by bad dialogue, bad narratives, more bad dialogue, bad characterization, and more bad dialogue, before closing the story out. Strangely enough, one aspect of the conclusion is quite satisfying… but I’m not going to let myself get excited since there’s not a creative change following this arc. Simply put, I have no faith that this team will deliver a remotely good story. Anyway, enough generic overviews, let’s get to the details because there’s only so much “beating around the bush” you can do before getting into spoilers.
The Art: Roge Antonio is on art duties again, and you get what you expect. But there’s something new in this issue… a second artist: Breno Tamura. His art is… bad. Really bad. You want to know how you make Batgirl and the Birds of Prey worse? Assign this guy to draw it. It’s a one-two punch of atrocious storytelling – poor script and poor art.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good Great:
Gus is no longer Oracle. Yep, he bails at the end of the issue! Thank God! This entire portion of the comic has a completely separate art team, and feels like it came from so far out of left field that I have to wonder if a certain rant I made a few months ago potentially played into this result… I’m not trying to toot my own horn, but it felt as if Gus was here to stay, then I pulled together a collection of negative responses to Gus, and now he’s magically disappearing. Coincidence? Who knows. All I know is that he’s out of the picture, and I’m ecstatic!
Batgirl takes up the role of Oracle again. YES! I’m totally down for her to step back into this role from time to time. It’s so much a part of who she is, that if she isn’t going to try and set-up someone she (we) know and trust for the job, then it should only be her.
The logic. To get an idea of the logic that these characters are written with, the opening page serves as a prime example of every single page of this comic. The group is climbing through an air vent to break into Terracare, when Batgirl asks Catwoman if she’s sure they’re heading in the right direction. Catwoman quips, “I didn’t pay “Number Cruncher” back there twenty grand for nothin’, Batgirl” (referring to the blue prints she bought of Calculator for her heist). Now, this is actually a compliment to Calculator, because Selina is saying she paid good money for good intel. That’s the “nothing” she’s referring to. But for whatever reason, the comment angers Calculator and causes him to retort, “Nothing? Your slopy thievery put my family in danger.” Which then unravels into a childish exchange of name-calling, before being scolded by Batgirl for acting childish, only for the characters to finish up with a “he started it” accusation… And of course, in the midst of all of this, Gus has to make a stupid comment about volunteering as tribute for Ivy’s famous pheromone kiss because… well… he’s awful. Anyway, the point of this is none of it makes sense, and poor writing such as this plagues you with every turn of the page.
Gus leaves the team via text. Seriously? This is why the dude needs to go. To make it worse, there are “two week notice” jokes in it. I’m rolling my eyes and eyeing my bottle of whiskey that’s waiting for me. I mean come on! People deserve better than this!
Let’s feel bad for villains. Yet again, we’ve got a team of heroes that let killers go, and then still feel bad for them. Excuse my French, but what the %#@$ is up with this trend? In this issue alone, they let Calculator, who is known to have committed multiple crimes, go despite the fact they can prove his guilt with Gus. They let Catwoman go after confessing she stole from the company (they should have had her pull a Batman and disappear). They not only let Poison Ivy go after destroying a building, holding innocent people hostage, and attempting to murder dozens, but Babs buys Terracare and gives Ivy a job. Scratch that, a promotion… Don’t… Just don’t ask… I can’t explain this. There is no way this makes sense to any living person who has the critical thinking capacity of at least a first grader.
Burgers. Ummm… What in the hell is going on? Black Canary, Huntress, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy go out for burgers in the civilian clothes? Apart from the terrible dialogue (for example, Catwoman’s “I’ve got something on the horizon keeping me engaged.”), are we really supposed to believe that these woman are going to hang out? Are we going to believe that Helena – who waited a while to reveal her identity to Dinah and Babs, and refused to reveal herself to Batman – just casually reveals her identity to two villains? Nope. This is crap.
Potential new Birds. It’s teased that Catwoman and Poison Ivy join the Birds of Prey (for at least one issue). I find Ivy’s participation hard to believe (mainly because of her previous stint with the Birds – which is recognized in this issue), and pray nothing comes of it. Catwoman, on the other hand, I wouldn’t mind… I just don’t want her at the disposal of this creative team. King should keep her under his umbrella. Also, Seeley should permanently take Huntress back, too. And just let Dinah operate with Ollie and as part of the JLA. As for Babs… *whistles inconspicuously*
Overall: I mean this with the utmost respect, but someone at DC must want Batgirl & the Birds of Prey to fail (or at least have an excuse for it to fail), otherwise we’d have a new creative team jumping onboard soon… That’s the best way for me to tell you to avoid this book like the plague.
SCORE: 3/10 (And that’s with a whole point added!)