Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #14 review

Helena takes her students on a field trip, and Black Canary tags along as a chaperone. Meanwhile, Batgirl stays in Gotham and discovers she can fight crime on her own… You know… Cause it’s not like she does this every freaking month in Batgirl.

God, I hate this book…

It’s no secret that I hate Batgirl & the Birds of Prey. If you’ve read any of my reviews for this book, that should be blatantly obvious. I find the writing to be nauseating. Every month, I read an issue that suffers from the exact same problems as the previous issue: illogical, convenient plots, poor characterization, horrendous dialogue, and an overabundance of “cutesy” puns. Guess what… This issue is no different.

As I stated above, Helena is taking her students on an overnight field trip. If I’m being honest, I was actually interested in how this portion of the story would turn out. The most fun I’ve had with Batgirl & the Birds of Prey was when Helena went apartment hunting. That issue had some great, fun moments, and I was hoping to experience something similar here. To a degree, we do. The kids learn about Gotham’s history, and there are references to Deacon Blackfire and his immortality. I enjoy this. Whenever you can weave threads like this into a plot, then I’m going to support it.

Unfortunately, the field trip isn’t without its faults. First off, Dinah tags along, and the kids all recognize her because of her rock and roll days, but she’s also equally known as a member of the JLA. On top of that, the Benson’s write the Birds as if they’re also a known faction, so it doesn’t seem out of the question that one of the kids would figure out Helena is a hero as well. If this wasn’t enough to connect the dots for these kids though, then one of them surely hears Helena discussing vigilante stuff with Barbara via Facetime. Freaking Facetime, people! Helena is talking Birds biz with Barbara’s face plastered on her phone, and the audio is clearly on speaker.

But wait, it gets worse! There’s a portion of the book where Helena jumps into action to stop a threat… and she does so in front of the kids! I’m talking full-scale martial arts, team-fighting with Dinah that contains magic and a Canary Cry. Seriously? There’ve been so many stupid moments like this throughout the course of the Benson’s run that this book should be called Batgirl & the Birds of Prey’s Guide to How NOT To Be a Superhero! The cherry on top though, is that the kids are astute enough to comment on how a diorama of a Blackfire from two separate time periods looked identical and assumed it was, in fact, the same person… but have no suspicions about Helena being a vigilante… Have I told you that I hate this book?

Meanwhile, Barbara remains in Gotham now that she’s doing double duty as both Oracle and Batgirl. Following Babs little Facetime chat with Helena, she receives an urgent call from Batman who desperately needs Barbara, specifically Oracle, to help save him and his Detective team. If the idea of a helpless Batman (and Batwoman, Cassandra, Clayface, and Spoiler – don’t ask) doesn’t sound bad enough, then just wait until you actually read the scene. To put it gently, I hope we never see Batman in BatBoP again while this creative team is behind the book.

Barbara then switches personalities to become Batgirl, and helps Gotham by assisting an old man across the street, saving a kitty, and more… No, I’m not joking. She does finally have a brawl with a gang, and calls in some “friends” to help her out.

Considering there isn’t much of a plot in this issue, there’s not too much to mess up on that front. The dialogue, however, is absolutely atrocious. Most of the lines are either completely ridiculous, or it’s so generic that you could substitute any random character in to say those lines. Then there are moments where characterization is completely abandoned for the sake of being hip/funny/cute. Dinah falls victim to this several times. Together, all of these elements, repeated, add up to an unreadable book for me.

Yes, I’m aware that most of what I take issue with is rather small, but when these instances occur in one form or another, multiple times, on every page… It’s inexcusable. I still don’t understand why or how a book as poor as this can continue. Yet alas, here I am writing another review saying the same damn thing that I have been for more than a year.

The Art: Marcio Takara handles art for this issue, and I have to admit, I like it! I prefer him over Roe and Antonio, even if I think there’s room for improvement. There’s a finesse that’s missing from Takara’s work, but he captures the tone of these women quite well. I wish he were a little more consistent because some of his panels look outstanding, while others are just ok. In total though, I feel as though he presents a much better product than what we typically get.

Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.


The Good:

History. I enjoyed the “history” of Gotham, and the inclusion of Deacon Blackfire, even if it is forced and ultimately predictable. I would have enjoyed it more had Blackfire not shown up in the end… Especially considering the fact that his appearance is completely pointless.

The Bad:

Oracle to the rescue. Are we really supposed to believe that none of these heroes could find a way to get out? Or that Batman would be this frantic? And why is he using a cell phone? Also, why in the hell is Stephanie there? What freakish, alternate universe is this? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

While we’re on this scene, what in the hell does Batman say for Batgirl to come back with, “Bruce, you’re a genius!” The answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing! And Batman would’ve thought of this on his own!

Bad, Generic Dialogue. See for yourself:

Convenient Plot Points. Hey, look at that! Blackfire shows up!… And does absolutely nothing! Why?

Recommended if:

  • You like taking field trips.
  • Smores.
  • No Gus.

Overall: Helena and Dinah take a field trip out of Gotham, and I wish I could take a field trip from this book.

SCORE: 3/10