When Birds Go Bad (Birds of Prey V2)

Volume 2 of Birds of Prey begins exactly where volume 1 left off, in a battle royale pitting Black Canary and Huntress against the still unidentified White Canary. The panels are dynamic and spectacular; there is movement, athleticism and pure fury depicted in each and every one.

And much to my pleasure, these women can fight. In fact, when backup arrives on the scene for Huntress and Black Canary, Hawk, the one male in their super group, promptly gets his super behind handed to him by a girl…the White Canary. This is definitely not a comic that is interested in showing the girls as anything but self sufficient fighters. Even if they do have to do it in their under garments.

But the most interesting thing about Volume 2 might be the plot line that leads the birds, and Black Canary in particular, straight into the role of vigilante. It seems that the battle has been nothing but a clever ruse on the part of the mysterious White Canary, and the Birds of Prey have played right into her hands.

Black Canary has been framed for the murder of one of the criminals she fought in Volume 1, and this fight was staged in order to place her out in the open spaces of the city, where she could be spotted by news cameras acting the role of violent vigilante.

As Oracle watches helplessly on the TV from the safety of the Batcave, Gotham City’s finest enter the scene, ready to arrest Black Canary, and her group. As Black Canary so aptly states, “that witch chumped us all like a first date gone wrong.” And she didn’t even buy them dinner first.

This is, of course, the crucial moment. Black Canary must decide whether to trust in the law, or cross over completely into the role of vigilante.

This is Gotham, and her boss is the former Batgirl…which path do you expect her to choose?

The next page is composed of two large panels which depict Black Canary using her sonic scream against the Gotham police which Huntress uses her crossbow to shoot one officer in the hand which delivering unto another a direct kick to the face. In an expository box of Black Canary’s private thoughts at the bottom of the page is the statement: “Goodbye reserve JLA membership.” Not only has she led her team against the law, she has led them into breaking their bonds with the Justice League. The birds have officially gone rogue.

The rest of the story is lighter on action and heavier on plot movement. The White Canary makes good on her promise and kills an associate of the group, a man called Savant. His partner delivers a message to Oracle (former Batgirl) and then kills himself before her eyes. Things are grim, and getting worse by the minute. Next it is revealed (on a television set strategically placed in a gritty, graffiti decorated Gotham alleyway) that the White Canary has made good on another of her promises, the broadcast is revealing the secret identity of Black Canary as well as the details of her personal life.

This seems to momentarily cripple Black Canary, but it only serves to fire up Oracle. She acknowledges her complacency over the last few years, as well as her over reliance on technology which she has allowed to become out of date.

The volume ends with a splash of Oracle after she has set some sort of system overhaul of “the grid” into action with the rather ominous command, “data womb. Priority code, omniscient.”

The grid, and the birds, are going to strike back.

This volume, even more than the last, built up a tremendous amount of pressure by the end, so much in fact that I almost screamed when I got to the last page. I have so many more questions, and still no answers!

  • Who is White Canary?
  • What is her problem?
  • Why are the birds of prey trying to save Oswald Copplepot, aka the Penguin?
  • And how are they going to get Black Canary out of this seemingly hopeless situation??

I hope volume 3 gives my anxiety some relief, although I’m not going to be counting on it. Gail Simone seems to like to draw out the disquiet and discomfort, in both her characters and her readers. Smart woman, I will be heading to Earth 2 Comics this week for my next fix, er, installment.


About tristap

I am just a girl, trying to find her footing in a Super Hero world. Be gentle...
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2 Responses to When Birds Go Bad (Birds of Prey V2)

  1. Vaheh says:

    I’ll still contend that, for the time being, this is the closest we are going to get to gender equality in comic books. It goes back to the fact that even for a title like Birds of Prey, the primary readership is still predominantly male. And if you are writing to an audience that is so NOT diverse, the only thing you can do is mask feminine power behind sexiness. I don’t agree with it. Not at all, in fact. But that’s just how the community is, unfortunately. Personally, I think this comic book would be a lot more substantial if the characters weren’t made out to be more attractive. Unfortunately, comic book readers don’t usually go for substance as much as they do the packaging. :/

    It’s a symbol of feminism as much as it is one of sexism, and I think there’s a hidden agenda behind it. It’s sort of like what happens when you go to Starbucks. All you want is a cup of coffee, but you end up buying into the whole fair trade movement, and suddenly your coffee isn’t coffee so much as it is a symbol of ethics. And before you know it, you’re buying into the whole fair trade movement, supporting Starbucks because Starbucks supports righteous causes. Maybe people will start to see women as something more than sex objects if they keep buying into them as sex objects, and eventually they’ll just buy Birds of Prey because they want to support powerful women and not crappy coffee.

  2. It’s not so much the sexiness that is objectionable, I think, as the way this particular brand of sexiness flies in the face of the pseudo-realistic grittiness of the stories. The gritty style makes one imagine the inevitable (Angelina Jolie?) film adaptation, but the constant fetishization of the body through stiletto heels, thong/sling/dental floss-style clothing, bare midriffs (on the cold streets of nighttime Gotham!), etc., makes it hard to envision exactly what a live action movie adaptation could look like. The more the genre lunges in the direction of pseudo-realism, the more distractingly silly the costume conventions for female characters become.

    That, and the constant staging of action and framing of graphic compositions to emphasize splayed legs, foregrounded butts, etc., harks back to the Fiction House “jungle queen” comics of the forties (and porno comics more recently), wherein panel borders are often spectacularly violated or jury-rigged to allow for maximum billboard-like display of the sexualized body. It’s just so ridiculously transparent, and the body types on view are so exaggerated as to cancel out their putative sensuality or glamor.

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