[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writers: Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Artist: Roge Antonio
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
This title keeps getting better! If Helena has been less than thrilled with working alongside Babs and Dinah, this issue attempts to put some weight behind that characterization by exploring Helena’s past.
Narrated by Helena, we see not only her history, but a brief recap of the development of the Mafia in Sicily and how it built a power base in Gotham. Two families, the Bertinellis and Cassamentos, were allies for many years until the Bertinellis consolidated power with the other Mafia families in Gotham. Despite not being in the Mafia, Helena still has a vendetta in her heart for the Cassamentos – particularly Santo Cassamento. And that’s who’s she’s chasing as the issue opens. It takes some help from Babs and Dinah to save Helena from the Snakes and Cassamento gets away. Helena is upset but doesn’t stay away long and joins the other Birds in tracking down another lead on the New Oracle. What they find surprises everyone….
Getting into Helena’s head is a nice move. There’s definitely a strong motivation for her and it helps the reader understand why she’s doing what she’s doing. The pacing of the flashback builds tension and excitement in just the right way. It becomes increasingly apparent that we never get to see Helena’s mother’s face. There are plenty of opportunities to see it, but it’s always hidden. This is certainly a mystery that should have a startling resolution down the road. The discovery of the New Oracle’s is an exciting plot element, but what they find is even more intriguing.
When Helena Bertinelli was reintroduced in the New 52 a few years ago in the Grayson title she was clearly not Caucasian. In this issue, it appears that she is depicted as an Italian. Her complexion is that of any other Italian in the story. Not sure if DC is making a Rebirth retcon, or what, but it is a surprising change.
This title is really finding its way. The continued emphasis on character combined with the mysteries and twists in this issue put this on par with the best DC Comics has to offer.