[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Artist: Roge Antonio
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
Babs, Dinah and Helena realize they’ve got a problem. How are they going to get Catwoman to turn over what she stole from Terracare? Aware of the relationship Catwoman is currently developing with Batman, Babs calls Bruce for some help. The plan: Babs contacts the Cat and Dinah and Helena go undercover at Terracare to rescue the Calculator’s family.
Dinah is the intermediary between Terracare and “the thief” and Helena is going fix a broken window. It takes a few fashion insults from Catwoman, but she listens to Babs when she learns that innocent hostages are at stake. However, it turns out that it wasn’t simply Catwoman out for her own gain. She was doing someone else a favor. Someone who is currently working undercover at Terracare herself…Poison Ivy! (Is Ivy’s Birds’ membership in the “New 52” era still canon?) And she isn’t happy.
Ivy gets upset and starts to take things apart inside as Dinah is trying to liberate the Calculator’s family. Helena tries to talk some sense to her, but she seems to be having none of it. Catwoman, Batgirl, Gus and the Calculator arrive just in time to see Ivy’s effects. Catwoman rushes headlong into it…no plan, much to Babs’ chagrin.
Right off the bat, the first thing that stands out is how easily character is at the forefront. It’s not just with Babs, Dinah and Helena, but even Bruce. When Babs calls him early on in the issue asking for assistance with contacting Catwoman, not only is Bruce’s current status quo with Selina evident (see current issues of Batman), but his response and reaction to Babs’ request are driven by his character. It’s executed economically, but pays off as it immediately draws the reader into the situation. It illuminates Bruce’s potential inner conflict, but keeps Bruce true to who he is.
The chemistry between the Birds is the main thing that draws the reader in month after month. These ladies have developed a relationship that feels like family. And like family, they have their differences, but they never turn their back on the others. In the pre-Flashpoint incarnation of the Birds of Prey, this was always clear. A year into this run, the Benson’s have brought this title to the same emotional level.
Twists in the plot are integral to making this more than simple industrial espionage. Adding the levels of complexity echo the complexity of human nature as well as developing a story that is engaging and insightful. The new developments are so exciting that it almost makes the reader forget that the Calculator’s family is still in danger.
Oh, and watch for the Superfriends reference…
In its first year, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey has elevated itself to the classic Dixon and Simone eras and shrugged off the waste water of the “New 52.” There is nothing notable to decry.
A year in, this title is hitting on all cylinders. It truly feels right as the Birds have developed that family dynamic. And it doesn’t stop there. The Bensons’ storytelling is centered around character and emotional conflict. And it’s all equally presented visually by Roge Antonio and Allan Passalaqua. Even a new reader will find this issue entrancing. Character and emotional connections will always bring new readers in.