Review: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #8

by Matthew Lloyd
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[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Writers: Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Artist: Roge Antonio
Colors: Allan Passalaqua

Nightwing is in Gotham chasing down a criminal named Gemini.  He’s enlisted the help of the Birds of Prey.  Nightwing explains to the Birds that Gemini had been only able to elongate her form but has now taken on full shape-shifting powers.  Together they corner her and in the ensuing fight Dick is badly injured.  As the Birds take Dick back to the Watchtower to administer first aid, Gemini heads off to her own place of respite.  She arrives at Blackbird’s hideout.  It is revealed that Blackbird is someone who is able to help meta-humans increase their power levels, thus explaining the change in Gemini’s elongating to shape-shifting.

At first Blackbird is not pleased, as Gemini has returned without killing Dick.  However, she quickly changes her tune when she realizes that Gemini is now a full blown shape-shifter and is more than willing to help Gemini ascend to the next level.  What that entails does not bode well for Gemini.  Back at the Watchtower after patching up Mr. Grayson, the Birds get a lead on Blackbird and Dinah decides the best approach is going undercover, on radio silence and try to get introduced to Blackbird and fake needing help with her Canary Cry.  The rest of the team, Dick included is against it, but Dinah prevails.  It ends with Dinah at one of Roulette’s events with no back-up.

Dick teaming up with the Birds is a welcome plot thread. Not only does Nightwing traditionally work well with them, he has a romantic past with both Barbara and Helena. This allows for some nice character moments that expand the issue into more than just an interesting mystery and chase. The teasing with Barbara and Dick is a reminder at how complicated relationships can be; even though Dick is seeing Shawn Tsang back in Bludhaven, his connection to Barbara continues to be strong.

Seeing Barbara and Helena have the realization that the situation has the potential to be awkward for them is a fun moment as they both rise above it. When Dinah demands to go undercover to get a lead on Blackbird, it echoes some of the classic Birds of Prey mission in which she took all the risks and Barbara sat at home helpless behind her computer.

It’s hard to find anything wrong with this issue.

Two issues in a row, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey has successfully channeled the best of classic Birds of Prey while maintaining a focus on character and not seeming derivative. This type of execution will quickly elevate this title to the upper echelon of DC’s publications.

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