[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Artists: Roge Antonio & Brend Tamura
Colors: Allen Passalaqua & Chris Sotomayor
From the beginning of the “Rebirth” era, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey has flirted with the notion of heading back to classic Birds of Prey with Barbara Gordon in Oracle’s chair. For those who’ve wished to see this happen, you will be pleasantly surprised with this issue.
Babs, Selina, Gus and the Calculator are in an air duct in the TerraCare building on their way to rescue Helena. When the duct gives way, they are grabbed by Poison Ivy’s vines. As they are held, Ivy is busy explaining to Helena exactly what’s been going on at TerraCare. Ivy explains that she’s noticed an alarming drop in the bee population as she was investigation a honey shortage in South Africa. She learned that TerraCare’s soil was the common denominator between the specific locations in lower bee populations. Further testing showed her it wasn’t the soil itself, but an additive added secretly by CEO Benedict.
Helena, Selina and Barabara are able to talk Ivy out of killing Benedict and assisting them in saving the Calculator’s family. Afterwards, the Calculator agrees to stop harassing Gus, who they realize hasn’t been seen since the air duct broke. Selina, Ivy, Helena and Canary end up at Bat-Burger for a late dinner.
Gus, meanwhile, has told Barbara that he’s leaving the team and is destroying his phone and connection to the Birds while sitting at a bus stop. Calculator has found him and is ready to make an offer to Gus, having figured out that Gus was the leak that tipped off the Birds that Catwoman was the client interested in TerraCare. Before Calculator is able to get the truth from Gus, Barbara intervenes as Oracle sending a message to the Calculator on Gus’s mostly smashed phone. “The real Oracle is back!” And, shuts down his system remotely.
Oracle then contacts the dining damsels to let them know that Gus is safe and that she’s got a mission for them. Babs stays behind the computer as Selina and Ivy throw in with the other Birds for this mission!
Using the issue of a honey shortage and lowered bee population is a really clever element. These are real ecological issues in our world. It makes sense that Poison Ivy would be concerned about such things. Additionally, Poison Ivy, while mostly a Bat-villain in the past, has a perspective much like the Swamp Thing in that she is connected to the plants in the world and can communicate with them. Advocating for the environment is a serious issue in the world today and it is smart that Ivy can be used to address this, but also that her alignment is able to fluid such that she is not strictly a villain anymore. It all ends up being about how Ivy chooses to address the issues and perpetrators of ecological missteps. This adds a complexity to Ivy’s character that is not only interesting, but also challenging. Adding Ivy and Selina to the team brings both Catwoman and Poison Ivy into a gray area. Barbara and Dinah seem to know them as people and are able to look past their past crimes to help keep them doing the right things. The allusion to Catwoman’s pending status quo over in Batman was welcome as well.
Getting Barbara back behind the computer is fun, excited and nostalgic. It also feels right. It could be tough to put her back in that position full time as she has her own comic – Batgirl – but it could be possible for her to fulfill that role in this title.
There were no negatives here. Just a great sense of excitement and hope for what comes next!
Another great issue of a great book! This title continues to charge forward in the right direction with great characterization and playing with the sense of nostalgia that is part of the “Rebirth” retooling of the DC Universe.