Birds of Prey #8 Cover Jesus Saiz Black Canary Batgirl Poison Ivy KatannaFrom the start of this series, Black Canary has been on the run from the law, for allegedly having killed a man.  Of course, readers assumed that the book would chronicle her mission to clear her name and prover her innocence.  But what if she isn’t innocent?

A government intelligence agent finds the remains of a man, whose injuries (and surveillance video) point to his death by Canary Cry, unleashed at point blank; a cause of death that he has seen once before!

Days later, in the same hotel, Black Canary, Batgirl and Katanna are confronted by a hologram of a man from Black Canary’s past, identified only as Infiltrator.  The room is engulfed in flames, thanks to one of the operatives employed to capture the Birds, Napalm.  Infiltrator orders his operatives to move in, calling them the Infiltrators, each specially selected to take on a particular member of the Birds.  Katanna battles Flesh, a man in a sumo diaper, whose skin cannot be pierced by even her samurai sword!  Batgirl must take on Head, an operative with injections being pumped into his head that prevent him from being knocked out.  The leader explains, “We studied your fighting techniques, Batgirl.  You like to go for the knockout.”  The agent employed to battle Poison Ivy is disappointed that she isn’t present and there are some humorous moments of him feeling useless.  Black Canary has a sonic inhibitor slapped around her throat, disabling her Canary Cry.  She tries to surrender but wants her teammates allowed to go free, but Infiltrator refuses.

(Spoilers from here!)

Katanna gets the upper hand on Flesh and comes up with a plan.  She tells Batgirl and Canary to route the agents to the lower level and look for an escape.  Katanna winds up using one of the agents to one of the Infiltrators powers against him, causing the entire building to collapse.  The fate of the Infiltrators is not clear.  It appears they are trapped in the collapse, but Flesh at the very least should have no problem surviving that.  They are barely free of the destruction when Black Canary makes a tearful confession.

Meanwhile, Starling has traveled to South Dakota, seeking answers about Canary’s past.  She finds an ordinary-looking suburban house and breaks in to find a high tech lair.  The owner however is there and points a gun at her.  She asks why he has “such a mad-on for the Black Canary?”  He puts his gun away and willingly gives her a file.  Not only was Black Canary a spy in the past, she is wanted for killing her husband, Kurt Lance.  A fact Canary admits to Katanna and Batgirl!

I admire the boldness to make Black Canary actually guilty of the murder she was accused of in the beginning.  I’m intrigued by her past as a spy.  But it doesn’t sit well with me, that this is essentially another hard reboot of a character.  I guess her lengthy past as a member of the Justice League is also wiped out?

Not only that, and this may be a mistake, but Lance is her maiden name.  Well, it was anyway.  She was  Dinah Laurel Lance, daughter of Dinah Drake Lance and Larry Lance.  (Although it was heavily implied that she was actually the biological daughter of Ted Knight, her mother’s old partner Starman.)  Okay, I get that the Golden Age was wiped out.  I get  that Black Canary is a popular enough character that they wanted to keep her on Earth 1, rather than shunting her over to Earth 2.  But now it’s like they are completely scrapping EVERYTHING about her and creating her from scratch!  It’s a little annoying.

I’m glad we have moved beyond the Choke storyline for now.  I liked them facing off against new foes.  The new foes aren’t terribly interesting or original, though.  I kind of think they could have come up with some existing characters to throw against them rather then introducing three fairly generic operatives.  Commander Steel had unbreakable skin, so he could have been used instead of Flesh.  Plus, as a patriotic character, it would make sense for him to be working for the government.  Bane could have stood in for Head.  Just sayin’!  It’s not a complaint, per se, but DC’s a big toy box.  Maybe play with some existing toys rather than buying new ones for the sake of buying new ones.

The highlight of the issue for me was Katanna taking charge and coming up with their escape plan.  She hasn’t been as heavily focused on as some of the other characters, so I was glad to see her step up and take a more active role.

Jesus Saiz’s art, as always, kicks ass!  The fight scenes were a little chaotic, as they should be.  It puts you inside the action, rather than making the reader an outside observer.  It’s akin to movies employing the handi-cam technique.  It’s not for everyone!  I like it, though.  His facial expressions are great!  Starling’s face, when she is caught breaking into the house was priceless!  And you can really see the heartbreak on Dinah’s face when she confesses to killing her husband to the other Birds.

Despite my reservations about Dinah’s revamped past, this is still a great book!  I highly recommend it!

Verdict: Buy

BIRDS OF PREY #8
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art and Cover by Jesus Saiz