The mysteries pile up like a car crash this issue, as the Birds suddenly find themselves a member short (Batgirl has vanished) and in a strange location, with no knowledge of how they got there.  Not only that, but when they try to think back, none of them remembers the same sequence of events!  Last issue, for example, Starling’s hand was broken after having slugged Black Canary to save her from exploding.  Suddenly, her hand is okay.  She later comments that “I’m careful with my hands.  You can’t fire a gun or do a shot of whiskey with a broken hand.”  When Black Canary tells them that Batgirl was with them before, Poison Ivy remarks that “Batgirl and I aren’t exactly BFFs.  I would have remembered her being there.”  Ivy doesn’t remember actually finding Choke’s lair or battling the Cleaners.  Starling remembers finding the lair, but recalls that the suits were empty.  Katanna recalls that they fought dozens of them for hours.  All of this occurs as the ladies battle an army of soldiers (not the Cleaners).  Who are they and where did they come from?  That isn’t discovered as the police arrive and the Birds flee.

Realizing that something is wrong with their memories, ‘Memento’-style, Black Canary writes a rendezvous location on the girls arms, “Roof R.H. Kane Building.”  The Birds depart to recuperate.  Starling visits her ex, June.  Canary meets up with Batgirl who reminds her that she doesn’t support the idea of her team, indicating that she also doesn’t remember ever being at Choke’s lair.  Afterward, Katanna joins Dinah for a sparring session and they bond a little.  Ivy has retreated to the woods to meditate and bond with the Earth, when she is visited by a mysterious benefactor who delivers a payment for their “agreement.”

That night, Black Canary, Katanna and Poison Ivy meet at their agreed upon rallying point and are joined by a wary Batgirl.  Canary explains a theory she’s come up with, that Choke is using ordinary citizens as sleeper agents, employing the mysterious serum he uses to blow people up and turn them into living transmitting devices.

Starling looks down at her arm to verify she is at the right location, “Finger River Bridge.”  Somehow, her reminder note was changed!  She is attacked by a several men in black uniforms and leaps off the bridge to escape!

Choke is definitely playing mind games with the Birds!  All of their memories are erased or altered.  He even somehow got to Starling and changed her message and erased that!  I’m really curious as to how they figure a way to outsmart someone who can manipulate their very thoughts and even bodies in Starling’s case!

This series continues to impress.  The characters are all well-written.  Canary is a natural leader.  It was nice to get a little closer to each one this issue as the usually enigmatic Katanna opens up.  We learn a bit about both Canary and Starling’s romantic pasts.  And a new mystery opens up involving Poison Ivy.  Great character development, but still a lot of action, as this issue both opens and closes with a battle sequence.

The art is as lovely as always!  Jesus Saiz always delivers!  The fight scenes are excellently choreographed!  The story just flows smoothly.  His women look stunning but are in no way exploitative.  Just great stuff!  He only provides the breakdowns this issue, but his storytelling style remains consistent with his previous work, so the continuity is still there.  His work is finished off ably by Javier Pina.

The mystery is deepening!  I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting to see how this pans out!

Verdict: Buy

Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Jesus Saiz and Javier Pina
Cover by David Finch and Richard Friend