We are nearing the end of the first story arc of ‘Birds of Prey’ and finally, the lead characters seem to be in the know and are proactively seeking to stop Choke, the criminal mastermind who is using ordinary Gotham citizens as his sleeper agents. They’ve realized that all of the agents fit a certain profile, as Black Canary explains to one of the sleeper agents, “You’re all healthy, athletic workaholics whose periodic absences can be explained by company needs.” These are all tech savvy individuals, whom Choke activates via email or text message in the form of a nursery rhyme. In fact, the one victim the Birds confront at the beginning of the book, thinks they are trying to kidnap him, but rather than call the police, he posts about it on a social media site! This victim, Brendan offers to help the Birds and goes back to his office nonchalantly. But Choke is aware of the ruse immediately and Brendan and the Birds quickly discover the hard way just how many sleeper agents Choke has!
I’m glad this storyline is finally starting to come together and is becoming more coherent. Perhaps intentionally, there have just been a lot of twists and turns and fake-outs in this story, and I’m glad to get some clearer explanation on it. The use of social media as a brainwashing tool is actually quite clever and current. The chemicals in the sleepers’ bodies not only makes them mind-controlled drones, but in their conscious hours makes them sharper, more effecient employees, further covering up their activities as agents of Choke. All in all, it’s a long story, but this issue satisfactorily advanced the story.
The art is by Javier Pina and looks similar to that of former penciller Jesus Saiz. It isn’t as detailed but it’s still good. Like with Saiz, I think the inks are a bit too heavy, but that doesn’t ruin it or anything. (Ironically, most of Saiz’s issues featured art by different cover artists and here, he provides the cov to someone else’s interior art!).
I’m very much looking forward to next issue’s finale, but this was a great set-up!
BIRDS OF PREY #6
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Javier Pina
Cover by Jesus Saiz and June Chung