batwatch's Birds of Prey #18 - Burning Cold review

Birds of Prey #18

Burning Cold

Birds of Prey has been a very rough book of recent, and by rough, I mean bad. Duane Swierczynski (former writer of Birds of Prey and Cable) has been writing some really bad adventures for the Birds of recent, and I am delighted that the book is finally getting some new talent. However, I'm not sure if Christy Marx (former writer of Epic's The Sisterhood of Steel and current writer of Birds of Prey and Sword of Sorcery) is really the booster shot the Birds need to make them a major player once more. After all, Marx's book Sword of Sorcery, got canceled in nearly record time for the DCNU, so why should we hold our breath that she will be the savior of Birds of Prey? Also, her name is Marx, and people named Marx have a habit of creating horrible things like Socialism and Communism. Does Christy Marx prove to be the best comrade the Birds could ever desire, or does she drop the hammer and sickle on this feeble series?

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In this issue, Black Canary further proves her incompetence in leadership while Mr. Freeze targets the Court of Owls.

To Marx or Not To Marx?

The big question of this issue, at least to me, is whether or not Christy Marx is better than Duane Swierczynski, and I am happy to say she is. However, she's not a big step up.

The dialogue feels stronger. All the characters seemed to have distinct voices though there was one line from Starling which struck me as a bit off, but other than that, good stuff. The overall story feels like it actually has a focus. It appears that Mr. Freeze has a definite goal which will be revealed and explained, and though no real mission statement for the team has been given, Marx did spend some more time focusing on the home base and the characters interactions which should hopefully lead to the team developing a real identity and purpose. Marx also acknowledged that Black Canary has pretty well screwed everything up, and it appears as if Dinah might have been given a sort of spiritual guide to help her in her quest to be less incompetent.

On the flip side, Black Canary is still wildly incompetent. She lets her team walk all over her, and I despise that about her. I was hoping that in this issue, she would really put Strix in her place, but no luck on that front. Portraying Strix as a psycho is only making her unlovable in my eyes. The members of Birds of Prey should have been able to deal with Mr. Freeze much more efficiently, and the poor showing just makes the cast look weak. Finally, the call to arms at the end of the issue is quite reminiscent of the general, “Let's kick some butt,” attitude which is the most typical thing that could ever be included in a team superhero book.

Altogether, it does feel like Birds has a better direction, and it probably has some more fully realized characters, and this will help if it can continues in this direction, but as a first showing, its only one step up from Swierczynski, and it has a lot of improving to do before it becomes a good series once more.

Bat Droppings

1. Out of the last four covers of Birds of Prey, they have all featured multiple members of the cast crammed into one image in a chaotic fight scene with BC using her Canary Cry. None of the covers have been particularly good because they are all too busy.

2. I am interested in seeing what Mr. Freeze has planned. I also want to know who his partner is.

3. Strix once more goes crazy. This girl should so be locked up.

4. Condor gets thrown around like a rag doll. Apparently, he forgets he is telekinetic and can fly.

5. This series might improve to the point that I really like it, but until Dinah kicks Mary's butt, I kind of doubt it.

6. Condor showed a side of himself which made him more than an egotistical moron. This is the kind of character fleshing out which gives me some hope for the series.

7. Seriously, why wouldn't Dinah confide in Ev. What a ditz!

8. Miss Ettie might be a fun character.

(Spoilers until Conclusion)

9. If Mr. Freeze just wanted Strix, then why did he page Batgirl and Starling? Also, how did he get their numbers? Perhaps it will be explained next issue.

10. The two page spread of Mr. Freeze is fairly cool, but it seems like a lot of waste of real estate for a image which is only fairly cool.

11. Speaking of art work, Romano Molenaar (current penciler for Birds of Prey) does a good job for the most part, but if you look closely at a lot of panels, you'll notice a supreme lack of details in the everything that is not the main focus of the panel.

12. Again, Condor seems to forget he is telekinetic. Why can't he just yank away Freeze's gun?

13. You would think that after getting a major beat down from Batwoman this week, Mr. Freeze would be staying away from heroines, but I guess some villains never learn. On that note, Batwoman and Hawkfire are apparently vastly better fighters than all five members of Birds of Prey combined since the duo managed to subdue Freeze soundly while the Birds got their butts kicked.

14. Mr. Freeze's gun seems to have a variety of functions which is kind of cool. Notice how he sprayed a cloud of freezing fog at one point.

Conclusion 6/10

It's a step in the right direction, but it is not a monumental daddy step. If you are a huge Birds of Prey or Christy Marx fan, go ahead and pick this issue up, but everybody else might want to wait for a couple more issues to come out to see if this series is truly on the upswing.

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