In my opinion, issue #9 is pretty much the calm before the storm. That's not to say it's a boring issue or anything along those lines (Calvin does make a jump from above 10,000 feet, after all), but to me, exists solely to build momentum for what's to come.
Writer James Tynion IV quickly moves past the connection to BIRDS OF PREY (for now, at least), but manages to make good use of the limited time Calvin spends with Strix. The two share a tender moment and it helps us further connect with both characters. From there, the writer jumps back into Calvin's ordeal with the Court of Owls and the part I've been excited about: Bane. Without giving anything away, new elements are established when it comes to Casey's captivity and Calvin finally makes it to Santa Prisca in a fairly short yet cool sequence.
Bane once again has limited panel space, but just like with Strix, Tynion makes decent use of the time. While we've already seen the Batman villain's strength (vs. Calvin) and intellect (his entire scenario), this brief scene aims to reminds us how heartless he can be. It's a moment we've seen between a boss and a goon countless times before in all kinds of media, but the art really sells the raw brutality and vicious nature behind the scene. Added bonus: there's a superb close up panel of Bane's mask.
In the event you're a BIRDS OF PREY fan, I feel obligated to let you know the cover is incredibly misleading. As you most likely know, Calvin already fought Strix and Batgirl in the last BOP issue, and Strix is only in this one for a handful of pages at most. They share a nice moment, but it's not longer before she's gone and we're back in Calvin's world.
Overall, the artwork is solid, but Calvin has an over the top expression upon seeing Mary's face and Bane appears less bulky in the panel where he's stomping a man -- minor complaints, but both caught my eye.
When I finished the final page, I really didn't have any strong feelings about the issue one way or another. For me, this issue basically goes through the motions of doing everything needed before getting to the truly engrossing material. It's certainly not "filler," but it's instead mandatory exposition in some areas and swiftly introducing new elements in others. Overall, this is an experience that simply left me down the middle. If anything, I imagine it'll be a far more enjoyable read when collected in a TPB.