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The True Mastermind

August 9, 2010

Gail Simone’s return to the Birds of Prey continues with Birds of Prey #3.  And what a beginning.  All of the Birds (except Hawk) start stripping for the Penguin, acting dirty, and trying to kiss him.  Of course, we see the truth shortly later: he’s dreaming.  Oracle lets them know that she saw White Canary from some camera footage, but she probably wanted to be seen.  Then she tells Black Canary about the thing in Iceland.  Seems the Icelandic police say that Black Canary hit the kidnapper with some crazy special martial arts technique.  Worst part is it’s real, and she knows it.  Penguin wakes up just in time for Oracle to tell them about the bad news with Savant and Creote.  Dawn convinces Penguin to not start attacking them with his deadly umbrella.  Canary tries to find out how White Canary managed to pierce Hawk’s skin, and just then more rogue cops burst in with a tank.  This leads to a massive melee, and Oracle is unable to get them any backup because her computers go down.  And just then, Savant and Creote arrive behind her, alive and well.  Penguin goes back to dreaming, and Hawk takes out the cops’ second tank.  However, White Canary arrives and hits him with a dagger, knocking him out, turning back to normal, and nearly killing him.  And a piece of paper on the dagger says, “Choose.”  Savant and Creote take Oracle hostage, and Savant explains that they know how to stage a death scene.  They were also the one who gathered all of that info on the superhuman community.  Their plan is to expose Oracle to the whole world… and then “end their mutual pain.”  Black Canary tells Huntress to get Hawk and Penguin to a hospital while she deals with White Canary.  Both Huntress and Lady Blackhawk want her to end things, even if that means killing.  She finds and fights with White Canary, and based on White Canary’s reaction to the word “families” and a certain combo, Black Canary figures out who she is.  However, it turns out she’s not the mastermind.  The true mastermind… is the Penguin.

Well, that was quite a shocker.  To learn that the Penguin, who has seemingly spent the majority of this storyline bleeding and hallucinating, is the one behind all of this.  He’s obvious quite a good actor.  Oh, and I was very happy to learn that Savant and Creote were still alive.  Even if they seem to be working with White Canary and Penguin in this massive plan.  It’s unclear as to what their ultimate objectives are, but this is all quite exciting.  Oh yes, and Gail Simone brings in her best Secret Six dirty stuff with that scene with Penguin at the beginning.  I will, unfortunately, not be forgetting the line “penguin party in my pants” for quite a long time.  My only complaint plotwise is that we’re still getting strung along with White Canary’s identity.  Dinah has figured out who she is, but we still don’t get let in on that little secret.  Is it Sin?  Is it maybe Lady Shiva’s sister, Carolyn Wu-San?  I don’t know, but I’m getting tired of waiting to find out.  Fortunately, that secret will be revealed in the next issue.  As for the art, Ed Benes’ stuff is absolutely great.  Considering his love of cheesecake, I’m sure he had a blast with that beginning part.  Sadly, there were lots of butt shots to be had.  But Benes’ art is crisp and solid, so I can largely forgive that.  But once again, we have the jarring transition to Adriana Melo, whose work is just nowhere near as good as Benes’.  It is a serious problem for this series if Benes has only been able to complete one whole issue.  If it’s because of some kind of injury, sickness, or family problem, I understand.  But otherwise, he either needs to step up or step down and let Melo or someone else do the art full-time.  Melo is still good, and the worst thing is just the transition.  So, I’m looking forward to the upcoming revelation of White Canary’s identity.  I’m so glad Simone’s had the chance to come back to these characters.  And yes, Hawk is kind of an ass.

Plot: 9.0      Art: 8.6      Dialogue: 9.3      Overall: 9.0

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