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Daughter of the Lightning

August 28, 2010

Gail Simone’s explosive return to Birds of Prey concludes with Birds of Prey #4.  We begin with a flashback to the birth of a girl to an old Chinese man.  The mother died of complications from the birth, and when the sensei ordered the midwife to kill his daughter, lightning struck the midwife dead.  So he told his son, curiously named Rabbit, to feed her.  Back in the present, Black Canary faces off against White Canary, having realized who she is.  She taunts White Canary, insulting her brothers, the Twelve Brothers in Silk.  That pisses White Canary off, and her rage fuels her fighting ability, making things get even worse.  Oracle tries to stop Savant with words, but Creote explains to her that, because of his mental disability, the torture he endured as a result of being allied with her only happened a few minutes ago.  Always.  White Canary gloats and starts to leave, thinking she’s one, but in a moment when both her hands are on a ladder, Black Canary hits her with her Canary Cry.  With the rest of the Birds, Penguin reveals his true colors, stabbing Lady Blackhawk and saying he’ll get all the files from Savant for his participation.  Huntress points out that as tough a fighter as White Canary doesn’t miss and give you that bad a cut, but Penguin tries to shake it off.  White Canary reveals she killed her brothers for being able to live with the same of defeat, and she’s doing this to get revenge.  Savant reveals that he’s really there to kill himself, so he tries to jump off the edge of the dam.  Oracle shoves herself out of her wheelchair as best she can and grabs Savant’s hand, but Creote refuses to help.  White Canary taunts Black Canary as he beats the crap out of her, but the fight ends when White Canary finally decides to stop holding back and pushes her out of a window.  Penguin holds everyone at blade point, and Hawk thinks he’s going to die again.  So Dove knocks Penguin out, ending the stalemate.  Croete finally relents and helps save Savant, and White Canary awakens, bereft of her weapons and tied up.  When Black Canary asks if she killed that kidnapper from before, she says no; Lady Shiva did it, and if Black Canary sets her free, they can go to get Shiva together.

Well.  Damn.  Guess Penguin wasn’t the mastermind.  It seems like this was a group thing, done by Savant, White Canary, and Penguin done together.  But I’m rather happy how all three of the scenes turned out.  Savant is safe, and he finally realizes how much Creote cares about him.  Maybe.  Dove kicked ass and beat up Penguin, giving her and Huntress the chance to get Hawk and Lady Blackhawk to a hospital.  And Black Canary won.  But boy are things not as they seem.  Does White Canary have a grudge against Lady Shiva?  Is there something else going on here?  What a way to start out this new volume.  This whole issue was just so jam-packed with action and plot development, and yet, it didn’t seem too dense.  That’s Gail Simone for you.  She can write such big stories like this, and you’ll never feel overwhelmed.  Except, perhaps, with excitement.  I also like seeing a martial artist who actually kicks more ass when she’s angry.  I’m rather tired of the stereotype of true strength and skill coming from being perfectly calm.  Not only is it a cliche, but it makes characters less… interesting.  The biggest weakness of this issue was, as before, the switch between Ed Benes and Adriana Melo.  Melo mostly got completely separate scenes from Benes’ scenes, so that made things much less jarring.  And yet who got the bigger fight scenes?  It’s clear who’s the better artist, by far.  Especially as Nei Ruffino’s colors don’t work as well with Melo.  And neither of them are working on the next arc, which is rather disappointing.  I don’t really know the replacement artist, but I can’t say it’s good when the series’ two main artists, neither of whom finished a whole issue by themselves, is being replaced after the first story.  I hope this is just a chance for Ed Benes to heal up so he can come back in full force for the third story.  Anyway, great, bloody fun with a lot of tough, awesome women, a few cool men, and a crazy guy who thinks he’s a penguin.  All in all, a great story.  Where will Simone be taking things next?  Honestly, I have no idea.

Plot: 9.2      Art: 8.6      Dialogue: 9.3      Overall: 9.2

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