It’s World War II and Namor declares offensive war on Japan, sometimes very offensive. He also finds time to work undercover at a lumber company and fighting underwater pirate Nazis because Golden Age. Meanwhile the Angel fights crime in a loud costume that doesn’t enhance his abilities or hide his identity also because golden age.
Batgirl, Huntress, and Black Canary battle a metahuman who is turning other metahumans deadly, find out the truth behind the new Oracle, and battle a pair of evil realtors. Along the way Nightwing, Green Arrow, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy guest star.
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Graham: Brace for adventure with the ladies of Gotham as the Birds of Prey fly into another adventure. Today we’re taking a look at Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Volume 2: Source Code, coming right up.
Announcer: Welcome to the Classy Comics podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise Idaho, here is your host Adam Graham.
Graham: Welcome to the Classy Comics podcast. Be sure and check out our website classiccomicsguy.com, email me at email@example.com and follow us on Twitter at classiccomicsguy
The Birds of Prey began in 1995. In the post crisis universe, Barbara Gordon was put in a wheelchair by the Joker, thus ending her career as Batgirl. However, she found a new career as Oracle. Her hacking skills and ability to master technology made her an asset to so many heroes and she started her own team, the Birds of Prey with Black Canary being a key member. When the D.C. Universe was rebooted with the New 52, the timeline changed so that after time in a wheelchair, Barbara was able to walk again and now is active again as Batgirl. However, there was a Birds of Prey during this New 52 era. It wasn’t a successful the old one and didn’t last long but with the D.C. rebirth initiative, it returned this time under the title Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. Black Canary teamed up with Batgirl in the initial story and they met the Huntress, Helena Bertinelli. She was introduced in the post, in the New 52 world as an agent of Spyral and then resumed her classic identity of the Huntress to find revenge for her family’s murder by mobsters.
At the end of that story, which ended with her not exactly getting revenge but justice instead, she joined the Birds of Prey and we have our current team of Batgirl, Black Canary and the Huntress.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Volume 2: Source Code actually contains three different stories. It ranges from issue 7 to issue 13 of the series. Issue 7 is a one-off, Soldiers of Fortune which begins with a super villain fight but the main plot is about them uncovering why Barbara’s realtor has been constantly spying on the property and that involves the Huntress and Black Canary going undercover. This is just a pretty fun story. You have Huntress deciding to go and spend the night at Black Canary’s house and really annoyed by how spartan it is but she gets up in the morning and sees an espresso machine and notes that Black Canary owns a high-end espresso machine but not a pillow to which Black Canary replies priority. That’s just a very nice little idiosyncrasy there. The real estate agents, it’s kind of interesting what they’re doing, is that their big specialty is selling homes that have been previously occupied by super villains because once they get thrown into jail or Arkham Asylum, well, their house is going to be available or on the market.
As they say it, when one of these guys go to the big house, we have an open house and we get to see a few of the homes that have previously held supervillains and it’s nice and I think that the idea of Huntress and Black Canary in disguise is played pretty well and there’s a clever solution and resolution to this thread that’s been working through the book. This is, it’s not like a huge issue but I think it’s important because it establishes the baseline relationship between these three characters and after the events of the first Arc through which Helena was mostly on the outside.
The second story is Blackbird. It begins with Dick Grayson pursuing the metahuman, Gemini from Bludhaven to Gotham and when he finally catches her, finds out that her powers are so enhanced, he can’t handle her and thus the Birds of Prey lend a hand. They find out that her powers were enhanced due to training from a metahuman named Blackbird and so Black Canary, Dinah Lance, goes undercover at a metahuman fight club in hopes of being recruited and groomed by Blackbird. This was a pretty decent story. The whole metahuman fighting club reminded me of an episode of Justice League unlimited and not one of the ones I actually like Still, I thought this was a well told and well-paced story. It doesn’t end with a bit of a crossover as both Dick Grayson, as Nightwing and Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow get involved in it but I like that they brought in two people who had a legitimate reason to be there and they didn’t just overwhelm us with characters. I know sometimes when they get in a crossover, they’re like OK we’re going to bring in some additional characters. Let’s bring in every possible character. No, they brought in two characters who didn’t distract from our heroes and the result is a satisfying, if not spectacular, story.
And then, finally, we have the titular story for the volume, Source Code. I should mention that throughout this book, character named Gus has actually been the current Oracle. First Arc of Rebirth had Batgirl investigating who had been using her old name and it led to Gus, who had been a fan and had taken up the banner. However, during the last adventure, there were some clues dropped that Gus had a double life and maybe compromising the team. So, this Arc opens with Black Canary and Huntress holding him upside down on the top of the clock tower and when Gus pointed out that Batgirl had a no killing code, she points out that that’s why she’s having the other two hold him, Gus then explains what’s going on and how he was recruited by the super villain known as the Calculator, who was a longtime foe of Oracle. Calculator recruited Gus when he was pretending to be Oracle and Gus worked a hacking job, which he knew was immoral but which paid the bills and which he tried to justify by doing good things with the money like giving big amounts to charity or paying off his mother’s home. And the story does show the compassion of the team because they go from holding him upside down to Barbara being understanding as he tells them about his bipolar disorder and how he hid it from them for fear that they would think he was crazy and the whole team gets together to help him and they confront Calculator but find out that what Calculator really needs is some stolen goods returned from someone he helped to rip off because these people responded by kidnapping his wife and children. And again, you see the compassion and general sense of decency because this guy has been Barbara Gordon’s enemy for years but she still steps up to try and save his family because that’s just who she is.
The book shows that a villain can be multifaceted. Gus emphasizes in describing Calculator that just because he was a supervillain, didn’t stop him from having a family that he loved from employing a lot of people with good jobs and them running an ecologically responsible company. But I also like how when you get to the end of the story, the book kind of flips that on its head, which is to say just because he’s got a family he loves, because he employs a lot of people and has provided some help to some people in the course of that, doesn’t mean that he’s not also capable of monstrous evil and very quickly after his particular problem is resolved. Well, they find out that Catwoman was actually involved in the heist and has possession of a jewel that was stolen and I love the way issue 11 ends with the reveal of Catwoman. There’s a pizza delivery guy at her door and she’s holding the diamond and she says, “You’re early, kid. I haven’t had time to change out of my work clothes. I’m also a little short on cash. Can you break 45 carats?”. I just love that scene.
Of course, Catwoman isn’t the type to hold on to a stolen jewel when someone’s life is at stake but it turns out that she only broke in there to steal, not only the jewel, but something else for Poison Ivy. So, Poison Ivy becomes involved in the story as well and fighting the particular villains at this corporation that’s holding the Calculators family hostage. I won’t spoil all the details but the book does end with Catwoman and Poison Ivy, at least temporarily, joining up with the Birds of Prey. I’m not quite sure about the move and I’m worried they might crowd out the three main characters, who I really like working together as a team. I’m also a little curious about what Catwoman was even doing stealing the jewels given the status of her relationship with Bruce Wayne/ Batman. Though I do think if the marriage does end up going through, she’s probably going to have to give up her little bouts of larceny.
Overall, I found this to be a pretty fun book. The stories aren’t great but they’re certainly not bad and they’re told with a great sense of fun and adventure. The characters are likable and I just enjoy reading a book featuring them having these adventures together. The artists do change several times in the course of the book. I think there’s three artist changes in course of the book. I didn’t find it that distracting though some others might. Still overall, I’m going to give Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Volume 2: Source Code a rating of classy. It’s just a fun comic to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
All right well that will do it for now. If you have a comment, send it to me firstname.lastname@example.org and check out our website classycomicsguy.com and follow us on Twitter at classycomicsguy.
From Boise Idaho, this is your host Adam Graham signing off.
Travel back to the early 1980s as we look at what made Spider-man’s third series a worthwhile read in Essential Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-man, Volume 3 collecting Issues 54-74 and Annual #3.