Current Reviews


Birds Of Prey #66

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Michael Golden (p), Mike Manley and Scott Hanna with Michael Golden (i)

Publisher: DC

The Plot:
As Dinah looks back on one of her mother's old case-files that she believes is connected to her present day troubles, the book jumps back to the Golden Age, where we see the original Black Canary is up against a serial killer who has been killing blond women. As the Black Canary races to save the life of a woman whose encyclopedia like knowledge helped her with the case, we see the killer manages to slip away while Dinah was busy saving the life of her injured friend. The issue than ends in the present day as her daughter makes the connection between that case, and her current investigation.

The Good:
I must confess I don't really know much about the Golden Age Black Canary, as among the Golden Age heroes she's one of the only ones who retired from the game, and stayed retired as the second generation of heroes took the stage. In fact my only real expose to the character is from a Justice League of America issue that confused the heck out of me back when I was a just starting to read comics, and her appearance in a Justice Society miniseries in the early 1990s. However, the biggest compliment that I can pay this issue is that by the time I finished this issue not only was I a big fan of the character, but I also had a firm grasp on the character's corner the Golden Age DCU. It also doesn't hurt that Gail Simone does a pretty fair job of coming up with a creepy little case for her to tackle, as it felt like an issue "Sandman Mystery Theatre", which stands up as one of my all-time favorite mystery titles, as it's villains were truly disturbing creations, and while this issue keeps the violence fairly low key by comparison, the main villain manages to project that same unsettling feeling that I got while I was following the adventures of the Golden Age Sandman. I also enjoyed the way that the book managed to insert parallels to Dinah's situation in the present day, as her mother hooks up with a Golden Age version of Barbara, and I have to say I was on pins and needles when her new ally fell victim to the killer's blade. I also enjoyed the final page revelation about the identity of the killer, as there is something inherently cool about a legacy of evil moving through the generations.

I first encountered Michael Golden's work in the early 1980s when I was making my first forays in to the back issue bins at the local flea market, as I made an attempt to get the early issues of the "Micronauts" and I have to say I was far too impressed by the work of John Byrne on the "Fantastic Four" and George Pérez on the "New Teen Titans", to pay much heed to his work. Over the years though Michael Golden became an artist whose work was continually mentioned by other artist as being a major influence, and much like Jim Steranko he's become an artist whose work I've gone back to look at and take note of as being pretty darn impressive in it's ability to deliver the story is a visually exciting manner. However, Michael Golden has proven to be a pretty elusive artist over the decades, as he hasn't really stuck with one book for all that long. Still, his name is always a welcome sight as he brings a high quality style, that has a firm grasp on how to tell a story, and he does a wonderful job capturing the earlier era, and the big impact panel where the killer slashes Laurel's throat is a truly shocking image. I also love the attention to the little details, like the old microphone being used by the signer at the dance, or the little cat patch on Laurel's coat.

The Bad:
I was left feeling like I had missed a chapter of this story, as I had been under the impression that Dinah was looking to locate the killer of her sensi, and this issue looks to have tied this investigation to a old case of her mothers, where she was racing against a serial killer who targeted blondes. I mean maybe I haven't been paying attention to the clues that we've been getting but frankly I don't quite understand how Dinah managed to connect her present day case to one of her mothers, as the only connecting element that I can see tying the two would be the reappearance of the word etched on the wall in blood over the first victim, and if this word has made an appearance in the present day story I have to say it didn't make an impression on me, which is a fairly key omission if it's supposed to be the element that ties these two cases together. Now the adventure of the Golden Age Black Canary made for an entertaining diversion, but I found myself openly wondering why Dinah made the intuitive leap to this case, when I don't see any elements that tie them together, beyond the connection that Dinah makes on the final page, which also left me a bit confused as the eye-opening moment escapes me (though I guess we're suppose to take note of the "Holiday Peach" line as it's in capital letters). Now my confusion could be the direct result of my failure to pay attention to the little details, but frankly I completely missed the clues that would've directed Dinah toward this case file. I also have to say last issue ended with a pretty dire cliffhanger, so this issue's little side trip was a bit jarring.

The Sins Of The Father:
A bit of a side trip as all the elements of the current plot are set aside so that we can take a trip into the Golden Age, where we follow Dinah's mother as she's on the trail of a serial killer who has a fetish for killing blondes. Now this is a highly entertaining voyage into the past, and it does a wonderful job of reinforcing that the Black Canary does have a legacy that really hasn't gotten as much attention as it should've. This issue does a good job of spelling out the differences between Dinah and her mother, as we see the original Black Canary operated in a different era when costumed female crime-fighters were a rarity, and we see there are moments in this story when Dinah's mother acts like a woman of her era, rather than a modern day woman who has simply been transplanted into this society. The case that she's called upon to investigate is also a wonderfully creepy affair, and there's a genuine shocking moment when the killer looks to have slashed the throat of one of Dinah's friends. I do have to say that I'm at a bit of a loss as to how Dinah managed to connect this old case with the one she's involved in in the present day, as other than the final page's claim that they are, I have to say I don't see any real connection, or at least none that would've had Dinah cracking open the old case file.

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