By Gail Simone, Nicola Scott & Doug Hazlewood (DC Comics)
Gail Simone ended her spectacular and compelling run as writer on this wonderful series with this volume, which collects Birds of Prey #104-108. In it her new team of rotating women adventurers must travel to post-Soviet Azerbaijan at the behest of Uber-Spook Spy Smasher who has wrested control of the team from Oracle, the wheelchair-bound super-hacker who used to be Batgirl. By blackmail and Federal intimidation (see Birds of Prey: Blood and Circuits, ISBN: 1-84576-564-8) an old College rival now controls the most effective, pro-active superhuman task force on Earth.
Thinking they’re intercepting a clandestine super-weapon, the Birds team, consisting here of Big Barda, Hawkgirl, Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, the new Manhunter and an eccentric and troubled teen teleporter named Misfit, run afoul of the newly named criminal mercenaries Secret Six (best known to regular readers as the ambiguous super-criminals of Villains United (ISBN 1-84576-232-0). Hip-deep in snow and psychopaths, it’s only then that the ladies realise there’s a deeper, more dangerous scheme in play.
As usual the best laid plans go awry, resulting in deliciously gratuitous combat action, before the volume concludes satisfactorily, if a little precipitously, in a guest-star packed final showdown with the obnoxious Spy-Smasher. Gail Simone moved on to tackle the troubled Wonder Woman series, but the body of work she’s produced on Birds of Prey ranks as some of the best and certainly most accessible superhero comics of the past thirty years. If you crave sassy, clever, glamorous action-adventure grab this book – and all the others too.
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