Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One Good Thing And One Bad Thing About Birds of Prey #3

BAD THING: The mystery behind the "White Canary" is driving me crazy. Every logical suspect I can think of has just as logical reasons for not being possible. I'm afraid this is going to turn out to be something/someone totally out of left field and only my faith in Gail Simone as a storyteller keeps me from being worried.

GOOD THING: Speaking of Gail Simone being evil, the opening sequence of the book is just pure wrongness on a level that hasn't been seen since... well, Wonder Woman asking Power Girl to tie her up in Gail's Wonder Woman now that I think about it.

It's obviously a dream sequence but that doesn't stop the pain for Black Canary and Huntress fans who had grown used to their characters being treated like this outside of Birds of Prey. And that pain is the seed of a great bit of comedy. And let us give props to Ed Benes, who did a shout-out to the atrocious artwork of Green Arrow/Black Canary and Dinah's magically unzipping costume.

The Final Verdict: As maddening as the mystery behind this issue is, I can't help but recommend it for the wicked humor alone. The Birds Are Back And There Is Much Rejoicing.


  1. I just love how self-parodying that second panel is. More Benes than Benes!

  2. I'm not sure that's self parody. Have you seen Ed's Supergirls picture?

  3. It's okay! The gay guys aren't dead!
    No, the gay guys are just EVIL ALL ALONG!

  4. That's the one.
    Funny, I could have sworn it was much more fan-servicey.

  5. Speculation about whether this is still true or not aside, weren't they evil to begin with? Is it just that a redemption story didn't work out?

  6. Two points.
    1. I don't think anything definite has been said about Savant's sexuality. Or lack thereof. He seems to be too obsessed with his work to really think about it, from what I recall. So it might be more accurate to say "The gay guy and the semi-autistic guy aren't dead!"
    2. Gail actually telegraphed this in Secret Six, as Savant was one of the villains chasing after the "Get Out Of Hell Free" card Tarantula was holding on to.

  7. Basically, it's looking like Savant faked his desire to redeem himself and has been running a long con to get close to Oracle and continue his plan from the very first story arc Gail wrote - use Oracle to further empower his own blackmail empire.

  8. That's the thing; I think Benes is capable of more range than his critics give him credit for. Compare panels 1 and 2 of BoP: the first has sex, yes, but the second one is so totally "Ha! I get to draw butts!" that I giggled. Sure, he draws a lot of arse, but his ability to draw great action and talking heads is sadly overlooked far too much.
    So yes, I do think that second panel is self parody. He'll continue to draw great fights and faces that speak volumes, but if given free range to draw a Bertinelli arse? Damn right he's going to take it.

  9. Yeah, I'm OK with that.
    I mean, yes, I think the world needs more gay heroes. Definitely. Lots more gay superheroes, please. But I'm alright with Savant and Creote not being those heroes.

  10. Point taken.
    And for all the flack he gets about indulging in cheesecake, he is one of the few artists who actually seems to understand - proportions and impractical costume aside - the base physics of breasts and how they SHOULD work and be supported.
    Hell, I'd like to see him on Red Sonja just so they have an artist who seems to understand that bras - even leather ones covered with chainmail - should actually seem to be cupping something rather than being chains draped across beachballs.

  11. Yeah. I'm also still trying to puzzle out just how involved Savant is in whatever power is backing the White Canary. Clearly he was tipped off in advance so he could set up the "fake his death" thing.
    But now I'm wondering if he might not be the one behind all this. He certainly had the resources and motivation to set all this up...

  12. And now, having just noticed Penguin's profile and his monocle falling off his eyes in astonishment, I'm imagining Penguin singing "Baby Got Back" with The Birds dancing in the background.
    I need help.

  13. You know who does good breasts? JH Williams III.
    I mean, yes, bringing him into the conversation is probably unfair because he's great at everything, but I was rereading Elegy over the weekend and Alice looks exactly like she's wearing an underbust corset with no cupping above it, just as Batwoman's clearly got shaped armour (which is what you'd expect, really.)
    But he's definitely not underappreciated and I always feel Benes is.

  14. Two possibilities I'm working with now:
    1) Savant is being coerced by the Penguin or whoever's behind it all. He's now intending to maneuvre around this in some way, which is what he means by 'put an end to our mutual pain'.
    2) Savant is in fact the mastermind of the whole scheme. I in fact thought that was who the White Canary referred to in her last line, until someone tipped me to the 'Penguin is behind it all' implication.
    I don't see Savant as being anyone's pawn. At all, in anyway. He's got too much pride. Like Catman, but semi-autistic and with better hair.

  15. Now that you mention it - if Savant has the backdoor accesses he seem to be indicating, he'd be aware of Sin, as well as what became of her, and be able to track her down.
    If you extrapolate it a bit further, he'd probably also be aware of what was done to Robert, Shado's son, so could apply the same thing to Sin.
    ... I dunno. If his goal is to force Oracle out in the open, then what?

  16. Provide her the protection she'll need if she's suddenly out in the open and offer her a chance to "help people" but on his terms (i.e. for a price).

  17. I can't see him being a pawn either. I can see him agreeing to work WITH someone but not FOR them, unless given some particularly compelling reason to do so, as Oracle did.
    Of course given his wonky perception of time and memory, it's entirely possible Penguin could have asked him about initiating that scheme they had talked about and have Savant go "Oh, that? Sorry, I forgot."

  18. Maybe Savant's just forgotten that this is after he turned to the good side?

  19. I'll give Benes credit as an artist when he shows he can draw more than 4 faces. Male or female...

  20. This look like instead of the gay suicide trope, they're using the evil gay trope... so this issue with this explanation was what gail said everyone was supposed to wait for? I'm done. I waited till the next issue and i'm still not impressed.
    Either Creote's betraying his friends now, or he's had had the sekrit eebul plot whole time, and neither option grabs me. I suppose one can see something that might someday lead to Creote growing more of a spine around Savant, but I'm just not interested anymore. I was skeptical but willing to give things onemore try when there was the dead gay hero trope but-- Creote faking doing the gay suicide trope and trading it for the evil gay villian trope? Already see lots of that already, thanks.
    That's the problem here. This, the dead gay hero and the evil gay villian is too often in comics when it comes to LGBTQ characters.
    A lot of the problematic tropes that have been happening are actually very reminiscent of the sexist tropes that female characters face that Gail called out in her Woman In The Refrigerator essay.
    On top of that, the whole "master plan" made Oracle look naive.

  21. Do you mean faces that belong to more than four people, or more than four expressions?
    Because many artists can't do either.

  22. You know - that would just be so hilarious!
    Love the Garbage icon, BTW.

  23. What, with the people -she- knows who can do something about her being in the open?
    That's a hard thing to swallow.
    I dunno... I kinda wish she'd pick up the 'Amy Beddoes' identity again. Just go out there and tell the world that 'Amy Beddoes' is Oracle.

  24. Focusing upon the last part first, I think the Master Plan just shows two things.
    1. how for all of her good qualities, Babs can be arrogant.
    2. how much of an effect Dinah has had on Oracle.
    Much has been said about how Babs gave Dinah a purpose again and encouraged her to make herself into something greater than she was before as a heroine. But very little is said about how Dinah's friendship influenced Babs and made her less paranoid, less inclined to assume the worst about everyone and actually start enjoying her life again. Actually, it would be fair to say that before Dinah came along, Babs didn't HAVE any life outside of her work.
    Naive? I don't think so. More hopeful that people can change? Perhaps. Too overconfident? Ding Ding Ding!
    As for the rest, I doubt there's anything I can say that will change your mind. I will say, however, that having spoken with the woman and having read damn near everything she ever wrote, I can honestly say that Gail Simone does not have a bigoted bone in her body.
    It totally fits that Savant would come up with a scheme like this, based on what we know of the characters. It totally fits that Creote, being the co-dependent bear that he is, would go along with it. I can't fault the storyline as it is because it does seem plausible given the history of both characters.
    As far as gay stereotyping goes, I wouldn't panic until Creote started swishing around the lair in a sequin ballgown.

  25. I didn't say it was a GOOD plan. Just a plausible one for him to come up with.
    Keep in mind that Savant also expected Dinah to be totally helpless once tied up and threatened. For all his brilliance in getting things moving, he doesn't deal with complications well. And with his wonky memory, it's likely he's forgotten what happened to the last person who tried to force Babs to start working for them... even though he was right there. ;)

  26. "Too overconfident? Ding Ding Ding!"
    That is a good point. That seems a bit more in character, especially when reviewing the influence Dinah has had on her.
    And I'm not trying to say whether or not Gail Simone is bigoted. It doesn't matter-- first of all, intent doesn't mitigate impact, and second of all, I'm not talking about Gail personally, I'm talking about what she has written. And what she has written falls under a trope that has a long history of Othering.
    There's a pretty illuminating essay called "WHO CARES ABOUT THE DEATH OF A GAY SUPERHERO ANYWAY?" that directly cites Simone's "Women In Refrigerators" essay as an inspiration. It's here:
    It's a little dated, but the main thrust holds up, I think.
    Listen, I respect the work Gail Simone has done in comics. The gay suicide trope invocation was a mistake. And the response she kept trotting out was, "wait untill the next issue". So I get to the next issue, there is yet another negative gay trope.
    Her reaction, to, when called out on it much like male writers when they tried to explain or justify the sexism in thier writing, and people pointed that out to her.
    So between the issue #2 twist, the fallout from it, the reactions from the creator, and now the storyline, I've gotten soured on Birds of Prey.
    "As far as gay stereotyping goes, I wouldn't panic until Creote started swishing around the lair in a sequin ballgown."
    That's setting the bar awfully low.

  27. I'd like to point out that as awesome as Gail is, she is not immune to using a problemmatic trope, and authorial intent doesn't change the fact nor the impact of those tropes when they're used.

  28. as pointed out only one of them is confirmed gay.
    Who knows, maybe Savant of the ambiguous sexuality dies and Creote finds someone who is gay and not evil and notices him as more than a work partner.

  29. True, but given how much Gail loves freaking out the readers AND defying those same tropes (Creote is hardly a stereotypical gay male, for instance), I find it hard to believe that she isn't playing with us all even now.

  30. It is and I was joking when I said that. I suppose I should have included a smiley to make that more clear.
    I dunno... this might not be a negative.
    Okay, yes - it does suck that a gay character who has been portrayed as a reformed criminal isn't quite so reformed as was suggested. I can see how that can be upsetting.
    But consider this: would it still be a negative stereotype if it turned out that said baddie had remained a bad guy all this time and was planning this out as a long con and that they managed to pull one over on one of the best detective/strategists in the world?
    Just a thought. I know the evil homosexual stereotype is a hard one to shake. But then again, Creote is a living rebuttal OF such stereotyping.
    I don't know. I'm reserving judgment for one more issue... but I personally think it would be kinda cool if Creote and Savant were playing possum this whole time and have been waiting for the right moment to spring the trap.

  31. See, for all the grousing about negative gay stereotyping I've seen regarding the last two issues, I haven't seen anyone besides myself comment upon Cerote being portrayed as a codependent and how abusive his relationship with Savant is - whether or not Savant is gay.

  32. Penguin is so shocked he LOST HIS MONOCLE.
    This is the best thing ever.

  33. Ok I know I'm going to be bashed in the head (and probably deservedly so) for being a caveman, but damn that's a lot of camel toe in Huntress!

  34. ...
    *flees the oncoming fangirl wrath*

  35. Yeah. Note my comments above, re: noticing that and instantly imagining Penguin singing "Baby Got Back".