Birds of Prey (1999 Series) #65
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Power and Permanence (Sensei and Student Part Four)
As Black Canary ponders Shiva’s offer Oracle reaches out for the only help she can find… the Huntress.
Writer: Gail Simone
Pencils: Ed Benes
Inks: Alex Lei
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Lysa Hawkins
Cover Art: Greg Land
Publisher: DC Comics
Gail Simone has, in less than a year, raised this from a peripheral title to the best comic book in the Batman family. Last issue, Lady Shiva offered to train Black Canary in the ways of the assassin. Oracle, meanwhile, has been captured by a corrupt senator with ties to her old foe Savant.
Both stories are progressed this issue, with Oracle’s really taking the forefront. We are reminded in this title that, even though she spends most of her time behind a computer these days, Oracle is still far from a slouch in the field. She does more, even with her handicap, than most fully-equipped heroes could, outsmarting and scamming her captors at every turn as she makes her bid for freedom. Huntress, meanwhile, tries to track down Oracle and winds up finding out a clue as to why the two of them have never quite gotten along.
The Black Canary/Shiva storyline, where they join with the deadly Cheshire to track down the man who murdered their mutual Sensei, takes a back seat for most of this issue, but at the end gives us one of those “wow” moments that Simone has woven into this title. There is some slight stretching of credibility here, though, as Shiva professes her desire for an “heir.” It makes sense, in the way she pieces her logic together, but one has to question whether Black Canary (who, while still gorgeous, appears to be older than Shiva herself) is the best choice.
Ed Benes and Alex Lei continue to impress with the artwork, particularly a fantasy sequence at the beginning. Through a different inking style and color palette, the opening scene is really set off from the rest of the book.
Greg Land makes a triumphant return with this issue, supplying an absolutely beautiful cover that is more than poster-worthy. While it does fall into the trap of not adequately portraying the story within (that Marvel is much worse about than DC these days), it’s a gorgeous piece of art.
Four issues in, this is a great story, but it’s starting to feel stretched a little thin. Hopefully it’ll cap off next issue or the issue after – any longer than that may be too much. Still, it’s a fine comic and one that I look forward to month after month.