“War and Remembrance, Part Two”
It turns out that in thwarting the Nazi villain back in the 1950s Phantom Lady Sandra Knight, Zinda Blake, and Black Canary “Sr.” inadvertently were “infected” with three parts of his psyche (Holy Horcruxes, Batman!). Now a cloned resurrection of the Nazi wants those parts back. His minions have captured Phantom Lady and Zinda (Zinda: “So … we've had a … dead Nazi hiding in our heads?!” Sandra: “It's a good thing I missed dinner because I may throw up”), but miscalculated, not realizing that Black Canary “Jr.” is not her mother. As Phantom Lady says in the end, “Two-thirds of a psyche is not a good thing.”
This has been a pleasant little two-parter of little consequence to round out the most recent run of Birds of Prey. Mark Andreyko's a good writer, and this is okay, but obviously just treading water, playing out the clock while Gail Simone gets a jump on Batgirl and Firestorm. In particular, Andreyko's writing here is not representative of the goodness to be found in the five volumes of Manhunter, who appears here as just a minor character mainly through Kate Spencer's familial connection with Sandra Knight. Those deserve to be read – and here's hoping the “co-features” from Batman: Streets of Gotham a while back eventually find collected publication; it was solicited at one time but cancelled. Apparently there wasn't enough pre-order activity. That's a shame.
“Earthly Delights – Scenes from a Work in Progress”
As Col. Jack O'Neill was wont to say to Capt. Samantha Carter, “Uhhh – What?” I confess I have no idea what this issue is about, other than it takes place in Paris, Nightrunner (the French Muslim “Batman Inc.” member who debuted to all kinds of controversy a while back [I'm not sure why – fact is if you're going to have a “religious” character in France these days they're more likely to be Muslim than Catholic!]) appears and is treated a bit shabbily by both Dick and Damian (give the kid a break – he's just a little overawed at fighting alongside y'all), and there's a French Joker knockoff. And a lot of insanely confusing imagery and action. Given the cover – and it's very representative of this book – it is very appropriate that the first and last words are “Dada.” Everything in between is pretty “Dada” too.
Grammar note: “It took a millennia for man to evolve from the beast” – “millennia” is plural, the singular is “millennium.”
This is one weird issue.
This issue seemed both rushed to a conclusion of the “campus tech gang” (?) plot (had there been any hint/foreshadowing that the mastermind was Stephanie's father?) and an issue relatively quick to put out – it incorporates a bunch of one-page vignettes illustrating various “Black Mercy”-induced fantasies (Steph: “You cannot have those … well … on Earth, Dad!” – but how would Stephanie recognize this alien organism?). I guess I'm a bit cynical because I kept thinking that the pages after she came out of the Black Mercy coma were themselves the fantasy, seeing as how “sweet” they were, especially the first fulfilling Steph's desire to come clean with her mother about her secret life. But no, apparently not – she was subjected to a series of fantasies of alternate and potential Stephanie Batgirls, including one in which I'm interpreting her to be a Nightwing character allied with another Batgirl/-woman whose hair color is ambiguously obscured. The only thing I don't like about that image is the buzz-cut Stephanie is sporting.
All in all this was a pleasant issue to close out a wonderful two-year run by Bryan Q. Miller, with what I perceive to be a metatextual comment by Stephanie at the end such as appears in several other places in the final pre-DCnU issues: “It's only the end if you want it to be”, followed by a short interior monologue tag: “Here we go.”
Somewhere I think I've seen reference to the Grant Morrison Leviathan special that's coming out in December including “Spoiler” – I hope that's indeed Stephanie. Even if it's a bit of a regression for the character after her stint as Batgirl, I'd rather that than lose her altogether. I've really grown to love this character.
And as with the reply to Fabian Nicieza's adieu at the end of Red Robin, let me just say that the most thanks is due from the readers to you, Bryan Q. Miller. It's been great.
Thanks for reading - Cheers!