Monday, October 23, 2006

Robin #155, Birds of Prey #99

Robin #155, Birds of Prey #99
There seems to be a theme in last week's Bat-titles - that newbies shouldn't get into the superhero game, ever. To my mind, this poses a problem. If the only individuals entitled to fight crime are those who are already established, the world will get old very quickly. Robin #155 "dodge"s the issue, because Robin was obviously a newbie at one time, and he pestered Batman to train him until he acquiesced. Likewise, Birds of Prey #99 dodges the issue as well - Barbara was a kid when she started as Batgirl, and although for a long time Batman tried to dissuade her from her activities, he eventually relented and began treating her as an equal. So why do both Robin and Barbara refuse to entertain the idea of training new superheroes? Why are Dodge and the new Batgirl unworthy of being heroes too? Sure, Dodge is a whiny brat, largely unskilled, and he puts very little thought into his actions. Rather, he reacts. But this is why he requires training! Batgirl is obviously very skilled, and she thinks before she acts. The only negative factor regarding her is her teeny-bopper-speak, and her enthusiasm for superheroing, which she treats as a game. But she approaches her self-appointed role quite competently, and she obviously has excellent detective and technical skills as well. So why won't Babs let her be a Bird? It's time for some new blood. And I really don't see why these new characters can't be incorporated into the family. In my opinion, they would add some elements which are currently missing. Robin used to be about a kid in training. Now, Tim has become so exceedingly competent in his job that it's merely about a teenager trying to fit teenage life into his superheroing. And Birds of Prey used to be about people learning to work together. But the current team has been established for such a long time that it's become somewhat stale. Obviously, Gail Simone realizes this as well, which is why she's having Dinah leave the team. I understand her reasoning, but Canary is too good of a character to relegate to the obscurity of longboxes. Sure, Meltzer may occasionally showcase her in Justice League, but probably just to rape her. Back in the early 90's, Canary's solo title faltered, because at that point the most exciting things about her were her relationship with Green Arrow, and her occasional participation in the JLI. But Simone has made her into a very deep character, one who is currently learning the joys and pains of motherhood, and I would like to see more of that. Unfortunately, it's probably not the type of subject material that's very well suited for its own miniseries, let alone an ongoing title, which is why it was perfect filler material for BoP. Hopefully, Gail will recognize this and give Dinah and Sin the occasional cameo, even if Canary is no longer a part of the team. The funniest thing about this all is that with the departure of Canary, there is not a single member of the Birds of Prey who actually have avian code names (as Jaime Reyes so astutely pointed out when they tried to recruit him).
That said, each of these issues is very EH, not really up to the standards which have been set on either of these books, certainly not BoP. Robin concludes the kidnapping plot, and wraps the Dodge subplot up as well, by putting him in a coma. BoP has a fight between Babs and Batgirl wherein each holds their own, shows Dinah getting out of shape, and features the departure of Canary from the book - boo hoo :(
I hope next month's issues are better.

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