Birds of Prey #56 with Kate (and Dan)

D: This past week, I was browsing the shelf at my local used book store and came across BIRDS OF PREY: OF LIKE MINDS. This is the collection of BoP issues #56-61, Gail Simone’s first story arc for one of her most fondly remembered runs on any book.

K: Don’t forget Ed Benes. He draws pretty pictures in this book, too.

D: Benes does good work here, no doubt.

So with the “Bargain Bin” column, we like to take a look back at fondly remembered books and comics: things that we know rock, but maybe others don’t know these things rock. And we want those people to go and find these things that rock, read them, and then have them say, “Damn, that rocked.” This is a good thing.

K: ::throws devil horns in the air:: Rock on. Let’s set the Way Back Machine for 2003. You remember: the Boston Red Sox were still in their World Series drought. When you could go to the corner Blockbuster to rent a video. There was no such thing as an iPhone.

D: IT WAS A STRANGE AND ALIEN PLACE AND IT SCARED ME.

K: Issue #56 was the first issue of Ms. Simone’s super-star run on the book. Let’s take a closer look at the issue, shall we? The two Birds of Prey, Black Canary and Oracle, team up to scare a no-good CEO, Mr. Fisher. He’s planning on leaving the country with the money from his employees’ retirement funds, but the 2 women are trying to get him to reconsider his devious plans.

D: Just like Enron. Just goes to show, the most evil villains are inspired by real life.

Oracle, whom you may also know as the original Batgirl, has hacked into Fisher’s personal computer and has been tracking his plans to make off with his employees’ pensions. While this is a “Ripped from the Headlines” plot, it also has modern day implications. Today NSA spying scandals have replaced Enron in the headlines. There are allegations that the US government has been watching what we search online and have been listening to our phone calls under the guise of protecting American citizens from bad people.

Going back to BoP, Black Canary asks Oracle, “Do you ever wonder if their right to privacy outweighs our right to know?” Oracle responds with, “I may have prevented thousands of people losing money they’d saved for decades. I guess I can live with that.” Do the rights of the many outweigh the rights of the few? Is it OK to listen into someone’s private phone conversation if it will protect thousands of people?

K: And this is a superhero comic?

D: Yep. The best kind of comic: the kind that doesn’t talk down to you and that makes you think.

K: Right! Writer Gail Simone also explores the relationship between Black Canary and Oracle. Sure, the issue starts off with the Birds putting the squeeze on Fisher, but there is by no means a lack of action throughout. Simone makes sure the banter between the Canary and Oracle is genuine. These are clearly the best of friends and their constant back and forth shows how much they care about each other. Simone injects heart right from page one. It’s one of the most constant aspects of her writing, and one of the main reasons she has such a devoted following.

D: I…uh…I like Black Canary’s stockings.

K: ::rolls eyes:: You and most of the straight male population. Now, back to the superheroes. Oracle continues to monitor Fisher’s personal computer after Canary tried to get him to change his plan. He starts making threats to hurt himself and his family. Canary rushes to stop him, but she doesn’t know that…

D: IT’S A TRAP!!

K: That’s right, Admiral Ackbar. Black Canary is severely injured and taken hostage by the bad guys and Oracle is stuck at BoP HQ. What is she going to do? What lengths will she go to get her partner, and best friend, back?

D: “OF LIKE MINDS: Chapter One, In Which I Go Fishing With Nets…” is a fantastic first issue of a super-fun story arc. I really can’t recommend this book enough. If we could hand out this trade on Christmas morning, I bet we’d have a lot more comic book addicts out there.

K: I think super-smart redheads are badass.

D: Yes. Yes, they are.