[Acquired Taste Book Club] Fawcett Fun! Birds of Prey (1999-) #100-108 (01/31/2020-02/07/2020)

Acquired Taste Book Club Week 10!


2020-01-31T20:00:00Z2020-02-07T19:59:00Z

Welcome to the Acquired Taste Book Club! And Captain Marvel (and assorted family and rogues gallery) may be the only Fawcett character anyone cares about, but there are technically a few others.


For example, this is Alan Armstrong, the Spy Smasher, a character no one cares about. But he totally is a Fawcett character, and apparently Gail Simone cared enough about him to make a legacy character!

And that legacy character is my lame excuse for assigning another BoP arc. So let’s do this! Also guest-starring this arc are the Secret Six, including temporary member Harley Quinn, in her only appearances in the entire original series.

Reading Assignment: Birds of Prey (1999-) #100-108

Birds of Prey (1999-) #100
Birds of Prey (1999-) #101
Birds of Prey (1999-) #102
Birds of Prey (1999-) #103
Birds of Prey (1999-) #104
Birds of Prey (1999-) #105
Birds of Prey (1999-) #106
Birds of Prey (1999-) #107
Birds of Prey (1999-) #108

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Do you like Spy Smasher’s role in these issues?
  2. In Issue #100, co-founder Black Canary departed the team, leading to the introduction of this expanded lineup. Do you prefer this or the more limited cast from last week’s arc?
  3. If you’re familiar with the Secret Six, what do you think of their appearance here, and if not, what do you think of them in general?
  4. Was this arc an Ice way of fixing an unnecessary death, or did it leave you cold?

For questions or concerns, contact me @BatJamags.

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Next week: A shame I have to give up on this gimmick. If only a Charlton character had been a BoP series regular for an extended portion of the original run…

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Okay, big fan of Gail Simone’s BoP (Bureau of Prisons?) run. And this has the added benefit of Nicola Scott who does fantastic work. I’m in.

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Just two issues in but this is fun stuff. So, Dinah is out of BoP for now. I love how Gail brings so many women heroes into the mix. Sometimes this is just an arc, sometimes longer terms. So, on a couple of these women.
-Zinda (an acquired taste!) is a favorite character of mine. The brassy woman from the 40’s who could shoot, drink and fight with equal skill MUST come back to the DCU in an active book

-Lane its a short turn, but Gail uses her well. Nobody plays Lois (at least since she figured out the whole Clark/Superman thing)

-Spysmasher, nice job Simone! Book one she establishes herself as a strong player in the first few pages.

-Misfit, I completely forgot about you

-Nicola Scott just a real fan of her work.

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Whoops. I’m catching up to this, and I only just now realized that I started the selection with the second issue of the story. Sorry about that. I’ve updated the post accordingly.

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I decided to just start on #100 anyway.

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Eh, I guess she was as dislikable as she was supposed to be. I feel like there were some moments that were intended to give her complexity, but it didn’t really offset her general behavior to any meaningful degree, so it just felt pointless.

Canary’s departure reeks of editorial mandate. None of the new characters really gets enough development to make up for not having Dinah, and some of them (coughManhuntercough) are actively annoying. Basically, from this point in the series on, Helena is Dinah with less personality, and Kate is Helena but more standoffish (which is actually kind of impressive). While I do love the whole series, it was kind of limping along for its closing stretch. The 2010 volume was a great revival, but it lasted about five minutes before the reboot dropped.

Only sort of familiar. I’ve read Villains United, which was great, and their miniseries, which was a little shakier but still decent. Honestly, their appearance here seemed kind of gratuitous, but had some fun moments.

Honestly, I still have no idea where or when Ice died, but I’m offended that it happened at all, so I was happy about this.

Stay tuned for more episodes of Batjamags interviewing himself. Next time, he starts an argument and it’s gets a little personal.
I finished at lunch today, thoughts coming tonight.

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Well @BatJamags hope your okay after that very uncomfortable argument you had with yourself. Anyway, couple of BIG thoughts first. Like observing quantum mechanics, analyzing a comic changes the state of what you observe. Reading this for fun, I found it an enjoyable breeze with great art and fun characters. But, analyzing this story arc results in a somewhat different result.
Second BIG thought. Babs is Batgirl. But, since she’s returned to that role her solo title has been largely irrelevant or misguided. I just don’t know what her role in the larger DCU is supposed to be now. Oracle on the other hand was a unique character with an important lynchpin role in the DCU. The opportunity cost of making Babs Batgirl again is too high. If I’m in charge, she makes some heroic sacrifice to save the day knowing it will fry the implant that lets her walk and make new repairs impossible. Let somehow else take the Batgirl mantle.

Now the story. The overall mission and the resulting rescue of Tora was very satisfying for me. Clearly knowing the end was nigh for the series, Simone threw in every female character she could get her hands on. Despite the crowded field, I felt that each character was given a moment to shine. The fight of the Furies being a great example.

I was also a fan of Simone’s Secret Six and they presented a much more interesting opponent than random commie general and Red Rockets. Simone clearly likes the team particularly Catman who started Secret Six out as an overweight, beer swilling ex-villian.


Do not mess with Zinda

So, Spy Smasher. Very nice idea. What if Babs were a ruthless government agent? She’s tough, smart, and kinda hot. But, I think Simone tries to hard and it just doesn’t land right. Their college rivalry is just too cartoonish to feel real. And Spy Smasher pulling a weapon because she didn’t coffee is just dumb. Having said that, Babs punching her is cool.

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I completely miss this week. Until last night. And even then only made it through the first three issues. However, having known nothing about spy smasher, I did enjoy her character.

Introduction issue was fantastic. Pretty much what I would expect out of a character who works for the government, has the word spy in her name, and is intended to take on superpowered beings.

I did read a lot of the secret six both when it was introduced Infinite crisis and their series afterwards. Haven’t gotten to the issues here that have them included, but I’ve always felt like the secret six added to what modern-day iterations of The suicide squad are.

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Sure, she’s okay. Drive the plot like she was supposed to, but it would have been nice to hear inside her head a little bit and see what her redeeming qualities were.

More limited. Even our main characters prefer the more limited team. This storyline was cool, but the Birds of Prey weren’t just about being an all female team, they were about friends so close they were family.

I loved the Secret Six. I agree with the Suicide Squad comparison, they were the spiritual offspring of that. Always a fun read, like BOP. I enjoyed seeing them here.

It was cool seeing Ice (tee hee), not sure how exactly she was brought back, that seemed unclear.

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Do you like Spy Smasher’s role in these issues?

Yeah, she was a pretty good foil/antagonist for this story. I liked how she had a personal connection to Barbara and made her a good, intimidating problem for a character who I kind of feel like tends to be written as too OP, like a Bat-God Prep Time trope on steroids.

As a character herself, she’s pretty interesting. I like how she wasn’t a full on bad guy – she has good moments like her mission to save Ice, but she’s not at all a good person. She’s complex and myriad that way. I do kind of feel like that archtype is sort of filled out already by Amanda Waller, though.

In Issue #100, co-founder Black Canary departed the team, leading to the introduction of this expanded lineup. Do you prefer this or the more limited cast from last week’s arc?

There’s a little conflict – on one hand, I do feel like there’s a core trinity of Barbara, Dinah and Helena that makes for the best BOP stories and without them something does feel missing. On the other, I do like the idea of other heroes getting involved. I think the previous issues had a good balance where you had the trinity of birds, but also had cameos and supporting roles from other heroes. Like over at the DCU Book Club, where we have the main characters, but also Vixen and Superman playing a role.

If you’re familiar with the Secret Six, what do you think of their appearance here, and if not, what do you think of them in general?

I’ve read a nice chunk of their previous books and overall I liked them – it was fun seeing them tussle and collide with each other. Barda vs Knockout was awesome, and the weird chemistry between Huntress and Catman was great.

The only “eh” part I had was Misfit taking on Harley. Maybe I’m just used to the more recent power creep they’ve done with the character since she’s become the “Fourth Pillar,” but I feel like even at her most hench-wench, Harley would take out Carlie in a fair fight. Now, if Carlie was bouncing around with her powers and Harley was trying to chase after her, that might have worked better for me.

Was this arc an Ice way of fixing an unnecessary death, or did it leave you cold?

In a Futurama reference:

Like, I’ve read a few stories with Ice in the past and she’s…okay? Like I don’t hate her, but there’s nothing about her that’s really all that compelling. She’s beige wallpaper. I honestly don’t even know where and how she died.