Comic Book Review: "Birds of Prey #9: Gangland Style"
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Another chapter of the "Night Of The Owls” crossover throughout the DC Comics New 52 Bat-titles continue in Birds of Prey #9, “The Night Of the Owls: Gangland Style”, written by Duane Swierczynski, with art by Travel Foreman and Jeff Huet. This time, unlike many of the Court of Owls targets (usually prominent people of Gotham society), the Birds of Prey themselves are their target. The Birds of Prey: Katana (Tatsu Yamashiro), Black Canary (Dinah Lance), Starling (Evelyn Crawford), Poison Ivy (Pamela Isley), and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), must face off against a 19th century zombie assassin bent on complete merciless annihilation of anyone he sees as “vermin”.
“Night Of the Owls: Gangland Style” begins in Gotham, 1842. Two gangs riot in the Gotham Park; they only want chaos and violence. But, no matter how powerful the gangs are, the Court of Owls in stronger. Suddenly, every member of the two large gangs is killed by a Talon on orders of the Court to quell any uprising and public dissent.
Gotham, Now, during the Night of the Owls, 8:20 p.m. Tatsu and Dinah are stumbling through the park. Black Canary wonders if Ivy’s dead. Katana answers no. Her “husband” senses that she’s still alive. Canary asks, since Tatsu stabbed the Talon with her sword a dozen times, why didn’t it take his soul. Katana replies that the Talon doesn’t have one.
The Talon suddenly appears and attacks them out of the shadows. Canary tells him that he’s left her “no choice”. She uses her Canary Cry (a high-powered scream) on him but it does nothing to him. She is shocked that he didn’t dies from it.
The Talon (Henry Ballard) muses that the city has never changed. The same bad people exist no matter what day or year it is and no matter what costumes they dress in. The “vermin” are still the same in Gotham. He is, apparently, the Talon that killed the gangs in 1842.
Black Canary ponders how the Birds of Prey got involved in The Night of the Owls. They got the call from Batgirl who said that Batman is asking for help. How could they say no? But the Court of Owls knows more about them then they think, because he got to Poison Ivy first.
No matter how hard they fight or what they throw at him, the Talon, Ballard, is unstoppable. Katana tells Canary they need to fall back.
They run off to the Church of St. Francis. Katana wonders if Black Canary wants a blessing to help against the Talon. Dinah says it’s a place that she fought in before and she knows the tactical advantage of it. The two wait inside the church for the Talon to approach.
As Ballard crosses the street, he gets hit by a car, driven completely through the church, and out the other side. The driver exits, it’s Evelyn Crawford. She wants to see who the masked avenger is. Canary and Katana try to warn her from getting too close; he’s not dead. When Starling removes the owl hood she sees a grey corpse-like face. The Talon suddenly grabs her by the throat.
She tries shooting him with a gun, but nothing is working. Tatsu and Dinah try to help fight him off but they can’t hurt him. Talon Ballard grabs Katana and is about to snap her neck when Batgirl arrives and lassoes him around the neck and pulls him off the ground high above the churchyard.
At 9:03 p.m. while Ballard is hanging over them, Batgirl informs the Birds of Prey that Batman found a way of stopping these unstoppable Talons. Suddenly, the rope holding the Talon snaps and the ladies retreat as Ballard gives chase.
They run to the Gotham Train Station. Batgirl says they have to freeze it. Her plan is to lock him in a freezer car and the cold will make him hibernate.
As Talon Ballard enters the station, Batgirl uses a zip line to knock him out of the window. He lands on the freezer train car and the three other Birds try locking him inside. He tries to escape, but Poison Ivy shows up and uses her plant vines to grab him.
She pulls both herself and Ballard into the ice car; the cold will freeze him, but she’ll survive because of her chloro-pheromone physiology. She tells Batgirl and the others to remember to thaw her out. The four girls make small talk while they wait patiently for the two to freeze.
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This is another chapter of the "Night of The Owls” and up until now the stories revolve around the bat-family protecting or saving one of the Court of Owls victims. In this chapter of the “Owls” saga, in an interesting twist, the heroes are the target of the Talons. It’s not explained why they are targeted, but their desperation and resilience to fight back is exhilarating; and they barely make it out alive. The inner monologue of the Talon explains his point of view: he’s an assassin and he cleans up “vermin”, no matter what year it is. They are always the same; whether it’s 1842 or 2012. It’s his job to exterminate them completely and mercilessly. Cold. Hard. Justice. It’s interesting that the Talon, Ballard, views the “future” in 19th century visual references: when Starling is driving her car at him, he doesn’t see a car; he sees a horse-drawn carriage. It’s another great addition to the "Night Of The owls” storyline. The coming issues of the saga will begin to wrap up the night and show what the future holds for the Court of Owls and their undead Talons.