Birds of Prey: Volume 4: The Cruelest Cut

Writer: Christy Marx and James Tynion IV

Artists: Romano Molenaar, Vicente Cifuentes, Jonathan Glapion, Julio Ferreira, Scott McDaniel, Graham Nolan, Miguel Sepulveda, Robson Rocha, Sandu Florea and Oclair Albert

Distributed By:: DC Comics


                I was so happy with the third trade paperback installment of the New 52 version of Birds of Prey, I couldn't wait to check out Volume 4: The Cruelest Cut.  Then, I noticed that they had changed writers yet again.  Would the comic series suffer or actually be even better? 

                Compiling Birds of Prey issues 18-24, 26 and Talon #9, The Cruelest Cut opens up with a new enemy, Mr. Freeze.  Having created the formula to revive the frozen Talons, Mr. Freeze believes that the Court of O.W.L.S. has ripped him off and he wants revenge.  He makes an attempt at capturing Strix, the latest member of the Birds of Prey, but when that fails, he takes Starling.  The Birds set out to save their team member only to discover what we knew all along, Starling was a double agent.  The Birds unwittingly lead Mr. Freeze to the Court's secret lab.

                Meanwhile, another Talon is hunting Strix, forced to do so by the Grandmaster, who is holding his family hostage.  The two Talons engage in battle, but soon find they have something in common other than their inability to be killed.  With Strix's help, the opposing Talon is on his way back to the Grandmaster, where he plans on springing one helluva surprise.

                With Starling turning on the Birds, the team realizes that they need a new headquarters.  Condor offers one up and the chemistry between Condor and Black Canary begins to grow, blossoming into what could be a full-fledged romance were it not for the appearance of a new enemy.  Basilisk is a secret society of metahumans on the wrong side of the law.  They would be treated just like any other enemy except for the revelation that Condor used to be a member of the team.  Basilisk reclaims Condor as their own, making off with Black Canary as well per orders of their new leader Regulus.  Can the rest of the Birds of Prey save Black Canary before Regulus exacts his revenge?

                While I understand including Talon #9 in this trade paperback compilation, to leave us hanging like that and not bring us the rest of the story was a tad annoying.  That's not to say that I didn't enjoy Birds of Prey: The Cruelest Cut, just that I find lack of closure in a storyline quite annoying and I don't plan on buying the rest of the comic books in the Talon series to get that closure.

                I was surprised to realize that I didn't notice much difference in the writing despite the fact that we have completely different writers for this trade paperback.  The interaction between Black Canary and Batgirl could have been a little better (still miss Gail Simone's witty banter between Black Canary and Oracle), but I didn't find the dialogue to be completely out of character.  I also enjoyed the storyline, despite hating the fact that Dinah was married to someone other than Ollie.  This New 52 version of the Birds still has me a bit floored, but I am getting used to it. 

                I enjoyed the hint at a new romance budding between Condor and Black Canary.  I also enjoyed the outing of Starling - that double agent thing was getting frustrating.  How is it that the masters of covert ops have no idea that there is a traitor within their midst?  Thank you for revealing her to the team.  I am still wondering a bit regarding what happened to Barbara Gordon's brother, but I suppose that this question is answered in the Batgirl comic book series, so I might have to check that out.  The art is still good, despite the fact that the powers that be seem to keep on bringing new artists on board.

                All-in-all, Birds of Prey: The Cruelest Cut is a worthwhile read and I think that the series is getting better with each successive trade paperback volume.  Can't wait to see what DC Comics has in store for us in Volume 5!


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