By: Duane Swierczynski (story), Travel Foreman (pencils), Jeff Huet (inks), Gabe Eltaeb (colors)

The Story: We have a serial killer and a group of pretty women—who’ll come out on top?

The Review: Another “Night of the Owls” tie-in.  Huzzah.  In all seriousness, though, it’s not like I think Batman-spawned plot is terrible—I haven’t even read it, after all—but it just doesn’t feel like any of these titles which have crossed over with the storyline really needed to.  The formula is simple: enter an undefeatable Talon; hero of the hour struggles against it for a while; hero finds some method (clever or no) to subdue it; fade out.

Lo and behold, that is exactly how this issue pans out.  Swierczynski makes an attempt to give Henry Ballard, the Talon in question, a bit of character, but like the Talons of Batgirl and Batman and Robin, the haste in which the issue wraps makes it impossible for you to develop any sentiment toward him whatsoever.  He has a whole shtick about the unchangeable nature of history (“Gotham’s streets are the same.  The blood flows in the gutters just the same.  The crimes, the wicked acts, the atrocities…all the same.”), but Swierczynski doesn’t explore that theme enough to make it worth your attention.

Henry, despite his unkillable nature (Katana practically cleaves the thing in half and he still keeps coming on strong), doesn’t pose much of a threat to the Birds.  Even though Ivy apparently gets trashed (off-page, and her fate mentioned in a throwaway panel, no less), you don’t really expect any of our heroines to fall to a one-shot villain in a crossover issue, do you?  We only derive suspense from the Talon as a modern horror, the beast who never stops.  The problem is his prey is hardly careless bimbos who don’t think before they open that weird door—alone.

If the issue builds any tension at all, it’s from the successive entrances of each Bird into the battle, just when the others are backed into a corner.  Although Batgirl and Ivy prove entirely helpful in defeating Henry, it’s Starling who makes the biggest impact—literally, since she rams into him with a car (and again in the same cathedral the Birds wrecked in #1; the pastors must be livid).  So happy to have her back with the team, as her winning combination of sassiness and irreverence (“…prepare to meet your maker.  Who, by the looks of ya, is Tim Burton.”)  is vital to this series.

Thank goodness this whole Talon business is over by the end of the issue, as you’re much more interested in the actual plotlines Swierczynski has in mind anyway.  Remember, we haven’t gotten to the bottom of Mr. Lance’s murder just yet, something Dinah mentions in the second act, as if to remind you that story is still in play.  But it seems Swierczynski intends to put that mystery on the shelf for a while, now that the Birds are obligated to fulfill Canary’s “promise” to Ivy.  Must be a doozy, if it convinced Ivy to work so diligently with the group.

Foreman definitely offers a different style than the one we’ve gotten used to under Jesus Saiz’s artistic reign.  Foreman lacks the Saiz’s grace, but if anything, his action scenes gain even greater force and momentum; Katana might think they’re holding back, but looking at Dinah’s moves and Tetsu’s swordplay, they seem to be giving it their all.  And although Foreman clearly takes to the horror elements of this story, he can bring the pretty if he wants to, as proven by his take on Starling as a corseted femme fatale (the Talon’s delusion).

Conclusion: A rare underwhelming issue from Swierczynski, a result of a predictable crossover plotline.  It has its entertaining moments, and I imagine even more once the series returns to its normal course.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Oh, yeah, Dinah and Bruce aren’t acquainted any longer.  That’s kind of a sad lost relationship from the new DCU.

– I actually don’t think Starling’s being sarcastic when she says, “Say, what’s the Dark Knight doing this evening?  Think he’d want to meet us for beers.  I’ve got, like, this crazy fangirl crush on him…”  And I would like to see that scene, actually.