The pile of comics I read that I've vaguely thought of talking about in blog entries is getting larger by the week, but instead of "working" on the backlog, I'm going to comment on the newest Birds of Prey (which at least I got this week, unlike the Gotham Knights #42, which was supposed to be on sale now too, but wasn't at my comic store *hrmpf*).
The team for Birds of Prey changed again with #56, and Gail Simone (writer)/ Ed Benes (penciller)/ Alex Lei (inker) are a vast improvement from the previous team Hernandez/ Jones/ Beatty, not that being better than that was particularly hard. I mean, I still suspect that Gilbert Hernandez went for some kind of effect intentionally instead of being just incompetent, after all in his own comics at least he can write good stories, but whatever it was supposed to be -- possibly some retro thing or homage -- it didn't work for me. And I could really do without seeing Metamorpho again any time soon. Anyway, in case you dropped reading BOP during the last six issues you might give it a try again.
So back to BOP #56. The art is not great, but okay, and better than some of the other stuff I've seen in DC comics recently, and the new story starts interesting and has the potential for some neat character stuff. Oracle and Black Canary go after a white collar criminal, a CEO who plans to embezzle the pension money of his company, and Black Canary tries to scare him into not realizing his plan. The interesting thing is that Oracle only knows of his plans because she's hacked into his computer, found a document, and thus severely invaded his privacy. Black Canary is a bit uncomfortable that Oracle did this (based on a tip she got), but Barbara argues that the end, i.e. saving the pensions, justifies the means in this case. I still hope the story will get back to this conflict at least for a bit, instead of just dropping it completely. After scaring the CEO, Oracle keeps monitoring his computer and it seems like he's writing a suicide note, but when Black Canary gets there to prevent this it turns out to be a trap by the extortionist Savant, who now tries to blackmail Oracle by holding Black Canary (we don't get to see his demands yet, that's the cliffhanger).
While the whole issue feels somewhat like an exposition, I'm hopeful for the new arc and Savant could turn out to be an interesting villain (I'm not sure if he has appeared somewhere else previously, but I don't know him). I wonder, though, why Black Canary didn't use her Canary Cry before one of the thugs managed to strangle her from behind, that is why for so long she only fought hand-to-hand, but then I'm not familiar enough with the character, her powers or fighting style to say whether that is unusual or a plot hole / oversight.
So the setup has potential to deal with all sorts of personal and ethical questions for the characters, and for me it is also a definite plus that it seems to be a fairly straightforward "mundane" crime story, because I tend to like stories in the Batverse less the "wackier" they become with meta-humans, fantastical and superhero elements, instead of being stories about psychopaths, crime (or especially in Oracle's case also high tech crimes with sf elements) and corruption.