Year seven, people, get with the program. Gail Simone continues to surprise delightfully with sophisticated and intense story lines, built upon former issues, until nothing is left unexplored and all of this dished out with the usual super hero wreckage and fist fights.
With the operation completely mobile, the team can be on the spot for every single mission. We start with Black Alice, a new supervillain in the making, who has the dangerous talent to copy and emulate other magic users’ talents and magic levels. The arc is short-lived and is used more as to set the scene for the new team dynamics, how the change in environment and methodology affects the actions and an introduction of Black Alice, who has immense potential to wreak havoc in the DC universe.
Then the mission objectives all shift towards women hell-bent on vengeance. After the Black Alice mission, it’s time for Kansas, where we have Harvest: sinister, supernatural and more of a Mid-American urban myth, who managed to slip away. After that the team heads off to Metropolis, where all the fuss is caused about Rose/Thorn, a woman with a split personality, who wars against crime in the city and has been framed by one of the big bosses so that she can be removed from the picture.
Soon, the Huntress catches on that the targets have been picked especially to correspond to her internal emotional conflicts. Apart from it being a dastardly clever backstage manipulation on Simone’s part, it also serves as a pivot point for the relationship Oracle – Huntress. On one side the reader is shown that Oracle’s mind games are not restricted to the missions anymore and on the other we have Huntress’ growth and the transition from violence as chief tool to deal with crime with other, finer methods.
Barbara’s mishandling and Helena’s emotional instability catalyze for great upcoming arcs. The Huntress attempts to join the Italian mobs in Gotham, which is a creative way to explore her roots as a mob child and reveal some additional background. At first glance Helena looks like she has gone dark side, especially when she uses Savant and Creote as her protection and hand against the mob families to receive the blessing to proceed and prove herself worth of a seat among the top mobsters. But, as usual, things are way a notch more complicated beneath the surface.
Themes involving Barbara all revolve around power. The mental and informational power she exerts over her enemies and allies alike, the power over her own operatives and the world around her. Simone has given Barbara power in the form of residue from the time she sparred with Brainiac and became briefly possessed. The residue is actually revealed to be an evolved virus that can grow on organic tissue and has been hacking into Barbara’s mind, while giving the illusion that she was in control. Such a situation is uncomfortable and a breaking point for someone, who is obsessed with control. The climax follows a successful operation funded by the JLA to remove the virus. Definitely a tearjerker episode.
The Black Canary is treated to a major arc as well, but her story serves the purpose to more or less underline her new superhero persona as more hardcore than bubbly and funny. She has become dangerous and capable on taking bigger foes. To make a point Simone send her and Ted Grant, the Wildcat and canary’s mentor to Singapore to sever the drug artery that feeds the Gotham streets. The designated enemies are portrayed by the Brothers of Silk, trained as lethal assassins. The fight moves from Singapore to Gotham and ends with a powerful brawl. I definitely enjoyed this arc, because it played well with traditional fictional assassin clans, ruthless warlords, tension and hardcore fistfights.
Art-wise everything is a smooth sale as far as I am concerned. Ed Benes continues to give me the easy-on-the-eye treatment and he’s joined by even more talented pencillers like Joe Prado, Tom Derenick, Bob Petreca, Joe Bennett, Adriana Melo, Bruce Timm and David Lopez, although that last name did not exactly impress me. I am not sure what else I can say in the art direction. I am contempt and am enjoying the synergy between art and story.
Verdict: I have no criticism. I’m in peace and in sync with the series, as if it was made for my personal enjoyment completely. It’s rare to find something that custom fits your every whim and preference.