Birds of Prey: Sensei and Student - Gail Simone, Ed Benes, et al.
Black Canary, the Gotham superheroine with the voice of a sonic weapon, is in Hong Kong to visit the death bed of her former martial arts master - a man who was also apparently one of the many tutors of ice cold assassin Lady Shiva. Someone seems too impatient to let nature take its course, however, and their sensei is murdered, leading the two women to form an uneasy partnership in pursuit of the guilty party. Meanwhile, back in Gotham, the USA PATRIOT Act comes calling for Oracle, and, in the absence of Black Canary, she's once again forced to call upon her least favourite vigilante, Huntress.
A few months back a genuine comic book store opened up in my two horse town. I dutifully paid a visit, expecting a decent selection of independent and Japanese comics. I was disappointing to find a range vastly inferior to that in my local bookshop. Later, I went back looking for a couple of specific superhero comics. And I still couldn't find what I was looking for. Instead, I found this: one of the two Gail Simone Birds of Prey collections that I don't already own. Score one, local comic book shop.
This is basically the Birds at their best: a relatively small cast; a focused, character-driven story; and a dearth of the greater excesses of superhero mythology. The typically bright and bold artwork of Ed Benes (who does most, but not all of the pencilling) fits the mood perfectly - even if his penchant for T&A goes spectacularly overboard on some pages. And Simone writes great dialogue: with just a few speech bubbles she can express a compelling and entertaining relationship between even the bitterest of enemies. It all makes me rather happy that the latest issues of Birds of Prey are now back in her capable hands.