“Birds of Prey” Vol.3 issues 16 – 17 and 22 – 27

Issues #16 and 17 written by Duane Swierczynksi; issues #22-27 written by Christy Marx

Wildstorm Concepts: Kaizen Gamorra as Regulus gamorra-island team-7

All-star Western.pngThese issues continue the plot of issue #0 and wrap up the arcs of Basilisk and Kaizen Gamorra. The Basilisk weapons dealer stopped by the Birds of Prey years ago is out of the Federal pen, and he’s back to making dirty deals. This time he’s selling a device capable of stealing power straight from a city’s grid, capable of holding a city hostage. The Birds hope to defuse the situation quickly and stealthy, but suddenly Black Canary loses control of her powers and generates a sonic cry powerful enough to destroy the power station they were at.

The dealer recognizes that ability from the time he was arrested so many years ago, so he releases some robot drones he had prepared especially in case of a metahuman like that. At the same time, the Birds start being attacked by a private team contracted by the government to respond to any attack on American infrastructure.

As it had been revealed in issue #0, Amanda Waller had tasked one of Black Canary’s teammates, Starling, with keeping tabs on Dinah and reporting any unusual activity. Starling calls to report on Canary’s sudden power spike, and she takes the chance to ask Waller for help. Waller calls the private strike team off, and the Birds get the bad guys in jail.

After his dealings with the Suicide Squad, Regulus is hiding in the Andes, where he says “the final pieces are falling into place. My control is absolute.” Bold talk for someone who screwed up all of his operations. Regardless, he’s ready to begin with the final phase of “Operation Kaizen”. When a servant asks him why it’s named that way, Regulus lies and says it is because it means “good change;” “improvement”. It is the good change they’re going to bring to the human race. He assembles a strike team: Tsiklon, Hammerdown, Whipcrack and Uplink. They’re old teammates of Condor, who redeemed himself and is now a member of the Birds of Prey. It seems Regulus is dispatching several teams across the world to collect the next wave of potential superhumans, and he wants this team to collect Condor and Black Canary. He wants her because he remembers her from his Team 7 days.

The strike team attack the Birds of Prey and subdue them, and Uplink paralyses them with mental images that make them see their deepest desires. Dinah’s vision makes her remembers her last mission with Team 7, when everyone was amplifying her powers to attack Majestic. Only she imagines his lost husband never disappeared; that Kurt remained right there next to her. The Kurt from her vision tells her it’s time to move on, in a very corny manner.

Anyway, Uplink is too weak, so Batgirl and Strix manage to snap out of their visions and escape, but Canary and Condor are taken to Regulus. When Canary awakes in Basilisk’s base, she’s surprised to see Regulus has taken her to her lost husband! Kurt lies in a sleep chamber in front of her.

Batgirl and Strix have no means of following the aircraft the strike team is escaping in, but they’re confronted by an ex-detective who claims to work for mysterious “benefactors” who want to take out Basilisk. He gives them an airplane and directions where to go.

Back in Andes, Dinah faces Regulus and realizes he’s her old Team 7 teammate, Dean Higgins. However, he seems to have split personalities and speaks of Higgins as if he was another person. Regulus explains what happened during Team 7’s final mission: While Team 7 faced Majestic, Higgins got lost and ended up in front of Kaizen Gamorra. He was with his psychic children, recharging himself physically for another attack. Right then, Team 7’s fight with Majestic destroyed the whole building. Black Canary’s sonic cry was mixed with the All-Seeing Children’s powers, and it caused Kaizen and Higgins to fuse into one new entity: Regulus was born. After experiencing what superhumans can do firsthand, he decided he was going to stop all superhumans, and that’s the new direction he set for Basilisk. To justify his actions to his followers, he claimed the appearance of Superman was his motivator.

Back in the present, he gives Dinah a choice: He can join him and serve him with her husband, or they can die apart.

Meanwhile, Condor awakes next to his old teammates; the strike team of Basilisk. He’s not happy about that, and he doesn’t plan in re-joining them. At the same time, Batgirl and Strix reach the base and start infiltrating it, making their way through the Basilisk soldiers. The place is full of prisoners, of civilians captured by Regulus in hopes he can awake some metahuman power in them. In a way, he acts very much like Harvest in The Colony. Batgirl and Strix find Condor and help him fight his old teammates.

Back with Regulus, Canary predictably starts fighting him. She can’t use her powers because of the proximity to Kurt; he neutralizes her powers. Regulus reveals his plans to experiment on him until he figures out how to weaponize his abilities, and amplify them until they turn off super powers permanently. That way no one will look down on him again for being merely human. Trying to convert Dinah to her side, Regulus reveals it was Waller who pulled Kurt’s body out of the rubble in Gamorra, and it was her who kept his survival a secret. It was Waller who let Dinah doubt her sanity as her powers erupted out of control every time Kurt’s powers spiked!

Regulus’ plan doesn’t work, though, because Dinah uses that anger to give him a good beating. She reaches Kurt and starts unplugging all the machines connected to him, but Regulus warns her that they are the only thing keeping Kurt’s brain functioning. Dinah has to decide whether to believe him – and she decides to unplug everything anyway. In a way, it works out: Kurt doesn’t die, but the backlash activates his other power: to amplify. The abilities around the facility start being set out of control. Dinah desperately needs to release all the charge in her, so she releases her sonic scream on Regulus. However, his powers have been amplified as well, so he survives. When he is sent flying out of the room, he lands next to Condor and Strix. The two of them fight Regulus and manage to make him fall down the mountain. Kaizen Gamorra is finally gone.

Batgirl finds Dinah, who can’t stop using her sonic scream. She has no choice but to hurt her throat to make her stop. After plugging everything back on Kurt, he goes comatose. In a way, that’s worse on Dinah than believing her husband was dead. For now, at least, Basilisk is over.

After returning to Gotham, the Birds of Prey find out their mysterious benefactor was an old lady called Mother Eve; she’s an old immortal who had a lot of kids over the centuries. She believes she’s the origin of the metagene spread throughout the population. Her group takes Kurt and analyse him: They determine there are very little chances of him waking up of his coma. Overcome by grief, Black Canary decides to quit the team, and that’s where these issues end.

Eventually, in following issues Kurt wakes up, though he has lost his memories. This isn’t related to Wildstorm, though, so I won’t cover it. For now, Team 7’s loose ends are tied up.

Next: The entire “First Contact” crossover, including “Worlds’ Finest” Annual 1 and issues 20 – 22, and “Batman/Superman” issues 8 – 9, written by Paul Levitz and Greg Pak.

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