The cast of "Birds Of Prey" operate on the fringe of the law, based in the Gotham City corner of the DC Universe where its titular team's stories range from their own title to tie-ins with "Gothtopia" and other Bat-book events. But with the series' latest arc, writer Christy Marx is taking the Birds in a different direction, pitting them against the Suicide Squad in order to tie up loose ends from Black Canary's early years of superpowered adventures.
Fresh off their most recent fight with the villainous Ra's Al Ghul, Marx spoke with CBR about her plans for Canary and her crew, explaining that she conceived of the Birds current employer less as an immortal female counterpart to Ra's than as a guide and power base for the team.
"I wasn't thinking of Ra's at all when I first came up with Mother Eve. My editor steered me toward using Ra's and got me thinking about an association between the two," Marx explained. "My main goal with Mother Eve was to provide a patron for the group and to give them some financial backing, so that I could focus more on the action and less on day-to-day survival for them.
"I also love the underlying concept of someone from ancient history who has an amazing power, who has borne hundreds of children and spread her genes across the world."
The story also marked a big moral hurdle for Condor, the Birds' sole male teammate, whose crush on Black Canary seemingly led him to making a deal with Ra's Al Ghul to kill Canary's husband Kurt Lance in issue #29.
"Poor Condor; I'm quite fond of him, but I've put him through emotional hell," Marx said, adding that though Condor tends to be morally ambiguous, "The events of issue #30 show what sort of man he is when the crunch comes down. He's flawed, but he's not evil."
But while Condor's focus has been on Canary, Dinah's has been on Kurt. In fact, the matter of Kurt Lance's supposed death and Black Canary's attempts to uncover the truth has been a plotline since the very beginning of the New 52 "Birds Of Prey" in 2011, and touched on in the short lived "Team 7" series.
"I intend to wrap up the long, long thread that was set up before I came onto 'Birds of Prey,' and resolve the question of whether or not Dinah and Kurt have a future together," Marx said. "That will happen by issue #34, with some rather stunning revelations and a confrontation with Amanda Waller."
The path these revelations take the Birds on lead directly through the new story arc beginning in issue #32, pitting the team against Waller and her Suicide Squad over the issue of Kurt and the secrets kept from Dinah.
It's not only threads from the Birds fight with Ra's al Ghul which bleed into the issue. "The things that Regulus told Canary, from his knowledge of events as her previous Team 7 teammate. That's where the upcoming arc was really born and where the seeds of Canary's future actions were planted," Marx said. "Ra's was more of a diversion in the middle of that, but a vital one for bringing Kurt Lance back to some semblance of a functioning person."
In pitting Dinah against Waller, her fellow ex-Team 7 member and the one initially responsible for hiding Kurt's continued existence, Marx explained that contrasting the two's personalities is how she highlights the differences between their teams and the people they are now.
"My take of Amanda Waller is that she's more hard-edged and ruthless than Canary," Marx said. "Much of this development is the result of the end of Team 7, plus what Waller's driven herself to do since then. I see them as two women who were once friends and comrades, but who are now worlds apart, with one connecting thread left between them -- Kurt Lance. Unfortunately, that is also driving Canary to take actions that have major consequences not only for her, but for the entire team."
Artist Robson Rocha, who came on in issue #29, will also be drawing the Suicide Squad arc, replacing artist Romano Molenaar on the title.
"Romano was a superb artist, but he has moved on to a new media venture and won't be returning. Robson has been fantastic to work with and I think he's doing a gorgeous job with the characters, aided by the excellent breakdowns of Scott McDaniel," Marx said of her collaborators. "Add in Jonathan Glapion's inks and Christopher Sotomayor's colors, and we have a totally kick-ass art team!"
By the time issue #32 is released, "Suicide Squad" will have undergone its relaunch, with a new team and the title "New Suicide Squad" under the guidance of writer Sean Ryan and artist Jeremy Roberts. But while Marx explained "there are no plans" to incorporate any of the old Squad members into the "Birds Of Prey" comic or vice versa, the Birds will find themselves somewhat caught up in the events of another series, the weekly "Batman Eternal."
"I was approached to do some work on the weekly books, but my schedule doesn't allow me to take on that kind of work, which is quick-paced and requires a tremendous amount of team coordination," Marx said. "While the Birds won't be a direct part of 'Batman Eternal,' it will have an influence on a special story being done for [issue] #35."
"Birds Of Prey" issue #31 hits stands May 21.