SPOILER WARNING: Slight, unimportant spoilers from the splash page of today’s “Birds of Prey” #109.
I respect Tony Bedard. A lot. I wouldn’t say I’m a devotee who buys everything he produces, but I have found that most anything with his name on it will be a solid comic book that is totally worth the cover price. Bedard writes comics that I enjoy re-reading, which isn’t something I say very often. His “Negation” was one of the highlights of the sadly-defunct CrossGen comics. I say all this to make it clear to everyone that I do not consider him an incompetent, a hack or a lame-ol.
Which is why I’m stunned by the blunder in the opening of Birds of Prey today. In it, Green Arrow in his classic uniform is facing off against a Batman villain when Batgirl arrives. Green Arrow puts the moves on her and then realizes that she is a lot younger than he thought she was.
Barbara comments in voice-over that the costume made her look “at least twenty”. So she’s NOT twenty yet in the flashback. This must be occurring in the early years of her career. That would make sense; maybe Green Arrow is acting like such a cad because he isn’t yet in a serious relationship with Black Canary (for our purposes here, I mean that as in living together, being a recognized “item”, etc.).
We can surmise that this is happening in the early years of the Bronze Age, roughly concurrent with the comics published in the early 1970s. The JLA has their satellite H.Q., maybe they’ve recently added Elongated Man and Red Tornado to their roster, etc. Robin (Dick Grayson) is probably still in high school, given how young he is in Batgirl: Year One.
So…WHO is the Batman villain that is facing off against Green Arrow on a rooftop? It’s not important to the story, really. Could be any of three dozen Arkham inmates. Bedard probably threw a dart at random, which is the only explanation I can come up with as to why he would use THE VENTRILOQUIST!
You know…the Ventriloquist: the only truly noteworthy addition to Batman’s Rogues Gallery from the late 1980s until today. (Okay, yeah, Bane, I suppose.) And that’s the problem: his first, classic introductory story was published in 1988.
What else happened in 1988? Oh, just that Commissioner Gordon’s ex-Congresswoman librarian daughter got shot right around then, losing the use of her legs. And by that time, Green Arrow has been living with Black Canary for ages, had suggested marriage, and ditched the feathered hat and trick arrows, all in 1987′s the Longbow Hunters.
Of all the villains Bedard could have used, he uses the one whose appearance at the time is impossible. Look, I’m not some nitpicky fanboy who demands that a untold earlier origin of the JLA be invented just to explain why the publication date of Green Lantern’s first appearance doesn’t gibe with the JLA’s origin story. (You do know what I’m talking about, right?)
I’m just saying that I’m baffled that Tony Bedard made this kind of error. Even more confusing, I can’t believe editor Mike Carlin missed it!
I realize that DC will just now announce that Ventriloquist, like all good Bat-villains, will now have his backstory retrofitted to occur in Batman’s first year.