Combine every relentless hardass you’ve ever known, add a dose of supreme confidence and combat training, provide scary federal credentials, and put it all in one intimidating package topped off with a severe ponytail. The result? Katrina Armstrong, aka Spy Smasher.As written by Gail Simone in the Birds of Prey “Blood and Circuits” arc, Ms. Armstrong was your worst nightmare, and she blew into the Birds’ lives like a blonde tornado. Barbara Gordon is a hard woman to intimidate, but her former college frenemy took her to the brink by going after her team with big, government-certified guns. And by not-too-subtly threatening her dad, Commissioner Jim Gordon. In short, Spy Smasher is valedictorian of the Amanda Waller School of Ruthless Tactics. If you don’t follow her command, prepare to be tirelessly and vigorously hunted.
Spy Smasher’s BoP entrance was unforgettable. Storming into the Pentagon, she immediately demanded that some poor bureaucrat – Deputy Administrator Fenton Wilkins — shoot down the Birds’ helicopter. He tried to reason with her later, but she (as they say in some circles) totally pulled his ho card in the sequence above. Oh, and when Wilkins wasn’t quick enough with the coffee, she pulled a gun on him.
Katrina could have been a one-note villain, but Simone wrote the character as a intelligent, extremely capable woman who wants to win, period. She also had an interesting history with Babs. Both were gifted, fiercely competitive students at Gotham State, and they regarded each other with a wary respect. “Kat, not quite a friend, more of a like-minded and pleasantly cordial scorpion with just a smidge of unused venom.” Nicola Scott drew Spy Smasher as dangerously long and lean, with cheekbones that could cut glass. That damn ponytail was practically a weapon, and it reminded me of Madonna’s Blonde Ambition phase.
I define a successful character as one who leaves you wanting to see more of them, regardless of “likability.” Spy Smasher doesn’t have a likable bone in her body, and I wouldn’t have her any other way.