Birds of Prey is a title that has been through a lot of changes. After Chuck Dixon left the book for Crossgen, a string of writers and artists struggled and failed to reinvent the book. For a while, I wondered if it could servive without Dixon at the helm.
Then came Gail Simone, the savior of Birds of Prey. As much as I loved Dixon’s run on the book, I would argue that Simone’s run was even more vibrant. Among other things, Simone swelled the ranks from just a two-woman operation to a team that included just about every heroine in the DC Universe.
Now, Simone has moved on to Wonder Woman (where she continues to be a savior) and Birds of Prey is once again struggling. It’s not as dire as the “dark ages” between Dixon and Simone. But the book is far from its former glory.
Tony Bedard is the current writer of BoP. I think he is a capable writer. But he has yet to “wow” me. When I see his name on a book, I expect something that is readable but not necessarily memorable. His work on Birds of Prey has been in-line with these expectations.
Bedard has relocated the team to Platinum Flats, a new addition to the DC Universe. It’s obviously a stand-in for Silicon Valley. I suppose it’s a sensible place for Oracle to set up shop. But to me, the best Birds of Prey stories involved globe trotting. The home base was secondary at best.
Platinum Flats is also close enough to Star City to set up a completely unnecessary fight between Black Canary and Manhunter. As is often the case in these forced showdowns, the characters don’t quite seem right. Neither of them is this belligerent. And I’ve never seen Manhunter look so foolish.
After disabling Manhunter, Dinah confronts Barbara in her new headquarters. Once again, the characterizations are off. These two are supposed to trust each other with their lives. The entire series up to this point has documented the building of their close bonds. But in this scene, they posture like super hero cliches.
Meanwhile, Oracle’s new operative is conducting an ill-advised recon mission. I’m sure I must have read the issue or issues where Infinity was introduced. But, heck if I can remember anything about her. She has “generic” written all over her.
Also, the infinity symbol on her forhead is just silly.
Speaking of generic, Bedard’s high tech villains look like they’ve wandered in from the Evil League of Evil. (If you don’t catch the reference, check out Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. You’ll thank me.) In typical bad-guy fashion, they spend their meeting calling everyone by their code names and describing their powers.
I’m unfamiliar with the artist, Michael O’Hare. Like Bedard’s writing, I found O’Hare’s pencils to be capable. But nothing spectacular. If this team is going to remain on Birds of Prey for any length of time, I hope they can grow beyond their current limitations.
This book deserves better than the usual super hero fare.