Current Reviews


Birds of Prey #71

Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2004
By: Shawn Hill

“Between Dark and Dawn part three: Insanity Defense”

Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Ron Adrian and Rob Lea

Publisher: DC

As Canary and Oracle try to figure what (or who) triggered Barbara’s seizure, Huntress tries to survive while de-programming cult-victim Vixen on-site, all by herself.

What’s interesting:
Simone has managed to make me care about all aspects of this story. Vixen for the first time evinces a will of her own, struggling even before Helena goads her to break free of whatever forces have invaded her mind and made her a dupe. Such as the neat resolve to last issue’s cliffhanger, where she didn’t actually rip out Helena’s throat but instead just splattered a bunch of flesh-wound blood until she figured out what was up.

Dinah is very concerned about what’s going on with Oracle, and is doing every practical thing she can think of to help her boss, including calling on Superman for ambulance service. The interplay of the full JLA roster (and not just gloomy old Bats) with this title is one of its great strengths.

I’m normally not one to praise “accessibility” (whatever that it is, or why it would even be wanted, is a mystery to me), but even I marvel at how everything I need to know about this story is present in this issue. If I were to just pick up this book (as I did a few issues ago, when comics great Michael Golden provided guest-art for a flashback to Dinah’s mom), I’d be able to glean that Oracle is a brain, that Dinah is her loyal assistant with wits of her own and some level of fighting skill, that Superman respects these two, and that Helena is another (albeit ridiculously garbed) agent trying to solve a murder mystery even after her cover has been blown.

Art-wise, I knew I liked something, and it’s Adrian’s passable Lee-imitation over the usual duller one from Benes. Heck, the first sexually exploitative shot here is even of a guy (a spread-eagled Robin) rather than one of the hourglass-figured ladies. Of course, Dinah is wearing a shirt that would look silly on a 14-year old, but I count my gift horses where I can. I greatly appreciated Adrian’s ability to make the conflicted cult-leader distinctive again (not just homogenized and blandly handsome as he was last issue). I have to laugh at the big villain reveal, however: if that’s meant to be the electronic mastermind behind it all, uhm, it’s a neat trick, what with the lack of a motherboard or any sort of central processor. Someone has robbed us of the enjoyable spectacle of a towering CPU of Doom, glowering in shiny “2001” obelisk black methinks.

Nothing wrong with the interlude featuring Savant and Creote, either, which provides some needed humor due to some apparently entirely reasonable arrogance on the part of the longhaired duo.

Less interesting:
That ending seems rather oddball, but I guess it relates somehow to last issue’s “ghost in the machine” Huntress cover by an inspired Land. I much prefer this issue’s wonderful emblem of friendship and support by Texiera. If that guy ever painted a decent story I might actually enjoy it, though I usually avoid painted art like the plague.

What did you think of this book?
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