"Between Dark and Dawn, Part Five: Blood and Circuits"
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Ron Adrian and Eric Battle (p), Rob Lea and Rodney Ramos (i)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
As the Huntress and Vixen face a small army of mind controlled super-powered individuals, we see back at the Clocktower Barbara is fighting to retain her humanity in the wake of a cyber attack by the ghost inside her machine, which has been revealed to be the entity Brainiac. On both fronts the battles are won by our heroes using some pretty predictable means, though the final page reveals Barbara's problem is far from being resolved.
This issue is a bit of a step backwards as the previous chapter managed to build up a nice sense of urgency on both of the plots, and this issue fails to take advantage of the increased levels by resolving both stories with quick fix solutions that I found to be disappointingly conventional. The scene where one of the heroes is about to employ lethal force to take down a villain, while a second hero is urging them not to pull the trigger, is a plot device that is so well worn that it's lost it's ability to build any semblance of doubt about the outcome, and while the conversation afterwards makes it sound like the Huntress was about to take the path rarely travelled, the simple fact of the matter is the story took us to the exact same outcome that's been offered up hundreds of time in the past, and will likely continue to be the preferred choice in countless future stories. In fact the only time the other path has ever really been taken was during the grim and gritty 1990's, and the trigger-happy nature of those characters also robbed the scene of any sense of drama. The Huntress/Vixen plot also suffers from a bit of clumsy writing where the mind-controlled characters suddenly stop their attacks so that the story can focus on the Huntress' choice of whether to employ lethal force. As for the plot involving Barbara's battle for her humanity, it never quite grabbed me as much as I had hoped it would, as Barbara's victory came about in a manner that I found a bit rushed, though the last panels of the issue do project an ominous vibe that the threat is still present.
First off while I'm not entirely sure what it has to do with the action that plays out inside, the Mark Texiera cover is a wonderfully unsettling visual. As for the interior art, it would appear that Ron Adrian has stepped in to provide exactly the same style of art that we had been getting, and while it's nice to see the visual continuity maintained, the simple fact of the matter is that there are still moments when the art seems to be more invested in displaying the physical attributes of the cast rather than telling the story in a visually exciting manner, and this in turn results in plenty of seemingly missed opportunities during the sequence where the Huntress and Vixen were battling a host of super-powered opponents. The cyber environment where Barbara battles for her humanity is also a bit flat and uninspired, as it's little better than a featureless void.
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