"A Wakeful Time Parts 1-3"
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Adriana Melo, Bruce Timm, David Lopez (p), Will Conrad, Bruce Timm, Fernando Blanco (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: Dinah throws Barbara a surprise party to celebrate her recovery from the Brainiac virus. After the guests leave, Barbara shows the rest of the team around their new digs. Huntress is offered a place back on the team and at first refuses. Later Black Canary takes on the Prankster while Helena cleans up a mess she made regarding her students.
Commentary: This was a great downtime issue. This type of story is usually a nice breather for both the creative team and the reader, especially after such an intense storyline. Splitting the story into three parts with different art teams made for a pleasant reading experience and provided three different moods as the story's emotional feel changed from part to part.
The party had some nice surprises, especially with Barbara and Dick. Maybe something good things will happen for them, but given what I have been reading in Previews, Dick has a bunch of hoops to jump through in the next few months. Lady Blackhawk continues to be a fun character, even if she can't tell that the guy she's dancing with isn't interested in her, though Savant's reaction to Black Canary's question was priceless. The layout of the group's new digs is neat, and I like the fact that someone finally officially named the team and gave a good reason for that name. Melo and Conrad's art really meshed with the story and, on a purely base level, I think that the characters looked really good, for ink drawings that is.
The Prankster sequence was a lot of fun and most of that had to do with Bruce Timm's artwork. His art had a more polished feel here and it was nice to see some of the Kirby quality that his work can have was missing. It was really cool to bring out the Prankster and play with him the way Gail did.
By far, the most emotional part of the story was the Huntress story. Gail really got into Helena's head and showed that despite how rough her methods can be, she really cares for those in her charge. It also showed that she is learning from her mistakes. The frontal assault on the gang, while satisfying, didn't work, so she had to use her head and her new connections. In the end, she saved her student's life and puts forth a plan to take out the bad guys she is fighting. The color and art gave the story a great feel and mood and probably wouldn't have worked as well if it didn't look the way it did.
In The End: I hope that Gail stays on this title for some time. It's funny to say but I think she is doing better things with the characters than Chuck Dixon did, though I have a large amount of respect for Dixon's work. The different art styles played on the different themes and moods Gail seemed to going for. All in all, a great issue and a nice breather before the action and intrigue begin anew.
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