Thursday, January 7, 2010

Birds of Prey: Issues #38 to #49 [Feb 02 - Jan 03]

We are now reaching year four and the Birds of Prey are under new management [creatively] all most all the time. Year four marks perhaps the highest rotation of pencillers. Then we have Chuck Dixon writing his last arc for the series and we have a major crossover [by now you should expect this already] that concerns all Bat-related characters. The summary in just this one paragraph suggests elevated dynamics [on and off stage] and the need for stability.

Action: Year four decided to divide itself neatly my three categories, concerning story. Prime example here is the 4 issue The Island Forgotten by Time arc [July/October]. The location is the aforementioned island, which sometimes is in the world and sometimes is not, but makes sure to take a few souvenirs along the way like for instance dinosaurs and WWII warring soldiers, both US and Japanese. Cute picture, eh?

However it’s not a perfect vacationing spot and Black Canary learns this the hard way, when she is sent there during the island’s rare resurfacings. She has to compete with mercenary Deathstroke [Slade], government hired team Eddie Fyers, Connor Hawke [son of Green Arrow] and Camorouge [another mercenary, who is not a DC super star character, so it’s normal, if she doesn’t ring a bell]. The object: miracle cure for autoimmune diseases. This is every boy’s dream arc. We have battles with dinosaurs, back stabbing, martial arts, time paradoxes, prisoners of war, interrogation and even some unexpected sacrifices. Way to go, Dixon.

While on action, the arc provided by writer Terry Moore provides another look on the Birds of Prey, which does not involve time travelling or a planned mission. On a conference, where Lexcorp-funded doctor Atticus Blackaver presents young Madison, a metahuman with the power to control the chaos code aka heal and reverse the process of decay. The innocent front is that through her death and illness will be kicked, where the sun don’t shine, but then again nothing by Lexcorp is ever world-domination free. We have Black Canary fight her way from hired guns to get back to Oracle, while Barbara gives a few roundhouse kicks, after Madison performs a quick healing session.

Cast Development: The character web ensnares more and more victims eh… I mean characters along its way [insert laughter] and I received a better picture about the heroes involved in the series. For instance the early hinted upon secondary plot line concerning Ted Kord and his electronics company is touched upon, expanded and concluded with superhero intermission [aka Power Girl], but also viewed in light of his recent heart condition diagnose and what its effects mean on his recent return from retirement as the Blue Beetle.

Then the reader is left a whole issue to learn Power Girl’s history with Oracle as the very first field operative Barbara has hired. Apart from receiving information about why Power Girl is apprehensive, when communicating with Barbara, we are also treated to a new nuance about Barbara’s character and the mistakes she has made.

Then we jump over to Moore’s arc, where we are treated to Barbara and how she is dealing with the sudden revival of her legs. The issue whether she feels or not powerless as a handicapped person is not touched upon [clearly she is not a victim, even in a wheelchair], but I was shown a bit of the Batgirl that Oracle was, before being put in a wheelchair. That bit certainly added another flavor and as a central character Barbara becomes more irresistible.

Last, but not least, Dinah has been shown to bond with a new teenaged vigilante Spoiler and aid her with family matters. The act, which although not in any case climatic in Dinah’s development, only establishes her as a charitable and humanitarian individual.

The Risk: Yes, the dreaded crossover is the only hazard that jarred my reading. This time the arcs revolved around Bruce Wayne and the issue whether or not the man is a murderer. A big arc, for certain, because as we all know he may very well be a tough/scary guy, but can he possibly be a life-taker as well? We never know, because the investigation takes over several series and we catch slivers of the action. The answer is obviously a dastardly frame and the culprit is also the one, who knows that Bruce Wayne is actually Batman. So, Batman fans of his series, do tell who the bad guy is and whether he gets away or not.

The Art: Year for does have a high amount of artists on board. Guice is nowhere to be seen and the pencils have been taken by:

James Fry [meh]
Rodney Ramos [closer to my personal aesthetics, but not quite there]
Rick Leonardi [basically the same as with the last one]
Glenn Fabry [a bit too retro for my liking and his artwork reminds me of the Watchmen]
Dave Ross [certainly has captivatedme with his lines]
Amanda Connor [first woman on board]

As you can see this is a busy year for DC artists and I also need to emphasize on how this is the year that the series gets to be illustrated by a woman for three issues [Moore’s arc]. You can immediately tell that a woman is doing the lines, because it is definitely girlish, but in the good way. Dead giveaways include the lips and the hair, which resemble how designers draw their fashion sketches. The art clicked with the energetic and slightly good-natured humor from Moore’s side and gave me pure pleasure.

Verdict: While I was reading the issues, I was praying to all gods that the crossovers stop already [they do eventually], but overall became hooked and reading the issues turned more fun rather than a task I set myself to complete every day [with 127 issues, one needs all the stimulation in the world].

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails