graphic thoughts

Birds of Prey #4 (v. 2)

Birds of Prey (v2) #4, October 2010

Well, I am well and truly behind on reviewing the new series. As I type this, #8 is out and #9 looms. Sorry about that. I’ll try to catch up over the next few days.

Now, where were we?

Oh, yes. The Birds were in various states of dire peril and pretty much all of them were bleeding. I reread the preceding three issues so I could remember all the details leading up to this 4th issue, and the plot, she is complex. I think I understand it more clearly this time around.

The Birds are caught up as targets in a very complicated revenge plot that aims to not only destroy them but expose all their secrets and ruin their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Death is only one of many possible outcomes they face and it isn’t the worst.

While the team, comprised of Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, and newbie Birds, Hawk and Dove, retreat to the hospital, a dying Penguin’s in tow, Canary stays behind to face off against the White Canary, a Shiva-class martial artist with a very personal vendetta against our lady in black. Meanwhile, Oracle is cornered by the mastermind behind this Byzantine plot.

The identity of this person was quite the shock (the reveal last issue was what made me gasp out loud), and it makes satisfying sense as well though how all the players in this plot came together so neatly is yet to be resolved.

Penguin is revealed to be a part of the plot all along, and the bleeding and exhausted team must outsmart the very clever Penguin in order to get their worst wounded to the hospital in time. They way they work together and the way the newbies step up is very well done.

Black Canary’s epic battle with her nemesis is beautifully done, full of blood and pain and intelligence as Canary as much thinks as fights her way to a kind of victory. Oracle’s parallel battle is fought with her best weapons as well—brains and words. Really, their enemies just don’t stand a chance.

In the end, the apparent mastermind reveals himself not to be a monster or a killer after all, and the resolution of Oracle’s crisis is sweet and moving. Black Canary gets no such respite. She defeats her foe only to find more danger lurking just beyond.

The art in this issue is more consistent with Melo’s assists blending more naturally with Ed Benes’ pages. Also the way the sections were divvied up worked very well with Benes’ art used for Canary’s battle and Melo taking all the rest. Good choice, too, as Benes can draw the hell out of a fight. He does some really beautiful work here including a shot of the Canary Cry that is as cathartic as it is cinematic.

Overall a very strong issue. The story hasn’t wrapped, but things are becoming more clear and the pace is really ticking along.