Thursday, September 9, 2004

Birds of Prey #73 - A Review

Written by: Gail Simone
Penciled by: Ron Adrian & Eric Battle
Inked by: Rob Lea & Rodney Ramos
Colored by: Hi-Fi Design
Lettered by: Jared K. Fletcher
Editor: Joan Hilty
Publisher: DC Comics

This enjoyable mini-series has been made up of two completely separate stories, both stemming from the same investigation of a rash of teen suicides. The teens in question were all members of the same religious organization and were all found dressed in the costume of a dead teenage superhero.

In the first story, the vigilante Huntress has investigated the cult itself. The good news is that her back-up, the animal-ability imitator Vixen, is no longer being hypnotized by the cult’s leader. The bad news is that a number of other superheroes, including a guy who can move mountains with his mind, still ARE having their minds controlled and they just got the order to move in for the kill.

In the second story, Barbara Gordon (aka the hacker supreme and ex-Batgirl known as Oracle) suffers some kind of attack while trying to hack into the cult’s computer system. Though a stay at the hospital shows her to be fine, her partner in crime-fighting Dinah (aka the superheroine Black Canary) is worried that Babs’ sanity is no longer in mint condition. This proves to be a dead-on assessment, as we find out that Barbara’s mind has been invaded by the supercomputer Brainiac, who has been running the whole Church scam as a way of finding a suitable means of bringing himself back into physical form. Barbara IS that suitable means and between her DNA and all the computers full of alien technology she has access to, Brainiac is well on his way to being physically reborn.

The issue is split between these two stories and we get a nice study in contrast here. On the one hand, we get Vixen and Huntress doing the typical superhero smack-down scenes with tons of butt-kicking and ass-whooping to be had. In the other, Black Canary fights a psychological battle to try and reach what little is left of Oracle’s humanity as Brainiac tries to overpower the logic centers of her mind.

Less enjoyable is the contrast in the artwork. While the team of Adrian and Lea is as enjoyable as usual in the scenes with Vixen and Huntress, the Oracle/Canary scenes with Eric Battle’s pencils and Rodney Ramos’ inks leave a lot to be desired. Battle appears to be trying to ape Adrian’s style so the contrast between the two is not as glaring and he does succeed at some points. For the most part, his faces are far too cluttered and lack the smooth simplicity of Adrian’s work. This accentuation is furthered by Ramos’ inks, which are far too thick and dark to match the lighter strokes of the artwork

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