Monday, March 28, 2005

BIRDS OF PREY #80

Well that was probably the best issue in a while. Mostly because it introduces the plausible deniability aspect to why the last several issues were so terrible. Babs was being Batman.

I have been up and down on Gail Simone's run on BoP -- as with any writer who comes in after an unpopular one, after a while it's not enough to just not be the predecessor. Simone has had some great character work -- especially with Helena, who has gotten short shrift over the last several years from many quarters. But her plots have been painfully thin to the point that their flaccidness overwhelms the strong characterization. Having Ed Benes as her penciler didn't help -- his cheesecake stylings made it hard to take weak material seriously.

Here, after the usual banal tushkicking and no-way-it-can-end-well Brainiac!Babs, we got some more good interaction between Dinah and Helena to set the stage for a pretty good confrontation between Babs and Helena. The two of them have history from Gotham -- not to mention a certain mutual ex-lover -- and Helena's sense of betrayal was well-played, all the more so because I've criticized Simone in the past for Helena's oddly easy reclamation of faith and peace. Helena is not a feral child; she is an intelligent, civilized woman with a bad temper and the willingness to take it out on others. She's been hurt badly many times before and that Babs, through Dinah, got her to let down her guard and reach out... Simone may have been clumsy in the set up, but the delivery worked.

All that said, I still think the other plot threads are crummy and the title feels adrift. The Brainiac!Babs is dreadful, Zinda is best when she has nothing more to do than talk to the air traffic control tower, and whatever happened to the days when Dinah took down entire juntas on her own and made it back to Gotham in time for dinner instead of getting into barfights and giving sage advice like the old crank she is? I'm afraid that all of this has no greater purpose than Babs having an identity crisis.

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