Friday, May 27, 2005

BIRDS OF PREY #82

Bottom line right at the top: A far cry better than last issue, but still draggy.

We're still following two separate storylines, both set an unspecified amount of time after Helena stormed off the Bird of Prey (does the plane have a name?). On the one, Dinah and Ted Grant are reenacting some of Hong Kong's finest action flicks and on the other, Helena is essaying Robert DiNiro. There's the minor echo of the Brainiac!Babs storyline, about which I now have great fear that it ties in to the Outsiders/Teen Titans crossover the Insiders.

The Cat & Canary storyline was the more successful of the two main arcs, although not as successful as the animated version that Simone wrote for Justice League Unlimited. The stylized Then-and-Now repeating of Dinah's narrative concerning Ted was elegantly done and Simone didn't hammer home the Dinah-as-Ted's-Favorite-Niece angle as hard as she last issue. While the respect remained, the awe got toned down a bit because it was restricted to the circular narrative trick and the end result was that Ted was companion and colleague this time. Overall, Dinah was quick in thought as well as fists and came across as both clever and impulsive -- much more like she was once the young woman who frustrated her mother and ran off on adventures with Ollie Queen and less like she was once the little girl who idolized the JSA. Obviously she was both, but too much focus on the latter makes it easy to forget how accomplished Dinah is in her own right.

I was not wild about the Helena storyline. Reunited with Savant and Creote, the former of whom has yet to really show me anything other than Marty Stu potential, Helena is pulling a corporate takeover of Gotham's crime families. The dialogue felt a little stilted, like perhaps Simone was trying to work the 'respect for your elders' echo from the other story a little too hard, and Joe Bennett's art was no help whatsoever. Helena is a Barbie doll, her cute little outfit perfect and her facial expressions unchanged throughout. She's not serious or nervous or intense or angry or anything noticeable. I griped about Ed Benes's cheesecake art on what is supposed to be a grrrl power title, but at least Benes didn't have plastic people.

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