Birds of Prey
The death of a super spy and the arrival of a new drug cartel in Gotham leads to an unlikely grouping of heroes being called upon to save the day.
Birds of Prey, after facing delays and reformatting, has arrived and has brought with a wave of criticism. Some in the comics criticism culture have labeled the book racist, sexist, and tonedeaf among other things. None of these accusations, sadly, are necessarily wrong but it would seem to this critic that those are not the result of intent but rather by-products of poor character work and bland plotting. That’s not to excuse the book from those things but more to say that those elements, which have been widely discussed, are not what I’m interesting in discussing today.
What hurts most about this particular volume is that the artwork is quite good though the majority of the book. Luppachino’s pencils are sharp and clean throughout, McCarthy shines on the finishes and Mulvihill and Kalisz are extremely accomplished colorists. Steve Wands, one of the unsung heroes of DC lends his crisp letters to round out an aesthetically pleasing, 100 page book.
Where the book fails spectacularly is in committing the cardinal sin of being boring. With the freedom afforded by Black Label (DC’s mature reader imprint) coupled with the highly honed skills of a master storyteller in Azzarello, there are very few excuses that could lead to such a generic, A+B=C story here. To make matters worse, the character work, as mentioned before, ends up taking four incredibly dynamic characters and flattens them to one-dimensional stereotypes of themselves. The Harley who is defined by her relationship to the Joker, the savage Huntress, the sexual Canary, and the rogue Montoya– all stripped of any nuance and forced into an uneasy alliance against a Mexican drug cartel, the most generic of villains imaginable. The complete lack of imagination, whether it was mandate or writing to a paycheck, is inexcusable.
Do yourself a favor and just skip Birds of Prey (Azzarello, Lupacchino). A very pretty book with no imagination and a high price tag.
Birds of Prey on Black Label: Generic Title
Writing - 4/10
Storyline - 4/10
Art - 8/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 7/10
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