Birds of Prey #3

A comic review article by: Ray Tate

The Birds of Prey hunt for a maniac that exploits people as bombs and uses memes as triggers. In order to combat these fanatics, the team recruits a fourth member: Poison Ivy.

Poison Ivy began as a villain obsessed with Batman. Her plant-based crimes were almost an afterthought, but Bruce Timm and company changed all that. They fittingly updated her as an ecoterrorist. They furthermore hinted at a lesbian relationship with Harley Quinn. Viewers approved since they liked Harley, and a relationship with Ivy was healthier than a relationship with the Joker.

Harley & Ivy

Because Batman: the Animated Series became a template for everybody outside of comics, Ivy's history in that series became the truth. In fact, Ivy makes a last cameo appearance without explanation in Justice League. No rationale was needed. Timm and Company were confident people would know her and her Alternate Earth fate would provide dramatic impact.

She Didn't Deserve This

So what's she like in the New 52? Very much the fruition of Bruce Timm's designs. The fact that Black Canary, already wanted by the law for a crime she didn't commit, is willing to work with Ivy suggests a kinder history. Ivy even states in the book that she's no killer and a protector of the planet. While she still possesses an edge, I'm thinking she's a little bit saner as well.

What's Your Poison?

Ivy's addition to the team creates conflict, primarily with the new character Starling, and this gives Duane Swiercynski the opportunity to spotlight her sparkling characterization.

Also Instinctive

Of all the new characters introduced in the New 52 Universe, Starling actually comes off as the one with the most substance. That's because Swiercynski and Saiz instills distinctive personality to her dialogue and her body language. While Simone's Batgirl has nothing to fear, it's still an impressive feat to create such a dazzling character from nothing. Given how strongly I felt about Swiercynski's Black Widow, it's doubly impressive.

As to the plot, Swiercysnki turns Birds of Prey into Charlie's Angels -- the hipper movie version. The Birds, in constant contact with each other, essentially operate on their own but for common goals. Nobody guides them through a mission. They have no handler. Rather, they're a collective of tough women, and since they operate outside the law but at a ground level, they're closer to being cinematic private investigators instead of police or superheroes. Further, there's a sense connectivity and teamwork as the Birds come together.

Now, They Work For Me. My name is...

Colorist June Chung is another asset. Her colors and shading exhibit a natural look that enhances Saiz's realistic representation of the women. Her use of warm red or pink as a highlight as opposed to harsher browns better evokes the feeling of living flesh and brings a subtle, organic sensuality to the characters.

Examples of the Flesh

Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.

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