Current Reviews


Birds of Prey #48

Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Terry Moore
Artists: Amanda Conner (p), Jimmy Palmiotti (i)

Publisher: DC

The book opens with Barbara and the rest of the crowd attending the press conference finding themselves held a gunpoint by a group of thugs, who are trying to get their hands on the young woman who looks to have the ability to heal others simply by touching them. However, given Barbara’s shattered spine was seemingly repaired by this woman last issue, we see she is able to put her Batgirl training to good use, as she lays into the attackers before diving out a nearby window with the sought after healer woman. We then look in on Dinah as she finds herself locked in the back of a van, and the men who have kidnapped her appear to be part of the group that Barbara was just dealing with. However, given this group appears unaware that they've chosen the Black Canary as their hostage, we see they learn a very painful lesson as Dinah unleashes her canary cry. However, the powerful sonic attack sends the vehicle careening off the bridge, and the vehicle tumbles into the canyon far below. Meanwhile Barbara is on her way back to Gotham City with the young woman, but she receives a rather disturbing phone call that tells her the woman that was "healed" before her has died, and we see Barbara collapses to the ground, as her own miracle cure appears to vanish.

The simple problem with this issue is that it removes Barbara from her regular role as this book's brains to the Black Canary's brawn, and while I'm all for writers writing stories that stray outside the established patterns that have defined a certain title, in this case this feels like a step backwards. I mean part of the appeal about Oracle when she found herself in a physical confrontation is that she was forced to outmaneuver her opponents using her mind. Having her spring out of her chair and start performing fighting moves that would make an Hong Kong action movie star envious, defeats the whole concept of the character. One also has to wonder why Terry Moore has decided not to draw upon the other element that made this title so engaging, which is the interaction between Dinah & Barbara, as this issue separates the two women, and leaves them both to their own devices. I've never read any of Terry Moore's work before his arrival on this title, but the impression I had been given about his work is that he would be a good fit, due to his ability to convey the relationship dynamics between female characters. However this issue offers up no opportunity to display this talent.

While I have serious doubts that one could actually halt a one-hundred story fall, using a suction cup/cable device that would fit in the palm of your hand, I'm sure there's some comic book science nut out there who will point out the idea that Barbara was using a specially designed cable that absorbs the impact that would normally have ripped that little device right out of her hand. In any event I'm left with the sense that the action in this issue isn't supposed to be taken too seriously, as one imagine that Terry Moore's tongue in cheek approach to this book's action scenes is purely intentional. Dinah little plot is particularly amusing as we see her relishing the idea that she's not the helpless damsel in distress, and she loves the idea that her captors are unsettled by her refusal to act like one. One also has to love the panic that washes over the driver as he realizes who they've taken captive, and that final page cliffhanger is a rather amusing, but still fairly exciting note to end the issue on. The issue also has itself a nice little moment where the humor takes a back-seat to a disturbing revelation, as we discover the miracle cure that has given Barbara back her mobility comes with a very steep price.

Amanda Connor turns in art that helps one with the idea that you shouldn't be taking this story all that seriously, as there's almost a cartoonish quality to the work. From the exaggerated expressions, to the almost slapstick quality of the action, one has to consider the idea that the new creative team are taking this book is a direction completely different from what we had been getting before their arrival. Now the art still does a solid job detailing the action, as Barbara little display of her fighting prowess before she dives out the window is well executed, as is the final scene with Dinah when she unleashes the full might of her sonic scream. One also has to love the "how the heck is she going to pull this off" quality of that final page, as one has to think that she also has to make some effort to rescue the people inside that van, and given Dinah can't fly, her options at the moment seem quite limited. The art also does a nice job of hinting at the idea that the woman's healing touch needs her to be conscious to be effective, as once it's clear the woman is asleep, Barbara loses the ability to walk. Phil Noto also turns in another fantastic looking cover, and I'm delighted to see he's still on board.

Final Word:
Speaking as a fan who enjoyed the status quo before this book received its new creative team, I must admit I'm not overly impressed by the new direction, which almost seems to delight in the idea that it's not taking itself all that seriously. I mean, this book hasn't become what I would label a humor title, as to be truthful, the jokes aren't all that funny, and Terry Moore is clinging to some fairly serious-minded material, which undermines any bid to elicit many laughs. In the end this book is walking the line between a action/adventure title that is a bit too goofy for its own good, and a lighthearted romp that is unwilling to commit itself fully to the task of making the reader laugh. Now there's enjoyable elements to this book, with Dinah's situation being an enjoyable exercise, as we see her having fun by tormenting her captors, and the last page of this issue is dire looking enough to grab my interest. However, Barbara's situation is more difficult to enjoy as it's such a marked departure from the elements that I found made her such an engaging character.

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