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Birds of Prey #61

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Ed Benes (p), Alex Lei (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
As Dinah tries to coax an answer out of Barbara as to why she would want to call it quits on their partnership, we see Barbara heads out for dinner, and Dinah gets a taste of what Barbara has to deal with as she tries to advise the Huntress on how to deal with the thugs dogging her heels. As Barbara's mood is brightened by an encounter with a young girl, we see she returns to the Clocktower, and both women are wiser from their separate encounters.

Comments:
A fairly engaging issue in that there's a wealth of character moments where I was genuinely surprised by something a character had done. I mean unlike her behavior over in last week's "Nightwing" where she brought an end to her relationship with Dick without much of an explanation, this issue actually takes the time to detail why she was taking a similar action against the Black Canary, and in the process we also receive some much needed insight into why she called it quits with Dick. We also see Dinah is able to put on a fairly impressive tap dance in a effort to keep this relationship intact, and in a rather amusing reversal of roles we see Dinah gets to play the role of Oracle while the Huntress plays the uncooperative operative that Dinah used to be. There's also a nice moment of interaction between Dinah and Batgirl who is called upon by Dinah to freshen up her fighting skills, and while I question the logic of engaging in such training while her mobility is so restricted, the observation that Batgirl makes is an interesting one. I also enjoyed the idea that while Savant is able to escape from Arkham, he doesn't instantly become the big, bad bogeyman he was before, and it's always nice to see Oracle's big sister status used to put a good scare into the mind of a villain. Mostly though I just like the idea that the issue ends with the friendship between Barbara and Dinah still intact.

As for the art, Ed Benes remains a bit of a double edged sword on the art as on one hand his highly expressive work is a perfect match for the more humorous elements of the story, as the character's reactions to the various events that play out in the issue are nicely realized (e.g. Dinah's stunned reaction on the opening page, her look of growing frustration as she tries to advise the Huntress). However, the art is also a bit too obvious in its bid to appeal to the core audience of the teenage male, as the art seems to go out of its way to pose its characters in titillating poses, and the cookie cutter body types that he gives every female character in the book doesn't exactly help his case either, as if not for the different hairstyles/fashion accessories the lead characters of this comic would be completely indistinguishable. Still the big impact shots are fairly impressive, with the finish to the Huntress action sequence being particularly impressive.

Final Word:
The idea that Barbara is looking to protect herself from the pain of losing someone she cares about by effectively calling it quits on all her relationships is presented quite nicely in this issue, and I have to say that I enjoyed the fact that the issue doesn't make Barbara's concerns sound unreasonable, as Dinah gets a somewhat revealing look at what it's like to be Oracle when she attempts to rein in the Huntress with next to no success. Now the scene where Barbara encounters the mentally challenged little girl, who manages to brighten her mood with her fondness for hugs from complete strangers was a bit too much like a plot line from the Care Bears cartoon, but the scenes between Dinah and Barbara later in the issue felt genuine so I don't really care all that much what means were used to turn Barbara's sour mood. The action involving the Huntress was also nicely paced, as the action moves along at a nice brisk pace, and it's brought to a halt in a rather impressive manner.



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