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Birds Of Prey #64

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



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

Publisher: D.C. Comics

The Plot:
As Dinah settles into an uneasy partnership with Lady Shiva and Cheshire in a bid to locate the evidence that will expose the identity of the parties responsible for the murder of her sensei, we see back in America Barbara discovers her kidnappers look to be government agents. We then discover Senator Pullman is the man behind this operation, and that he's had Barbara and nine other women brought into custody, in a bid to discover Oracle's identity.

The Good:
While Dinah's adventure in this issue is filled with much plot advancement, Gail Simone does manage to showcase her sense of humor, which I have to admit had me enjoying this issue far more than I really expected to. I mean Lady Shiva and Cheshire are not characters that I normally look at when I go looking for a funny time, but as Giffen/DeMatties proved with Batman during their Justice League run, often times it's the most serious minded of characters that are able to generate the biggest laughs. I mean there's a wonderfully cute moment where Dinah is grateful that the fight looks to be lacking an element that would set it off, when the guy whose finger Cheshire bit off shows up to start the festivities. There's also some amusing moments of interaction among the three women as the settle in for a fourteen hour flight with each other. As for Barbara's half of the issue, this issue adds the serious edge that is missing from Dinah's adventure, as Barbara finds herself in the clutches of the enemy, and she quickly discovers that the bid to locate has effectively destroyed the lives of nine other women. There's also a nice little one-sided conversation between Barbara and Savant in which the villain makes it pretty clear that he knows she's Oracle, and that her fate rests in her making it worth the effort he's extending on her behalf to keep her identity secret. Barbara's final action in this issue was also a bit of a surprise.

I do think I've come down a little too hard on Ed Benes work as while I'm not about to deliver the gushing praise that last month's "Wizard" offered up I will concede that in my bid to make an issue about his tendency to go for the cheesecake poses and butt shots, I have failed to take note of the elements that work quite well. I do think he's quite good when he's called upon to deliver the facial reactions of the characters, as Dinah's expression as she returns to her seat is priceless, and there's also some nice work on the following page where Barbara is coming to her decision, as the book captures her conflicted state quite nicely. I also have to say I enjoyed the nod of the head that we get in this issue to his previous project, as Dinah's Supergirl shirt was a cute visual. The battle sequence earlier in the issue is also a lot of fun, as I love it when the artist uses the panels themselves to project a sense of excitement. In fact the very panels seem to lend themselves to the physical movements of the characters inside them. It's not fantastic art but it's better than I've made it out to be in my previous reviews.

The Bad:
The Black Canary half of the plot has an almost sitcom feel to it as Dinah finds herself with two unlikely allies and is forced to deal with their wacky personalities. Now the humor does flow naturally from the established personalities that had been set in place for these characters, so I have to say I found myself smiling when Dinah was sent rushing to the bathroom thanks to a little practical joke from Cheshire. The exchange between Cheshire and Lady Shiva while Black Canary is indisposed was also an amusing sequence, as was Black Canary's threat when she returns. However, much like a sitcom, there is a very real sense that the plot is secondary to the gags, as when one takes a step back to look at what actually happens in this issue all the big surprises and insight play out in Barbara's half of the issue, while Dinah spends pretty much the entire issue involved in a cute clash of personalities, while making only tentative steps forward when it comes to finding the killer of her sensei. I also have to raise some questions about the way Senator Pullman has dealt with the hunt for Oracle, as in a bid to locate her he's kidnapped the ten most likely suspects in Gotham City, and even if he's able to uncover which one is Oracle he's still left with nine other women that they'll have to deal with. If Barbara's kidnapping on a public street in the middle of the day is any indication of the care that was taken when they were kidnapping these women the media is probably having a field day about a rash of kidnappings that if tied to Senator Pullman is sure to get him punted out of office, and serving a nice lengthy jail sentence.

The Fair-Haired Florist Had A Fairly Good Time At The Fair:
A funny, if somewhat empty adventure as Dinah ends up in a questionable alliance with two of the more duplicitous/dangerous women in the entire DCU, and while the plot takes a back-seat to the humorous moments of interaction, Gail Simone is a very funny writer, so it feels a bit like I'm trying too hard to find something to whine about when I make an issue about the plot being a bit frivolous. On the other side of the book, the situation dealing with Barbara's plight more than makes up for Dinah's half of the issue, as she looks to be in a bit of a spot. I also look forward to following the investigation by the Huntress in her bid to locate the missing Oracle, though at the moment I can't think of any real clues that would point to Barbara's location. Now I guess Savant could do something that would aid in her escape so he could kill her after she's freed, or perhaps Barbara has something up her sleeve, but since the Huntress is featured on the cover, and acts as this issue's cliffhanger, one has to imagine she'll have a role to play in this story, even if it feels a bit similar to the one she played in the previous arc.



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