"Hero Hunters, Part Four: She Rides the Eye of a Hurricane"
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ed Benes
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: As the Birds of Prey arrive in Metropolis, they've come to deal with a young woman who suffers from a split personality, as her more benign persona goes by the name Rose, while the more ruthless side goes by the name Thorn. It would appear that Thorn has murdered a man. However, when the Birds of Prey pay a visit to Rose's apartment, they find Thorn waiting for them, and while they also discover that Thorn was framed for the murder, this doesn't make her any less dangerous.
Comments: Not a bad issue considering a large chunk of the narrative is centred around a character I'm only marginally familiar with. I mean Rose/Thorn's split personality always struck me as an interesting sounding gimmick, but I've never invested much energy in tracking down her adventures, and since most of her appearances were limited to the main Superman titles, I can't say I've had enough exposure to the character to form much of an opinion on the character. Now this issue does effectively play up the split personality by making use of a rather easy to understand trick involving crazy looking captions and differing dialogue styles that serve to reflect the madness when Thorn is in control. The issue also offers up a pretty solid action sequence in its final pages, as the Birds of Prey find themselves dealing with an overly aggressive Thorn, and this in turn transforms into a high speed chase as the Huntress speeds through the streets trying to rein in our mildly psychotic guest-hero. The cliff-hanger moment was a bit weak though as if my decades of comic reading have taught me anything it's that characters rarely die from gunshot wounds. I also felt the issue turned over a card a little too early, as the mystery of whether Thorn killed that man in the alley was compelling element of the encounter, but this issue decides to reveal she was framed relatively early in the game. Still while it's not really connected to the main story, my favourite section of the issue would have to be the opening bit as the Black Canary meets up with Batman and makes a couple demands of the moody Dark Knight.
I realize that a book featuring an all female cast is going to be host to cheesecake art, as comics' primary audience are teenage boys, but Ed Benes is a little too deliberate in his focus on the idea that these characters are women. It's difficult to take this book seriously when the art is so focused on playing to its audience. It's also a bit disappointing as the art spends so much time playing up the sex appeal of the characters that it neglects other elements that are just as important to the story, such as a clear presentation of the more complicated elements of the plot. I mean Barbara's situation with the Brainiac virus is supposed to inspire a sense of impending dread, but the art utterly fails to do so. The same goes for the final page cliff-hanger, as if it hadn't been for the dialogue saying the character had been shot, one would never know Thorn had been struck, as the art is still too focused on making the character look sexy.
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