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Birds Of Prey #84

Posted: Friday, August 5, 2005
By: Jason Cornwell



"Knock-Out"

Writer: Gail Simone
Pencils: Joe Bennett
Inks: Jack Jadson
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Publisher: D.C. Comics
$2.50 U.S. / $3.50 CAN

Plot:
As the Huntress finds herself getting a visit from Barbara who looks to be quite eager to mend fences with the angry Helena, we soon discover that this visit is largely driven by the fact that Barbara believes she won't survive the upcoming effort to rid herself of the Brainiac infection, and as such she's looking to get her house in order. What's more we see that Doctor MidNite's downbeat prognosis of her condition doesn't exactly make question why Barbara is so convinced that she might die of the operating table.

Comments:
On one hand I find myself a little removed from the sense of urgency that Gail Simone is trying to generate by focusing on Oracle's health concerns, as part of me has a little difficulty buying into the illusion that things are as dire as the book wants them to be. I mean when the possible outcomes that the writing offers up state that a lead character might die under the knife, or that the surgery might leave them paralysed from the neck down I find myself dismissing these ideas out of hand, as these are far too dramatic. I mean it's a bit like when Spider-Man starts growing extra arms, and the writing asks us to share in the dismay of the character while ignoring the underlying feeling that having the character running around with six arms is little better than a temporary change. I mean when both possible outcomes look so bleak for a major player in the pages of a comic, than my mind simply assumes that the book simply hasn't gotten around to bringing option C to the table. Than again enjoyment of this issue is far from being dependant on whether one is able to buy into the illusion that Gail Simone would make such a drastic change to a major player, and this issue is full of entertaining bits, starting with a lovely little sequence where Barbara uses up several pages to offer up a collection of not so pleasant memories from her past, as we see that her life path bears a striking resemblance to the ugly duckling story. However, Gail Simone does manage to avoid having this sequence feel like a collection of clichés, as the scenes display a solid understanding of Barbara's established personality. I also rather enjoy how this book is managing to play with the various toys that are available to a writer working within the DCU, as it makes sense that Cyborg would be brought in to deal with a cybernetic infection, and I also have to say that there's also some fun to be had when it comes to guessing who's on the other end of Dinah's mystery phone call (my fingers are crossed for Green Arrow).

Joe Bennett manages to avoid most of the annoying habits that seem to inflict many artists when they work on this title, as his characters don't look like they are posing for a photo shoot, but rather the camera moves around the room focusing on elements that are key to the actual story, such as facial expressions and body language, rather than the cheesecake shots designed to remind readers that this book's cast are female. Now I wish there was a little more variety when it came to the faces of his characters, and the range of facial expressions is a bit limited, but the art is quite impressive when it comes to the key emotional moments, such as the flash of anger from Dinah when Barbara jokes about her impending death, or Barbara's sheepish expression when she explains why she didn't tell the others about the continued infection. There's also a lovely shot of the Huntress in this issue, when she drops off a roof, as her expression is note perfect for the character.



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