Spyral comes calling for Huntress! When Tiger shows up with a mission in Paris, the Birds travel across the Atlantic to go covert and get the bad guy. Will they prevail? And will Huntress be able to resist the call back to her old life? Find out in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #18.
Who’s this for?
I don’t have the extensive history with Babs and the rest of the Birds that many of you do, so I don’t bring any baggage to this book. That doesn’t mean you’re baggage is irrelevant; but it does make it easier for me to consider the book for what it is, rather than what it might be.
As far as #18 is concerned, I think the audience the Bensons have in mind is a youthful one that likes a simple caper. And in some ways, it’s enjoyable in that regard. The broad strokes of the plot are the right ingredients, I think, and I managed to read through several times without too much difficulty. The artwork helps: Takara’s ink lines are nice and heavy, and while his aesthetic isn’t silly, it is more playful than it is realistic, and his figures are almost always in or implying some motion. Boyd’s colors are nicely varied and pleasing, and I really like that the colors and lighting never really make the characters look overly shiny. The plot feels like it’s meant to be more fun than serious, and the artwork is in step.
My trouble with the story is in the details. The dialogue for the Birds is pretty terrible at times, with way too many clever quips attempted. There are artless teaching moments about environmental stewardship and profiteering, inhuman exchanges between characters, and some downright incoherent speech.
The Birds are also entirely too cavalier about their identities, offering up compromising information when there are waiters—or even the criminal they came to Paris to apprehend—in close proximity. Babs addresses a civilian acquaintance with familiar language during the climactic battle, and neither of them react.
Really, the core problem here is detail. The Bensons start with a good idea—send the Birds on a fun mission to Paris—but it doesn’t seem like they paid the details much mind. Dialogue shouldn’t sound odd when read out loud, and readers should ideally be able to enjoy a book more—not less—when they look closer. Even Sienty, whose lettering work is mostly solid, makes a number of gaffs with his balloon tails this issue, pointing them at eyes, shoulders, and elsewhere instead of toward characters’ mouths.
Entertaining in a limited dose
Sadly, these sloppy details become more and more pronounced as you reread the book, so while the artwork is worth a few extra looks, the whole is not. Once you know what happens in a story, you come to depend on how it happens to sustain you when you revisit it. But how things happen in this book is, unfortunately, an unpleasant affair.
- You’ve got three bucks to spare and you want some light fun.
A fun caper in Paris and nice artwork provide worthwhile entertainment at first; but rereading Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #18 exaggerates silly dialogue and sloppy details. If you know what you’re getting into, and you’ve got the cash to spare, it may be worth picking up; otherwise, pass.