Once the team is assembled we get treated to their teamwork, their internal struggles and the plot progresses at a breakneck pace without skipping a beat! A true treat to read as the Birds of Prey make their way to Themyscira, home of the Amazons.
I don’t regret being so hesitant in my first review by any means. There’s still the problem that a lot of the justifications for why people end up together kind of gets waved away but I think it works way better regardless of that problem in this issue. The fact is that characters do end up together and follow the lead of Dinah who searches for some magical object in a mystical place but the characters are very aware of their lack of explanation. Dinah definitely addresses this lack of unpacking head-on by simply being glad for the backup when it’s there. In some cases she’s slightly worried by not having a tight leash on her team but persists in the mindset of “the less I know the better”.
This works wonders for the pacing because the team can come together and push forward through action scenes and still play off of each other without getting bogged down in individual details. Not getting a straightforward explanation for every character’s motivation has its own internal reasoning when you see the way the team was assembled and especially when you see some members being traditionally more silent and reserved. Such a large cast can feel overwhelming to readers so the balance between talkative characters like Dinah and Harley versus Cassandra allows Kelly Thompson to easily switch between tense, action oriented and fun character dynamics.
A small point that is very unusual for me. I hardly ever engage in online discourse within my reviews but someone in the Batman News team pointed out that people were having a serious problem with the idea that Harley beat Cassandra. Kelly Thompson jumped in to point to the fact that this is not at all the case which I completely agree with. Harley just slaps her with a fish and then jumps out of a window. That’s not a real hand to hand victory. Was that scene weird in its justification for why Harley should join? Sure. But I think that’s also reflected in the issue itself. The rest of the team say that Cassandra’s story was barely a story and Dinah is hesitant the entire time to give Harley a spot on the team. “Misery acquaints a [wo]man with strange bedfellows” is the ultimate decider here, not the story Cass told.
Which leads me to Harley as an inclusion in the team. I’m not really familiar with any of these characters so I’m not the right person to argue that the team makes no sense. I just see that the team was assembled in a rushed way and move on to enjoy the story despite that. My one gripe was that Harley really had too much to say for the short amount of time she was there and that it didn’t play well with the previous team dynamic. This has almost completely changed now. I think her tone and utility are working much better with the slight exception that she kind of just tracked down one of the members for no reason. I know she’s a wild card and being introduced as someone that really clings to certain personalities but can she not have any ulterior motive at all? It wouldn’t have to be a whole drawn out explanation, no one else really gets that either and it’s fine. But her inclusion in the brawl felt too random compared to the others who all had their secretive purpose.
Once again, I think the main draw of the comic is definitely the art by Leonardo Romero. I mean this issue just screams psychedelia and soft nostalgia. The style brings the softness to the table and as your hands get lost tracing these hazy lines you get greeted by incredibly imaginative panel compositions that warp everything and make you rethink the space they inhabit. The after images are a sick way to have the characters move around in action scenes without abandoning the way their fists and weapons impact the opponents. There are lots of little details to help you lose track of the space, rewind and appreciate the art even more. Definitely something you want to reread again without the writing hindering the experience.
The colors by Jordie Belaire really add to the softness as they vary from looking like your favorite worn out tie-dye shirt to the warm colors of a red suit spreading onto the character’s face. I really love the green tint at the beginning as a filter through which to perceive a different time. A green that is left in the sky outside the confines of their present-day meeting, like its a world Dinah is unable to hold onto in the moment but still awaits her and the team. This piece of characterization isn’t just lazily written to be called back later but actually provides a sweet moment to remind us what this is all about.
The lettering by Clayton Cowles takes its time to really shine but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t wow you by the end of it. At first you’re like, ok, I like the way the words are spaced out, there’s a lot of characters talking but it never feels crowded or like I’m unable to appreciate the art and then BAM, someone slices open an opponent and the sound effect follows the arcs of their swords and you’re like, woah, that was really freaking cool. You start to look at the fight scene closer and notice the crunchiness of “KRWK” or the force of a “KRRRRRSH” that traces Dinah’s destructive demolition. Little details like the difference in size of the “BOOM” of the Boom Tube as Barda goes from transporting two people to transporting the whole team are also worthy of note, leaving you with a general impression that all the artists know exactly how to make this issue pop.
- The character dynamics are endlessly entertaining to you
- You’ve managed to pick your draw off the floor after witnessing the art
- You’re excited to see how this story keeps getting better and better
I’m so excited about this issue! And the more excited I get the more worried I get because God knows I’ve been burnt before. It’s hard not to look at all the improvements made and feel like there might be a great story through and through but the first issue keeps knocking at the door to remind me that there are still some lingering problems to deal with. Lots of coincidences and causal explanations that are somewhat understandable now without exactly being flawless. But every character feels unique and the writing doesn’t hinder the story even if it doesn’t exactly work best with it on a reread. So for now I’ll be keeping to this story with fingers crossed and a smile on my face.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman-News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.
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