Birds of Prey #6
Written by Gail Simone with pencils by Alvin Lee and Adriana Melo
Overall, I've enjoyed the return of "Birds of Prey" courtesy Gail Simone. But with the "Two Nights in Bangkok" two-parter, the book has felt a bit off-kilter and it's hard to peg why.
The previous issue had felt slightly rushed, and this issue unfortunately continues that trend. We have a random background character suddenly turn into a trusted ally that's willing to switch sides at the drop of a hat, and it feels out of the blue, like this was part of a larger story that got trimmed down along the way. And the conclusion of Black Canary being forced to fight Lady Shiva to the death, likewise, is sped up and thrown on the table in the blink of an eye. It's not a bad solution, but it shows up in a hurried manner and is just as easily accepted, feeling rather anti-climactic. Simone is normally great on her pacing (recent issues of "Secret Six" being a prime example) so for this not quite working it a slight surprise. And with half of the cast (Oracle, Hawk, Dove) being sidelined to just two pages this issue, it's not helping "Birds of Prey" feel like a team book in the slightest.
On the bright side, there are some good bits in "Birds of Prey" #6 that stand out. Huntress giving her speech to Lady Shiva is the strongest scene in the book, although Huntress' narration in general is entertaining. For a character that seems to be a cast off and throwaway under other writers, she gets a chance to genuinely shine in "Birds of Prey" and I appreciate the work that Simone's put into her character. And even though they're barely in the book, Oracle's closing comment about Hawk is great fun, and makes me hope that he'll get something to do in upcoming issues so we can see more of Simone's take on the character. (Why come back from the dead if they're just going to sit around and twiddle thumbs?)
Even with the extra month, Alvin Lee and Adriana Melo's pencils don't look as strong as they normally do. The women look remarkably flimsy here, like a stiff breeze could blow them over; considering these women include Huntress, Black Canary, and Lady Shiva, that's exactly the wrong image they should be projecting. Hair is also suddenly prone to pulling into large locks and then having them all repel one another, like there's a massive case of static electricity going on. (I suppose the lack of conditioner is providing this rather unique hair style, because my other theory involving wind from a Stevie Nicks concert stage is even less likely.) The worst thing, though? The characters are often all drawn alike. There's a scene where Huntress is pulling on her outfit while Lady Blackhawk and Black Canary are standing behind her. If it wasn't for the outfits (and Huntress having a different hair color), there's no visual difference to tell the three apart.
I enjoyed the first four issues of "Birds of Prey," so this two-parter has ultimately been a disappointment. I'm not going to write off the book — this feels like it's the exception to the rule — but I am glad it's over, and starting next month Ardian Syaf comes on board to help the title move forward. This is a comic that we ultimately expect a lot more from.