Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Comic Book Review: Birds of Prey #4

Literary & Artistic Credits
Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: Ed Benes, Adriana Melo
Inker: Ed Benes, J.P. Mayer
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Swands
Cover Art: Alina Urusov

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
I feel like some great revelation was given away in this issue, somehow letting us know who the White Canary is.  Do you feel the same way?  Black Canary was so sure she knew the identity of her white counterpart, and the conversation they had during their dual made me believe I should have known it as well.  It all connects to the flash back introduction of course, the baby whose father wanted her thrown into a river grew up to be the judo chopping assassin.  I’ve gone through Birds of Prey #4 seven times but for the life of me, I still can’t figure out who the White Canary is!  Did I miss it somehow or am I still sane?

The hectic nature of the story certainly comes off effectively.  Gail Simone presents three different plotlines, all of which are completely separate from each other but put all of the birds in life threatening situations.  Simone’s ability to keep readers at the edge of the seats is masterful. 

Each storyline continually bounces back and forth never truly giving the readers time to comprehend the situation before the next panel.  This is a similar theme from last month, but Simone steps it up a notch this month.  With this fast paced toggling, the sense of urgency in the story is heightened and intensified.  In that sense, the story glows with literary certitude that Simone has a plan for the Bird’s that will blow us away.  Yet, despite the intense story telling, I can’t help but feel that this issue left me in an empty state.

Simone is my favorite writer in comics right now and could very well write a story that would equal the impact that Alan Moore’s Watchmen had on the comic book genre.  However, the end of issue #4 felt very unsatisfactory and empty, as if Simone was forced to keep the suspense going when it wasn’t merited.  The story led me to believe that some climactic and surprising truth would be revealed on the last page, but nothing of the sort happened.  Now you may be saying to yourself, “What?!?  Jimmy, c’mon!  White Canary just allied herself with Black Canary!  This is a twist a comic book lover dreams of right?”  But I would argue that White Canaries sudden change in tactic is very contrived, or at least feels that way.  I know Simone planed this from the start, but it could have been approached much more effectively. 

Again, artist toggling is not my favorite way of reading a comic.  Benes and Melo’s artistic styles are like night and day, so different that with each page turn you feel like they tore out one page from 22 different comic books and bound them together to form Birds of Prey #4.  Benes is an amazing artist, and Melo is above average.  If I were to read a comic where Melo did the art on every page, I would be just fine since, in and of itself, both artists are very capable and talented.  But with the terribly jaunting difference in styles, it’s hard to not feel like my eyeballs continually take a hard whack to the retinas tearing away at the cell structure.

But I must say, Ed Benes certainly knows how to make his characters look evil and possessed…

Now, to say the art was less than satisfactory should not speak towards the incredible detail of the cover.  Alina Urusov did unspeakably well and gave us a cover that pops out at us and spares no expense in detail.

My Majestically Climactic Conclusion
So White Canary has been discovered, even though we don’t really know who this is yet.  I wonder, once her identity and terrible tragedy is revealed, if White Canary will reform and be welcome as apart of the team.  What do you think?

Rating: 8.17 out of 10
Writing: 9
Art: 7
Themes: 8.5

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