Gail Simone sure does love to write Black Canary. The fight between Black Canary and her ivory antagonist gives Simone a chance to let the reader understand Black Canary a bit more, as we bounce around in her thoughts, right next to Simone. Simone’s story, in turn, bounces quite a bit, split between the Canaries, Oracle’s fate, and the Penguin Situation. It bounces so much, however, that the entire issue feels like it goes nowhere, even when villains are punched in the mouth.
The art in this issue rides a seesaw between Benes and Melo. Neither artist is perfect in their craft in this issue, but the two styles are different enough to make for rough switches between the two. Benes tries to deliver a more “realistic” story, but Melo doesn’t shy away from a severe cartoon bend. Beyond the shift back and forth, the two artists have some gaffes in this issue that distract more than add to the pace of the story.
Benes makes an odd choice in having Canary scream off-page into what wound up being an ad. The end result left me momentarily wondering if the printer had made a mistake, because the story doesn’t follow across the spread.
Melo’s characters are, at times, drastically cartoonish. Oracle has impossibly pouty lips and Huntress’s mask becomes a comical oddity. Penguin has a mouthful of teeth that far outnumber the standard-issue thirty-two. Melo’s art, on its own accords, is engaging and lively, but placed next to Benes’ it seems out of place.
While I can understand the need for more than one artist, I truly wish DC would make a better effort to try and find artists with similar styles so the story doesn’t visually volley back and forth as much as happens in this issue. It’s a shame, truly, that less than half a year into this volume of “Birds,” the art is already being called into question, but it is.
The story itself doesn’t fare much better, as some of the setups and resolutions are unsurprisingly telegraphed. I expect Simone’s writing to have a few more twists, turns, and surprises, but it seems as though she frontloaded those into the previous issues. This issue seems to drag quite a bit, but Simone makes up for it with the last page conversation between White and Black Canaries.
“Birds of Prey” was the one post-“Blackest Night” title I anticipated the most. After a strong start out of the gate, this series seems to be losing some steam. I hope it finds some more oomph — and a solid artist who can deliver entire issues — soon.