Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Birds of Prey

Originally conceived as the start of a new series for DC's Black Label, this giant single-issue from writer Brian Azzarello and artist Emanuela Lupacchino features Harley Quinn's return to Gotham City where she quickly becomes involved in the Huntress stalking a brutal crime syndicate and a trio of assassins. Of course, Harley sees circumstances as fate pushing her in a new direction.

Reading this all at once, you can tell very quickly that the story was meant to be broken up into several issues with climaxes every 22 pages or so. I'll admit I was a bit confused what versions of each character we're getting here as well as when exactly this is supposed to take place.

I also have some complaints over Dinah mooning over a former friend-with-benefits (who gets way too many pages here) she admittedly didn't even like and introducing Renee Montoya as a dirty cop with questionable allegiances. The scenes of Dinah rolling around in bed or in just a towel also feel a bit forced (perhaps trying to fit into the more "adult" themes of the Black Label?).

Most of the fun here, for me, came in the interaction between Harley and the Birds such as her first meeting with Huntress and Canary realizing Harley isn't as crazy as she thought (all evidence to the contrary). However, Harley's sanity is one of the biggest inconsistencies in the story as she goes from basically having a split personality at the beginning to being largely carefree once the shooting starts. There's also a lengthy subplot here about Harley being released from prison thanks to her service in the Suicide Squad and washing her hands of the Joker (the later bit would play far better if it wasn't a theme we've already seen handled several times in comic and television). With a hefty $10 price-tag, the story is at best hit-and-miss as even the villains (who get a prominent role on the cover) are largely forgettable.


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