Review: Birds of Prey #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art: Leonardo Romero
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Dinah struggles to keep her team together while Harley saves the day! Of course Harley knows how to get the team on Themiscyra secretly!
Birds of Prey #2 starts with a touching flashback with Dinah and Sin. It reminds the reader why this team has been assembled with a solid character moment. Leonardo Romero brings another excellent performance on the art chores. He displays a range from intimate to exaggerated which are both appropriate in their respective scenes. Dinah and Sin in the opening sequence both exhibit a genuine fondness that Romero captures. Additionally, in the span of 2 pages Dinah displays, confusion, anger and resignation in succession as she tries to keep her team together.
There are moments in this issue as Dinah struggles to get things going that this feels like a Birds of Prey comic. They are few, however.
Like it or not, your enjoyment of Birds of Prey #2 hinges on how much you like Harley Quinn. If you’re a fan, you’ll probably enjoy this comic. If you you’re not, then…this will be a frustrating read. Harley just sucks the concept of the Birds of Prey out of the issue. The moment it starts to feel like a Birds of Prey comic, Harley pops up and just becomes annoying. Now, if Harley were to die by the end of this arc, it might be worth it, but what happens in issue #5 or #6 can’t make this issue any better. There’s always hope for the next arc, right? As long as Thompson gets Harley off the team, that is. You can’t make readers like Harley if they don’t like Harley and Harley is written like Harley.
As Thompson has stated, Harley is the wildcard. Will she also be the Harley ex machina- the out for plot corners? She already feels like she dominates this issue with her solution to getting on Themiscyra. It could prove to be an interesting moral quandary for Black Canary to get assistance from a villain like King Shark, but there’s no sense of that in the script at all. Thompson realizes this is not the Harley Quinn animates series on MAX, right? This just seems to shove character aside so Thompson can do something zany with Harley. I get that Harley’s personality and characterization push her forward and dominate an issue, even if it’s not intended. This knowledge doesn’t improve the issue, however. I don’t know if it’s possible to write Harley accurately without this happening.
With John Constantine and the magic angle, it feels less and less like a Birds of Prey comic. It’s true, one can imagine Barbara arranging using magic with an appearance by Zatanna, or I suppose even Constantine, but there’s something about the haphazard way it seems to come about that detracts from the tone of what a Birds of Prey series should be. It almost feels like Thompson didn’t have a better idea so she had to go the magic route to get out of another plot corner. I think it would’ve come off better had we seen Dinah go through the thought process of her plan instead of seeing it play out. Again, it feel like she decided she wanted to use Constantine and wrote it that way instead of Constantine being a creative solution to a problem. Good thing Constantine owed Dinah a favor. How many people will owe Dinah a favor in this series? And, it appears King Shark owed Harley a favor, too! As it is, it is difficult to follow Dinah’s plan. There’s a “hurry up and get there already” feel. It’s a necessary step in the plot for the team to get to Themiscyra, but it’s more boring than interesting or exciting.
Furthermore, Dinah’s attempts to keep the team together seem to be proof that she hasn’t built a team that is “impeccably trustworthy.” The readers knew this, why didn’t Dinah? It just makes Dinah seem stupid for trusting them instead of going to true friends like Helena and Barbara- Meridian be damned! That falls on Thompson’s shoulders for forcing this team together. She shouldn’t have included the premise that Dinah was assembling them with the belief that they were all “impeccably trustworthy.” If Dinah had taken a different approach, more of a “I’ll do whatever it takes,” then her struggles would feel genuine. As it is, this conflict feels contrived and there simply for the sake of conflict. With Birds of Prey #2, it feels like Thompson is really interested in writing a Suicide Squad title. This isn’t the Birds of Prey, it’s Dinah stuck with a couple people she can trust, two villains, and a couple chancers.
Harley Quinn ruins everything she’s in. She doesn’t play well with others and it’s no different in Birds of Prey #2. She doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the team tonally. Her ridiculousness detracts from what at times begins to feel like a Birds of Prey comic. There’s far too little time spent on character which leaves too much time for Harley. Thankfully, Romero does a really nice job with the art on this issue. Script-wise it feels messy and cobbled together, you just sort of want to get through it so the plot can move forward. It’s definitely a step backwards from last issue.