Review: Birds of Prey #4
[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 and Co. meet Diana and the Amazons in battle…and OOOPS- it’s all just a big misunderstanding. This leads to a breakthrough in the plot however….
About halfway through Birds of Prey #4, the comic becomes somewhat intelligible and the actual plot is finally revealed by the end. This makes about 1/3 of the issue pretty good from a writing standpoint. Once Diana listens to what Dinah has to say about the mission, it feels believable. It’s also nice to know that the Amazons have been trying to contact Dinah, but “couldn’t get through.” Gee maybe ask Diana her longtime JLA teammate to reach out? Additionally, Harley plays a much smaller role in this issue than in the previous three, and that’s a huge relief.
Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire continue to make this an entertaining book visually, despite the erratic nature of Kelly Thompson’s writing. Romero’s figures just plain look good as does Bellaire’s choice of colors. Romero also does a nice job with the storytelling that helps the book flow narratively as best as possible with the given script.
It’s odd to me, but clearly not Thompson, that Wonder Woman identifies this group of characters as “the Birds of Prey” when they are clearly not recognizable as such and the fact that this is the first time as we saw in issue #1 when Dinah assembled them for the first time that this group has ever worked together. I think Thompson is the only person who upon first seeing this group together would say it’s the Birds of Prey. It’s funny in a meta-way and sort of stupid within the story itself.
The first third of this issue is a battle between Dinah’s faction and Diana’s faction and narratively it’s tedious and boring. This is mainly due to the fact that it is completely nonsensical for Dinah and Diana to be fighting against each other. If anything a quick message from Black Canary to Wonder Woman would’ve made all this unnecessary. Essentially, if Thompson had written the characters instead of trying to fit characters into a story she wanted to tell, the first three issues wouldn’t have been necessary to get the plot to where it ends up by the end of issue #4.
As mentioned in the review for last issue, the reasoning for not contacting Diana directly is confounding. What was stated in issue #1 does not seem to line up with what’s presented in issue #3, and ultimately Birds of Prey #4 still doesn’t clarify things. It’s certainly possibly that editorial didn’t communicate things clearly to Kelly Thompson about the events in Diana’s own title. It’s a real mess over there, so that’s somewhat understandable. What’s not understandable is why Dinah didn’t just reach out to Diana and ask for help? Oliver was right there in D.C. with her and could’ve said something. It’s makes no sense and seems only to be there because Thompson wanted to construct a conflict that was not naturally occurring. It’s so poorly developed that it really does make the first three issues superfluous and a complete waste of time.
Had Dinah made attempts to contact Diana, but was unable to reach her that would’ve provided a reasonable situation which required Dinah to act. Had she gone in looking to talk instead of fight and be secretive, that would’ve fit with the fact that these characters have a longstanding friendly relationship. There’s no reason to think that Diana wouldn’t listen to Dinah, even if the United States military is waging war on Themiscyra at Tom King’s behest.
The mystical nature of the big bad revealed in the final few pages of Birds of Prey #4, push the genre further away from what one expects in a Birds of Prey comic. It also makes some aspects of Thompson’s line up feel contrived. Gee, sure glad Barda’s there when the “mega rod” is of Apokoliptian origin. Zealot seems like she may be of use … but, I still don’t know anything about her, Thompson hasn’t developed her much. At one point she says she hates this mission, and I have to agree with her. That reveal of Megaera certainly appears to be be a job for Wonder Woman. However, Harley the Wild Card will probably be able to bash her with her mallet in order to save the day. I don’t know….
If you’ve spent money on issues #1-3, you may feel really cheated with the plot developments in Birds of Prey #4. It not only exacerbates the lack of reasoning on Dinah’s part in not even attempting to contact Diana for help, it just becomes clear that Thompson literally lost the plot for this arc in the very beginning. Things just don’t make sense from a character standpoint, and there are just too many things that just are because Thompson wants them that way instead of them making logical sense based on character and the known world of the DC Universe.