Review: Birds of Prey #5
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Art and Colors: Arist Deyn
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Sin and Dinah come face to face with Megaera and have a tense discussion…while the rest of the players try and hold off the Megaera controlled Amazons.
The standout aspect of this issue is the tension that Kelly Thompson creates as Sin and Dinah attempt to talk their way out of Megaera’s belly. They are literally inside Megaera and there’s a long discussion about Megaera’s motivations, Sin’s feelings of uselessness and Dinah’s possible solutions. This doesn’t sound all that interesting as described, but the story itself manages to build the tension between the opposing sides. Some of it is a bit cliched, but overall this aspect works quite well.
We don’t have Leonardo Romero on art for Birds of Prey #5, and yet Arist Deyn does some interesting things, especially with the color. There’s some solid dynamic design and textural nuances that stand out.
Wonder Woman is controlled by Megaera by the end of the issue and it becomes clear this should’ve been the approach from the beginning. All the nonsense about what’s going on in her book while seeming to address the larger world of the DC Universe just felt misunderstood in these pages. Just having Diana mind controlled works as a much better reason for Diana fighting against Dinah and Co.
The obvious negatives are that Harley is still alive. She brings nothing to the book, and even when it seems like she’s supposed to it just feels contrived. Thompson wants Zealot to seem really cool, but she’s too much of an unknown quantity to give her subplot any sort of weight. There’s something going on beneath the surface with her, but there’s too much going on in the story for it to be anything more than surface level. It’s not going anywhere. Playing the long game is fine, but there has to be more than one breadcrumb to provide a trail to follow.
Arist Deyn while bringing some interesting aspect is a huge stylistic shift from Leonardo Romero. It’s a shame Romero couldn’t be present to provide a consistent look for this chapter. Deyn’s approach to figures doesn’t fit the genre, unfortunately. Leonardo Romero is missed, but personal preference will determine how much you enjoy the visuals in Birds of Prey #5. However, Deyn’s work does fit the particular magical aspects of this issue.
While there is a good building of tension in the conflict in this issue, Megaera’s choosing of Sin feels a little out of nowhere. It’s a pretty weak reason for her to be chosen. That’s to say not that Sin’s feelings of inadequacy are not real problems that could provide some interesting storytelling, but it’s such a common thing that it doesn’t make Megaera’s choice of Sin particularly special. There should be something deeper or more unique at play for Megaera to choose her to posses.
Additionally, Sin’s been out of the picture for a while and it’s weird that Dinah seemed to have forgotten about her until she was going to be “chosen”. For Sin to have had these feelings and the lonely life she is shown to have there needed to be more set up. When did Sin go to Themiscyra? Has this been addressed and it’s just not memorable? There’s something missing that would complete this aspect of the plot and give it a stronger overall foundation from a narrative perspective. There’s something off about Dinah as well, but it’s clear that it’s there just so Harley can be the wild card and provide something useful though contrived to the story.
Overall, Birds of Prey #5 is a better issue than #4. It may not seem like it when breaking down the details, but there’s a stronger through line with the plot and the conflict building. This is still not a Birds of Prey comic by any stretch of the imagination despite the title. If anything, with Megaera it would be more at home as a Wonder Woman or Zatanna story, or perhaps Justice League Dark or Madame Xanadu. The mystical/ godlike elements would be more in keeping with those characters/ concepts than Birds of Prey. It would also lend itself well to Zealot’s suggested subplot. If Dinah knew it was going to be this type of conflict instead of Harley, Barda and Cassandra, she should’ve chosen Zatanna, Constantine and Madame Xanadu…and maybe Dr. Fate! It’s sort of like she took a knife to a gunfight.