Guest Review: Birds of Prey #15

Birds of Prey #15 Cover

Sayonara, Katana


Solicit


It’s shake-up time as the team loses one member and gains a new one!

Meanwhile, something strange is happening to Black Canary, and Starling’s not sure what to do about it. Is this a hint of darker things to come?

Preview





Review


Sayonara, Katana Original Review by Batwatch at Comic Vine


I really enjoyed the beginning of DCNU Birds of Prey, so what happened? Duane Swierczynski is the same guy who has been writing Birds from the beginning, so how did the series manage to go from pretty good to barely tolerable? I can’t answer that question, but I can say that this recent story arc has been anything but thrilling. With generic ninjas and a new menace in Condor, I can’t decide which is worse, the generic nature of the threats or the threats unexplained motivations. Does Birds of Prey #15 redeem the last two issues and make an arc worth reading, or does this story prove to be completely without honor.

In this issue, Condor does some crime fighting, Katana fights for her freedom, and the Birds mount a rescue operation.

Unsolved Mystery

There has been so much in the last two issues which has remained mysterious. What is Katana’s tie to the Daggers? Who are the Daggers and what do they want? Who is the Condor and what does he want? What has been counting down in the last several issues?

Get ready to have none of your questions answered. When the question about her past comes up towards the end of the issue, Katana says the equivalent of, “it’s a secret lol.” Glad I held on through three lackluster issues for that. What about the Daggers? Apparently, they are a suicide cult. Why are they a suicide cult? I have no idea. Who is Condor? A good guy apparently. What was counting down? A bomb, so we sort of have an answer to one question, and yet when this bomb is opened up, we see glowing junk on the inside, so what does that mean?

This issue is completely unsatisfying from a narrative standpoint.

Worst. Suicide Cult. Ever.

These oh so creatively named and pointless cult of Daggers carry a lot of daggers on them, but I would like you to take note of where they holster these daggers. Now pretend that you are going from a state of rest to a state of defending yourself with a dagger strapped in any of these positions. You will immediately notice that your arms get twisted in extremely awkward positions. I know many artists draw things to look cool, but I happen to find beauty in the utilitarian. If it looks awesome but doesn't work, it is not awesome.

The reason police officers and just about everybody else keeps weapons strapped to their hip is because it makes them easy to access. Your arms naturally dangle at about your hip so you can easily reach down and grab a gun, knife, baton, pepper spray, or any other weapon with ease. You also see people have weapons strapped so they are easy to draw across the chest, but if you look at the cultist leader’s center dagger, it is easy to see it is a horrible location for a weapon. To use it, he would have to twist his arm around, draw his dagger straight up past his face, and then twist his arm back around to get into fighting position. It’s stupid.

There are other issues with the cultists. This is the night of the cult’s suicide, yet they are wearing masks. Whatever for?

At the end of the conflict between the Birds and the cultists, Katana keeps the cult leader from giving orders to his men by holding her sword to his throat. Why does this work? Is the leader of the suicide cult afraid to die?

Artist Inconsistencies

There is a new penciler on this issue, Juan Jose Ryp, and his work is very inconsistent. On one hand, there are beautiful panels like the full page spread of Katana holding her sword that was just rescued from the smelting pot. At the other extremity, we have Black Canary’s first appearance in the issue which looks terrible.

Another artist problem is the liberal use of blood splatter. In general, there is just too much, but one scene in particular struck me as odd when Batgirl kicked two bad guys in the chest, and there was blood splatter pouring from the wounds. Did she kick through their chests? Of course not. It is just bad coloring.

The One Redeeming Quality

The one redeeming quality which has saved Birds of Prey from being truly bad of recent is the great chemistry between the characters, and that remains intact here. The girls seem to bounce off each other in a genuine way, and I've grown some attachment to all the girls which is no small task when so many series these days are constantly pushing for action focused stories.

Conclusion 6/10

I was really tempted to give this an even worse grade, but the chemistry saves it. You’ll notice I didn't put spoiler warnings on this whole review. That is because the plot of this issue is immaterial, but despite the throwaway plot, the action is enjoyable as are the character interactions. If you are a big Birds of Prey fan or you are eagerly awaiting Katana's solo title, pick this up. Everybody else should save their money.

What I Thought


See the Review Rating Overview page for more information on how I rate each comic.

Cover & Solicit - 3/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 3/5
Layout & Flow - 4/5
Story - 4/5
Verdict - 3.6


After so many great covers by Artgerm, this one is really a letdown. The artwork and layout isn't that bad but it seems more like a sketch cover with basic colors that hasn't gone thru the final processing. It just looks dull. I have really enjoyed this series and this issue is no exception. The pacing of this issue was OK, there was a point when it jumped around a little. Like Jeremy the artist change was a factor in that score. While at times it looked great there were others that just sucked. I highly recommend this series to anyone though it's been great so far and with the additional characters they add it keeps it fresh.

Purchase Birds of Prey #15 on Amazon


Jeremy Sims is a blogger at https://batwatch.squarespace.com/ and a comic book reviewer at Comic Vine. The use of this review has been authorized by the original author.

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