Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch Is The Erratic Volume That Straddles Infinite Crisis!

The Good: Cool initial story, Good characters, Moments of dialogue
The Bad: Erratic artwork, Unsettling post-52 portion.
The Basics: Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch is worth reading, but still tough for me to recommend buying.

Even as my Flash Year progresses, I have been enjoying reading more and more often of late, which means that I have the chance to take in a lot of new-to-me books. The last few weeks, that has taken the form of Birds Of Prey, which I started largely because I like the works of Gail Simone. So far, I’ve read and reviewed Between Dark & Dawn (here!) and my second outing with the franchise was Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch. It seems that lately, I have a knack for randomly stumbling on books that break up their stories around the Infinite Crisis and 52 events. As it turns out, Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch begins before Infinite Crisis (reviewed here!) and the second half starts one year later, which puts it after the events of 52. Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch does not have as much of a reboot as some of the other books in the DC Universe.

Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch finds the Birds Of Prey team in something of a disarray and that might be why I ultimately liked the book. Unlike Between Dark & Dawn, there is little sense of camaraderie between the members of the female crime-fighting force, despite the team growing to solidly include Lady Blackhawk and the bunch moving to a whole new setting. But the missions the women are on do not involve all of them at once, so it seems more like a loose affiliation of heroes checking in on with the Oracle. That said, Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch makes decent use of the women being largely on their own and utilizes the opportunity for the heroines of the DC universe to grow.

Opening with Barbara Gordon moving her team into new offices in Metropolis, Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch quickly becomes a fractured story. With Zinda (Lady Blackhawk) adjusting to the 21rst Century, Gordon gives her plenty of things to drive. With a helicopter and plane at her disposal, Lady Blackhawk soon becomes integral to the team as a getaway driver on both land and air. Wisecracking and flirting with the “fancy” Creote, Zinda transports the team on their missions. Their mission is one that is almost inscrutable as it appears the Huntress is actually calling the shots. The Huntress decides to take down organized crime in Gotham City . . . by taking it over.

As Bertonelli lays ultimatums at the feet of Gotham’s mob families, Dinah and Oliver reunite to take out a Star City mob. Even as they awkwardly reconnect, Savant is captured by forces loyal to the Calculator who understands that the Justice League and the Birds of Prey have an asset like him that, if he can deprive them of, will shift the balance of power in favor of the Injustice Society. With Savant being tortured and Batman crashing a meeting where Barbara Gordon comes clean to her father about her secret identity, the Huntress plays her deadly endgame on crime!

Following the year without superheroes, Barbara Gordon’s team is split up. Gordon, still in Metropolis, works to have Zinda, Huntress, Lady Shiva and Gypsy rescue Crime Doctor on the hopes that he will reveal the medical records of the Injustice Society members. When the attempt to keep Crime Doctor safe fails, the team must go up against Prometheus. Dinah, during this time, has traded spots with Lady Shiva and she is brutally educated on combat in a small village . . . a village attacked by powerful warlords that Black Canary has no real chance of stopping!

Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch did not have me until surprisingly late in the book. The whole story of the Huntress taking on the Gotham mobs was interesting, but as one who is not invested in the Batman portion of the DC Universe, it seemed pretty much inconsequential to me. In fact, I had a feeling that those who were fans of Batman might be irked. While Gail Simone suddenly launches the Huntress and Birds Of Prey into a prominent position. I like the ambition, but it seems odd that the new team in town suddenly can do what Batman could not for the past fifty years.

It might seem hypocritical, then, that what I really liked about Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch was how the least likely heroes in the DC Universe take on one of the new premium villains, Prometheus, and defeat him. I actually like that Barbara Gordon figures out the way to down what appears to be a near-invincible fighter. I like it because when the character is described in Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch, there seemed to be a pretty glaring weakness in him and when the Oracle helps to exploit that weakness, it works nicely for characters who are supposed to be strong and resourceful.

Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch is a good Barbara Gordon story and I liked that. But Dinah Lance, who is one of the anchor characters of Birds Of Prey spends much of the book on a surprisingly witless quest that is not adequately explained. While Simone does a decent job of repeating the mantra of Dinah’s reasoning – she’s essentially exchanging lives with Lady Shiva – the root cause for the exchange is not satisfactorily explored or explained.

Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch is very erratic in the artwork. Literally in the middle of one of the stories, the artwork goes from looking wonderful and professional to appearing like an Animated Series version of itself with simplified, stylized artwork. It is almost like DC did not have faith in the property because Gail Simone can write, but the accompanying artwork is troublingly erratic.

That said, Birds Of Prey: Perfect Pitch is still worth picking up and does a decent job of straddling one of the many DC Universe reboots.

For other books that straddle or reboot from Infinite Crisis, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Who Is Wonder Woman?
Green Lantern: Wanted – Hal Jordan
The Flash: The Secret Of Barry Allen


For other books I have reviewed, please be sure to visit my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing.

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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