Review: Birds of Prey: Metropolis or Dust trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sean McKeever accomplishes a near-perfect changeover from previous Birds of Prey writer Gail Simone in Birds of Prey: Metropolis or Dust. I haven't found much to like in McKeever's recent work on Teen Titans, taking over from Geoff Johns, but whereas I felt McKeever's Titans dipped in story and characterization, McKeever preserves the humor and atmosphere of Simone's Birds of Prey.

Much of Metropolis or Dust sees the new Birds (now consolidated to Huntress, Lady Blackhawk, Misfit, and Oracle) split on separate, unrelated-but-thematically-tied missions, which start and conclude together. This, to begin with, evokes such Simone Birds of Prey stories as Between Dark and Dawn and Perfect Pitch, where at least one storyline emphasizes more a Bird finding herself than punching bad guys (though there's that, too).

McKeever makes the interesting choice to de-emphasize the star players Huntress and the Lady Blackhawk Zinda over Misfit, sending the former to investigate a bit of Zinda's Golden Age history. There's little lasting that comes out of this story, but it's fun to see McKeever explore more of Zinda's character, and also to deepen the friendship between Huntress and Lady Blackhawk in the absence of former-Bird Black Canary. I did feel that Huntress deferred perhaps a bit too much to Zinda, even given the Blackhawk's Golden Age battles, but McKeever certainly gets things right in the relationship between the two characters.

In the other story, McKeever offers the long-awaited team-up and fight between the unstable young Bird Misfit (is that Junior Birdwoman?) and the equally unstable teen goth magician Black Alice. I have, at times, not terribly liked either of these characters, but in combining them (and in the story of Misfit's guilt over having possibly killed a villain) McKeever presents such wonderfully disturbed individuals that one can't help both smile and sympathize.

We also find Oracle Barbaraa Gordon in the role of reluctant den mother to the two teens. It's not the first time Barbara's done this, having taken the second Batgirl Cassandra Cain under her proverbial wing. But whereas strategy and fighting were second-nature to Batgirl, and it was only literacy that former-librarian Barbara had to teach her, teaching even manners to Misfit fills Oracle with frustration. There aren't many more issues to Birds of Prey, we know, but were the series to go on I'd have been curious to see how this relationship evolved (akin, now that I think of it, to the Oracle/Black Canary relationship in the Birds of Prey television show).

Of course, as much as I liked McKeever's stories here, he's only the writer for this one volume, giving way to two more volumes by Tony Bedard before the series end. Keep reading; we'll let you know how those hold up before too long.

[Contains full covers, profile paragraphs]

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1 comment:

  1. Off-topic, but I just got my copy of Batman R.I.P. (yay!) in the mail today. I still haven't really read it, but it starts off with the short story from DC Universe #0. Which I guess answers the question of how DCU #0 would be collected.

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