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Birds of Prey #9
DC Comics

Comic Books

‘Birds of Prey’ #9 continues its path along a rocky road

Birds of Prey continues to struggle to find its footing.

On paper, Birds of Prey #9 is the perfect comic book: Kelly Thompson writing it, Jonathan Case on art, and a Birds of Prey team that consists of Black Canary, Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl, Oracle, Vixen, Sin Lance, and Big Barda. This has all the makings to be one of the great Birds of Prey stories and teams of all time, putting some really promising threads in place. And yet, the book once again fails to patch them together in any meaningful way.

Maybe that’s the most upsetting thing about Birds of Prey: it lacks purpose. I don’t know what the point of this book is any more than the characters in it do and Thompson’s writing, which is usually excellent, has really failed to find its footing in this book. I don’t really know how to articulate the events of this book beyond comparing it to that Powerpuff Girls episode where the girls move so fast they enter an alternate dimension where Townsville is just extremely dark and run by HIM. Only this time, Barbara Gordon falls into a portal and the Birds go after her and enter a darker Gotham that Babs’ mind created for…some reason? I don’t know. I don’t know any more than I know why Zealot was hanging out with Oliver Queen in the first place when Maps Mizoguchi went to tell them about the portal. I don’t know any more than I know why Maps Mizoguchi is here and so pivotal to this book. I don’t know – and I don’t think this book knows, either.

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'Birds of Prey' #9 continues its path along a rocky road

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Everyone’s voices just seem off and that comedic edge worked great for Thompson’s work in the likes of Hawkeye and West Coast Avengers, but here it feels out of place. Captain Marvel did a great job balancing this comedic edge and of-the-moment type humor with the gravitas of the plot, but Birds of Prey can’t seem to strike that same balance. It’s like a whole lot of nothing dialogue to fill the pages at times, like Sin Lance and her demon that functions like a symbiote and has the temperament of a Gen Z high school student. Everything about that character and the tone this duo have feel so incredibly out of place in this book. Barda too becomes more for one-liners than anything of substance nine issues in.

Calling Barbara Oracle is also misleading – I should have called her Batgirl in that opening paragraph since it’s clear that’s the role this book wants her to take. Kelly Thompson is not responsible for the mandate that is clearly in place to keep Barbara as Batgirl, a mandate that should have never happened in the first place, but she is responsible for the choices she makes with this character in her own book. And the truth is, Barbara was Oracle for less than one issue – the moment she was seen, she was Batgirl. Next time we saw her she was Oracle, but only for a moment because the next scene demanded Barbara be standing up and walking side by side with Dinah to talk to Mari. Then, Barbara is Oracle for a split second again before she suits up as Batgirl and enters the fight just to end up sucked into a portal and lead us into this issue. I would love to see Kelly Thompson give Oracle more panel time as Oracle in the future, not for it to feel like Oracle is just a placeholder for her “real” identity, Batgirl. Thompson still has time to surprise me since this does seem like a storyline that is very Barbara-focused, but I’m just not impressed right now. Arguably the biggest problem with Barbara is that she seems like she’s here to move the plot more than to actually participate in it.

Is it too much to ask for writers to actually prioritize Oracle scenes when they lead us to believe Oracle is in a book? Is it too much to ask to want to see her in her wheelchair? Is it too much to ask DC to pretend to care about was promised to us? We were told Barbara would dual wield her identities as Batgirl and Oracle, feeding us crumbs after the years of erasure her Oracle role and disability status had and as it turns out, all we have gotten are crumbs. The truth is, DC just can’t seem to wait to remind us “Barabra Gordon walks! She isn’t a wheelchair user anymore! Don’t get too comfy with this!” because the minute Oracle is in a book, she needs to be seen as Batgirl or up and standing in the same book to remind us that the status quo is not disability friendly. And for this section, make no mistake, I said DC for a reason – because these problems go beyond writers when they are symptomatic of a company-wide problem from company mandates.

While the plot of this book leaves a lot to be desired for me, Johnathan Case on art is fabulous from start to finish. This volume of Birds of Prey has consistently had great artists and like Romero before him, Case’s art offers the clean visuals this story needs. For a nightmare town-type scenario, Case really manages to paint the picture well. The town itself really visually fits the bill and the horror elements like the bat creature “Barbara” turns into really feel like they are perfectly depicting what this story needs them to.

Birds of Prey continues to struggle to find its footing, never quite recovering from its rocky start, but I still maintain hope that Kelly Thompson will be able to surprise me with how she brings it together.

Birds of Prey #9
‘Birds of Prey’ #9 continues its path along a rocky road
Birds of Prey #9
Birds of Prey continues to struggle to find its footing, never quite recovering from its rocky start, but I still maintain hope that Kelly Thompson will be able to surprise me with how she brings it together.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Case's art is great visual storytelling
The colors are muted and perfectly give off the vibe this story/setting requires
This story still lacks purpose
Barbara's role in this book has been disappointing to say the least
6
Average
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