22 April 2013

Faster than a DC Bullet: Birds of Prey, Part XIII: Platinum Flats

Comic trade paperback, 137 pages
Published 2009 (contents: 2008-09)
Borrowed from the library
Read March 2013
Birds of Prey: Platinum Flats

Writer: Tony Bedard
Pencillers: Michael O'Hare, Nicola Scott, Claude St. Aubin
Inkers: John Floyd, Doug Hazlewood
Letterers: Sal Cipriano, Jared K. Fletcher, Pat Brosseau, Travis Lanham, Swands

Tony Bedard, writer of Club Kids, returns to Birds of Prey with this volume, and though his approach is more plot-driven and less character-focused than his last time out, he still demonstrates that he understands the characters of the Birds of Prey and sets up some strong scenarios for them. As this book opens, the Birds have just relocated to Platinum Flats, the Silicon Valley of the DC Universe, and it's a decent setting, fitting enough for Oracle, and indicative of a new direction the book will never get to carry out, as this is its last volume (in this incarnation). There are some definite cool parts to it, especially the potential of Misfit attending a high school where the Huntress is a teacher, that's a shame will never go anywhere.

The main plot of the book, picking up from what was set up in Metropolis or Dust, initially concerns the evil tech syndicate at the heart of Platinum Flats, but this is soon derailed by the arrival of the Joker. The tech folks are good villains in and of themselves, especially the half-dead Gizmo, and Bedard has done some good work with the Calculator, but the arrival of the Joker is what makes the book-- it's the first real rematch between Barbara and the Joker since the legendary events of The Killing Joke. Physically inferior to the Joker, Barbara has to rely on her wits and her determination in fighting him, and she shows what an awesome character she's become since she stopped being Batgirl in the course of this showdown-- especially its end, which is fantastic.

Also: I love Carface. Shame this guy never became a recurring villain.

Misfit is as fun as always in this volume-- I love it when she shows up with Huntress's bike-- and the appearance of Dinah was a little gratuitous, but welcome. On the other hand. Manhunter continues to feel like she's only on the periphery of this team, and Infinity is just kinda there.

The first issue here is, alas, the last of long-running art team Nicola Scott and Doug Hazlewood, who have definitely been the best to grace this title. No one draws Huntress quite so well, I think. But Michael O'Hare and Claude St. Aubin are both able replacements-- a little sketchier in style, but still quite good.

I don't really understand why Birds of Prey had to end, but if it did, this is a good way to go out.

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