This issue continues the story titled “The Death of Oracle,” and it does so by making things a little more clear all the way around the table. It’s a fair testament to Simone’s talent that the first installment of this story left me scratching my head a bit, just like many of the characters in the pages of that issue, but this issue brings the plan into view a little more clearly.
Calculator’s chess match with Oracle continues here as the Birds – well most of them – find themselves face-to-face with an odd assortment of foes. Mortis, Mammoth, Current (a Bolt-wannabe who bears more than a passing resemblance to the character in the “DC Universe Online” ad inside the front cover of this issue), and a parcel of H.I.V.E. agents pose a surprising threat to the Birds. The fight lets Canary flex her battlefield leadership a bit, but doesn’t do much to play up the strengths of the other heroines. Dove, in particular, needs a boost. Her inactivity in the fight is quite unlike the character up to this point. She’s a shadow of the character Barbara and Karl Kesel developed, but this book is full of Simone’s darlings, so I’m willing to be a little more patient on Dove’s development.
Speaking of Dove, her partner, Hawk, walks off the grid, frustrating Oracle just as Hawk has always vexed his compatriots in the past. Hawk has a score to settle with Oswald Cobblepot, so he drops by the Iceberg Lounge. Cobblepot’s tirade on how his wait staff should carry themselves is entertaining and more than a little comical. This issue sets up the tussle between Hawk and Penguin, a story that should be both a visually rewarding spectacle and an entertaining tale. I just hope it has space to play out. From her use here, I’ve determined that Simone needs to deliver a Cobblepot mini, or manage a way to keep him threaded throughout this series.
Apparently Ardian Syaf was a one-and-done artist for this book. With the announcement of the Jesus Saiz as the incoming artist, and Syaf onboard last issue, I was surprised to find Guillem March handling the art chores in this issue. I’ve seen more than a few of March’s covers, but I’m not certain I’ve read too many books with his art inside. His art in this issue is more than a little influenced by Joe Kubert, as the Kubert School ad in this issue is available for comparison. March’s depiction of Penguin’s instruction and subsequent tirade is the perfect visual spectacle to mirror the emotion of Cobblepot.
While I enjoyed Syaf’s art last issue and this issue’s art is certainly solid, I’d really like to see a consistent artist cranking out the imagery on this book month in and month out. Simone’s story always delivers, but without solid art, I fear for this title’s marketability.
Ruffino’s colors are perfect for this book. The coloring sways between subdued and perky. There seems to be an equal amount of reds and oranges as there are browns and grays. Ruffino helps March out by using colors consistent with the characters. Helena is not in her Huntress garb, but she is wearing a purple and black outfit. The duo of Ruffino and March make this book a visual spectacle and the characters in play here all shine magnificently.
The series started out with a six-part tale, now it’s halfway through a four-parter, and Simone is moving her team into place for a fine run that is shaping up to define the “Birds of Prey” and their place in the DCU quite nicely.