After seven consecutive very good Birds of Prey graphic novels written by Gail Simone it’s a shock to discover Tony Bedard credited as the writer of Club Kids.

It’s not that his approach is vastly different, but via almost every marker he falls slightly short of what’s gone before. The plots work, but there are fewer surprises. The characterisation’s okay, but doesn’t always ring true as previously, with an opening chapter conversation between Oracle and Black Canary about whether or not the latter should marry Green Arrow despite past indiscretions not convincing as it should.

That conversation is also indicative of a larger problem with Club Kids. The wider DC Universe is shoehorned in at every opportunity, yet elements mentioned see no conclusion here. Early in the book Big Barda is alive and healthy, yet skip a chapter and the cast are attending her funeral. The question of Black Canary’s possible marriage doesn’t occur again, and members of the Secret Six, seen in Dead of Winter, return, then disappear.

Bedard skims around the cast, with each chapter in effect spotlighting a single character. The best of them is when he picks up on the Calculator’s obsession to discover who Oracle is, when a confrontation at an odd, yet suitable locale plays out in satisfying fashion. Misfit’s solo is bizarre, with a bunch of characters whose names are similar to those of Darkseid and cronies, but with absolutely no explanation. Far better is Oracle running through why assorted other women at DC didn’t join Birds of Prey, but that only occupies a few pages.

Artistically, there’s a tone set by Nicola Scott’s attractive superhero style occupying most of the book, with Jason Orfalas not quite matching it, but no slouch either. David Cole has the talent, but works in an awkward mix of cartooning and naturalism that ends up as neither fish nor fowl, and there’s some wonky anatomy.

Club Kids is okay, but no more, and Birds of Prey had been so much better. The series continues with Metropolis or Dust.