Duane Swierczynski was the original writer for the re-launched “Birds of Prey,” and after a year and a half his time on the title wraps up with issue #17. That’s a real shame; nothing against incoming writer Christy Marx (whose work on “Sword of Sorcery” I enjoy), but Swierczynski and artist Romano Molenaar had been turning out a consistently fun title these past few months.
Swierczynski wraps up the current story, with the team fighting off Basilisk forces even as they adjust to new members Condor and Strix, and it works well enough even though it feels a little rushed in places. The Black Canary and Strix confrontation feels like it might’ve originally had some more room to breathe and happen organically, most notably, but instead it’s all pushed to the forefront as Black Canary finally admits her suspicions to another team member. But it’s a minor rough patch in an otherwise solid comic; all characters get their turn in the spotlight, and Swierczynski clearly had in mind a new status quo for the book now that Poison Ivy and Katana have both departed over the past six months.
If you’d been hoping for resolution on two bigger storylines, you might be sorely disappointed as they’re left dangling for Marx to pick up and do with as she wishes. It’s a bittersweet decision; you’ll want to have seen what Swierczynski had in mind for the story elements involving Starling and Kurt Lance had been, but at the same time it’s almost refreshing that Swierczynski doesn’t try to cram them into this issue as well. It would have been difficult to juggling that many resolutions in just 20 pages, and Swierczynski wisely acknowledges them in this issue before gently setting them aside.
I’m enjoying Molenaar and Vicente Cifuentes’s collaboration more and more each month, so it’s nice that they’re sticking around. Molenaar’s pencils are starting to remind me of Barry Kitson’s, with full and rounded faces and thick hair, with just little hints of tight detail around the fringes. It’s a great art style for “Birds of Prey,” managing to both be old school superhero storytelling without actually feeling old. The characters are lively and move well across the page, and moments like Strix feel energetic rather than stiff or posed.
“Birds of Prey” #17 isn’t the absolute best issue from Swierczynski and Molenaar, but it’s still a good, enjoyable comic just like they got us used to. If it hadn’t been Swierczynski’s swan song, I suspect the frustrations probably wouldn’t have even been present. Hopefully Marx can fill those shoes, but until then, it’s been a fun ride.