I’ll say right off the bat that I’m pleased at how quickly Gail Simone has reassembled her team of characters in “Birds of Prey.” With two new additions (Hawk and Dove), it’s something that could’ve easily been stretched out over four or six issues, but instead we’re barely a third of the way into the issue before they’re all together. It’s good, because now that it’s out of the way, Simone can fully concentrate on setting up the remaining two issues of this opening story arc.
In many ways, “Birds of Prey” #2 is nothing more than a mixture of fight scene and setting up future chapters, but I’m all right with that. As this issue progresses, it’s a series of moments where the characters react to the situation that’s being rapidly stacked against them, and if there’s one thing that Simone is great at, it’s having a series of bad situations get even worse. And then, just when things are starting to look at their lowest, we get to a pivot point where things turn on their heads, and we’re promised a shift from reacting to acting. It’s a well-thought out halfway mark to the story, and it’s what will keep readers coming back for the other two chapters.
As for the earlier mentioned additions of Hawk and Dove, at a glance they seem to be fitting in well with the rest of the characters. I’ve noticed that both here and in “Brightest Day” they’re now being referred to as avatars of War and Peace (instead of the old Chaos and Order), but it’s a take on the characters that I think fits well and makes sense. They balance each other out well on the team, each going to an opposite end of the scale and bringing something new to the group that wasn’t present before. That’s the most you can ask for in a team book, really.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t crazy about Ed Benes’ art on “Justice League of America,” but it oddly works much better here. There’s a lot of energy in his pages (as well as Adriana Melo, who steps in to assist this month), and while the musculature of the characters is typically over the top (at least Hawk’s amazing abs can be explained by his transformation into his super-powered form), I found myself not minding. Melo’s welcome back any time she wants, of course; she’s worked well with Simone in the past (why don’t we have a collection of “Rose and Thorn”?) and she brings a nice polish to her pencils that I admittedly prefer over Benes’ deliberately ragged look.
If I have one complaint, it’s that if I never saw another “the world is now against these heroes that up until now they always liked” story, I would be pleased. I have faith that Simone will turn this into a satisfying story with a strong conclusion, but until then that part of these issues is like a nagging rough edge that just won’t go away. Still, overall it’s a welcome return for “Birds of Prey,” and a good reminder of why Simone is so strongly associated with the title. Good stuff.