Against all odds, I am enjoying the hell out of this comic. Between the departure of Oracle and Gail Simone from “Birds of Prey,” I never thought this book would work for me, but thanks to the sublime art of Jesus Saiz I decided to give it a try and am incredibly glad I did.
In this second issue, Dinah and Starling try to unravel the mysterious death of a reporter while fleshing out their team roster. Both Katana and Poison Ivy show up in this issue, answering Dinah’s call to join up with the Birds of Prey team. There’s something delightful, actually, about Poison Ivy (a known villain) and Katana (an unconventional hero that kills) being on this team that is a bit reminiscent of “Secret Six,” another great book that we have lost in the new DCU shuffle.
The mix here feels just right the way Duane Swierczynski is writing it, with a surprising amount of humor and a brisk appealing pace. Tonally this book is a lot of fun. It’s unafraid and a little bit ballsy, actually, in a way that I did not expect. Swierczynski has wisely limited the cast, which is allowing us time to get to know our heroes naturally while still leaving room for a reasonable plot. In fact, Starling — a completely new character — is already coming through much more clearly than many other characters in this relaunch that I should know well regardless of a reset. On the whole, Swierczynski’s writing feels effortless and smooth and seems weighted down by nothing, which is impressive considering the politics that have surrounded this book after being retooled after such a short time.
The real star is Jesus Saiz’s art, which shines through on every page. This issue, with colors by Allan Passalaqua, looks even better than the first issue; Saiz and Swierczynski’s gorgeous women command every page and panel. This is exactly the way a good book about female characters should look if it’s genuinely interested in women readers as well as men: beautiful and sexy but without the absurd posing, costumes, or aggressive male gaze present in so many books. Additionally, while it’s great to have a woman of color finally in “Birds of Prey,” it’s even better to have an artist in Saiz that can actually draw a woman of color. Beyond the depiction of characters, the art is fluid and excellently paced. It’s wonderfully consistent throughout and treats both characters and backgrounds with the same necessary attention. The visuals on this book are nearly perfect and my only concern is that Saiz can maintain this level of quality.
These birds are the incredibly sexy, capable, powerful, layered, and interesting female characters I’m always looking for in comics. I’m excited to see them gathered here together into what’s promising to be a great fun book.