When Christy Marx first took over the writing reins of “Birds of Prey” a few months ago, it felt like a smooth transition. Now that it’s a bit into her run, “Birds of Prey” #22 feels uneven and all over the place. Part of it may have to do with needing to tie into two other titles (as well Romano Molenaar and Jonathan Glapion being joined by three other artists this month) but it’s definitely not one of the book’s finer issues.
I do sympathize with Marx needing to have her stories connect with events in “Batgirl” as well as a crossover with “Talon.” Nonetheless, the way in which “Birds of Prey” #22 does so feels clumsy. The events of the crossover with “Talon” appear to have been hand-waved away in a fashion where it’s essential to read “Talon” #9. The “Batgirl” part feels even more abrupt, with Batgirl suddenly roaring off in mid-story, then coming back seven pages later an emotional wreck with her own comic’s events taken care of. It feels like something that should have happened between issues rather than between panels, and it ends up calling attention to itself in a way that makes “Birds of Prey” feel less and less like a fulfilling read in its own right as a result.
However, with those elements gone, “Birds of Prey” #22 might have had a slightly stronger go of things. The idea of Black Canary still feeling betrayed by Starling’s departure affecting her reaction to Condor’s suddenly revealed past isn’t bad, and given a little more room to breathe, it could have worked. Instead, it’s so rushed and perfunctory that it just ends up a bit of a jumble. Add in a generic group of villains to attack — none of them stand out in any way whatsoever — and it’s all a bit of a dull buzz. Hopefully the continuation next month (with all these other titles once more at arm’s length) can smooth things out and bring a stronger script.
It probably doesn’t help that Molenaar and Glapion are also joined by Robson Rocha and Sandu Florea providing art for part of the book (plus Scott McDaniel providing breakdowns for the entire comic). The shift between artists isn’t too bad — there are some certain similarities between Molenaar and Rocha — but neither artist is quite at the top of their game this month. All the pages come across a little rough and cluttered, and there’s a visually boring nature to this comic. (I’m willing to chalk at least part of that up to being set primarily in a big warehouse.)
“Birds of Prey” is a normally enjoyable comic, but this feels like a large stumble. I’m willing to give Marx and Molenaar a chance to pull everything back together, but at the moment, readers should watch and wait with a slightly more critical eye.