I won’t lie; when I heard that Travel Foreman was moving over to “Birds of Prey” from “Animal Man,” I was a little disappointed. Jesus Saiz had been a great match for Duane Swierczynski’s scripts and after his “Animal Man” run, it was hard to imagine Foreman’s angular style fitting this new title. Now that “Birds of Prey” #9 is here, it’s nice to be proven wrong; Foreman and Swierczynski are proving to be a strong match here.
It probably helps that Swierczynski has written a strange, slightly off-beat script for this issue. Swierczynski is writing a tie-in to the “Night of the Owls” event and having a villain who views the world through an 1847 filter is a great way to have Foreman’s intricate, delicate art arrive in “Birds of Prey.” When the Talon is attacked by Black Canary’s sonic scream early on, the tattered flaps of his outfit blasting back through the air looks wonderful, like a scarecrow come to life; and with his lunge forward a moment later, the light glinting off of the goggles and buttons of the Talon costume, it hit me for the first time what a curiously old-fashioned design the Talons have and how it took Foreman’s art to bring that to life.
Swierczynski and Foreman have had fun with the Talon’s view of the cast of “Birds of Prey” here; their similar-yet-different depictions in the Talon’s brain are a riot, even as they’re all carefully constructed. From Black Canary’s military costume to Katana’s Japanese demon visage, they’re all instantly recognizable but still wildly out of place. It also serves as a good bridge for Foreman’s takes on the cast in the present day; for the most part they’re the same, but Katana’s mask and skin tone seem slightly more sinister, while Poison Ivy seems a little more disheveled (but hopefully that just has to do with the earlier encounter with the Talon).
I appreciated that for a relatively low-powered group, the cast of “Birds of Prey” doesn’t have an easy time taking down a Talon. You know that somehow they’ll win (after all, the book is continuing next month) but it’s much more of a struggle than other characters might have had. It’s a nice little touch from Swierczynski, who isn’t afraid to rough up his cast if it means a more believable and interesting story. He also blends the Talon’s appearance this month into the overall story for “Birds of Prey,” so that it didn’t feel like a massive diversion for one month. Foreman’s art overall looks good — in some ways a little better than his work on “Animal Man” — but like that last assignment, there are a few pages that feel a little rushed (most notably the flashback to how their skirmish with the Talon first began) and compacted, but once you get past those moments it’s attractive.
“Birds of Prey” feels like it’s in good hands with Swierczynski being joined by Foreman; this is a book that’s continued to be fun month after month since the re-launch, with a spark that was missing from the title for a while. I’ll miss Saiz’s depictions of the characters, but I’ll be sticking around and pleased with this revised creative team.