Moment of truth: I picked this book up only for the pretty pictures. After a false start on the last volume of "Birds of Prey," Jesus Saiz disappeared into the ether, a case almost worthy of being used as a plot within the pages of a suspense/action/mystery comic. Serendipitously, this comic showed up in the previews for a new DC Universe as a nice suspense/action/mystery comic, bearing the title "Birds of Prey" and showcasing the artwork of one Jesus Saiz. Sold, says I.
Duane Swierczynski isn't a slouch when it comes to the writing side of things either. I recall enjoying his work on Marvel's "Black Widow" from a few years (or less?) back. Granted, there are some mighty big bird shoes to fill in the history of "Birds of Prey," but this is a new "Birds" for a new you, or something like that.
At any rate, I set my expectations on "medium" and did some things around the house before reading this book. Boy, howdy, was it worth the wait. Swierczynski introduces us to both Black Canary and Starling - a pair of ass-kicking, name-taking ladies with an overly fussy sense of fashion and a knack for finding trouble. Swierczynski wraps the duo's debut in a mystery that is on the forefront of Black Canary's mind, and he puts her thoughts to work telling us the story. Carlos M. Mangual does a great job matching the lettering vibe I picked up when reading "Batman" this week, so besides both books being set in Gotham, there is a sense of connection between the two (or more, I haven't read all of the new Batbooks yet).
Jesus Saiz is every bit the awesome artist I've always felt he was, and in this issue he gets a chance to show us all just how awesome he is all over again. Saiz is photorealistic without being a tracer. He draws lovely ladies without slutting them up or overly endowing them. He draws backgrounds with great detail, but knows when no backgrounds whatsoever are required. In short, Saiz does it all, and does it all fabulously. The worst (worst if you have even an inkling of ever wanting to draw comics, but best if you simply love reading them) part of it all is that Saiz makes it all look so easy. He draws cars crashing through churches with the same passion and level of detail as he does a young lady getting sassy in a diner. Through it all, Nei Ruffino's colors are perfectly matched to the artwork and just seem to melt into Saiz's art. The two of them should be forevermore linked on all creative endeavors.
There are only four named characters in this issue, but four's enough of a flock to get this story started, and with this creative team plugging along, I'm looking forward to more. Saiz's art got me in, Swierczynski's story held my interest, but most importantly raised my eyebrows and had me exasperated at the end of this issue. I haven't read all of the new fifty-two yet (thirteen of them are still due to come out next week and my Time Bubble's got a flat) but the ones I have read have all tried to deliver a cliffhanger. This issue delivers a cliffhanger, and it is darn close to one of the best (easy, I typed "one of the best," not "THE best") I've seen from the whole initiative.
This book might be a borderline pick-up for you (if it didn't have Saiz, it wouldn't have been for me) but do yourself a great big favor, check it out. It's these lower profile titles that are going to need the boost later, so you may as well start right now, right here. After all, this is the only book with Saiz and Ruffino on art.