Review: Birds of Prey #1 by Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz

Birds of Prey #1

Written by: Duane Swierczynski
Art by: Jesus Saiz
Lettering by: Carlos M. Mangual
Colored by: Nei Ruffino

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99

Note 1: This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

Note 2:A close friend of mine has been suffering through cancer for the past two years. It seems he is taking a turn for the worse, so this has been a very difficult week for me. My prayers and wishes go out to his family.

I did not want to let Nexus or the readers down, so I am doing my reviews for this week, but I am not adding my usually “summaries” or images from the books. I will make every effort to get those edited into these reviews early next week. Thank you for understanding.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Birds of Prey comics. No real reason why, the book just never really grabbed me. When it crossed over with Batman or Tec I would read it, and I never read an issue that I didn’t enjoy, but it was never a series that I felt I had to buy. Even more blasphemous, I really enjoyed the woefully short-lived TV series. It was just fun mindless entertainment, and I used to watch it with my mom every week.

In fact, the only reason I bought this comic this week was because there was an opening on the review list, and there weren’t many other titles I had any interest in paying full price for this week other than Legion and DCU Presents.  This was the last book I read, almost dreading what I would find, especially with all the press this week about how terrible DC treats female characters.  I was plesantly surprised to find that this was a very good first issue.

There is a lot going on here. A reporter named Charlie Keen has been fed leads by a mysterious source leading him to a “covert ops team of criminal superhotties” (his words, not mine). His latest lead takes him to a church where Black Canary and new character Starling are fighting a group of invisible assailants. During the fight, Canary is bitten by one assailant and kissed by another. It did seem a little strange. Personally, I can’t wait to see what the zealots will say about this. WOMEN IN COMICS ARE ONLY GOOD FOR BEING BIT AND KISSED!

Speaking of that, Canary was portrayed very well. I’ve always loved Dinah when she’s sans Ollie. As much as I like Green Arrow, I often cringe when the characters are together because both seem to lose everything that makes them so great. And while we didn’t get to learn too much about Starling, she seems like she is going to be a very fun character.

Swierczynski seems to have a knack for creating strong female characters. Something that everyone seemed to ignore this week when they were ranting about Catwoman and Starfire. If you want a comic featuring strong female characters who are sexy without being over the top, look no further.

The action in this comic really set the tone perfectly. When you get to the last page, you really can’t wait to know “what happened and what comes next?” Swierczynski set a break neck pace here, and Jesus Saiz was definitely up to the challenge of bringing the action to life. I would love to see an animated short of this story done with this art style.

My only real issue with this comic was that some of the flashback scenes seemed oddly placed and unnecessary. Since Katana doesn’t even show up in the issue, the flashback showing Canary talking to Barbara Gordon about her as a possible recruit doesn’t seem to serve a purpose other than to tell us that Barbara used to be on Birds of Prey and crippled but somehow got better. Yes, that is a question readers want to know, but the setup could have been done a little more subtly and without disrupting the flow of the story.

Also, I hate when covers of a team comic that show characters that are not even in the book…in this case Katana and Poison Ivy. Kind of hard to surprise readers when you give away the store on the cover.

But those really are just minor complaints. This was probably the best Birds of Prey comic I have ever read and one of my favorite Relaunch books so far.

Final Score: 8.0 A fun cast of characters, a solid story, a great guest appearance by Barbara Gordon, and a surprise ending. Maybe not the best book of the week, but a solid contender.

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