The return of "Birds of Prey" certainly got a lot of fans talking, with its constant fake-outs and surprises to keep readers guessing. This month brings readers the first half of a two-part follow-up story ("Aftershock") that looks to deal with the previous four issues and move the book forward.
With that in mind, though, I have to say that this month "Birds of Prey" feels unusually rushed. The title jumps all over the place, from Gotham alleys to hospitals to new headquarters to Bangkok. I don't mind a fast-moving comic, but this feels slightly too fast; it gives a sense of fracture with the characters in the title, thanks to remarkably little interaction from one team member to the next. As it is, the team itself barely seems to be even that, with Huntress and Lady Blackhawk feeling more like two people out on their own than part of a larger group. Hawk and Dove feel so far removed from the title at this point that it's hard to keep from wondering if they're being written out.
As for the story itself, it's not bad but none of the elements are on the page long enough to fully register. I'd have been happy with twice as many pages getting Huntress and Lady Blackhawk to Bangkok, or a bit more on new members Hawk and Dove. Right now it's not bad, but considering it's a direct follow-up to the previous story it's surprising how quickly parts (like the Penguin) are brushed under the rug.
It doesn’t help that the pencils by Alvin Lee and Adriana Melo come across a little erratic and rushed-looking. I've seen better art from both artists (Melo, in particular) and this isn't an issue to write home about. Characters regularly look shapeless and off-kilter, and the fight scene with Huntress going after hoodlums in an alleyway feels wildly out of proportion. And the less said about the pages in the hospital, which look to be from an entirely different book, the better. Visually, it's more of a jumble than the pace of the story.
I've enjoyed "Birds of Prey" up until now, but at a point where I think the book could benefit from slowing down a tiny bit and letting the readers relax, it seems to have done the exact opposite. Considering this two-part story seems to be trying to set up the new status quo for the title, I'd be happier with a slightly less frantic pace.