“Birds of Prey” finally slows down to something just below breakneck pace as The Huntress and Catman team up to rescue a hostage from a robbery gone awry.
In this standalone “Birds of Prey” tale, Gail Simone focuses tightly on Huntress as she tries to track down the various members of a robbery attempt, and to rescue the hostage they've taken. In her travels, Huntress teams up with Catman to save the day. There's some kissing and some witty banter and, in the end, Catman makes it easy for Huntress to move on without looking back, which seems to have been the endgame he had in mind all along.
Gail Simone's writing is fresh and lively, as always, when she plays with characters she loves, characters that feel like they belong to her. But there are some strange things along the way, such as Huntress referring to Catman by his full name in front of one of the thieves, which seems unprofessional at best. I mean, Catman does actually bother with a mask, so I assume he cares at least a little about his identity, unlike a Power Girl or Superman type would. Additionally, some of the romance feels forced and odd, although it's possible given Catman's endgame that this was Simone's intention, but it doesn't read as smoothly as it should. Simone does do nice things with an otherwise straightforward story, though, turning it into something else, and then just when you've settled in, turning it into something else again.
However, I'm still left with the same feeling in this issue that I had for the previous ten, the wish that Simone would slow down and enjoy these characters and let them breathe. This whole series has felt rushed, as if Simone is trying to jam in every story and every character she's ever wanted to use. Maybe there's good reason to worry that writing this book won't last forever, since so little lasts long in comics these days. But I do wish she would slow down and smell the roses, and allow her characters to do the same. The brilliant little moments that I've come to expect in Simone's writing are getting missed.
The art here by Pere Pérez is better than it has been for the bulk of this “Birds of Prey” run, but it's still the anvil around the series neck, one that fans will hopefully be rid of with the arrival of regular artist Jesus Saiz next month. Pérez brings some much appreciated restraint to the heavy cheesecake that has plagued “Birds of Prey” thus far, but the work is still painfully inconsistent at times. Expressions are difficult to read or don't synch up with the story or dialogue at all. Some very poor angles and panel decisions only add to the chaos and lack of clarity in the storytelling.
With “Birds of Prey” #12 next month we head into a brand new arc and with an exciting new artist for the book, and hopefully a new direction. I find myself excited about the future of the book and all the possibilities Simone might unleash in her enthusiasm for these characters.