Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz deliver another top-notch issue in a very engaging, entertaining and well crafted run on "Birds of Prey." This month we are delivered a handful of brilliant action- and character-based moments in a title that continues to be one of the best within the DCU on a multitude of levels.
The opening sequence shows our heroines under siege from mind-controlled patsies with two gorgeously constructed and executed pages. The conflict of operational procedures between Black Canary and former villainess Poison Ivy yields a quick, but wonderfully metered and layered showdown. This tussle works its way onto the credits page -- one of my favorite moments of the week -- as Canary kicks and rocks one hell of a right fist and Ivy’s rebuttal comes in the background of the final panel. It would be funny if it weren’t so damn serious. This is how you do action and character at the same time.
While the beginning was a huge strength of "Birds of Prey" #7, there's a rather annoying moment later on. If your villain is causing problems purely by speaking -- and I mean real issues stemming from his verbal abilities -- then you need to gag the guy or ensure he can’t speak. You don’t prop him up and ask him to chat and then wonder why he’s using his words against you. This is a major structural problem and yet, after reading the rest of the issue, it is forgiven for the way it resolves. Swierczynski throws a major curveball that will actually draw an exclamation from your mouth. Moments like these are exactly why people turn to comics; the page turn is used perfectly here.
Jesus Saiz makes this comic and everything in it feel grounded in reality with action that rarely feels over the top or sensationalistic. When Saiz has something happen with violence, you actually feel it. As a result, emotions and connections show easily when the characters interact. The art is a very large reason why the tone of the book succeeds so well. The colors from June Chung highlight all the high points in this issue effectively.
"Birds of Prey" is a triple-threat of a delightful superhero book, a very cool crime story and a fantastic exploration of character. The variety of female characters and their motivations, actions, connections and expectations brings a little something for everyone. Black Canary might be placed into the straight-laced role but here she gets some great room to breathe. Once you pick a favorite character, you have multiple reasons to delight at the narrative and gasp at the shocks. I cannot think of one reason not to add this title to your monthly stack.