Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz's "Birds of Prey" has been a smart mix of superhero and crime comics with a lot of moving pieces and solid character development. Issue #8 continues that tradition and delivers an intriguing piece of the Birds' story as we head into "Night of Owls" crossover territory next month.
Swierczynski has proven in his "Birds of Prey" run that he likes to jump around in time, but he does it so cleverly in this issue, it's hard to fault him for using what works. His reveals pace out nicely and at the end of this issue we get a peek at Dinah's big secret that he's been teasing us with since issue #1.
One of the greatest surprises of "Birds of Prey" has been both Swierczynski and Saiz's take on Poison Ivy and it's a loss she's not in this issue, though they have brought in Batgirl to compensate. It says a lot about the work they've done however, that I find myself preferring Ivy to Batgirl. In fact, "Birds of Prey" is easily the standout female title at DC, full of interesting and layered female leads, the book has managed to find that sweet spot between action and character building that only the best books manage.
The art by Jesus Saiz is for the most part lovely, action-packed and exciting, but occasionally Pina's finishes feel a bit stiff. It's a subtle but important difference in a book that is otherwise exceptional. Beyond some occasional stiffness, however, there can really be no complaints on the art front. Saiz's birds are beautiful and deadly, brilliant fighters who nevertheless feel like real people. Some of Saiz's scenes toward the end, like Katana going down an elevator shaft with a villain and the birds outrunning an explosion are outright phenomenal. June Chung's colors have a lovely superhero pop and energy.
"Birds of Prey" has consistently been one of the best and most surprising books of the re-launch with lovely art, smart storytelling and good character development including the introduction of a brand new character in Starling. As a reader, I worry about it getting swallowed up in the "Night of Owls" crossover, but mostly I hope that it helps get the word out to other readers about what a strong and intelligent book this is. It absolutely deserves a bigger following.