Last month's "Birds of Prey" felt like a stumble as a large group of uninteresting villains being introduced and the energy level dropping through the floor. With "Birds of Prey" #23, the hope was that Christy Marx and Romano Molenaar would up the ante, or at least present enough material with the new villains to make their introduction something more gripping. Instead, "Birds of Prey" #23 feels like it's just stalling for time.
A dream sequence in any form of media is a long and time-honored tradition. I'm not against it being used, but it needs to be utilized in a manner that is interesting to the reader as well as have a strong purpose. It's easy for it to be abused, and unfortunately, that's what happens here. It's thankfully not pointless -- Marx is using these sequences to show the cast's secret desires and wants for their lives -- but it just drags on, and on, and on. This is a comic with 20 pages of material a month, and 9 of them are devoted to dream sequences. The sad thing is that all of Marx's material could be included but in fewer pages; when Batgirl's two-page sequence only has six panels between them, there's no reason why all of that couldn't have been confined to a single page. All of these could have been half the length, easily, but no one involved seemed to think that was a good idea. Add in that the villain squad is still uninteresting (and they're the only ones awake for the first 70% of the comic), and this is a recipe for disaster. When only 6 pages of a comic actually has the cast awake and doing something, it's impossible to not look at this without seeing the creative team dragging their collective feet.
Molenaar and breakdown artist Scott McDaniel are a little bound by the amount of script they're given. I like to think that McDaniel could have easily compressed the dream sequences down into less pages, but it's not his call on what to then do with all of those extra pages, unfortunately. The art itself is just all right; it's not as smooth and clean as I'm used to from Molenaar, and there are panels in the fight scene near the end where it looks like McDaniel gave Molenaar too small a space to properly draw that image. (Most notably when Strix slashes one of the bad guys with her sword.) On the whole, it's just some very standard superhero forms, nothing to jump out at you. However, it is nice to know that even when knocked out and in some sort of induced coma, one's body will still be ripped, complete with six-pack abs.
"Birds of Prey" #23 is a second disappointing issue in a row for this series, and it's starting to make me wonder if it's worth sticking it out to see if there's a return to form. This is a title that I want to like, but at the moment it's hard to keep that optimism up. With the title not appearing in next month's "Forever Evil" villains spotlight, it's hard to keep from feeling like Marx and Molenaar have inadvertently provided a good jumping-off point for readers.