As a long-time Birds of Prey fan, I really wanted this book to be good. But since the only two writers who ever seemed to get the team right were Chuck Dixon and Gail Simone, I had my doubts. Based on the strength of this first issue, however, I may need to add Duane Swierczynski’s name to that list. Even if it is a bitch to spell!
Like the best books in the relaunch, Birds of Prey dives right into the action. The issue opens with a reporter at a church. He’s there to meet his mysterious source who has been feeding him info on the Birds of Prey. He’s investigating them as a “covert ops team run by a bunch of supercriminal hotties”. And then, someone drives a car into the church.
The driver is Starling, a new character created for the book. She immediately expresses her concern about the sin of crashing into a church. But it was necessary to protect the reporter from an unseen sniper.
Meanwhile, Black Canary is getting the drop on the would-be assassin who just happens to be invisible. Canary easily defeats the invisible assailant, but is soon attacked by more invisible armored goons.
Realizing that this is more than they bargained for, Starling hides the reporter under her car to keep him safe during the fracas. This sets up the transition to a series of flashbacks. In flashback, we come to see how the reporter began tailing the Birds. We also get a quick scene showing Dinah discussing the formation of the team with Barbara Gordon who recommends Katana for the group.
The book cuts back and forth between action scenes and exposition. The back story is handled much more inventively than in a lot of the relaunch books so far. We’re introduced to Starling and the Bird’s new status quo through the reporter’s eyes. And all the while, he’s in over his head as the Birds battle soldiers all around him.
The action scenes are great. I felt like I was watching a big budget action movie. And Swierczynski tosses in some clever quips. Jesus Saiz’s art is clean and easily conveys the action. The book ends with a slam/bang finale that left me wanting more.
Overall, the tone reminded me of the early Chuck Dixon days. His early Birds of Prey stories had a fast-paced, globetrotting action/adventure feel. Like a good James Bond movie with two female leads. This harkens back to that style of story-telling and the formula still works.