Birds of Prey #32 by Christy Marx and Robson Rocha is a comic with one of those misleading covers.
This was my first Birds of Prey comic. I’m somewhat familiar with Birds of Prey mainstays Batgirl, Black Canary, and Huntress (who is not in this version of the team), but otherwise I know nothing about the team. The cover shows them fighting the Suicide Squad, so I was worried that I was going to have to catch up with two teams I’m unfamiliar with. That ended up not being the case.
I’ve heard pretty much nothing about the New 52 Birds of Prey, so I went into this one without any expectations. Since it is ending soon and will theoretically be a completed work, I was especially interested in this issue to see if it was a series worth going back and looking into more.
First off, I had no problem understanding the broad strokes of the characters and the current situations they found themselves in. The back story expositions were handled well with a mix of dialogue and caption boxes representing the characters’ thoughts. There was only one instance where I thought it was over explaining.
I kind of liked how little this seemed to be interested in being a super hero comic. Most of the issue was concerned with Black Canary and her relationship with the men around her instead of being about standard super heroics. A comic being about a woman and her relationship to men might raise some flags, but I think it was handled fairly well since it wasn’t about her having any romantic feelings towards them. Instead it focuses on her trying to help rehabilitate her injured and amnesiac former husband and also her shunning the advances of a teammate. It would be easy for this to collapse into defining her by the men around her and her romantic interest in them, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. There also isn’t an actual super villain battle in this issue, but that probably has more to do with this issue being a setup for the Suicide Squad crossover instead of what I would guess is the standard operating procedure for the comic.
On the art side, I liked the somewhat flat and washed out, yet still bright colors of Chris Sotomayor. He’s a colorist I’ve liked in the past and I continued to appreciate his work here.
I mentioned in the positives that I liked that this issue avoided super hero cliches by not featuring a super villain fight. Instead, they go up against actual Middle Eastern terrorists. From the tiny bit I know about the Suicide Squad this sounds more like something they would do, so the terrorists being in this issue might be in service to that. However, I’m not sure putting mainstream super heroes up against that sort of serious, modern day issue is the best fit.
Speaking of the Suicide Squad, despite prominently being featured on the cover fighting the Birds, they don’t actually show up until the final page. I would have liked for their presence to be felt a little more throughout the issue. I wish the issue had moved along a little quicker and covered more story ground in general.
Also, despite handling the expository text well, some of the actual lines are a little clunky. For example, Condor gives Black Canary a Blue Beetle-like flight pack. Her response, “I-I don’t know what to say. It’s the most astounding gift.” I don’t know if “astounding” is Black Canary’s catch phrase, but it just doesn’t read to me like something an actual person would say. Similarly, the art sort of breaks down in a few places and bodies end up looking weird. Perhaps this is because of problems caused by the breakdowns and the actual pencils being handled by two different people, Scott McDaniel and Robson Rocha, respectively.
Birds of Prey #32 isn’t exactly a by the numbers average super hero comic, but there nothing here that really elevates it or lowers it past that level. The writing is mostly competent and the art tends to be almost competent. This issue hasn’t convinced me one way or the other to go back and check out the rest of the series, but it was decent enough that I won’t mind checking out the next issue.
Pick up this one if you like domestic drama, Blue Beetle tech, and super heroes fighting Middle Eastern terrorists.