Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pull List Review: Birds of Prey #11

I don't know if it was a matter of Travel Foreman and Timothy Green II just not meshing stylistically or what, but the art in this book fluctuated dramatically from page to page. Not in quality, so much. There were definitely some not-so-impressive panels, but the real weakness was to total lack of consistency in the look and feel of the cast. Of all the Birds, Poison Ivy shifted the most noticeably, sometimes looking like an anime character, sometimes like a proud and powerful classic comicbook supervillain, and at least once reminding me of an 80's sci-fi movie alien. It was true of the reast of the cast, too: the shape of their faces changed, the size of their eyes, etc. And the evil chairman of the corporation the Birds attacked looked like his head was made of melting play-dough. In his very first panel his face is stretched and warped to the point that I wondered if it might not be intentional. Like maybe he's a new supervillain with Clayface-like powers. But no, he's a regular guy, but apparently the artists on this book can't draw wrinkles on a human face without turning it into a gummy, running mess.

I don't want to too harshly criticize the art because it's not as if it was truly horrible or ever unclear. But it's jarring to have a visually uneven characters, and because this issue had so many different people involved in the story, these shifts happened on nearly every page. There are panels which, on their own, would be far more impressive, but when placed near other panels of the same characters that look wildly different, they lose some of their impact.

Duane Swierczynski's script also suffers from being less than steady. Through Poison Ivy, this issue acts as an info dump to move us into this new story arc, and though the core ideas behind her wicked plan are pretty cool in an only-superhero-comics-can-do-this sort of way, having her calmly and confidently explain them to her teammates is a lackluster approach. Also, I can't help but feel that her turn here, where she once again becomes the a full-fledged villain, would have been more effective if we were deeper into the series. This team hasn't yet had a chance to settle into any kind of grove, and already we get a significant shake-up. And because Ivy is the least surprising character to have act as betrayer, the effectiveness of this plotline is dampened considerably.

And that "cliffhanger" ending where we hear but don't see a gunshot? Weak sauce.

Overall, a disappointing issue. Travel Foreman's move to the title has yet to top what Jesus Saiz was doing before, and the narrative hasn't been able to get all the way back on track since then, either. With a second artist this month and one of the least exciting scripts to date, Birds of Prey #11 just misses the mark.

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