Volume 1 of Duane Swierczynski’s Birds of Prey was a tightly knit espionage thriller that I enjoyed, so I don’t know what the heck happened between that and this! Your Kiss Might Kill is the very definition of half-baked, made up of ideas that are never played out to completion drawn by artists who never stuck around for more than an issue.
This trade paperback collects issues #8-12 and #0, that’s six comics in total. The very first TPB of the Birds of Prey series featured an arc that was great at developing these characters and giving readers a complex story with plenty of action. It was also a tale that seemed to hint at even bigger things to come, but in Your Kiss Might Kill, I found a collection of mostly unrelated stories that felt as though they were from an entirely different series.
With issue #8 we get plenty of action and the mysterious murder of Black Canary’s husband is addressed as well, but even though it’s the closest we come to capturing the look and feel of Volume 1, it’s far too chaotic. Most of the issue is spent watching the Birds of Prey battle a group of no-name villains of the week inside a burning building while a hologram barks orders. It didn’t do a very good job of easing the reader into what was happening. I read and liked Volume 1, but even I had trouble recalling exactly what was going on and how we got here in the first place. And truthfully, it’s not worth your time to dig back in the previous volume or catch-up on Wikipedia because after issue #8 the Birds of Prey series of I knew ceased to exist. Everything gets tossed out the window as soon as the original artist Jesus Saiz exits the book.
When Saiz leaves, Animal Man’s Travel Foreman joins the series for a Court of the Owls tie-in that’s very good, but very out of place in this collection. Issue #8 had such a dramatic ending and you’re ready to get answers, but when you turn the page you’re confronted with owls. It’s one of the very best Court of Owls tie-ins and if you’ve read Foreman’s run on Animal Man, you know he can draw horror well, but this story simply doesn’t fit with what we saw in issue #8 whatsoever. This would have been forgivable had we returned to Black Canary’s drama in the following chapter, but that never happens.
Instead we get what makes up the bulk of Your Kiss Might Kill, a Poison Ivy story that had all the ingredients to be very good. I’m all for seeing her return to straight-up villainy but the story is very jumpy, the reasoning behind much of the action is ludicrous,
As soon as the greatest consequences of Poison Ivy’s plot should go into effect, we are interrupted by a the #0 issue, which is good but just like with the Court of Owls tie-in it’s not what you want to see at this point in time. I want the story to stay on task. It’s bad enough that we’re being asked to forget the huge thing that happened at the end of the first chapter, now we have to wait until volume 3 to find out what happens next to the Birds of Prey?
Besides the half-hearted writing, it seems that no artist had any interest in illustrating this book. First Jesus Saiz left and was replaced by Travel Foreman. Foreman is great, but this isn’t the book he should be illustrating .He was awesome at capturing the gritty, gory details for Animal Man and it was a damn shame to see him leave that series. His pencils were a perfect fit for the tone of that book. And while his style worked well with the horror themed Court of Owls chapter, it didn’t lend itself to the adventure in a jungle chapters at all. Everyone looks too scrawny and twisted and then in the final pages there are some panels that look hastily sketched and I had to flip back to the credits to make sure it was still Foreman doing them. Timothy Green II had to take over on pencils for the second half of the following issue and we never saw from Foreman again. Green’s pencils were far cleaner and captured movement and expression better. His pencil suited these ladies surprisingly well and I thought he was a much better fit here than in his brief stint on Red Hood & the Outlaws. And then in the next chapter we have Cliff Richards showing up! Yeah, another artist with a different style. This time, we see more detail but we also get a lot of unnecessary lines on the character’s faces and a Poison Ivy who uses vines like Doc Ock uses his arms and one shot in which she is having a full conversation with the Birds while they parachute– only she’s not wearing a parachute. Finally there’s Romano Molenaar, who drew issue #0 and in my opinion he wins this massive artist mash-up. His work fits the series very nicely and from what I understand he stuck around for a few more issues after all of this ended.
8 pages of cover sketches and one character design for the highly forgettable character Napalm.
Value: Dirt Cheap
I wouldn’t give $14.99 for this or the $11.86 price that Amazon is currently offering. It would take a drastic clearance to make this book worth it. I would recommend that you pick up the stand-alone issues #9 and #0 as they are both very enjoyable reads. The rest of this stuff should just be forgotten about. And as far as re-read value goes? Let me put it this way: when I started this review I read half of the book and then cast it aside to go do something else. I ended up forgetting that it existed for a full week and began reading other graphic novels instead.
It just doesn’t feel like a book that anyone had their heart in. Duane Swierczynski’s first arc of this series was full of ambition with developed characters, a complex plot, and terrific action that was well illustrated by Jesus Saiz. This was an absolute mess of poorly thought-out concepts, one of which had the potential to be a really great Poison Ivy story. And the artwork is woefully inconsistent due to artists constantly coming and going. I can’t recommend that you bother yourself with the entire volume, but I will say that it is worth your time to seek out issues #9 and #0, which were stand-alone episodes and the only highlight of this collection.