Reading Trouble In Mind is a lot like watching an action-packed blockbuster movie...there's not a whole lot of depth or character development, but that doesn't make it any less fun!
A faceless monster is haunting Gotham City, turning unsuspecting people into living weapons. Even more frightening is that this may just be the first step towards a much larger terror plot. Now, a team of women on the run from the law try to save a city that wants them brought down. Sometimes the best person for a dirty job is someone whose hands are already plenty dirty...
I was a little apprehensive going into Duane Swierczynski's first "Birds of Prey" story. As Gail Simone's highly-revered first BOP run was one of my favorite graphic novels in recent times, I was afraid no one would be able to measure up. But while Swierczynski never quite surpasses Simone's work, his writing is more than good enough to make him a worthy successor!
For one thing, this is a very fast-paced adventure. Pages upon pages of heroes punching villains can get old really fast, but Swierczynski ups the ante with new situations and amusing banter. Also, while the storyline is strictly pre-Daniel-Craig
James Bond stuff, there are enough twists and turns to keep you invested. One particularly mind-bending twist occurs about two-thirds in, when...well, I shan't spoil the surprise, but trust me, it's quite cool! Plus, while the established characters don't experience a whole lot of development, they still keep things interesting. Black Canary is a strong combatant and a crafty leader. Poison Ivy is a ruthless eco-terrorist who believes she's saving the planet by ridding it of the people trying to harm it. And Katana...Katana believes the soul of her dead husband lives in her sword and can communicate with all those she kills... shudders...
But for me, the real shining star of this book is brand-new character Ev Crawford, code-named "Starling"! Yes, Starling is tough and deadly (with or without her pistols), but ultimately, her most dangerous weapon is her smile! She is so sweet and perky at times, it's impossible not to love her. She also provides a lot of humor throughout the story...like when a man she's rescued starts flirting with her, and she just rolls her eyes and says, "Isn't that a ring on your finger, playah?!?" I went into this book wanting to see Black Canary in action again, but I came out wanting to read more about Starling instead!
While I found no major flaws in the book, the lack of depth prevents me from giving it a perfect score. Yes, the action is intense and the banter is pleasing, but that doesn't change the fact that you're still mostly reading a 7-issue fight sequence. Also, there were some minor nitpicks throughout, mostly with the Katana character. Why does Barbara Gordon object to Starling being on the team, when Starling doesn't seem to use lethal force, and then immediately recommends Katana, someone who racks up a larger bodycount than the villains in the story?!? Why does Canary freak out when she thinks Ivy is about to kill someone in self-defense, even though she seemed to have no problem with Katana killing several people earlier? These little inconsistencies did take me out of the book from time to time.
So, ultimately, Swierczynski doesn't reinvent the genre or revamp classic characters. Instead, he just gives us a really fun adventure, and in the end, that's more than enough!