Merrick and Crowe: Birds of Prey (one shot) – Corey Fryia and Tom Ward

3 out of 5

These kinds of separate universe crossovers are notoriously hard to pull off without making it a jumble, and even with our talented Sensational Elephantman and Dr. Crowe creators – Tom Ward and Corey Fryia, respectively – and the amazing Luke Parker on art, the results are about the same.  It’s the inherent demands of intersecting different-world characters, even if they share some tonal DNA, that causes the same hiccups again and again: the initial meet-up requires some introductory “who I am and what I do” for both characters and then inevitably triggers the fight-first-friends-later scene; moving forward requires and roundabout exposited plot to justify why two-on-one makes sense.  For Birds of Prey, Fryia and Ward don’t escape the former so much, but the latter they start to make some ground back, as it amounts to Crowe and Merrick (and Nora) just all happening to be headed the same way.  And once the action gets going, besides some script-to-art blips where it seems like some choreography to tell us what’s happening is missing, the book becomes the kind of pulp fun I’m guessing we all dreamed of.  The real reward, interestingly, is the post-script stuff; the connection our two leads make.  With that relationship now established, I think we could have some super fun team-ups in the future, should this batch of talent feel up to it again.

Luke Parker’s art and his gloriously muted – but precisely chosen – color palette looks superb, the artist truly growing into his own Mignola-inspired style versus a Mignola variant.  He’s always been good, to be clear, but the work here is really strong.  I only highlighted ‘looks’ above because of the blips I mentioned above, which might also be a consequence of trying to blend Elephantman’s roving storytelling pacing with Dr. Crowe’s more stately narration, who knows.

Overall fun stuff, though about what I was expecting in terms of its minor flaws.  Whether it’s together or separate, here’s to more Fryia / Ward / Parker stuff in the future.