Birds of Prey is a long time favorite of mine. Chuck Dixon started the series, although it’s probably most associated with fan favorite Gail Simone. The Birds’ long history was wiped out when DC did their line-wide reboot, and the new book just wasn’t as good. I had every single appearance of the Birds until that point, and ended up dropping the “DCNU” version within three issues. But, the Birds are back, and the new book looks fantastic.
The new book creates some continuity issues, but I’ll deal with those later. The story starts off with Batgirl taking on some thugs. She’s stunned to learn that the criminal are getting information from a mysterious source known as Oracle. Oracle was Batgirl Barbara Gordon’s handle when she was the hacker for the heroes, and Barbara is furious that someone is using her name. She teams with her former ally Black Canary to find out what’s going on. Those two end up crossing paths with Helena Bertinelli. Helena has a hugely tangled history I’m not going to try and unsnarl here, but now she’s working as Huntress.
This reunites the somewhat classic lineup for the Birds of Barbara Gordon, Dinah Lance, and Helena Bertinelli. How well they’ll do I’m not sure, especially since, while Babs and Dinah are good friends, Helena in this incarnation is best known as a foe of superheroes. But I’m thrilled they team is back.
Now, for the continuity issues. When DC rebooted, they established that the earliest heroes appeared five years before the first issues of the new line came out. According to this book, somehow or other, in the five years before the reboot begins, Barbara: sees Batman, is impressed enough to become Batgirl, around long enough to build a reputation, get shot and disabled by the Joker, recover somewhat, become Oracle, recruit Black Canary and form the Birds of Prey (which somehow never gets mentioned by the DCNU BOP team), gets experimental surgery, regains her mobility, come back as Batgirl, and be out of the wheelchair long enough that people aren’t commenting on her recovery by issue one. That was a very long and convoluted sentence, but I did that on purpose to prove my point. This time line doesn’t hold up, but that’s been true since the reboot happened. I’m also wondering how Canary, with no powers and no Justice League teleporter, is active both in Gotham on the East Coast with the Birds, and Seattle with Green Arrow on the West. If you ignore all that, it’s an enjoyable first issue.
Plot: First issues are always hard. This was a decent set up, got the plot moving, and linked up the characters. The new mysterious Oracle is an interesting approach. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5 for a starting issue.
Art: I’m not wild about the art. I don’t like the new versions of any of the costumes, so that was a strike before they started. That to one side, the art was odd. There was a lot of weird work with shadows that didn’t look right to me. Some of the facial features look way too sharp. I’ll give the art a lower 2.5 out of 5.
Positives: The Birds of Prey are back. That’s a great start right off the bat. Babs and Dinah are great together, and Helena will be an interesting new wild card. The new Oracle is a great mystery. It was nice seeing Barbara so passionate about her past alias. They even seem to have brought back the Clocktower.
Negatives: All the continuity problems I mentioned above. The trope of heroes fighting before teaming up is really overused. There’s a lot going on in Batman’s city that he seems to be completely unaware of.
All in all, I think this is a good start. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens as the team gets their feet under them.
Rebirth: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey 1
Writer: Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Artist: Claire Roe
Colorist: Allen Passalaqua
Letterer: Steve Wands
Cover: Yanick Paquette & Nathan Fairbairn