After a disastrous Rebirth issue, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 has a lot to make up for. Unfortunately, whilst a slight improvement, it’s still bad news for DC’s top team of heroines.
After a brief flashback showing how Barbara Gordon – formerly Oracle and once again Batgirl – saved Black Canary’s life in a runaway subway train adventure, the story picks up where Rebirth left off. Batgirl and Black Canary, in pursuit of mobster Terroni – who may know the identity of the villain now claiming to be Oracle – have to square off against Huntress who’s keen to exact her bloodthirsty vengeance on the criminal underworld. Except Huntress revealing that she knows the real identities of Batgirl and Black Canary causes them to have second thoughts.
When their paths overlap again at mob boss Santo Cassamento’s mansion, a fight ensues as the Birds of Prey attempt to stop Huntress from drowning Santo in an ornamental fountain. However, they need to join forces to protect him from being assassinated by The Asp, a villain with the power to control snakes. Thus begins their new partnership, although it’s one which none of them seem too happy about…
This is a mess. And that’s being polite.
Once again some key panels seem to be missing, causing whatever’s happening on the page to fall apart instead of flowing smoothly. The mystery comes across as simplistic and doesn’t require any actual detective work to solve, the characters are one-dimensional, the positioning in fight scenes makes no sense, and the dialogue is laughable. The Birds of Prey are supposed to be professionals, yet they act like idiots.
For instance, Black Canary marvels at Huntress’s ability on a motorbike. Why? Because Huntress sort-of skidded with it. Or… turned it? It’s hard to know what she’s impressed by here. Batgirl panics when Huntress mentions her secret identity, yet that’s ignored when they fight later. In that later fight they talk about Dick Grayson and his relationship to them… IN FRONT OF A CRIMINAL!!! And that’s from a former spy blowing his identity? Black Canary finds an arrow in the mansion, indicating Huntress’s presence, yet it isn’t actually mentioned directly and no attention is drawn to it.
We’ll ignore the mind-boggling stupidity of a lion wandering around Cassamento’s garden freely amongst other wildlife, regardless of any actual danger this might cause, in favour of the flashback of Oracle stopping a runaway train. A moment which could have been amazing is let down by the simplest of flaws as Oracle stops the train… apparently by speeding it up? The speed lines and body language seem to indicate acceleration, not braking. What is this?!
Some of the problems in this comic book may be due to the writers poorly conveying the flow of movement in the scripts, or maybe it’s a lack of interpretation by the artist, or it may even be the fault of the editor for letting these flaws through. Either way, it’s a problem.
Plus, Batgirl now resembles Francis Dutton from Major Bummer. That isn’t a good thing.
The Birds of Prey can be great and should be great. But right now, it’s less than average.