The Birds of Prey

Reviewing the Birds of Prey
The One-Shots: 1996 – 1998


REVIEWS
One-Shots :: 1999 :: 2000 :: 2001 :: 2002 :: 2003 :: 2004 :: 2005 :: 2006 :: Miscellaneous

Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey #1
"One Man's Hell", 1996, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Gary Frank, inked by John Dell, colored by Sherilyn Van Valkenburgh, lettered by Albert T. de Guzman, edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, cover by Gary Frank & John Dell

Talk about starting with a bang! Wonderfully sets up the entire premise of Birds of Prey milieu and unites our rather unlikely pair of heroines in a rather unlikely way. Black Canary the undisputed senior superwoman of this duo is pretty much hired by Oracle (formerly Batgirl) who proceeds to boss her around for the rest of the issue. As you might expect, Canary eventually gets a little sick of this and starts yelling back. This tension will come into play for the next several stories, and I hope the series will address this at least a little bit. No one least of all me is questioning Oracle's abilities or expertise, but this IS a founding member of the JLA she's hooked up with, and it isn't as if Canary doesn't know what she's doing. A great story to start off a great partnership with the fabulous Gary Frank (who pencilled the first nine issues of Supergirl) giving the Birds a memorably mature and serious look. This issue features brief cameos by Bruce Wayne & Lucius Fox and brings in the character of Lynx, who first appeared in the Robin series, as one of the baddies Dinah has to defeat. Also, though this came to pass in the Green Arrow series and was supported by the storylines in the short-lived Black Canary monthly, it is firmly established that Dinah no longer cares about maintaining a secret identity.


Showcase 96 #3
"(no title)", March 1996, written by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, layouts by Jennifer Graves, finishes by Stan Woch, colored by Dave Grafe, lettered by Ken Bruzenak, edited by Frank Pittarese, cover by Gary Frank & JLN

The Birds of Prey meet Lois Lane! Good story another avenging-the-exploited plot which seems to work well for our heroines.


Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey Manhunt #1
"Where Revenge Delights", September 1996, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Matt Haley, inked by Wade von Grawbadger, colored by Gloria Vasquez, lettered by Phil Felix, edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, cover by Gary Frank & John Dell


Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey Manhunt #2
"Girl Crazy", October 1996, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Matt Haley, inked by Lowe & Wade von Grawbadger, colored by Gloria Vasquez, lettered by Phil Felix, edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, cover by Gary Frank & John Dell


Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey Manhunt #3
"The Man That Got Away", November 1996, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Matt Haley, inked by Cam Smith, colored by Gloria Vasquez, lettered by Phil Felix, edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, cover by Gary Frank & John Dell


Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey Manhunt #4
"Ladies' Choice", December 1996, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Matt Haley, inked by Wade von Grawbadger with layouts by Sal Buscema, colored by Gloria Vasquez, lettered by Phil Felix, edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, cover by Gary Frank & John Dell

Terrific miniseries which also brings the Birds of Prey firmly into the Batman family by having them deal with the best of the Batman's supporting women characters Catwoman, Huntress, and Lady Shiva as well as a truly repulsive super bad guy named Braun. The women characters all work remarkably well together and I especially hope we'll see a rematch with Huntress (who is on the new JLA team with Oracle and who teamed up with Dinah in the last few issues of the Black Canary monthly a fact which isn't referred to in this mini) in the monthly series. Lots of martial arts fighting and at least for a few moments, we get a matchup between Lady Shiva and the Black Canary. Cool.


Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey #1
"Revolution", 1997, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Stefano Raffaele, inked by Bob McLeod, colored by Gloria Vasquez, lettered by Albert de Guzman, edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, cover by Gary Frank, John Dell, & Gloria Vasquez

Finally! After months and months and several intervening issues, we get the story we were promised at the end of "One Man's Hell" that of the Black Canary's visit to the notorious island of Santa Prisca (birthplace of Batman ultra-baddy Bane) where she takes down a slavery ring! You go girl! There is a nice little in-joke twist on the Canary's be-wigged past (we first see her undercover in a black wig). The little cracks which have been developing in Oracle & Dinah's relationship since its beginning in "One Man's Hell" (and were particularly noticeable throughout the "Manhunt" miniseries) turn into fissures by the end of this one and their future as partners-against-crime looks uncertain. A solid story.


Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey #1
"Wolves", October 1997, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Dick Giordano, inked by Wayne Faucher, colored by Gloria Vasquez, lettered by Albert de Guzman, edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, cover by Gary Frank, John Dell, & Gloria Vasquez

We join Black Canary in medias res fighting quite a battle, but that isn't the story we're in for. "Wolves" is more interested in Barbara Gordon & Dinah Lance than in Oracle & Black Canary, but by the end of the story during which they take a sabbatical from each other and find even more trouble separately than they do together our heroines have learned they're really more alike than they know and stronger working together than apart. And we meet Craig Windrow Dinah's ex-husband!


Black Canary/Batgirl: Birds of Prey #1
"Birds of Prey", February 1998, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Greg Land, inked by Drew Geraci, colored by Gloria Vasquez, lettered by Albert T. de Guzman, edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, cover by Gary Frank, John Dell, & Gloria Vasquez

Pity poor me! I'd been away from comics for so long that I didn't know until most of the way through this story that Batgirl was no more and that I was supposed to have been stunned by her teaming up with the Black Canary! But this is the story that made me a rabid Birds of Prey fan. I went in search of the rest of the their team-ups and then in search of the stories which would explain to me what had happened to Barbara Gordon and THEN I discovered the Crisis on Infinite Earths and then I borrowed my brother's Batman comics... let's just say the rest is history. This was the story that catapulted me from my fresh rediscovery (equally startled by it, I must say) of the new Supergirl (whom I love!) to full-fledged Batman milieu fanatic.

The Black Canary appears in this story, but it's really all Barbara's game and deals in a very interesting way with her past as Batgirl and her present as Oracle. I love this variation on the Canary's costume, too, and hope they use it more often (is it just me, or does anyone else worry about short-panted superheros' legs getting cold and bruised?). I hope we get some follow-up to the dark hints dropped in this terrific story once the monthly series starts. I for one can hardly wait.


Birds of Prey: The Ravens #1
"S.I.M.O.N. Says Armageddon", June 1998, written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Nelson DeCastro, inked by Drew Geraci, colored by Gloria Vasquez, lettered by Tim Harkins, edited by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, cover by Leonard Kirk

You want an origin story? I got yer friggin' origin story right here! Under the (slightly annoying) teaser title "Birds of Prey" we actually are given the origin of a mercenary supervillain gang called the Ravens. Assembled and led by Cheshire, Arsenal's ex-honey (and the mother of his daughter Lian), the Ravens include Termina, Vicious, & Pistolero. Cheshire is presented as a bad girl with BIG regrets about her past which she's chosen to ignore. Oh, and Oracle and Black Canary only appear in one panel each. Ah, well. Really cool story. Nice to see Gunbunny oops! I mean Pistolera back in action after having left her longtime companion Gunhawke some time ago in the Bat-books. Overall, it's an excellent, mysterious setup for the inevitable first contact.