Birds of Prey #1 (v. 2)

Birds of Prey #1 - alternate cover

So I took myself down to the comic book store on comic book day for the first time in forever for one reason and one reason only: Birds of Prey is back along with super-scribe Gail Simone.

The art is nicely done by returning artist Ed Benes (doing both pencils and inks this time around and working with colorist Nei Ruffino), and he remembers how everyone is supposed to look which maintains continuity in spite of the long separation. In spite of this, I had art issues which I’ll address later.

We are given a cinematic opening starring Black Canary (complete with much-loved-by-me Canary Inner Monologue), and the action begins almost at once. Quickly, the story turns into a literal “getting the band back together” tale, a move initiated by Oracle thanks to a threat big enough to need all our beloved team members — Canary, Oracle, Zinda, and Huntress — to fight it. Oracle is enlisting two team newcomers as well, a development I’m not nearly as excited by or interested in. The inclusion of Hawk and Dove is plainly due to the latest iteration of DC’s endless crossover, “Brightest Day” which is also trumpeted on the cover.

I trust Gail to use these characters well and wisely, but I’m annoyed they have to be shoehorned into the book along with larger DC continuity issues in order for us to see the return of such a stellar and much-missed title. BoP was initially and for a very long time a two-person team; the additions of Huntress and Zinda worked well and have continued to feel right and proper since Gail introduced them, but all additional add-ons have failed to click. I’m not sure why BoP needs to be a big team or even a revolving-membership team. Why can’t it be like the A-Team — a set group of characters who then each get some awesome screen-time from story to story?

Still, we take what we can get.

Everyone’s in character and if not completely up to their snappy-dialogued bests they still manage to crack-wise and crack jaws.

The reveal at the end of the issue is intriguing and pulls us toward part 2 of this introductory four-part arc inexorably. This is something Gail does really well: sets up our anticipation for the next chapter.

I am not crazy about the coloring on this issue. While the art is clean and easy to follow, the entire issue takes place either at night or in darkened interiors and the resulting finished artwork feels flat. For instance, there is a lovely shot of Canary, Oracle, and Huntress on a rooftop or balcony with Gotham in the background, but the night sky is muddy and depthless. There are other shots where the sky is more like a big city night sky, but it’s inconsistent.

Overall, I think it’s a solid, welcome issue and does the job of reintroducing everyone and setting up the story. Looking forward to the next issue.