Superheroes and Churches Never Seem to Mix Well
Duane Swierczynski and Jesus Saiz reinvent the Birds of Prey as a group of women caught in a conspiracy thriller in this new series, trying to remake the team almost from scratch due to the loss of Oracle from the DC Universe. It is a well done effort in its own right but seems unlikely to win over the fanbase of the former Birds of Prey.
Swiercynski starts the story off with events already in progress and immediately starts giving readers questions. However, this isn't actually a bad thing. They aren't questions crucial for understanding the story but questions geared toward making readers want to come back to learn the answers. What happened to make Black Canary need to clear her name? What made Starling go rogue? Who is after them now? Swiercynski is clearly right at home in this genre he is bringing the Birds of Prey into.
Swiercynski also has a firm grasp of all the characters in this issue. If this issue is any indication, Black Canary is probably in good hands. She comes off as a strong and capable hero here, which is immediately better than the character's usual treatment when she strays from Gail Simone's hands.
There is a very interesting scene between Black Canary and Barbara Gordon in this issue that also manages to be very confusing. What am I supposed to think with this scene? Was Barbara still Oracle in this continuity? Because from having read Batgirl, I find that very hard to believe. This scene clearly implies the two have a relationship, though. Yet, it also kind of implies there weren't previous Birds of Prey teams with how Black Canary references the current team she is putting together. It's just hard to understand what I am supposed to take away from this scene. Is the partnership between Dinah and Babs that Birds of Prey was originally based on still in continuity but not the rest of the team's development? That's the idea that makes the most sense to me at the moment.
I am also not sure what to think of Swiercynski's new character Starling. She comes off as being just too similar to another prominent Birds of Prey character. She's a tough, angry chick wearing purple, but no, she's not Huntress. She even makes some religious commentary. Frankly, that's a little annoying. She seems like a fine character, but she is in the usual role of a character she is extremely similar to at first glance. If Swiercynski wanted to give Black Canary a new partner in crime, I think I would have preferred a character less like the usual one. This reads quite a lot like he wanted to use Huntress but found out late that he couldn't.
Saiz's art is appealing and well suited for this book. He carries off the action really well and is no slouch with other scenes as well. Then, there's the topic of the redesigns.Black Canary's is kind of a mess. It's the teal coloring of her fishnets that looks the most out of place. I can see what they are trying to go with here, but it just doesn't work. The costume would look fine if they just colored it in a flesh tone like it looks like it should be. There's also who Katana, who doesn't actually appear in this issue but does on the cover. Japanese much? With such overt nationalism at the expense of anything reflective of a unique personality, you would think she'd be in Dan Jurgens' Justice League International book instead of this one.
Birds of Prey needs some work, but it is a well written start to an interesting conspiracy thriller. Even as a big fan of the former Birds of Prey, this issue does leave me interested in checking out the next issue, though it doesn't make me not miss Oracle and her Birds of Prey. It will take another issue or two to really piece together the picture of what we have in this new title, but Swiercynski and Saiz definitely have the potential to produce a quality series here.