Birds of Prey is a concept that I have personally never been a great fan of it, Its a superhero team entirely made by female characters, but why is that is entirely female is not something that is ever explain, there have been male members on it but the core concept has always been a female team, and is not even like it only tackles problems that affect women or anything like that, so its kind of a weird premise if you start to analyze it carefully, but the concept obviously works, not only cause its a title that has survived for over a decade, which for an all female team is quite an accomplishment, but also rose the characters that were on it.
The book started as a team up between 2 characters, Barbara Gordon, who became Oracle, and Dinah Lance, Black Canary, but as it progressed it added more members and its entire core changed, now the team as many fans and even non fans know is composed by Oracle, Black Canary, Lady Blackhawk and Huntress
<-- THIS are the Iconic Birds of Prey
And if this team has a main writer that would be Gail Simone, even thought the concept in question was started by Chuck Dixon, it is Gail who brought the team to a new level
But being dependant of a writer is never a good thing for an IP, Birds of Prey was inherently tied to Gail Simone so its only understandable that when DC decided to reboot the birds that they would look for a new writer.
What I really dont understand was the change of the team, and i know that when some of the fans of this series saw the cover of the first issue for the first time they got a lot of alarms going on
The picture on the top is the first view of this new team of Birds and i have to admit that i was less than pleased when i saw it:
The team was now compose by Poison Ivy, Black Canary, Katanna and a new character, and i Think my first thought was WHO THE F*** ARE THIS?
because of the decision to have Barbara be Batgirl once again, because she is the Iconic Batgirl, that meant that Oracle couldnt be part of the team, the Birds of Prey without Oracle is just something wrong, Oracle has never left the team ever, she was the leader and the brain of the team and now she was going to be left aside for Black Canary and 3 others which inherently will change the entire way that the team was suppose to work, on BoP Oracle used her skills to find the bad guys and she send the Birds to get them, so it cannot longer work like that.
not even to mention the lack of Huntress
and the fact that Zinda no longer exist and Lady Blackhawk looks like this
the second thought that had when i look at that picture was DEAR GOD THOSE COSTUMES ARE UGLY!
I had this thought before and I still support it 100%, that Black Canary has now one of the ugliest redesigns in the new 52, its hideous and that thought hasnt change, the new look of Ivy, is different but acceptable and I originally thought that Katana had a bad design but it really had grown on me, the only thing is still dislike is that her Beautiful White mask has this stupid little red dot in the middle, making it into a Japanese flag mask, we get it, she is a samurai character, she is from Japan.
so at first sight, it just doesnt look like Birds of Prey and doesnt feel like Birds of Prey
But how was the title itself?
the firs issue had a lot of action, it feature Black Canary and Starling trying to save the life of a reported that is being hunted by a secret organization, BC also meets with Barbara Gordon, indicating that they had been friends for a long time, Even when Barb was in a wheelchair(This is Important)
the issue had excellent action, good dialog, great characterization
and personally I didnt liked it =D
The reason why i didnt liked BoP1 was because of very simple reason, I felt like i was reading a 5th issue, not a first issue of a new comic, my mind fill with thoughts like
Who are this characters? why are they doing what they do? who is the villain? why is the villain doing this?
as the book progress Katana and Poison Ivy join the team, but Barbara DONT
Why did Katana Join the team?
Why did Ivy?
Why Barbara didnt Join?
new questions on top of the old ones
then Barbara as Batgirl return on issue 4 officially joining the team
Why didnt she join before, why now?
There is actually answer for this, but not a good one and not one from the comic itself, and the reason is cause the editorial mandated for Batgirl to join the team, the reasons were probably to improve sales as well as tieing the book to Gotham, not that it really matters cause even though the book takes place on Gotham it has given us little to no background to do so other than the fact that BoP was a Batman book, but that was because of Oracle
Without diverting the subject, you just cant replace Oracle with Batgirl and expect the same effect, because as they have shown in this past year, they completely different characters, completely different styles, motivations and abilities and that resulted in Batgirl being pretty useless in this book
Not to insult the character at all, but she contributes nothing on the book, when there is a fight, she fights, she barely has any dialog at all in the book, and you could argue that her role could very easily be done by any other character, at least the other characters have an interesting personality but Batgirl, again not being bad, is just neutral and pointless, like its there just to fill a quota or to make the book more "batlike"
but now that we are into the characters lets talk some more about them
First Katana, her new characterization is just excellent for the most part, she keeps her basic same story, she was
married, her husband was killed by Yakusas and then his soul was sucked into a magic sword, the same sword she uses now and she keeps having long a meaningful conversations with him, the twist is that the others dont believe this and think that Katana is Insane(this is going to be important)
The new character of Starling, is great new character, even name by Ign as one of the best new characters in the new 52, she is allegedly bisexual, an spy, an expert gunslinger and a total badass, but probably her greatest appeal is her attitude, she is just original and pretty much all of her dialog is great
Finally Black Canary serves the purpose of Leader but there is really nothing much to say about the character itself other than she is very gloomy most of the time, her best moments are when she interacts with other characters and not when she is alone
Continuing with the first storyline, this was actually pretty long taking issues 1-7, after reading it all the plot can be summarize on this, The birds go after a person(I say person for a reason) named CHOKE, who is behind a secret organization that "DOES EVIL THINGS"(to the best of my capacities this is the best that i can describe as) they eventually capture Choke but Choke uses his mental powers to try to make the Birds kill each other and then this happens
This is hands down the most awesome moment in the entire series, its just Amazing and Katana looks Badass as hell, she just cracks her one-liner and then chops the head of this guy, pure Awesomeness
the problem is that the death of Choke was the start of a snowballing effect that never ended
all those questions that I asked at beginning of this book, those are still there, I read it and, I dont know why the Birds of Prey were together against Choke, and i dont know what Choke was doing or Why he did it?, and the effects of his death lead to this
Remember when i said that everyone thought that Katana was insane cause they dont believe she talks to her husband, well this is where it comes to play, everyone thought that Katana just murder Choke without motivation leaving them all quite screwed
so by the end of Issue 7 and a huge discussion the Birds of Prey seem to be completely disbanded and what is more Katana talks to her husband inside her sword and discovers that the guy who she just beheaded, IS NOT CHOKE
when we get to issue 8 the Birds move forward on try to befriend again, to be a team again, but there is no mention of Choke, in fact there is an entire fight sequence in which the Birds are attacked, and I was under the Impression that it Choke, but he is not, in fact i felt like I had completely forgot what happen before and once again we were drop into the 5th issue of a new arc, in issue 8 we discover that BC is being wanted by the police for the murder of her husband, murder that at least she thinks she did, and on issue 9 the book ties to the Batman event The Night of Owls
WHAT HAPPEN ON ISSUE 7?
this is something i didnt understood at the time and I know many others didnt understood it either, at least until the writer actually explained it in an interview
It all comes down to Katana's portray, Katana has a sword that sucks souls and in this new Universe she can talk to them and gain information on them, but the writer tried to make this an ambiguous fact.
so Either Katana is completely Crazy, and she cannot hear her sword really, so that guy who died is Choke, or she is telling the truth and Choke isnt dead.
This is called an Open Ending, either Choke is dead and this is the end or he is not and he will return, is up to the reader to decide what happen.
The gigantic problem is that as an open ending this utterly FAILS, the point is to make the reader think for itself and question the situation, on what was really the ending, if it ended on way or another its up to oneself to decide, but I doubt that a single person even considerate the fact that Choke might be death, because as readers we can see that Katana's katana, works, it does have powers so that she isnt Crazy and we dont believe that Choke is death
so to resume this, Duane Sweirczinski Thinks that he gave us an Open ending, when in reality he gave us NO ENDING, the story doesnt end, it just stops and carry on to the next story, and this is what initiates for many ppl the snowball effect that I was talking about:
THE STORIES DON'T HAVE ENDINGS
or beginnings if we want to stretch it, its only middles, with a lot of stuff happening offpanel and you are basically not allowed to complain or question anything in the story cause the smallest query can break apart the entire book, after a year into the book we still dont know much about the characters, about their motivations, their purpose, why are they on this team, why are they close, questions that can be easily answer get piled one after the other one without sound or reason.
If we see the story that was presented to us on issues 1-7, we get practically nothing. If the idea was to have this set of women band together against a common enemy, IT fails as such,
only for the fact that Choke is basically not a character, thats why i describe him as a person, we know that he is behind all the EVIL STUFF but we dont know what exactly are all this evil stuff, why he is doing it, we dont even know if he is a man or a woman, it might as well be not human, we dont even know if he is good or bad, he might be a good guy, and no matter what none of that would make any difference cause Choke doesnt have any weight in the plot in a direct way, he is a Non-entity in the Story.
After issue 9, the book takes a new focus on the characters this time Poison Ivy, who gets hurt in issue 9 and is up to the birds to help her go to the Amazons to cure her, there is little to no reason to do this, infact you can question pretty much the entire plot, cause at the end of the day the whole plan of Ivy was to overpower the birds and make them work for her to her benefit, she uses them to commit acts of eco-terrorism and then on chp 12 Ivy lets her in her new lab where she has her own assistant but the BoP say enough is enough and Katana stabs her.
does she die, what happen to her assistant? to her story?
on Issue 13 everything that could possibly move on with Ivy happens offpanel, she is seen again in TEC14 where she refers the end of her association with BoP but she is perfectly fine.
So why is she no longer on the team?
and this is where the problems get bigger, the reason for this and many other beautiful problems in this book is the Editorial
The reason Why Ivy was in the book in the first place was cause DC wanted her in the team, in fact all the characters have this mark with the exception of Starling which is new, the problem lies that Ivy just like Batgirl had basically 0 development and little to no reason to be on this team, an is most likely that DC view this and decided to take her away.
However Duane says that she might be back in future issues, her departure still feels forced, just as her presence was in the first place, even more on BoP0 Duane creates a new origin for the birds having Batgirl, Dinah and Starling meeting each other for the first time, even when Dinah said that she knew Barb when she was in a wheelchair and the story doesnt fit at all with the timeline of the Batgirl comic, as well as contradicting many many other things in the book
And if that wasnt enough, Katana is leaving for greener pastures to the JLA team and will get her own ongoing
But after all of this i must ask
Why does this book exists?
As I put in the title this is one of the most flawed books I have ever read, the plotting is absolutely Terrible
when i was in school our literature teacher taught us that stories must have an structure with 3 parts, Beginnings, Middles and Ends
Im Shock to discover as an adult that there is a book like this published by a major comic company which have no beginnings, and no endings, there multiple plotholes to be found, things to question that doesnt make up for a mystery but for basic mistakes in writing
If you think im only being a little over-critical, Im not, Im just asking for 2 little things, I want characters that establish themselves, to just state who they are and why they are here, in short have an explicit motivation and explain why is this team together what is the point that unites them as friends and as team members, and the second I would like a plot that I can follow with a beginning, a middle and an end
cause those 2 things are missing in this book
However as I also said, this book is great and has great moments
The dialog of the characters is memorable, the interaction between them, the fight scenes the dynamism of the entire book is above many many other books in the line including the old Birds of Prey
But there is no depth, there is no center or purpose.
The only reason why this book exists is to serve as a hub for female characters to get into the spotlight, but that takes away certain control from the writer.
Originally there were rumors that stated that Huntress was going to be back and that her miniseries was going to tie in to BoP, the possibility of that is very remote, and a new character named Condor who is a male might join the team too, as well as the Talon Mary(though the solicits call her by another name)
Regarding Talon Mary I will question the Idea of a character that is mute to be in a series which one of its better aspects is the use of dialog, it just blows my mind, but at the end of the day the only reason why Talon Mary is here is cause the Talons are hot on sales and they will definitely keep the book high on sales
But, is that enough?
I dont think that Birds of Prey endured for this many years because of Gail Simone or because of tie-ins to events, it survived cause it was fresh and original and had something at the core concept that made ppl fell in love with its characters
This is a completely new thing, with no ties to BoP
so why dont let it be what it needs to be and dont force what is never going to be.
End of Blog Post
Check out my Personal Blog lets-talk-about-comics.blogspot.com