Review: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1


The Rebirth one-shot of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey had its flaws (the tone, the previously non-existent tension between Dinah Lance and Barbara Gordon), but there was certainly promise. The first official issue of the book, however, almost completely squanders it.

 Though the one-shot was told from Batgirl’s perspective, this one is from Black Canary’s. And while that switch requires taking it for granted that the characters might see the same things differently, it almost feels as if writers Julie and Shawna Benson have completely forgotten what happened last time. Fort starters, Dinah doesn’t seem nearly as concerned about the tension between her and Barbara. In fact, it doesn’t even seem to exist in her mind. While she seemed reluctant to join forces with her former partner before, here she claims that she didn’t hesitate to take down whoever is posing as Oracle. It’s a bizarre error, but if the issue were otherwise flawless, it would be easy to ignore. However, it’s just one of the many strange choices the Bensons make throughout the issue.

 Thus far, Helena Bertinelli a.k.a. The Huntress has been a bit of a mystery to both the characters and the reader—a masked figure with a crossbow who’d rather kill than ask questions. Barbara and Dinah were at a disadvantage because she knew their secret identities and she was more than willing to use that information as blackmail. All she had to do to maintain that power was to make sure they didn’t figure out her real name. Yet, for some reason, she doesn’t event hesitate to give it away here. While the Bensons undoubtedly have their reasons for having Helena reveal that information, it sort of feels as if they’re so focused on getting the team together that they didn’t think about whether it made sense for the character. The Birds of Prey are one of comics’ most famous superhero teams. People want to see them work together, but it has to make sense for them to want to.

Regardless, even though it doesn’t quite make sense for the Birds to team up yet, the Bensons do handle their interactions well. Perhaps the issue’s best moment comes with a splash page that features all three characters. While Barbara and Helena argue in the foreground, Dinah stands in the back, rolling her eyes at them. Oddly enough, it’s strikingly similar to a page that appeared in the first issue of the revamped Betty & Veronica from a few weeks back. That page perfectly summarized who the characters were and the relationship between them. This does something similar, but without the clever meta self-awareness. Instead, Barbara (the Betty) and Helena (the Veronica, which makes Dick Grayson the Archie of the group) basically just state their differences for the audience, as if they weren’t already clear from their actions. It’s a great idea but the execution isn’t quite there. The same could be said for the whole issue.

 Rating: 5/10

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.