For fans of Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey run, reading issue #1 of the revived series is like that great reunion with an old friend. Simone stepped away from the book three years ago, and it was canceled in 2009. However, she and original collaborator Ed Benes have wasted no time in returning the Birds to classic, crime-busting form — and we missed them terribly. (Spoilers await.)
The four-part “Endgame” story opens in Iceland, where Black Canary has arrived to rescue a diplomat’s 5-year-old daughter from a terrorist/kidnapper. The beauty of this sequence is that it firmly re-establishes Dinah Lance as one of the world’s most skilled combatants, obliterating the sad-sack wife nonsense other writers saddled her with. Let’s just say there’s a lot of blood on the snow in Reykjavik, and it’s not Dinah’s. Or the 5-year-old’s.
Shortly, Oracle begins reassembling the team to deal with an anonymous mofo who has a frightening amount of information about the Birds and all their friends/associates. Zinda is dispatched to recruit Hawk and Dove, one of whom has some serious anger management issues. (I wouldn’t have held it against Hawk if he’d tossed that silly, bank-robbing cheerleader off the roof, but that’s just me.) The addition of these newbies to a well-established group is potentially rich with drama, and I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone adjusts, or doesn’t.
Simone’s affection for these characters comes through on every page, especially in the funny, familiar banter that flies between Canary, Zinda, Huntress and Oracle. The Birds also look fabulous, thanks to Benes’ gourmet cheesecake illustrations and colorist Nei Ruffino’s glowing, moody palette, which really suits poured-on leather under moonlight. Those panels of Huntress cracking skulls while talking to Oracle via cell phone could launch 1,000 gym memberships alone.
As if that weren’t enough, the Big Villain Reveal on the final page is a total surprise, and still a bit of a mystery. I figured it would be Lady Shiva, or even a tween Sin, but the ending suggests that our heroines are in for even bigger trouble. It is totally on — and I couldn’t be happier.