Birds of Prey #1: Fishnets, Fisticuffs and Fabulousness

Variant cover art by Cliff Chiang

The best friendships are the ones where, even after long stretches of little communication, everyone picks up right where they left off. There are no awkward pauses or, worse, internal monologues about how it’s just not the same.

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.

"Where my girls at?"

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.

This is the REAL DC Trinity

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.

14 thoughts on “Birds of Prey #1: Fishnets, Fisticuffs and Fabulousness

  1. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed the art. Ed Benes did an excellent job. I don’t mind the sensationalized pin-up factor because it works, especially for The Birds. These women are emotionally dysfunctional kick-ass chicks with hearts of gold, abs of steel, and some righteous character depth. Benes conveys the emotion on their pouty-lipped faces pefectly. Frankly, no one draws Black Canary better. NO ONE. I loved her Iceland outfit. I want one!

    *spoilers*

    I got a little teary eyed reading this issue because I was so happy … to be reading this issue. No joking. Zinda’s quirky cadence made me smile every time. Bless you Gail for referencing Sin within the first three pages. I know you will right all the wrongs that have been done to our darling Dinah. I think The Birds are just what Hawk and Dove need. I can imagine that War & Peace vibe meshing well with their M.O.

    And the coup de fucking grâce on the last page!!! WICKED COOL. Please be Lady Shiva ….. puh leeeeeeeease!!!! If it’s Cassandra Cain, I can live with that too.

    Simone has laid the ground work for what will inevitably be a GREAT story. DC, let’s keep this book going, for as long as possible. Willingham/Fables style.

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  2. I really, truly thought it was going to be Sin, though she wouldn’t be old enough to look like that! The thing I love about Ed Benes’ work is that he always finds the right balance of sexy and powerful. If I were a hardcore martial artist who rolled with the Justice League, I’d expect to look good in a leather unitard. My favorite quote (from Huntress to Oracle): “What’s up, spooky?”

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    • I really thought it was going to be Sin too. With the reference by Dinah in the beginning, I thought that’s a twisted spin. But, she wouldn’t be old enough. I mean, unless we are doing this Soap Opera style.

      My favorite quote (from Zinda to Dove about Hawk): “Listen, Missy, I just gotta ask ya, just for, you know, future reference and all. The boy’s not fancy is he?”

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  3. Prior to seeing her, I thought the culprit may have been Calculator…he and Oracle have been rivals. And I wondered if he got really obsessed and stepped up his game. And it could still be him, with someone else doing his fighting for him (just like Oracle does).

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  4. I like the fact that Huntress cried, that was so cute. And I also lololoLOVED the Black Canary outfit at the beginning!

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  5. I am also super excited to see what having a man on the team is gonna be like. Knowing the way Simone writes it promises to be interesting and hella fun!

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    • Hawk is not a PC chap, so I suspect he’ll be saying some crazy stuff to his new teammates in the very near future. If he steps to Huntress the wrong way, he’ll live to regret it!

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  6. Got the issue; SO did not regret it. If I want to get to know these lovely, hardcore, totally kick-ass ladies better, what would a better place to start? They had me laughing, and I totally got the familiar feel that they’d for sure been a team once before. The part where Canary was telling herself not to cry was great, but the real kicker was when Huntress was the one who lost it a bit. Heck, I almost got teary-eyed…

    Overall, I am so excited to see what happens next! I have no idea who this villain is, but I’m itching to find out. Oh, and the art was great. Really great. I know that might sound flippant, but really. Loved it.

    Is it bad that I kinda wish BoP came out twice this month instead of [i]Return of Bruce Wayne[/i]?

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    • That’s totally fair, Jennifer. The Return of Bruce Wayne was perfectly OK, but it wasn’t nearly as absorbing or lushly illustrated as BoP. Truth be told, I’m a far bigger fan of the extended Bat-family than Bruce himself. Time travel … whatever.

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    • Hey Jennifer,

      If you want to get better acquainted with The Birds, I’d start at the beginning of Gail’s first run. Don’t even bother with the Chuck Dixon stuff, it’s crap. They are all out in trade, and they are fucking AWESOME! Some of the best books I’ve ever read. And you will fall in love with Black Canary. I promise. Here are the trades to get, in order:

      Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds – Collects #56-61
      Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student – Collects #63-68
      Birds of Prey: Between Dark and Dawn – Collects #69-75
      Birds of Prey: The Battle Within – Collects #76-85
      Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch – Collects #86-90, 92-95
      Birds of Prey: Blood and Circuits – Collects #96-103
      Birds of Prey: Dead of Winter – Collects #104-108

      After that, Gail leaves the book and the travesty that is Black Canary’s marriage to Green Arrow happens. Don’t even bother with it. Sensei & Student is my FAVORITE!!!!

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