The original Birds of Prey series was one of the first DC Comics titles I’ve read. The original roster of Oracle, Black Canary, and Huntress is among my favorite superhero team line-up. Chuck Dixon and Gail Simone had legendary runs with Birds of Prey that there are a lot of high expectations whenever a new volume of this launches. Now Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero have been tapped for a new era of the Birds of Prey. With a new creative team comes a new roster that appears to replace Oracle and Huntress with Harley Quinn, Big Barda, Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl, and Zealot. The new roster Black Canary is leading appears to take a lot of inspiration from the 2020 Harley Quinn & Birds of Prey movie. Let’s see how things go with Birds of Prey #1.
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Dinah Lance talks to Oliver Queen about having a mysterious mission to save Sin (Cynthia Lance) but can’t involve Barbara Gordon due to certain conditions placed on the mission.
Black Canary’s first recruit for a new Birds of Prey team is Batgirl (Cassandra Cain). With Batgirl’s help Black Canary is able to find Big Barda and Zealot to also recruit to the team.
Discussing adding a fifth member Black Canary says they need an X Factor on the team. Batgirl knows who exactly to add: Harley Quinn.
When they meet Black Canary and Harley Quinn quickly have a tense moment. Batgirl is able to settle things by bringing up their mission to save Sin.
At the Birds of Prey hideout in Gotham City, Black Canary introduces everyone to Meridian. Meridian reveals they an older Mia Mizoguchi (Maps) from the future who has come to the present to help the Birds of Prey break Sin out of Themyscira and stop the accidental end of the world. End of issue.
Birds of Prey #1 is all about assembling the team. While we get a broad idea of what the mission statement out of the gate is Kelly Thompson keeps it vague. All we need to know is Black Canary’s new Birds of Prey is assembled to save her sister, Sin. That makes this first issue have a very basic approach to introducing fans to the latest incarnation of the Birds of Prey.
The overall issue being as solid as it is says a lot given that Thompson does not start Birds of Prey #1 off with the best foot forward. Thompson does a lot to make an excuse for why Barbara Gordon’s Oracle isn’t part of the team Black Canary assembles. Everything that is said as to why Oracle is being excluded comes across as an excuse rather than proper reason. Which is not helped by the ending that creates even more questions as to why Meridian would make it a rule that Oracle can’t be involved.
As for the team itself, Thompson the roster of Black Canary, Harley Quinn, Big Barda, Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl, and Zealot at least has some balance. Though the look of the team does give more of a vibe along with their mission statement of this team does feel more fitting to call them The Outsiders rather than Birds of Prey. That’s mostly an aesthetic thing with how dynamically different the themes for each member is beyond Black Canary and Batgirl.
Now with Barbara arbitrarily not on the team Cassandra Cain is the most natural choice to be on the Birds of Prey. Her being picked feels like that next step in Cassandra continuing the legacy that her mentor, Barbara, created. Cassandra has also shown the ability to compliment her teammates fighting styles with the various Batman-related teams that she has been on. With Black Canary, Big Barda, and Zealot on the team Cassandra will be valuable to be able to read her teammates way of fighting to push fights forward.
Which is helpful especially for Big Barda and Zealot. Both characters are bruiser frontline fighters that will be valuable, especially with a mission that is taking the team to Themyscira. Both their membership is the reason why this team does feel it would fit the Outsiders series title. That a said it is smart move by Black Canary to have more physical fighters since she and Batgirl have more of a martial arts approach to fighting.
The one roster member that Thompson fails to sell being part on the team is Harley Quinn. Its clear this is done because of the 2020 Birds of Prey movie and DC Comics continued desire to have Harley Quinn’s name be synonymous with the team. That wasn’t successful in past attempts and it wasn’t here.
This gets into the biggest mistakes other that not having Oracle on the team and that is Huntress exclusion. While we at least get a reason why Oracle can’t at least be involved with this first story arc the same kindness isn’t given to Huntress. She simply has her named crossed out in a book. With Huntress being part of the Birds of Prey Trinity, her absence is felt. Huntress being on the team would’ve at least made this roster look like the Birds of Prey rather than Outsiders.
The core mission of this first story arc involving saving Black Canary sister, Sin, does have at least have some urgency to it. The way it is initially presented as a big mystery did hurt the start of Birds of Prey #1. The way Thompson wrote the opening scene it felt as though there was a completely different opening that was cut out. The vagueness of the opening gave the idea we were entering a continuity heavy story that if you didn’t know what was already going on with Sin this isn’t for you. Thompson somewhat recovered with the final page but having a future Mia Mizoguchi does make this first arc appear to be overcomplicated.
One area of Birds of Prey #1 that is absolutely a home run is Leonardo Romero artwork. Romero does such a great job nailing the different looks of the character. The double page spread of Black Canary and Batgirl working together was absolutely phenomenal. Love the way Romero used it to showcase their complimentary fighting styles to get over why Batgirl was Black Canary’s first choice. Big Barda was equally shown well with her big bruiser style of fighting getting over what she brings to the team.
The first issue of the newest Birds of Prey series is all about assembling the team. While we get the team’s first mission introduced it is done in a way that it’ll take the second issue to fully put over its importance. That leaves Birds of Prey #1 being the basic “get the team together” intro that by the end is solid but not game changing.
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10