DC Comics announced a while back that we will get a new Birds of Prey comic book. The new title is set to debut on September 5, 2023. I have a soft spot in my heart for Birds of Prey. I loved this franchise when Chuck Dixon first rolled it out in 1996. Birds of Prey were originally the team of Black Canary and Barbara Gordon. I love both characters so I naturally fell for Birds of Prey from the start.
When Gail Simone took over Birds of Prey she included the Huntress to the team. I am not a huge fan of Simone’s writing. But, Simone can usually be counted on to deliver a solid product. And Huntress is another character that I love. So, any title starring Black Canary, Barbara Gordon, and Huntress was going to get my money.
Later on, Simone added Lady Blackhawk to the mix. I hit the jackpot again as I love Lady Blackhawk. She is such a great character who has rarely been used by DC Comics. Lady Blackhawk also has one of the best codenames and costumes in comics.
At any rate, those four ladies have remained the main characters on Birds of Prey for a while. These are also the four characters most associated with Birds of Prey. Having said that, Big Barda did make an appearance along with Judomaster, Misfit, and Spy Smasher with Birds of Prey #99. None of these characters lasted very long. We also had Hawk and Dove as members of the team in Birds of Prey Vol. 2. We also had Poison Ivy and Katana as members in Birds of Prey Vol. 3.
However, in the end, it is Black Canary, Barbara Gordon, Huntress, and Lady Blackhawk who are the big four of Birds of Prey in my mind.
All right, let’s turn our attention to this latest version of Birds of Prey headed our way. The creative team for this new Birds of Prey comic book will be Kelly Thompson as the writer and Leonardo Romero as the artist. The roster for this new Birds of Prey comic book will include Black Canary, Cassandra Cain, Big Barda, Zealot, and Harley Quinn.
Here is what DC Comics had to say about this new Birds of Prey comic book:
“BREAKING HEARTS AND FACES–THE BIRDS OF PREY ARE BACK! Every mission matters. Every life saved is a miracle. But this time, it’s personal. Dinah Lance is one of the DCU’s most elite fighters, and combined with her sonic scream, she’s a fearsome foe in any scenario…but sometimes even the Black Canary needs help. Faced with a personal mission brought to her by a mysterious new ally, and up against near-impossible odds, she re-forms the Birds of Prey with an unrivaled group of badasses–Cassandra Cain, Big Barda, Zealot, and Harley Quinn–and only one goal: extraction without bloodshed. What could possibly go wrong? Kelly Thompson (Captain Marvel, Black Widow) makes her long-awaited DC Universe writing debut, and is joined by her Hawkeye partners-in-crime Leonardo Romero (Batman) and Jordie Bellaire (Wonder Woman) to debut an all-new, all-deadly Birds of Prey series…still breaking hearts and faces after all these years!”
Rokk’s Excitement Level: 3 out of 10 Night Girls. While I am an old-school Birds of Prey fan, this creative team dampens my enthusiasm for this new title. I find Thompson to be a rather pedestrian writer. She is like a C-student. She is never going to deliver a god-awful read, but she never impresses me, either.
Then we have Romero handling the artwork. Look, Romero is obviously a talented artist. I simply do not dig his style of artwork for a mainstream superhero comic book. It is a bad match. Romero’s artwork is way too stiff and lacks any of the dynamic qualities for a title that should focus on badass superhero action and adventure. Romero’s artwork is more what I look for in offbeat and introspective indie comics.
This new roster is also a miss for me. This is an odd grab-bag collection of characters. Black Canary as the leader makes perfect sense. This is how it always should be with a Birds of Prey title. However, the swapping of Cassandra Cain for Barbara Gordon is a massive downgrade. I find Babs to be such a superior character to Cassie.
The inclusion of Big Barda is weird. Yes, I know she had a brief run on Birds of Prey in the past, but I thought she was an odd fit back then, too. Don’t be mistaken, I love Big Barda’s character. She is a classic Jack Kirby creation. Kirby is my favorite comic book creator and Kirby’s 4th World is my favorite comic book mythology. So, I would definitely be all over a Big Barda comic book, but she should be firmly rooted in the 4th World universe. Oh yeah, and Nicola Scott needs to be the artist on any Big Barda comic, too!
Swapping out Huntress for Harley Quinn is another massive downgrade for me. It is clear DC Comics wanted another Batman family character and decided to shove Harley Quinn into this new version of Birds of Prey. I am not sure if DC Comics felt that Harley Quinn would give this new title some star power that Huntress would not bring to the tale. However, the fact that DC Comics has driven Harley Quinn’s character into the ground and her comics get terrible sales numbers, I am not so sure if Harley is the big draw that DC Comics thinks she will be on this title.
At any rate, a character like Harley Quinn makes more sense as a lone wolf or as part of a duo with Poison Ivy. Harley is just not a super team kind of character. If Harley has to be on a team then Suicide Squad makes far more sense.
The fact is that Huntress makes far more thematic sense to be on Birds of Prey than Harley ever will. Plus, we already get Harley on other DC Comics. Readers do not get to enjoy Huntress’ character in any title at the moment. It would have been better to allow Huntress to get some attention as an integral member of Birds of Prey rather than having Harley appear in yet another comic book.
Lastly, we have the addition of Zealot to this new Birds of Prey roster. This is easily my least favorite addition to the roster. I have never enjoyed seeing Wildstorm characters awkwardly smashed into the DCU. But, with Jim Lee in charge, we will continue to see Wildstrom characters jammed into our DCU. The addition of Zealot on a title that is part of the Batman extended family is just bizarre. And not in a good way. Zealot sticks out like a sore thumb and is an unwelcome interloper when we could have had a character like Lady Blackhawk instead.
Rokk’s Prediction: Let’s take a look at the past sales numbers for the Birds of Prey franchise and for Kelly Thompson for additional information to use in formulating our prediction for this new Birds of Prey title.
Birds of Prey: Manhunt was a four-issue mini-series that was published in 1996. Birds of Prey: Manhunt #1 debuted at the number 48 spot in the sales rankings. Birds of Prey: Manhunt #2-4 averaged the number 92 spot in the sales rankings.
Birds of Prey Vol. 1 was published from January 1999 to April 2009 and lasted for one hundred and twenty-seven issues. Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #1 debuted at the number 71 spot in the sales rankings and sold 33,934 units. Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #2-127 averaged the number 79 spot in the sales rankings and sold an average of 28,102 units per issue. Birds of Prey #127 concluded the title’s run by taking the number 90 spot in the sales rankings and selling 21,420 units.
Birds of Prey Vol. 2 was published from July 2010 through August 2011 and ran for fifteen issues. Birds of Prey Vol. 2 #1 debuted at the number 30 spot and sold 50,428 units. Birds of Prey Vol. 2 #2-15 averaged the number 49 spot in the sales rankings and sold an average of 34,033 units per issue. Birds of Prey Vol. 2 #15 finished the title’s run with the number 80 spot in the sales rankings and sold 26,043 units.
Birds of Prey Vol. 3 was published from September 2011 to October 2014 and ran for thirty-four issues. Birds of Prey Vol. 3 debuted at the number 40 spot in sales rankings and sold 50,566 units. Birds of Prey Vol. 3 #2-34 averaged the number 104 spot in the sales rankings and averaged 24,718 units per issue. Birds of Prey Vol. 3 #34 concluded the title’s run with the number 145 spot in the sales rankings and sold 15,397 units.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey was published from July 2016 to May 2018 and ran for twenty-two issues. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 debuted at the number 30 spot in the sales rankings and sold 75,892 units. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #2-22 averaged the number 111 spot in the sales rankings and sold an average of 23,018 units per issue. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #22 concluded the title’s run with the number 150 spot in the sales rankings and sold 14,891 units.
The Birds of Prey franchise has never been a strong seller. We can see that sales numbers increased between Birds of Prey Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. We then saw sales numbers decrease with each new Birds of Prey title after Birds of Prey Vol. 2.
All right, let’s take a look at Kelly Thompson’s past sales numbers.
Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps was a four-issue mini-series that was published from June through September 2015. Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps debuted at the number 44 spot and sold 47,302 units. Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #2-4 averaged the number 92 spot in the sales rankings and sold an average of 25,047 units.
A-Force Vol. 2 ran from February through October 2016 and lasted for ten issues. Kelly Thompson took over A-Force with issue #2 which took the number 48 spot in the sales rankings and sold 35,571 units. A-Force #3-10 averaged the number 86 sales rankings and sold an average of 26,717 units.
Hawkeye Vol. 5 was published from November 2016 through March 2018 and ran for sixteen issues. Hawkeye #1 debuted at number 16 in the sales rankings and sold 70,884 units. Hawkeye then crashed and burned as Hawkeye #2-16 averaged the number 141 spot in the sales rankings and sold an average of 15,765 units.
Rogue & Gambit was a five-issue mini-series that was published from January through May 2018. Rogue & Gambit #1 debuted at the number 37 spot in the sales rankings and sold 38,657 units. Rogue & Gambit #2-5 averaged the number 120 spot in the sales rankings and sold an average of 18,790 units.
Mr. & Mrs. X was published from July 2018 through June 2019 and lasted for twelve issues. Mr. & Mrs. X debuted at the number 15 spot in the sales rankings and sold 71,396 units. Mr. & Mrs. X #2-12 averaged the number 114 spot in the sales rankings and sold an average of 19,031 units.
West Coast Avengers was published from August 2018 through April 2019 and ran for ten issues. West Coast Avengers #1 debuted at the number 48 spot in the sales rankings and sold 34,512 units. West Coast Avengers #2-10 averaged the number 120 spot in the sales rankings and sold an average of 17,301 units.
Deadpool was published from November 2019 to January 2021 and lasted for ten issues. Deadpool #1 debuted at the number 7 spot. Deadpool #2 then crashed all the way down to the number 49 spot. Deadpool #2-10 averaged the number 68 spot in the sales rankings. Deadpool is the most successful title that Kelly Thompson has had in the sales rankings.
Black Widow was published from September 2020 through April 2022 and lasted for fifteen issues. Black Widow #1 debuted at the number 24 spot in the sales rankings. Black Widow #2-15 averaged the number 83 spot in the sales rankings.
Captain Marvel Vol. 10 was published from January 2019 to July 2023 and lasted for fifty issues. Captain Marvel #1 debuted at the number 2 spot and then it was all downhill from there. The second issue fell to the number 39 spot. Captain Marvel #2-50 averaged the number 77 spot in the sales rankings.
Of Thompson’s nine titles, four averaged sales outside of the Top 100, and eight of her nine titles averaged sales outside of the Top 75. Thompson’s only title with a sales average in the Top 75 was Deadpool which averaged the number 68 spot.
Based on Thompson’s history, I have a tough time expecting Thompson to roll out a title that will consistently sell in the Top 75 title. Based on the Birds of Prey franchise’s past sales numbers, I am even more doubtful that this new Birds of Prey title can become a consistent Top 75 seller. The new roster does not do anything to get me to think that this new Birds of Prey will be a surprise hit.
Birds of Prey #1 will debut with a staggering seven different covers. This will absolutely help to drive the sales of the debut issue. I think that the amount of variant covers, plus the appeal of a #1 issue, and the brand name of the Birds of Prey franchise will power Birds of Prey #1 to a Top 10 debut.
However, I think it will be a quick drop from there. I would expect Birds of Prey to be struggling to stay in the Top 75 by Birds of Prey #5.
I am fascinated to see how consumers react to this new Birds of Prey. It will be interesting to see if this unusual new roster appeals to more readers than it does to me. This is going to be a fun title to track.