[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1. Julie Benson & Shawna Benson- Writers, Claire Roe- Artist, Allen Passalaqua- Colors.
One of the main goals of Rebirth has been to add back into DC’s comics and their characters’ aspects that the “New 52” eliminated. However, it’s not supposed to be simply retroactive continuity. The story told in the DC Universe: Rebirth special that came out at the end of May told a story that explained what happened to the missing elements. While that book provided an explanation it didn’t provide a resolution. Therefore, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey feels more like a reveal of an unknown history featuring Batgirl and Black Canary. Thankfully, what this issue adds back in is probably the most missed and pined for element of the pre-Flashpoint DCU except for the missing Wally West. Barbara and Dinah don’t have any sense that they’ve recovered lost memories or time in their lives. How this missing time fits into the greater continuity of the DC Universe is a little unclear, but the sisters Benson do a nice job of filling in the readers on the basic histories of the three main characters- Batgirl, Black Canary and the Huntress.
Batgirl is hitting the streets and comes across a perpetrator that has received a message from Oracle. We get a brief history of Barbara Gordon that hits all the highlights of her life’s story- daughter of Commissioner Gordon, inspired by him and Batman to fight crime, paralyzed by the Joker, a career as Oracle with Black Canary as the Birds of Prey, experimental surgery and a return to the long underwear army. Black Canary’s history is summarized as well before Barbara is able to convince her to go after the individual who has co-opted her Oracle identity and appears to be feeding info to the mob. Their investigation leads them to Louis Terroni. Meanwhile, we get a quick into to Helena Bertinelli who is also on the trail of Mr. Terroni. The three ladies’ paths cross here and conflict is presented as Dinah and Babs want him for questioning and Helena just wants to kill him on the spot.
The biggest positive is the return of Barbara’s career as Oracle to her history and to the greater DC Universe. With all the excitement surrounding this, it’s tough to do a single introductory issue. The Bensons do a fine job with the mechanics of accomplishing the basics here to make the reader feel like he or she knows what’s going on. The set up for the official #1 issue is solid as well. Claire Roe’s art is quite nice as well. It certainly owes a debt to the characters’ most recent incarnations.
The characters feel a little flat. With the exposition needed to accomplish the storytelling it is understandable. When the characters do come through they still owe a lot to the “Batgirl of Burnside” and “Black Canary: Rockstar” takes. Not having an affinity for either of these iterations of the characters, the book still feels like it lacks that strong character chemistry that was present and such a driving force in the pre-Flashpoint Birds of Prey series. The tension that seems to be just below the surface feels out of place with the classic Birds of Prey.
What this issue lacked seems like it can be easily recaptured in the series. With more space and narrative it should be easy to get Barbara and Dinah exhibiting the friendship they once had. Helena will be an unknown quantity for a bit as she is new to this version of Birds of Prey. My only trepidation is that Batgirl and the Birds of Prey will stick close to the most recent versions of the characters and they won’t exhibit the same camaraderie that existed in the classic version. It was not the basic concept that made Birds of Prey so good in the pre-Flashpoint DCU, it was the relationships between the characters that were developed by Chuck Dixon and Gail Simone most notably.
Rating: 3 out of 5