Review: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #5

by Matthew Lloyd
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[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers.]

Writers: Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Artist: Roge Antonio
Colors: Allen Passalaqua

After a decent start this series has been getting better and better. But, this issue in particular find the Birds of Prey in very familiar territory and tops last issue as the best issue of the series.

The Birds have found the new Oracle’s headquarters and as they look around they are startled to discover that Oracle is a Batgirl stalker-fan.  It’s doesn’t take long before the new Oracle appears and is quickly questioned.  Turns out that the young man is a Barbara Gordon super-fan and has figured out her identity as well as the other Birds.  While he means well, the Birds make sure he understands that he’s been hurting the Birds. Helena wants to kill him, Canary seems ready to throttle him and Babs is angry, but this experience also forces her to think about her own identity and determine who she is; Oracle, Barbara or Batgirl?

We are then treated to a flashback of the one time earlier in his life that he helped Barbara when she was Oracle.  Barbara relents and allows him to help them, but Batgirl stays with him at the computer and sends Huntress and Canary out in the field like the old days.  They set a trap for Fenice and everything goes according to plan until Helena sees Fenice.  Yep, it was teased last issue.

The strongest element of this issue is the perfect characterization and the chemistry between Barbara, Helena and Dinah.  Helena and Dinah’s banter practically sings.  The three are settling into their roles and it not only feels familiar, but it feels right.  The new Oracle is used in an interesting way, despite being a character he speaks for many readers when he says he always liked Barbara best as Oracle.  This issue even teases that perhaps Barbara may resume her role as Oracle for the team.  The new Oracle also comments on Black Canary’s stint as a singer in a band.  Finally, the slow reveal of both the new Oracle and Fenice were both well done and surprising.

There’s not much to criticize about this issue, only a few awkward depictions of Babs when she looks like a 10-year-old girl.  It’s clearly trying to channel the Batgirl of Burnside take, but here it still seems incongruous with Batgirl’s experience and age especially as this series is showing the length and breadth of Barbara’s career.

This is the Birds of Prey you’ve been waiting for. Over the past few issues, piece by piece these characters have become familiar and developed into the concept that was so successful pre-“New 52.”  If you were a fan of the Birds then, it’s time to come back and give this title a try.

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