Review: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #10

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 & John Rauch

Batgirl and Huntress with Nightwing, Green Arrow and Gemini in tow are off to find Black Canary who’s been silent for too long during her undercover mission to infiltrate Blackbird’s “school.” They end up tracing them back to the Clocktower where Blackbird is masquerading (shape-shifting) as Dinah. Babs tricks her into revealing herself and the fight begins.

Blackbird has become quite formidable with the powers of multiple metahumans, but the mind-control powers she stole from the boy, Owen, turn out to be harder to master and the Birds manage to form a psychic link that Blackbird can’t break. This provides the Birds the opening they need to defeat her.

The Birds say their goodbyes to Nightwing and Green Arrow and prepare to have a celebration for Dinah’s return. They finally invite the new Oracle to participate as a full member, but he has a special request for them. He has a “friend” in “need…”

Despite being a mostly “action” issue, there is quite a lot of character work woven in that hits all the right notes. One of the greatest strengths of the Birds of Prey has always been their chemistry and friendship. This bond  is acknowledged in the text of the story, but it is exhibited even more so. The emotional bonds with ancillary characters like Nightwing and Green Arrow is a part of this. Remarkably, this even extends to the other characters, Owen and Gemini. It’s clear that the Birds genuinely care for each other, but also these unfortunate victims of Blackbird. It is that display of empathy and humanity that makes the Birds of Prey unique. This element is, perhaps, the singularly unique element that makes Batgirl and the Birds of Prey stand apart from the rest of the DC lineup. It is not dissimilar to the New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes in the ’80’s. There is even a throwback feel with more dialogue than most contemporary comics and a look to Antonio’s art that recalls the best of DC in the ’70’s. Lastly, the Bensons have chosen to reveal Oracle’s initially perceived treachery slowly, and with it, create some real sympathy for the character.

It’s not often there are perfect runs in comics, but Batgirl and the Birds of Prey is making a case for such. Certain characters and concepts lend themselves to particular themes and approaches. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey is locking in that pocket with character, chemistry and friendship, and a negative is hard to find.

Everyone knew that Blackbird would get her comeuppance, but the way it occurred and the character work therein are the real highlights of the issue. It’s these things that keep a reader coming back. Because their relationship seem so real, it makes me wish I could break that fourth wall and hang out in the Clocktower with these wonderful characters.

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