The Birds of Prey are back! But wait, they aren’t the same Birds of Prey you knew before. That can only mean one thing… NEW 52 DC RELAUNCH!

BIRDS OF PREY #1
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Jesus Saiz
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover Artists: Saiz and Ruffino
Editor: Janelle Asselin
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Birds of Prey: Take a group of very attractive and very lethal ladies with unique skills, set them to work righting wrongs, and there is nothing that can stop them.

NOTHING!

Except for a universe relaunch.

IT’S THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT!

In the waning months of the old DCU, I grew distant from the Birds of Prey, and superhero comics in general. With this all-new all-different universe just waiting for readers to jump back on, The Birds of Prey caught my attention. You see, I really liked the dynamic between Oracle, Black Canary, Lady Blackhawk, and The Huntress, but for whatever reason, that team got mixed and mashed, and thrown in the blender until SOMETHING happened to end it all. Which leads us to this first issue. The Birds of Prey are back, but right now the team consists of two members – one of them is Black Canary.

Charlie Keen is an investigative reporter, and his secret inside source has given him a tip that results in him following wanted murderer Black Canary, and her secret team of evil murdering villainesses (Mystery Woman appears on page 8, panel 2). Because this story is being told with Black Canary’s narration, we know what her powers are, but everything else we thought we knew about the BoP has been turned upside down.

I don’t know what happened at the end of the last Birds of Prey series, or if Black Canary’s murder rap is part of the DCnU that will be revealed in time, but it seemed a little forced in this issue. Of course this is the all new DC, which means there are going to be a number of new faces – including the second current member of the Birds of Prey, Ev Crawford/Starling. She’s an all new character, so less is known about her, and even less is learned about her in this first issue.

And that is pretty much par for the course. A mysterious team of cloaked commandos are trying to kill the Birds, Charlie Keen becomes an explosive key in moving the story forward, and readers learn that a potentially third member of the team will/might be Katana – and in this relaunched universe, she could be anyone.

There is an awkward appearance by Barbara Gordon, but if you are expecting answers to why she is up and walking around in the pages of Batgirl, you aren’t going to get it here. There is an awesome fight scene that takes place in a church, but I think the writer and artist forgot that when a 1940’s Packard meets the brick and mortar of a church, the car isn’t going to come away looking shiny and new. I love how the flashback moments are handled, and I will give Swierczynski credit for writing a story that has a solid foundation that could build into something awesome. But for now, everything seems rather jumbled. If you are trying to attract new readers to the property, confusing plot devices aren’t going to hold their attention for long.

DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE JESUS

When I first saw Birds of Prey listed as part of the relaunch, I was mildly interested in reading the book. When I took a look at Jesus Saiz’s art, my interest level climbed. Here’s a guy that understands how to draw action – capture the action midway through the move gives the panel a dynamic feel that pops out and grabs your attention. The flashback moments are not only well written, but the transition by Saiz reminds me of the first season or two of Alias, which is pretty cool.

Complimenting Saiz’s drawing is Nei Ruffino’s coloring which adds depth and dimension to the pencils. It’s clear that computer aided coloring is going on, but Ruffino doesn’t go over the top with gimmicky Photoshop filters that some people seem to think are as necessary as breathing or eating. There are some panels that could use some refining with darker shadows, but I’m satisfied enough with what I’ve seen to want to see more.

BOTTOM LINE: MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

My interest in this book varied over the last couple of days. I moved from mildly interested, to very interested, ultimately settling on better than average. Birds of Prey #1 certainly wasn’t the best book of the week, and it certainly wasn’t the worst. There are some interesting character changes that have occurred, and I think once they characters discover the virus/poison component of the mystery the story will kick in, but for now, you’re going to have to take your chances with this one. I’m giving Birds of Prey #1 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★½☆

 

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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10 Comments

  1. Mike5399
    September 25, 2011 at 10:30 am — Reply

    more utter crap from DC!
    Why did they bother to call this book/group Birds of Prey? They are nothing like the original incarnation – oh wait – maybe some of the old BOP would buy it for the name?
    Fat chance!!
    More contempt for readers from DC!

    • JacinB
      September 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm — Reply

      You know, as often as you say the same thing in the same way about different comics, I’m starting to doubt that you actually even flipped through the pages of these books, much less took the time to actually read them and develop an informed opinion.

      • Mike5399
        September 25, 2011 at 5:11 pm — Reply

        If it pleases you and makes you feel more secure to think that – go ahead – but yes, I have read them and revile them as much as I suggest.
        I have read DC comics for a long, long time and have respect and attachment for many characters – most of which didn’t survive the butchery of the reboot.
        If you want to support the new DC editorial direction – fine – I don’t, and I’m entitled to voice my opinion (and opposition) just as you are as many times as I feel it necesasry.
        I am aslo entitled to make my protest by not giving DC any more of my money for this crap!
        The changes to the characters (or cancelleations thereof) and the blatant sex and violence shock tactics in recent titles makes me sick at heart over what was – yes WAS – a great comic company!

        • Mauricio Fleury
          September 26, 2011 at 12:47 pm — Reply

          Mike5399 said it! Sex and violence may sell movies and tv shows but comics… So far the DCnU attempt to jumpstart a new timeline of a dying universe was not successful. Don’t get me wrong not all tittle stink but the putrid stench of one or two may hold onto your nose trills and eventually contaminate the others. I hope in the ed we can salvage a hero or two from oblivion. Readers, old-timers like myself are trying to cope with tofay’s new guidelines to make comics and not all of them are good. Keep the focus DC…

          • Damascus
            October 1, 2011 at 2:34 pm — Reply

            So far DC seems to be getting way more coverage on their new books than anything any other company’s putting out. Plus, the thought that sex and violence doesn’t sell comics goes against the entire 90s period of comic sales which has been the most profitable period for comics in a long long time. Plus, complaining about violence in a super hero comic seems a little silly.

    • jacko
      October 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm — Reply

      sorry , that you are missing the ride. Thank God , DC did the relaunch , for the 1st time in 40+ years , the majority of their comics are readable. As a fan since 1960 , there are more solid DC titles (including this one ) then there has ever been

  2. Belmont
    September 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm — Reply

    Sometimes you can get the gist of the story esp these new 52 comics when you goto DC Comics Online and they give you a short paragraph blurp on what said character is going to do in the 3 issues. That’s why I am not ordering Jonah Hex is because they got him tied into Batman history, with him riding into Gotham in the period of the old west. Don’t like that concept, Jonah was a stand-alone character with the other western DC comic characters like Bat Lash appearing for a comic or two then, it was Hex as he was a lone character plus he didn’t in the areas of the northeastern United States, Hex stayed out west and had some adventures in the south, but mainly the old west. Also El Diablo a DC take on the Zorro character, having him take on zombies. Something that’s been overdone way to many times for me to count. Again Vampires, Werewolves, and now Zombies are on my off list done way to much.

    • Kent Nelson
      September 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm — Reply

      You should take the time to read the new Jonah Hex book, “All-Star Western” if you haven’t yet. I was very apprehensive about it, but by the end, was in love with it. It’s well written and illustrated.

    • Damascus
      October 1, 2011 at 2:44 pm — Reply

      Well what was the last successful Western title to be released? It makes sense to try to tie a character like Jonah Hex into a much more popular franchise, at least from a business standpoint. Batman can support 16 ongoing titles, and Jonah Hex may need the boost, especially after that terrible movie. This is supposed to be a reinvention for some of these characters. We’ll see though, I haven’t read it yet so I have no real judgement until I actually do read the issues. Only way to really have an informed view on it, so maybe I’ll add another post later.

  3. October 2, 2011 at 9:02 pm — Reply

    Read it. Didn’t enjoy it much. Frankly, I just found it boring. I really like Jesus Saiz’s art, and the story wasn’t *bad* it just didn’t feel like it should have been a first issue. It didn’t make me care. Meh.

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