Batgirl may have top billing when it comes to the title of this series, but make no mistake the dynamic between the three female leads is the best element. She can’t do it without them, but can you do without issue #1? Let’s find out.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The DC summary reads:
“Who Is Oracle?” part one! Someone has stolen the name Oracle right out of Barbara Gordon’s past! Hot on this false Oracle’s trail, Batgirl, Black Canary, and Huntress are all tracking the same mafia capo…so it makes sense to team up, right? Problem is, Barbara and Dinah need the secrets locked up in Oracle’s brain…and Helena Bertinelli would rather put a crossbow bolt right through it!
Why does this book matter?
We may not have loved the Rebirth issue, but you have to admit the premise is sound. Throw together three badass superheroes and have them try to solve a mystery that’s personal? Sounds like a good time to me.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
First and foremost, the art in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 is top notch with very expressive faces and solid detail. There’s a lot of attention being put into these pages by Claire Roe with color by Allen Passalaqua. Take for instance a full page splash of Huntress, Black Canary and Batgirl chasing a perp. The angle is low – you can see the image above – and each window of the buildings is drawn, shoes at the top of the page tangle from a wire. TL;DR: This book looks really impressive and the details count — even Huntress’ motorcycle engine is rendered fabulously in the aforementioned splash. There’s an obvious noir feel being used; even in a scene where Batgirl and Black Canary are talking in a well lit room there’s shadow used to convey a subtle darkness. When the main villain is revealed at the end the shadows are unmistakably reminiscent of classic film noir.
With the atmosphere and detail in check, the action is fantastic too, with one heck of a three way fight scene between the leading ladies. Every kick, punch, and dodge is drawn well and with adequate facial expressions attached to each move. Roe gives each character a weight that allows the action to feel realistic and each punch to look like it hurts. Later in this scene every Black Canary eyeroll is delectable.
A lot of care and time went into the art of these pages.
The plot isn’t too bad either. Julie Benson and Shawna Benson open the issue with a separate mission for Black Canary and Batgirl that’s well told with plenty of dialogue to cue us into what’s going on. The dynamic between Batgirl and Black Canary is solid and it’ll be interesting to see how Huntress mixes things up when (or if) she becomes a full member.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I’m not sold on Batgirl’s part as the somewhat bumbling character for comedic relief. She messes up in silly ways in this issue and comes off as a beginner kid more than anything. It takes her down a notch in some respects which hurts her place amongst the other two leads.
The villains in this issue aren’t established that well either making the characters running around and chasing seem somewhat pointless. Sure, there’s someone tarnishing the Oracle name, but this issue doesn’t establish why that matters all that much. A person is dead, a bad guy does show up, but beyond that this is all about the three main leads more than anything. It lacks the necessary stakes and threats to make the mission they’re on feel meaningful.
Lil mission before the issue gets going.
Is It Good?
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 is a great character drama that’s not only fun, but action packed. It may lack a proper villain and high stakes (so far), but the characters certainly carry it with their strong personalities.