Though the title is right there on the cover, the creators could have slapped “or Everything You Wanted to Know about Huntress and Were Afraid to Ask” right below it. This issue is all about Huntress, but is it good?
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #4 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? For the full DC summary just read this:
“Who Is Oracle” part five! Batgirl, Black Canary, and Huntress come face-to-face at last with the new Oracle…and unlock a mystery they never saw coming!
Why does this book matter?
Shawna Benson and Julie Benson have written an intriguing story from the very first issue with this series. The characters have slowly banded together and the team building is genuine. They’re also all after a mysterious hacker called Oracle…but isn’t that Batgirl? Along the way, Roge Antonio has been rendering emotive characters and tight action.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The mafia were the good guys people.
A running mystery of this series has been who Huntress is and where she came from and this issue aims to explain just that. I counted six of the 20 pages in this comic focused on Huntress flashbacks, which gives you all the info you needed on her family, her parents’ untimely death, and how she started her quest of training and, well, hunting. Shawna and Julie Benson do a good job capturing the pain and heartbreak of her past and weave it into the narrative nicely.
Outside of the flashbacks, the Birds of Prey do a good job progressing the plot, get to kick some robot butt (I guess they read Harley and her Gang of Harleys huh?) and reveal a tantalizing cliffhanger. There’s a quip or two that lands as well.
Antonio’s art continues to be clean and accessible. The colors are great (just look at the page below) and the flashbacks have a nice color tone difference to remind us it’s a flashback. Reaction shots continue to be a plus too and it’s always easy to read shock or fear.
Dig the sky and the colors in the mask.
It can’t be perfect can it?
A couple of character beats drop in this issue and they don’t feel very genuine. One deals with Huntress finally accepting her compatriots. It’s rather rushed considering she’s just coming off a mission where she tried to do it all on her own. The other has to do with Batgirl figuring out who Huntress is, and again, after all the issues before it playing up their not knowing. It’s nice the cat is out of the bag with both, but it seems to be occurring now to serve the plot rather than payoff the anticipation of the shoe finally dropping.
Since so much time is spent in the flashbacks there’s a lot less humor and character work than in previous issues. The girls don’t riff off each other quite as much leaving a bit of a void when it comes to this series’ sweet spot.
Is It Good?
If you ever wanted to know more about this new version of Huntress you’re in luck as all is revealed. The story progresses ever so slightly too, though you’ll be disappointed with how two long standing mysteries are revealed.