Batgirl and The Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1 Julie and Shawna Benson (Writers), Claire Roe (Artist), Allen Passalaqua (Colourist), and Steve Wands (Letterer). DC Comics July 20th, 2016 Disclaimer: This review is based on an advanced copy from the publisher and contains spoilers. "It's one thing to lead a double life. It's another to find out one life is
Batgirl and The Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1
Julie and Shawna Benson (Writers), Claire Roe (Artist), Allen Passalaqua (Colourist), and Steve Wands (Letterer).
July 20th, 2016
Disclaimer: This review is based on an advanced copy from the publisher and contains spoilers.
“It’s one thing to lead a double life. It’s another to find out one life is going on without you.” –Batgirl
I really like the above lines in Batgirl and The Birds of Prey. It gets to the root of the issue: Who is this new Oracle selling information to the mafia? The question plagues Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl, and it spurs her into reconnecting with her old Birds of Prey pal, Dinah Lance, a.k.a. Black Canary. Dinah only agrees to team up again because of how much Oracle meant to Barbara, and the issue ends with the two preventing Helena Bertinelli, a.k.a. Huntress, from killing their lead.
I love that the Bensons give these women distinct personalities that are ripe for interpersonal conflict and hopefully a great relationship arc. I love team books that are built on great characters and their relationships, and the plot should serve that. I need to be invested in the team, and so far, I really like what I’m seeing with this one. Claire Roe reveals their personalities in her art. A friend mentioned the way Batgirl is drawn with a thick, muscled, and powerful build, and I love how Roe draws Canary’s knees, which are knobby and distinct. Batgirl is generally a happy person who has fun fighting crime, but is also a survivor of trauma. (Yes, The Killing Joke is still around, but more on that later). You see that play out in the range of emotions she expresses and how quickly she goes from one to the other. Black Canary is more moody and snarky, which you can see was carried over from her time in her Black Canary solo series. Helena is determined and vengeful, but in control thanks to her time as a spy.
The issue wasn’t perfect. I think they could have cut down on the narration at the beginning where they gave us a breakdown on how Barbara became Batgirl and her time as Oracle. There are also lines throughout that could have been changed or removed to keep it tighter. I’m aware that the way Huntress was introduced is something we’ve seen utilized on the screen and page before (she’s talking to someone and you realize after she’s done that the person she’s talking to is dead), but I still enjoyed it. I loved Helena in Grayson and loved that she was back in Birds of Prey and remained a woman of colour.
Yes, The Killing Joke story is still canon, and it’s starting to feel played out like Batman’s parents getting murdered. The recreation didn’t need to happen, and if you want a refresher of why most of us aren’t fans of The Killing Joke at WWAC, check out these posts. I will say that I liked the inclusion of the emotional fallout, because it showed how specific everyday things, like marshmallows and palm trees, are triggers for Barbara after that trauma. I also liked the acknowledgement of Gotham not being a place built for the disabled during the Oracle flashback.
I dug it, and it’s a great jumping on point for newbies or those who were reading the previous Batgirl series. It looks like a good balance between Gail Simone’s run and the Stewart/Fletcher/Tarr run.