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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The Birds of Prey are a crime-fighting team in the DC Universe, that is made up of female super-heroes. Though this was an editorial decision for the team's titular comic book, it was never an exact goal of the characters to make it an "all-girl" team in the comics. It is merely how things keep turning out.

The reasoning for the "all-girl" construction of the team in the continuity of the post-Flashpoint "new 52" reboot of the the DC Universe, is one of absolute necessity. As Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Trouble in Mind begins, Black Canary is seeking to use her abilities for good, and she is unable to go to many people given her status as an (I presume) falsely accused murderer. She must go to those she can trust, which happens to be her best female friends or contacts. Though we know she has male contacts she can trust, so this makes little sense in a way, but okay, sure.

The first member of her team we meet is a woman named Evelyn, or Ev, for short. Her code-name is Starling, and she is a brand new character created for this new series. Her attitude, actions, and comportment absolutely screams "military background". And she is probably nearly on par with Canary in terms of fighting skills.

The second member of the team is Katana, who is one of the foremost martial artists of the DC Universe, and a valuable member of the team. Of course, this value needs to be taken into account with the fact that she thinks her murdered husband's soul is trapped in her sword's blade and speaking to her....

The team is rounded out by eco-terrorist and mass-murderer Poison Ivy (whom, in an unbelievably stupid delusion, Canary thinks she can control somehow) and Batgirl Barbara Gordon. Batgirl wants nothing to do with the team, as she has her own issues to deal with (having regained the use of her legs recently after a three-year paralysis), and Poison Ivy seems to be in this more out of amusement than anything else.

The first story arc was quite good, and in fact was better than most of the initial story arcs post-reboot that I have read. It was a real page-turner with a pretty decent mystery, and some good character development, and the promise of more of the above still to come. I was a tad bummed that the first arc seemed to end on a downer, but I hear that the team bounces back in the next volume, so I'm looking forward to that.

There were some problems I had, but more with the unanswered questions and lack of logic to the series on some points. For those who snark that this is a comic book, so what? You can still have internal consistency in a comic story.

The two main problems on this score are Canary's reasoning in bringing the team together, and putting Ivy on the team. Is this the first time there was such a team? Or is this a new team based on an old one? If the latter, it makes sense for her to start a new one, but if the former, then why start a team? Hopefully when Canary's new back story is explained more, we'll find some answers. Secondly, why Poison Ivy? Just why? I mean, the whole "needs to interrogate without killing" thing could easily be done by the sorceress Zatanna, or other characters in the DC Universe. If her relationship with the members of the Bat-family is any indication, it's not like she can't find a fellow super-hero to trust her that could do Ivy's job. It just seems that the reasoning behind the formation of the team and the inclusion of Ivy is really weak, and I hope this is addressed in future issues.

This is one of my favorites titles with the new 52 in DC Comics, despite these weak points. What's more, some of the overt sexualization of the female characters pre-reboot was toned down, and the costumes aren't at the insanely "stripperific" levels of yore. Though they are still drawn to be improbably beautiful, they also come across as believable, dynamic female characters, and not just eye candy. Definitely a comic worth checking out.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon October 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Black Canary, EV Starling, Katana, Poison Ivy, and Batgirl join forces to defeat a villain, Choke, who controls people through nursery rhymes implanted in their heads. But it seems almost anyone can fall under the power of Choke's words... even the Birds of Prey.

"Trouble in Mind" has a lot of cool action, the characters have some nice dialogue, and the mystery of Choke was interesting, as were his murky goals. That "Birds of Prey" has killers on the squad adds a nice edge to the stories as more than one of them is likely to lose it and do something extreme and very un-heroic. The art is serviceable though Jesus Saiz made the strange choice of adding red on the tips of every character's nose making it seem like they all have colds.

The book was great fun but if you're new to "Birds of Prey" (like me), a lot of questions will pop up for you that won't go answered. And it's frustrating - this is supposed to be a reboot, why skip over some very basic questions to draw the reader in? I read another superhero team up in the "New 52" recently - "Suicide Squad" - and it was established pretty quickly that this odd collection of characters were forced to work together because of bombs implanted inside them - any disobedience and it's goodbye Chinatown. Reading "Birds of Prey" I didn't know why any of them would work together or why. Poison Ivy- really?

This is another example of the New 52 not being a reboot of the series but a continuation of a series already in progress, mislabelling this book as "Volume 1". Black Canary is wanted for murder - but we never see the murder nor is there an explanation. More importantly, why has Black Canary started this vigilante group in the first place? What are their goals and purpose? Why do such disparate individuals like Katana and Poison Ivy even want to work in a team? The writer, Duane Swierczynski, gives the lamest explanation for why Katana joined, but the others? Doesn't even try. So reading this I had no clue why this group were together or why Black Canary chose each person to start with. I recognised some of the characters because I'm a big Batman fan but I have no idea who EV Starling or Katana are. The absence of any backstory to any of the characters left me with an overall impression of constant arbitrariness.

"Trouble in Mind" is not a bad book but it is definitely unsatisfying from the perspective of someone coming to this series for the first time. There are too many questions that any first book in a series ought to be addressing rather than ignoring and rolling right ahead - it makes everything that follows much less involving for the reader. It's exciting and fun but I expect old readers of this series will get more out of it than new ones.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
I'm one of those DC Fans that was extremely sad and angry when DC decided to relaunch all it's comics.But still I couldn't give up on DC as I've been reading these comics since more than a decade. I've read quite a few of the "New 52" title and I've been disappointed . But this one is an exception.

This is definitely one of the better titles in the "new 52" wave. The story is pretty absorbing. Lot of action and suspense. You can't just stop reading as you are always eager to find out what happens next. Even the artwork is pretty amazing.
The best part of this book and why I ABSOLUTELY LOVE this book...is the characterization!! ALL the lovely ladies of the "Birds of Prey" are extremely likable and a reader almost instantly forms an emotional bond with them. Most, or rather many of the main DC characters (like Superman, Wonder woman etc) have been completely changed. They don't "feel" like the old DC characters (prior to the reboot). But, in this book, all the main characters felt almost as same as the old ones. In fact, I like these characters even MORE than I used to like them before. The new character Starling is also very appealing. Hats-off to the writer for doing a terrific job in developing the characters.

Minor Spoiler Alert - Begin
There's one small complaint with this book though. The writer doesn't explain somethings by the end of the book. Some loose ends are left open. Like, in one instance , the team has no recollection of what has happened some few minutes prior. And it has never been explained , that did actually transpire then. Also, initially Batgirl refuses Black Canary's offer to join the team but later suddenly agrees to do so without proper reason. It seemed odd. Also, how Black Canary is able to figure the identity of the main Villain doesn't make much sense.

Minor Spoiler Alert - End

But the above mentioned small faults in the story are negligible! This book is extremely enjoyable. This book is now one of my favorites in the "New 52" and am eagerly looking forward to the next volume in this series!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I am completely new to graphic novels/comics, and I wanted to start at the beginning of a new series. In really happy I chose this one! So good, and such an awesome female cast. Loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 5, 2013
Format: Paperback
Birds of Prey has been one of my favorite comic books since Chuck Dixon first paired Oracle (Barbara Gordon, Batgirl) and Black Canary. I loved the repartee and the combination of brawn and brains that having Oracle guide Black Canary on her adventures brought to the stories. Then other costumed heroines were added and things got even more action packed.

With the shake up of the DC universe in the New 52 and Barbara Gordon's return to the cowl and her own series, I regretted the loss of the team and of writer Gail Simone. I've read Duane Swierczynski's crime novels and really enjoyed them but didn't know how he would do as the writer for the book. As it turns out, Swierczynski does a bang-up job all the way around.

The author loves intricately plotted stories that seems simple on the outset, but once you're into them, things change and shift rapidly. This first graphic novel introduces a really cool villain with some technology that will ping all the conspiracy theorists out there in the audience. Choke is one of those villains I'd like to see again, and since this graphic novel ends so ambiguously, I'm assuming we will again.

I feel kind of lost not knowing why Black Canary is suddenly wanted for murder. Seems like that story might have kicked things off for the series. And I don't know that I like the idea of her being a criminal, even though the original Black Canary was a thief/vigilante. I guess things will be cleared up as the series progresses.

I'm not quite sure what I think of Ev Starling, Swierczynski's addition to Birds. In some ways she doesn't really stand out enough from the rest of the team. I know she's supposed to be this big-time spy and everything, but I don't know much else about her or even why I should care. Black Canary can do more than Starling can when it comes to martial arts, and she has a superpower. Starling has lots and lots of guns, and I'm not sure how they fit in Birds yet.

Katana's personality has really undergone some serious changes. At least, they have from the last time I saw her. Now she thinks her dead husband lives in her sword? Don't remember that at all.

I do like the addition of Poison Ivy to the team! I thought that was a stroke of genius. Not only does she have some serious powers, but she also brings a lot of scientific know-how to the team to help replace what Oracle normally provided. I LOVE her new costume.

Jesus Saiz's artwork really rocks the pages and he knows how to handle action.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
In what I'm sure gets many a womanless fanboy's blood boiling, DC Comics has combined the technical and physical strengths of a group of powerful females to relaunch the crime-fighting team known as the Birds of Prey. The New 52 incarnation of the team is made up of Dinah Lance (Black Canary), Katana, Poison Ivy, and a vigilante with a taste for firearms named Starling. Batgirl helps out every once in a while when needed. The first New 52 graphic novel collection features issues #1 through #7 entitled "Birds of Prey Volume 1: Trouble in Mind."

In this first story-arc of the series, Batgirl refuses to re-join the Birds of Prey. Dinah Lance approaches sword-wielding Katana at her suggestion. Together with firearm-happy Starling and bioterrorist Poison Ivy, Dinah and Katana embark on a deadly mission to discover who's causing a series of explosions in Gotham City. Along the way, they battle hired assassins and killers donning stealth suits. They must also figure out what stolen pharmaceuticals have to do with the plans of whatever maniacal villain is committing these atrocities.

Writer Duane Swierczynski knows how to weave a complex thriller that would make Batman creator Bob Kane proud. The story is very much in the spirit of the original comics he wrote from the 1930s and 1940s. The Birds of Prey are detectives using everything in their individual arsenals to figure out who's behind the bombings.

Artist Jesus Saiz skillfully adapts Swierczynski's narrative to life in pictures. He does a wonderful job giving each character a visual identity with the occasional help of Javier Pina's finishing. The vibrant coloring by Nei Ruffino, Allen Passalaqua, and June Chung makes the panels leap out at the reader.

There are character sketches included in the collection as an extra bonus. Different color and black and white versions of Black Canary, Starling, Katana, and Poison Ivy are showcased. It's interesting to see alternate takes on the characters by renowned artists like Jim Lee and Cully Hamner.

"Birds of Prey Volume 1: Trouble in Mind" will please longtime fans of the crime-fighting team as well as give new readers an easy place to try the series. This graphic novel collection proves that these girls are a vital part of the extended Batman Family. Writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Jesus Saiz did an exceptional job bringing these super heroines to life and revising them for the New 52.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon January 2, 2014
Format: Paperback
I usually read Marvel series, but one thing DC does better, at least in the New 52, is female solo and team series. I really enjoy the Suicide Squad with Harley Quinn and I picked up Birds of Prey because it looked to be another edgy series. Happily, it gets off to a strong start.

Birds of Prey is not as violent as Suicide Squad – no eviscerations yet and a lower body count– but it does have a darker tone. These ladies are anti-heroes at best, and in the case of Poison Ivy, sometimes a villain. But, Ivy is a lot like Catwoman; she’s on the wrong side of the law but not a dyed in the wool villain so it makes sense for her to be here. I wasn't familiar with the rest of the team, or its leader Black Canary, before reading Birds, but you don't need to be. Each character gets an intro to set the stage.

What makes the series work is that the action, and there is plenty, is balanced by mystery. The Batman roots of this series are clearly evident, even beyond their member-at-large, Batgirl. These girls don’t just have to kick butt, they have to think, and I like that. The team faces an enemy who manipulates people with mind control, making them into bombs, spies or sleeper agents. When one of them is compromised, are any of them trustworthy?

Overall, this is a strong start for a series with a lot of potential. Each team member is distinct, in personality and skills, and I liked them all. I can't wait to see where it goes from here. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2014
Format: Paperback
I've run across the Birds of Prey briefly in my reading of the New 52 so far and they have intrigued me so when I received a gift-card I bought the first two trades. The members here make for an awesome team! I am already familiar with (and love!) two of the members (Poison Ivy & Batgirl), Starling is a new character, and I wasn't familiar with Black Canary or Katana. The only one I'm not sure I like is Black Canary. Katana is an awesome female warrior. A Japanese ninja-type who believes her sword is possessed by her dead husband. Fighting to her means killing, she stabs, slays, decapitates her way though any battle and the others have to rein her in when they need baddies alive to question. So i love the characters and the dynamics between them. The plot on the otherhand was only so-so. It was intense enough but didn't feel appropriate for a superhero comic. Choke and his team of mind-controlled assassins could be the bad guy from any thriller/crime novel; he was a far cry from a comic supervillain though and that left me rather unimpressed with the Birds whole caper in this volume. Love the girls though and want to see if they get a better plot in the next volume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
reboots are always scary, but I think this is one of the few in the New 52 that really handled itself well. Starting from scratch, introducing instantly memorable new characters, and giving well deserved makeovers to veteran DC characters. Black Canary has ditched the fishnets and the 80s biker jacket and taken on a costume that reflects and respects her original design. Katana went from just being "a chick who uses a katana" to an absolutely fantastic member with an instantly recognizable appearance and backstory. Seeing the crew without Huntress and Oracle is a bit strange, but the title holds itself together and is as strong as ever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This was the first time I've ever read a Birds of Prey title. I wasn't expecting a classic, but something that entertained, kept a good pace and was fun. This volume fits the bill. The story line was well done and evolved without being too predictable. The characters were cycled well and each had their own personality. And the art was great. I'll definitely continue to follow the Birds of Prey (New 52)series.
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