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The Birds of Prey Are Back in the "New 52"
on February 10, 2013
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.