The Birds of Prey are Back?
The Birds of Prey have recently stepped back into the spotlight thanks to the movie a few months back. Since then, two titles were announced. One by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palimot and another by Brian Azzarello and Emanuela Lupacchino. The latter was announced to make a full Birds of Prey series while the former would make a one-shot.. As time went on, the popularity of the female team came and went. DC began to think a whole series wouldn’t be profitable and cut it to a miniseries. More time passed, and soon that miniseries became a one-shot Black Label book. Even after all that, it was pushed back even further due to world events. Now that it’s out, can Azzarello deliver a good story that was cut down twice?
**Some Spoilers Below**
Early one morning, Black Canary gets a call from a man she worked with. He warns her that a new threat is coming before being murdered by a gang. At the same time, Harley Quinn arrives back in Gotham. She has been taken off the Suicide Squad as well as left the Joker. She now seeks a new purpose in life. Finally, we have Renee Montoya meeting up with Huntress to discuss crime. The detective has been sending Huntress down paths that she is not allowed to go on. With all four players in place, the gang begins to descend on Gotham to wreak havoc.
It’s obvious that this had to be cut down for the one-shot format. The problem is the way it’s cut, it’s done in such a way that the flow is all over the place. It starts slow, doing a good job setting up the characters and their motivations, then proceeds to hop all over the place. We focus on Black Canary, then Harley, then Huntress and round and round. Black Canary doesn’t even meet up with Huntress and Harley till the back half of the book. Then there’s the non-ending which only irritated me. We end on not one but two cliffhangers. Did the Birds escape? Did Harley end up killing the Joker? We don’t know and never will!
That said, Black Canary appears to have gotten the most attention out of our four members. The man at the beginning had enough connection to send Dinah into a depressive episode. Before she’s even cleared, she loses someone else: Byron from her 2015 Series. These deaths affect her and put her in the game. Black Canary ends up having an actual personal stake and wants vengeance. It fleshes her out a whole lot more than the other members and makes me want to read Dinah’s story more.
While I had plenty of issues about the story, I have no problem with the art. Emanuela Lupacchino has done excellent work over the years, and this comic is no exception. All the characters look great, especially the gang that comes into Gotham. They have a Dia de Los Muertos style, and it’s cool. I want to see this gang show up outside the one-shot, but only if she’s illustrating. The colorwork compliments Lupacchino’s art but providing darker, grittier colors for the action but also bright ones to have characters pop. It’s just a fantastic looking book.
Overall, this issue is a beautiful looking mess. While the artwork is fantastic, the editing to try and cram the whole series into 100 pages brings the entire thing down. Granted, Black Canary’s development in this is the highlight, but the jumping around fails to keep the readers’ attention. The pieces are all there. Anyone can tell that there are great ideas within these pages. There’s just not enough space to save the idea as a one-shot. I hope the team can get a do-over; The Birds of Prey deserve it.