Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Comic Book Review: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1

Review: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1
Submitted by: Kelly Aliano, PhD, Comics News Editor
17 August 2016

**Spoilers to Follow**

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 does what other great “Birds of Prey” incarnations have done in the past: drop us right into the action with a team of badass heroines, ready to do whatever it takes to keep people safe.  The return of this team-up was highly anticipated for me: I love stories about female heroes working together—without the specific help of a male counterpart—to save the world.  As I hoped, this book did not disappoint, immediately reminding readers not only of the power of femininity, especially when mixed with intellect and strength, but also of the feminist message of the empowering force that is women working together toward a common goal.

The issue, entitled “Who Is Oracle? Dead of Night,” written by Julie Benson and Shawna Benson, with Claire Roe as artist, opens with a flashback sequence to an incident on a commuter train, which Black Canary handled with the help of Oracle, before Barbara Gordon’s return to being Batgirl.  Then, we return to the present en media res, with Canary assisting Batgirl in tracking down someone who has stolen the Oracle moniker.  Their lead? A mysterious, dangerous woman clad all in purple, who also happens to know their secret identities… I think many of my loyal Gothamverse fans can already guess that this is Huntress, who hightails it away, once their next clue turns out to be a dead man.  After a new lead is discovered, Batgirl and Black Canary team up once again to follow it, touring us through a gorgeously rendered nighttime break-in of a Gotham mansion.

The best thing about this book?  It never abandons its female-centric construct.  When, inevitably, the three women agree that their goals are aligned and therefore they should be as well, the revelation is also made that both Batgirl and Huntress are connected to Dick Grayson.  In many other books, this would be a clear signal that the aforementioned male was about to swoop in and save the day.  But this book maintains that this trio of women is more than capable of handling whatever comes their way entirely on their own.

The Verdict: A wonderfully feminist take on a superhero team-up book, one that not only puts the Birds of Prey back on the DC Universe map, but also stands on its own as one of the highlights of the Rebirth series.

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