The Birds of Prey reboot is a strange one. I’d been hoping the team’s very existence meant Barbara Gordon had been Oracle during her time in a wheelchair, but the conversation between her and Black Canary in this issue strongly suggests she was not. That’s very disappointing as I’d been hoping they’d preserved one of the strongest characters they’d created in the last 20 years, even if only with a truncated tenure.
They’ve redesigned several costumes, created a new character and seemingly added Poison Ivy though she only appears on the cover. I miss Black Canary’s utilitarian boots and leather jacket. This new costume seems much more generic superhero. Katana’s new outfit only appears on the cover and I’m hoping it stays that way.
The new character is Starling and she appears to just be a woman with a gun and a tattoo who is overly fond of fretting out loud. I’m guessing they had to get rid of Zinda because the Blackhawks were rebooted and maybe the other main female heroes that were in the old Birds of Prey either don’t exist (like Manhunter) or haven’t become established at this point (like PowerGirl or Huntress). Still, it is a strange lineup. I had thought Starling was Thorn from the cover and first few pages of her appearance. It’d be nice to have more clues for when this takes place in the reboot. The only real clue is that it is after Barbara returns to being Batgirl.
I understand that they’re telling this story from the creation of the team and that we’ll see more team members as the story progresses, but introducing a plot point that Black Canary is accused of murder on top of introducing a new character, a mysterious criminal agency, lots of action and a reporter investigating and stalking the heroes is a bit much for an initial issue. There’s a lot that happens, but not necessarily what should happen. Perhaps introducing one or two of these while fighting a routine bank robbery or generic supervillain would have allowed a more solid introduction of Starling or set up Black Canary’s new background better or even given a better idea of Dinah’s relationship with Barbara. As it is we have no idea how well Batgirl and Black Canary know each other, Starling just comes off as annoying and we aren’t given any reason for the reporter stalking the heroes. Maybe it is because of the accusation of murder, something else that we could have cared more about with more time, but there’s no hints at all.
This could be a solid comic, but this first issue doesn’t give us any idea if it will be or not. At least it doesn’t establish itself as a terrible comic as some titles already have.