A bat, a canary, and a huntress are all chasing a mob boss down the street… Now, I know it sounds like the start of a bad joke but it’s actually the beginning sequence of a truly exceptional issue of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. The Benson sisters have started things off with a bang in this high-octane premiere that’s both filled with excitement and brimming with action; in a nutshell, it’s a total scream. We pick up exactly where we left off from in the initial Rebirth one-shot with Batgirl and Black Canary in hot pursuit of the Huntress and her next would-be victim, Louis Terroni. Barbara and Dinah believe that Terroni may have information on the whereabouts of the imposter calling himself "Oracle," while Huntress is simply looking to enact some plain, old-fashioned revenge. In the end, neither party is rectified as Terroni expires from a slew of venomous bug bites before he can be questioned or brought to justice (yes, they explain it). The trail goes cold and all hope is thought lost when suddenly Barbara receives a text from “Oracle” taunting and threatening to expose her secret identity. What follows next is a display of deductive prowess so powerful it could put Descartes to shame and ultimately results in Batgirl and Black Canary investigating the home of crime-lord Santo Cassamento. Here, they once again meet up with the vigilante known as the Huntress, as well as cross paths with a new reptilian villain known as The Asp (*Asp is the anglicized form of aspis, a term from antiquity that referred to venomous snakes along the Nile – cool, eh?). In the aftermath of the ensuing battle, a loose partnership is formed and the trinity of the BOP is solidified. Elsewhere in Gotham a new threat steps forward from the shadows to overturn the playing board. Soon after and much like in a game of chess, we are reminded that the most powerful piece on the board isn’t the king, it’s the queen.
There were so many great things going on in this issue it’s actually a struggle to pull out just one or two to focus on. That being said, the biggest highlight for me (aside from the truly fantastic script by the Benson sisters) has to be Claire Roe. Her uncanny ability to capture the emotion of the moment and put it on display through her beautifully rendered character portrayals is what really made this one memorable for me. My favourite without a doubt is Batgirl: she’s jacked, a total badass, attractive but not sexualized, and possesses just the right amount of awkwardness to remind you that deep down, she really is just a good ol’ fashioned computer nerd. If you flip to pg. 11 you’ll see exactly what I mean; the final panel where she is putting on her mask, as Black Canary dons her leather jacket, might be the most intensely cool moment of the entire issue.
What makes me most excited about this title is that I’ve never been a fan of Batgirl, nor am I partial to Black Canary or Huntress. I've always tried to ignore the expanded Bat-family because I thought they cheapened Batman, making him appear too overly humanized. After reading both the Rebirth one-shot and now this inaugural issue, the Benson sisters have changed my tune. It's refreshing to have Batgirl and the Birds of Prey being written from the female perspective; it's the first time ever in fact that I've read a comic with a female lead, that's also written/drawn by female creators. It's a much more honest and authentic tone, and it elevates the feminine prowess inherent within the characters. The world of comics has been a boys club for far too long. It’s exciting to have such a powerful and palpable female-lead creative team and I await eagerly for what is to come in the weeks ahead.
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Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1 Writers: Julie & Shawna Benson Artist: Claire Roe Colours: Allen Passalaqua Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital