In the ‘Birds of Prey’ #1 issue, Black Canary and Starling watched in horror as Gotham Gazette reporter, Charlie Keen blew up right in front of them, just as he was about to board an airplane to safety! Things get worse as a false story makes the rounds in the news that Keen had become unhinged and committed suicide in order to make the news, rather than cover it. Black Canary manages to sneak a sample of Charlie’s remains from the crime scene and has it analyzed to learn that two explosive substances were in Charlie’s system as well as a drug used for treating strokes, which was the reactant needed to trigger the explosives. This stroke medicine is still in clinical development but four of the five labs that stock it have been robbed recently. Obviously, the Birds, now joined by third member Katana, head to the fifth lab and once again find themselves in combat with the men in invisible suits. Katana proves her worth to the team and by the end of the book, the fourth Bird, Poison Ivy shows up.
The ladies on this team continue to impress. Dinah shows great investigative abilities in this issue. Starling continues to be entertaining and displays her cleverness by pick-pocketing a cop as well as gaining information from Keen’s distraught widow. Katana kicks ass! She is very close to her prior depiction, but a bit more… crazy? She talks to the spirit of her dead husband, who may or may not be locked inside her weapon. There’s a funny scene where Katana reacts strangely to Black Canary’s Canary Cry. Dinah explains that most people don’t expect a martial arts-based hero to have actual super powers.
The art on this book, by Jesus Saiz, is just so good! He’s the perfect fit! He draws stunning women, who are sexy but not sexualized. Black Canary’s costume continues to grow on me. I like his take on Katana, as well. She has a neat mask. Her suit, like Dinah’s appears armored. It’s logically rendered in mostly black, unlike her old red and yellow costume, which would not have worked for a covert operative. And the small Japanese influences on her one shoulder and her shin guards are stylish and still practical. I wasn’t sure how I’d react to Poison Ivy. Gone is the foliage bathing suit of the past. She, like the others, is completely covered with a black bodysuit, but she has some organic leafy accents which are visually interesting and perfectly suited. Could this be the best dressed team in comics right now? (It certainly isn’t the Priest Collar League of America!) And it’s not all about the girls looking pretty. The story telling and drama are there as well. Saiz is just GOOD. Period!
I’m still not 100% on who the villains are or what they’re after, but at least they’re interesting. And they’re super villains, not just some thugs or mobsters. This book doesn’t try too hard to be gritty and the fact that Dinah makes note of her super powers, reminds us that, yes, this is a more street-level crime fighting book, but it still takes place in a world with powerful aliens and sorcerers, so anything can happen. The plot moves briskly. In addition to adding the two new Birds, a possible love interest for Dinah pops in as well.
Maybe it was the cancellation of the disappointing reboot of ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ but I needed my fix of sexy ladies kicking butt and this book certainly delivers that in spades! Too bad that show wasn’t half as good as this book! And while ‘Charlie’s Angels,’ by design, is meant to be a “guilty pleasure,” ‘Birds of Prey’ is simply a pleasure!
BIRDS OF PREY
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art and Cover by Jesus Saiz