REVIEW: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey – Rebirth #1

Never ones to let the fact that a poorly conceived book, that suffered through alleged editorial mandates which created a poor parody of what was once a strong book; DC push the Birds of Prey book, again.  Still, looking at this book, “Rehash” or “Repeat” may seem a better moniker than Rebirth.

For those not in the know, years ago, Birds of Prey featured the Oracle Barbara Gordon and Black Canary.  Written originally by Chuck Dixon, the book was a solid book.  Then along came Gail Simone , Ed Benes and the Huntress, which pushed the book into a higher tier.  The book was cancelled when the key creators left, but following Brightest Day and New 52 respectively, new volumes hit the racks…….and got cancelled.  Now the Birds are back together again, for the first time!

Someone is using the Oracle name and selling secrets to the mafia.  Barbara, feeling a little violated that her previous identity has been usurped, enlists Dinah Lance  to help solve the mystery.  Thrown into the mix is Helena Bertinelli, who on a mafia hunt of own since leaving Spyral.

I used to love Birds of Prey.  For my sins I have enjoyed  and endured their previous runs, so I was quietly looking forward to this book.  Especially as it’s written  by Julie Benson and Shawna Benson, who have excelled in created strong female characters for The 100 TV show.  In reality, we are treated to yet another episode of”yes The Killing Joke” happened!  Is there anyone out there who, as a fan of Batgirl and/or Barbara, does not know the story?  Really?  Now, some people will say, “this is for the new readers” and “it’s a new universe, we have to know it happened”, and you know what, I can totally understand that.  But unfortunately, when a third of a book is used to cover stuff I already know, $2.99 is too much to pay for the remaining pages!  Dialogue wise, the book reads ok to be honest.  One of the problems that the book will face is that, this is the first time two out of the three main characters have or feature in another book.  This may cause problems with inconsistent characteristics, which was a huge problem in the later two runs of this book.

The art is provided by Claire Roe whose work is an inconsistent mix of trying to be super heroic, cartoony and Mayim Bialik. It’s as if, Roe is unsure where to go with the art.  Should she try for superhero poses or should she try to stick to a style more suited to the previous Batgirl book?  This level of indecision can be seen throughout the book and unfortunately, spoils the look.  Roe is not helped by the colors by Allen Passalaqua who seems to be going for the heavy colors similar to the new Batman book.  That style suits Batman, but isn’t Birds supposed to be a lighter book?

This is one of  the few books that isn’t “Rebirthed” from an existing book.  Therefore, this is a prime time for DC to claw back some of the  female led stories market that Marvel are exploiting so well.  Instead, we get a book, set after the first arc of Batgirl’s  own book thereby minimizing any impacts that may occur in there, that seems to relive its own history, without really learning from it.

Writing – 3 Stars
Art 2.5 Stars
Colors – 2 Stars

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STORY BY Julie Benson, Shawna Benson
ART BY Claire Roe
COVER BY Yanick Paquette, Ben Caldwell