While I’m a huge fan of the 2002 TV series “Birds of Prey,” (I should rewatch that again and probably post about it later), I had never read any of the comics before going into it. This volume is not the start of the “official” first Birds of Prey run, but of the one-shot issues by Chuck Dixon leading up to it (source). They aren’t all chronological, so I’ll give a brief synopsis of each.
- Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey: Dinah Lance – the Black Canary – has just left the Justice League and is trying to start a new life. Barbara Gordon, as Oracle, contacts her to investigate the Green Brotherhood, an eco-terrorist group sabotaging billionaire Nick Devine’s philanthropic projects in third world countries.
- Birds of Prey: Revolution: Oracle and Black Canary team up once again to stop a white slavery ring in the Caribbean.
- Showcase ’96 #13: Black Canary and Lois Lane fight their way out of a warehouse full of disillusioned workers – by giving them a little help to believe in themselves.
- Birds of Prey: Manhunt: This 4-issue run co-stars Huntress and Catwoman as the Birds reluctantly team up with them to take out Archer Braun- a secretive man with whom each of these ladies has a bone to pick!
Most of the authors and artists are the same for these different comics; as a result, there is a nice consistency here that might not show up in other collections of multiple runs. As it is, there are still slight variations on character designs and art styles from issue to issue. For example, Black Canary/Oracle reminded me of The Dark Knight Returns in it’s desaturated palette and high contrast between light and shadow. The color and tone get much richer in Revolution. The art in Showcase reminded me more of older comics with it’s stylized characters, bright colors, and often simple, monochrome backgrounds. Manhunt was a little more expressive with the panel layout, making it feel even more action-oriented and fast-paced. Overall I’m not a fan of Canary’s design in these – I love her original leather jacket and fishnets, and ’90s fashion was something else (this is coming from a ’90s kid mind you).
Of the four, my personal favorite was Manhunt. I adore crossovers and I loved how the four women interacted with each other and had different motives for wanting to get the bad guy X,D A central thread throughout was Canary and Oracle trying to understand and communicate with each other. It could go over into “girl talk” sometimes, which I found a little cheesy but otherwise didn’t mind. Overall it’s a fun collection, but I can’t wait to get to the Gail Simone era!