THE NEW 52, Week 4:
Birds of Prey #1
Of the relaunches for "the New 52", this one had me the most annoyed. Thanks to Gail Simone, Birds of Prey was one of the best books DC had before, but perhaps people just didn't know it. And the description ahead of time made it seem like Swierczynski was throwing everything out and taking the opportunity to rethink the whole premise. Heck, the short-lived WB TV series seemed like it had more fidelity to Simone's work.
I'm happy to say I was wrong.
Swierczynski gives the phantom nod to everything that happened before in Birds of Prey, though some adjustments have to be made for a new line-wide status quo. Barbara Gordon makes an appearance, though it's been some time since she and Black Canary have talked.
It's been some time since Flashpoint, in fact, since neither Swierczynski nor Simone have yet revealed what happened to allow Barbara to walk again. We're picking up this story after a gap between the last issue of Birds of Prey a month ago and this new direction – but for the most part, it works.
Long-time readers will twitch just a little at the introduction of a character named "Starling," who fills the gap left by Lady Blackhawk, who probably doesn't exist anymore. The only problem with Starling from the writing end of things is that Barbara describes her as being on every government watch list, but according to the intrepid (not grizzled, as the solicit described him) reporter investigating the Birds, there's no record of her anywhere.
She's also a bit of a shortcut to an almost Thelma and Louise relationship to Dinah, the Black Canary, but at least Swierczynski seems pretty consistent in picking up Dinah's character from where Simone left it. We're also going to see Katana at some point, but as team books go, this one has always been smaller in character focus, so holding off isn't an annoyance.
For new readers, it doesn't seem too alienating, even though it still has a past continuity. Everything you need to know gets explained without being too on the nose, and artist Saiz brings plenty of action to the table.
Only a couple of pages feel a little tired, with Dinah overlooking (while overreacting) to something because the plot requires it. It doesn't pay off in this first chapter, but anybody who has read a suspense novel or seen a movie will know exactly where it's going.
However, Birds of Prey #1 is skillful enough, I'll probably stick around long enough to see if I'm right.
But I'm right.