The Birds of Prey didn't have such a good run in DC's New 52 universe.
That's not to say it was all bad for Batgirl, Black Canary, and Huntress, not at all. Individually they each managed to flourish under their new creative directions. The group, however, well, it didn't ever seem to hit the heights of previous runs.
In Birds of Prey Rebirth #1, it's back to basics, but the writers manage to retain the character depth that the three have gained from the New 52 era. Barbara brings along her Burnside history, while Black Canary continues to keep an eye on her band. Helena has exited Spyral and is back to doing what she does best, essentially being Gotham's version of Wolverine in regards to her willingness to get her hands dirty.
It's an interesting thing this group. They were some of the more affected by DC's first relaunch, and yet without all that mess this setup would feel all too familiar. It's the new textures on these renowned heroes that make this worth reading again, so in a way, we almost owe the New 52 for giving Barbara a reason to get the gang back together again. Julie and Shawna Benson have a fantastic grasp on these characters, and while they hit some familiar notes, it doesn't feel like a crutch.
On art duties are Penciller Claire Roe and Colorist Allen Passalaqua. The art wasn't the home run I was hoping for, but it did have its highlights. To start on a positive note, Roe's Huntress is stellar and is quickly becoming one of my favorite renditions of the character. The same goes for Black Canary, but in regards to Batgirl, I was slightly disappointed.
I believe it was mostly down to the odd facial expressions that Barbara makes throughout. I know she's meant to be humorous and a bit quirky here and there, but rarely was there a panel where she didn't have an odd look on her face. Hopefully, this will change over time, or maybe I will just grow accustomed to it.
What I will say is that in the flashback scenes, both Roe and Passalaqua deliver some excellent panels, and I didn't have those same problems during these sequences. Maybe it was because there was less humor in those scenes, so the expressions were a bit less oddball.
Speaking of that flashback sequence, it does confirm that Alan Moore's The Killing Joke did indeed happen in the "Rebirth" universe, though we suspected as much when DC Universe Rebirth #1 teased the three Jokers, including the one seen in The Killing Joke.
As for Birds of Prey, it's a perfect blend of ideas both old and new and goes to show that for all the grief it gets, the New 52 era did contain some solid ideas. In the right hands, those ideas can be reshaped into something even better, and I have high hopes for the ongoing series. The Birds of Prey seem to be in extremely capable hands.
Rating 4 out of 5 Stars
Written By: Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Drawn By: Claire Roe
Colored By: Allen Passalaqua
Lettered By: Steve Wands