Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Birds of Prey #1 Review



Written by: Kelly Thompson
Art by: Leonardo Romero
Colors by: Jordie Bellaire
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Cover art by: Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: September 5, 2023

Birds of Prey #1 brings a new team together under Black Canary's watchful eye to save Sin from a fate worse than death. Just make sure nobody tells Oracle what's happening.
Is Birds of Prey #1 Good?

Birds of Prey #1 is a mixed bag. Some parts work, others don't, and the rest fall somewhere in between. Whether or not you like this comic depends on which parts are more important to you than others.

Kelly Thompson's script centers on Dinah Lance, aka Black Canary, secretly assembling a team behind Oracle's back for a mission to save her younger sister, Sin. No details are given as to how and why Sin is in trouble, except for a mild tease on the last page, but Dinah's mission is designed to put a team together with a mix designed to, as Ollie says, "make people $%^& their pants when they see them."

In terms of basic writing execution, the premise is solid, Thompson maintains energetic pacing, and the dialog reads organic throughout. Technically, all the right check boxes get checked, but it's the devil in the details of the creative choices where the issue flounders.

What's great about Birds of Prey #1? Dinah's quest to find her sister, despite the lack of setup or motivation surrounding Sin's predicament, is carried off well. With just a few words and well-placed emotional expressions, you get why Dinah is on her mission and can relate to her emotional drive.

Further, Thompson does a respectable job of nailing the respective voices of the characters, particularly Big Barda, in the quest to form an eclectic team.

What's not so great about Birds of Prey#1? When Kelly Thompson slowly revealed the team members online over the course of a few days, some members seemed like interesting gets, Barda seemed like an odd choice, and the rest didn't make any sense. After reading the issue, Barda is the breakout character, so kudos to Thompson on that choice, but Zealot and Harley Quinn turned out to be downers.

Regarding Zealot, Dinah already selected Cass Cain to be on the team. Thompson goes out of her way to build Cass up (rightfully so) as the best fighter around, so there's no need to bring on a second ninja-esque fighter. Dinah painstakingly acts as if she's selecting team members to provide a certain set of skills, but chooses a fighter less good than Cass.

Regarding Harley Quinn, this one is a head-scratcher. Cass suggests adding Harley is a wild card by recounting a story where Harley almost beat Cass during a chance encounter. Ridiculous! This is yet another example of DC force-fitting Harley into places where she doesn't belong by elevating her to absurd levels that don't make any sense for the character's nature. Thompson received online pushback for putting Harley on the team, and that pushback appears to have been justified. There's no reason for Harley to be on this team.

How's the art? If you have no misgivings about the team roster, the second challenge you'll have is with the art by Leonardo Romero. In fairness, Romero's style is clean, but it's flat and stiff. It's clear Romero feels uncomfortable with action choreography because the fights look downright clunky. You can follow the movement well enough, but there's a distinct lack of fluidity during the fast-motion panels.

In addition, Jordie Bellaire's style is fit for purpose to match Romero's style, but it's high-contrast and loud, without an ounce of finesse. I can acknowledge the art team was going for a particular aesthetic, but the only word I can think of for that aesthetic is "tacky."

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

Birds of Prey #1 is a mixed bag of a comic with a strong central premise and solid interpretation of the characters' voices. However, Dinah's roster selection lacks sense, especially for Harley Quinn, and the art is serviceable at best.


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