Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1
Writers: Julie Benson & Shawna Benson
Artist: Claire Roe
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Steve Wands
Release Date: 07/20/2016
One of the common criticisms of DC Comics within the Marvel vs DC debates, is that Marvel has triumphed when it comes to embracing diversity. Marvel now has a high selling black/hispanic Spider-Man, a celebrated muslim Ms. Marvel, and a well received all female Avengers team, A-Force. DC Rebirth was DC Comics chance to catch on to the trend and they have done so with a relaunch of their flagship super-heroine team, the Birds of Prey.
Writers Julie and Shawna Benson have worked primarily on television, most recently with the CW series, "The 100". So they're relatively new to the platform but have proven to have the ability to write for a serialized story. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1 may not be the most alluring opening issues, but in terms of laying a foundation for future storytelling, it's a promising start.
The larger first half of this issue is spent primarily in heavy exposition, of which regular comic book readers are aware of. However rebirth is supposedly about reastablishing legacy as well as creating a jumping on point for new readers. The Benson's do a solid job of filling in those who're new to the series on who these characters are, while establishing both their identities and their relationships with one another. However they go through it quickly in order to move on and create a new status-quo to engage regulars.
Within that heavy exposition, the spotlight is given to Barbra Gordon, Batgirl. As the other characters are introduced through her point of view and there's a lot of inner-monologue from her. It's all started after which Barbra takes out a group of thieves on a roof-top and she discovers that they've received their orders from someone called "Oracle". Which if you don't know, was her codename when she became a hacker after she was paralyzed from being shot by the Joker in the famous Alan Moore graphic novel, "The Killing Joke". The comic then delves into her history from early childhood, how she inspired by both her father, commissioner Jim Gordon as well as Batman. How she eventually teamed up with Black Canary and formed the original Birds of Prey.
Though all the tension from this issue comes from the fact that someone has discovered Barbra's secret. Not just her identity, but all the info that she uncovered as her time as a hacker. Someone is using it for their own agenda and selling the valuable as well as damaging information to hard-nosed, dangerous criminals. Eventually the three cover featured characters, Batgirl, Black Canary, and Huntress cross paths and surprise, surprise, it goes anything but smooth.
Artist Claire Roe was an inspired choice for this series. She's able to really capture a tone that is both dark and gritty but fun and playful at the same time, it's nicely balanced. The artwork really emphasizes the tone that this book calls for. Roe's designs of the characters are superb too. The Batgirl costume is perfect and Barbra is not drawn in the most flattering way. I know it's something weird to appreciate but it's somewhat refreshing to see a super-heroine not portrayed as a supermodel. The chapel scene with Huntress looks great, filled with atmosphere, and embodies emotion through Helena's posturing. The line work can be a bit heavy at times but it doesn't take away from some fairly kick-ass action scenes. Roe's work flows beautifully and really adds to the momentum of this fast paced issue.
As someone who's never picked up a Birds of Prey comic, I'm invested. Yes the issue is heavy on exposition but that's how nearly all the DC Rebirth issues have been. It'll be better suited to judge with the follow-up and when this series starts to become more fleshed out, after the first story arc is finished. Julie and Shawna Benson have executed a strong start with character introduction and story intrigue that'll surely capture one's anticipation for the next chapter. With Claire Roe on art duties, this is a solid prologue issue.
Score: 3.5 out of 5
Read the original review here: https://thecomixalaxy.wordpress.com/2016/07/21/batgirl-and-the-birds-of-prey-rebirth-1-review/