When I first heard that the DCU was going to become the DCnU, I was so excited, but also wondered what would happen to my favorite super heroine, Black Canary. The first set of solicitations had be very nervous because she wasn’t present for any of it. Then there was that leaked Justice League International picture with a black haired woman on the front of it. Some speculated that she was the Black Canary. Then, a couple weeks later, it was announced that Birds of Prey was getting revamped with a whole new history and cast. I waited eagerly to see the cover by Jesus Saiz.
I also found that crime novelist, Duane Swierczynski was taking over and I felt this was exactly what the book needed.
This first issue was awesome. It set up a new villain called Choke (remember this name because we will never see it again) which brainwashed people and had them act as soldiers. He could also make their heads explode as well. There was some sinister plans that the Birds had to get to the bottom of. I loved wonder what was next and what clues they were going to uncover. The Birds got so close to the enemy that they found his secret hiding spot; a floor between floors of an office building. I loved the noir feel to the entire book and felt that Swierczynski brought some of his elements from his novels (which are all highly recommended) to the team.
Jesus Saiz art was sexy, but not cheesecake! I loved that all the Birds weren’t falling out of their costumes and Black Canary actually had a practical costume. Don’t get me wrong! I love the classic outfits, but this was more kick ass and ninjaesque.
While I am a huge Black Canary fan, I can’t forget about Swierczy’s greatest addition to the book: Eve Crawford aka Starling. This character had so much potential and I was hoping we would unwrap the enigma that she was. I remember one of the first thing she says (after she drives a car through a church wall) was how do you even begin to confess to a sin like this, or something of that nature. I wanted to know right then and there what the hell was going on with the whiskey-drinking-bustier-wearing-gal.
Then, the unthinkable happened….
The creative team left the book and new creative teams jumped on. Then, the Birds of Prey became a completely different book. I feel like it was a female G.I. Joe book. International terrorists, spies, and military fights broke out almost every other issue.
Speaking of issue, You see that guy in red at the top of the picture? His name is Condor and if you think I’m Black Canary’s biggest fan, well, he has me beat. This guy came aboard and weaseled his way onto the team. Exhibiting stalker tendencies, and even going so far as to almost kill Canary’s husband, I feel that he was forced onto the team to be a love interest for Canary who needed to work on herself before playing birds of feather with this wannabe Falcon.
Another issue I had was that the new creative teams took Black Canary’s mystery away from her, but had her stewing and sometimes (check out the fight between Canary and Amanda Waller) acting like a high schooler.
And before I start on the road to my conclusion, Starling was written out of the book to never make an appearance again. It was revealed that she was working for Amanda Waller. We didn’t even see her in the Suicide Squad.
One of the things that I enjoyed was that Gail Simone had Black Canary guest star in a couple issues of her Batgirl run. Simone presented the Canary and Batgirl friendship that I missed the most. They are friends (and I don’t care what universe we’re in). Contrary to the ending issue which had Canary and Condor fly away together and seemingly broke up the friendship between Canary and Batgirl. Bull Crap! I even liked how Gail finaled her Batgirl issues with a team up of Black Canary, Batgirl, and Huntress. That left a better taste on my reading palate then the Birds of Prey (who scattered to the four winds).
I’m not going to say that we didn’t have our fun times. There was the Gothtopia story line. We got a glimpse into what would happen if the Birds…I mean Wings of Justice, existed in a utopian world (issue 27).
And next month, we will see Black Canary five years later in which she runs the League of Assassins.
I will say that I’m really excited for this one. However, I would have loved to see Black Canary meet Lady Shiva in this universe. Maybe one day we will get a Birds of Prey relaunch with Simone at the helm once again. Until then, I would rather see Birds of Prey disbanded then go through the horrible, post-Swierczy, death.
I haven’t read ALL the issues, but in some ways I am more sad about the cancellation of Birds of Prey than I am even of leaving Batgirl.
Bop was an important book, it’s STILL an important book for comics, it’s been THE gateway title for female readers for much of its run. It is a showcase for characters that don’t get much respect elsewhere.
BOP being cancelled is a big, big deal, and a very sad one.
I hope someone great reboots it, and soon. I would love to see Marjorie Liu, Alex DiCampi, or Marguerite Bennett write it. Restore its importance.
The loss of Birds of Prey is a bigger deal than people realize, I think.
BoP was one of the few DCnU books I had any interest in. I wasn’t crazy about what wass effectively the use of the original Black Canary as part of the relaunch’s blithely exterminating the heroic legacy of anyone not a Wayne, but I loved Starling a ridiculous amount and I really liked the redesign of Ivy that (a) got her out of the leafy-swimuit pinup fashion disaster that’s been her non-Arkham look for far too long, and (b) seemed to cast her in the sort of anti-hero role typically reserved for Selina. Katana I was entirely neutral on, though her oddity eventually grew on me even if her costume never realy did.
But I dropped the book when Babsgirl became part of the roster because I fundamentally loathe everything Barbara’s return to the identity of Batgirl represents. Even Starling being revealed as queer couldn’t overcome the sense of betrayal I felt at DC trying to rub the erasure of Oracle and her daughters Cassandra & Misfit in my face. A feeling only compounded by the introduction of the not-Cass known as Strix.
And it irks me when DC put men on the team roster. They just don’t belong there. I mean, call it Grrl-Power or Girl’s Own, but as I see it the whole point behind the Birds in the first place was escaping Bruce’s shadow and building the sort of female relationships absent pretty much everywhere else in superhero comics.
But what really saddens me is that in the DCnU, the Birds will never be Oracle’s own fantastic powerful creation. Even when they inevitably come back to keep the trademark fresh, they’ll just be another superteam that may only have the most tenuous legacy of the original.