'Birds of Prey' #1 is a Brawlers Showcase, Delivering Unbeatable Comic Book Action
We review the new Dawn of DC team-up that reunites one of the best creative teams in the business.
They're back. The Birds of Prey return this week under the stewardship of Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, and Jordie Bellaire. This creative hit squad previously slayed with Marvel's Hawkeye, and based on this new first issue, they're turning it up a bit and going full-tilt badass with these DC icons. If you pick up only one comic this week, Birds of Prey #1 should be it. Although, it's a really killer week, your box should be damn full and busting at your LCS.
"Assembling the Crew" is easily one of my favorite sub-genres. There's the mission and the challenge that comes with it. To get it done, you need a particular set of skills. One Liam Neeson won't do. You need at least a half-dozen. The required individuals may not be the most sociable, or they may mix into something catastrophically combustible, but that's tomorrow's problem. Today, you gotta get the job done. So, Harley Quinn. You're going to need Harley Quinn.
Birds of Prey #1 opens with Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen on a bed. Already, we are here for it. However, they're not up to what they're usually up to. Dianh has a problem. She needs to reform the Birds of Prey, and she can't involve Barbara Gordon for reasons we won't spoil here. The mission is personal and urgent. Oliver offers advice, and Dinah works her way through the superhero Rolodex.
Dinah can't have the Batgirl, but she can have a Batgirl, and maybe a Batgirl is actually the Batgirl. Birds of Prey #1 goes a long way in making that case. Cassandra Cain is found on a rooftop smashing through ninjas. If the first two pages didn't have you hooked, the next three achieve the goal. Leonardo Romero channels Alex Toth. The Alex Toth from Adventure Comics 418 - 419, aka Black Canary's "Circle of Doom."
Undoubtedly, you've seen Romero's two-page splash making the rounds online. Dinah Lance and Cassandra Cain WOK TWAK KRAAK BAM and POW from one side to the other. Like Toth before him, Romero freezes their movements, creating a deliriously blissful assault map. You can read it in a second or take five minutes to soak in this gorgeous, effortful readability made to look so effortlessly. Honestly, it's one of the most stunning splashes I've seen this year, this decade, this century.
Also, Alex Toth never had Jordie Bellaire elevating his flawless artistry. Her choices contain a youthful exuberance, sorta like when you see a child's coloring job that refuses reality and rejects the line-drawing's borders. To hell with teacher, Bellaire's characters radiate. She chases emotion and gets there with purples, greens, pinks, or whatever is necessary. Combined with Romero's precision, Bellaire delivers unbeatable panels. Action, conversation, contemplation, she makes everything critical.
Narratively, Birds of Prey #1 only hints at what's coming. Kelly Thompson puts the band together, and there is incredible joy in watching Cassandra, Big Barda, Zealot, and Harley Quinn circle around Dinah Lance. These personalities clash but reverberate. Already, the tension between them creates excitement and potential archetypal pairings. Zealot and Harley Quinn? That could be a thing. Big Barda and Batgirl, that's definitely already a thing. Never have I smashed subscribe so quickly after a first issue.
The comic's final surprise is a grenade lobbed between them all. How they react or don't react to the explosion, depicted in one delicious last panel, further illustrates why this team will be a wild one to hang with for a while. Now, can we chain these creators to the book for fifty issues or so? That would be more than swell.
Quickie Review: Birds of Prey #1 is a masterclass in superhero storytelling. It cannot be done better. Only differently. Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, and Jordie Bellaire prove they're an all-star creative team to rival the rock 'n' roll roster they're piloting. The anticipation building toward the comic's release was immense but pales compared to the second issue's landing next month. Give it to me. Now.
Birds of Prey #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale: 9/5/23
Synopsis: Every mission matters. Every life saved is a miracle. But this time, it’s personal.
Dinah Lance is one of the DCU’s most elite fighters, and combined with her sonic scream, she’s a fearsome foe in any scenario…but sometimes even the Black Canary needs help. Faced with a personal mission brought to her by a mysterious new ally, and up against near-impossible odds, she re-forms the Birds of Prey with an unrivaled group of badasses-Cassandra Cain, Big Barda, Zealot, and Harley Quinn-and only one goal: extraction without bloodshed. What could possibly go wrong?
Kelly Thompson (Captain Marvel, Black Widow) makes her long-awaited DC Universe writing debut, and is joined by her Hawkeye partners-in-crime Leonardo Romero (Batman) and Jordie Bellaire (Wonder Woman) to debut an all-new, all-deadly Birds of Prey series…still breaking hearts and faces after all these years!