Birds of Prey 0

Today, Shelby and (special guest writer) Lindsey Peterson are discussing Birds of Prey 0, originally released September 19, 2012. Birds of Prey 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.

Shelby: A difficult aspect of writing a comic book has got to be maintaining the balance between new and old readers: specifically, keeping both sides happy. You want to keep the long-timers happy; without their readership, you wouldn’t have been successful in the first place. But, you need to keep your books at least a little bit attainable to attract new readers; if your readership doesn’t grow, you won’t continue to be successful. With half of zero month behind us, we’ve seen examples of origins that bore us with nothing new and origins that confound us with no background knowledge given. Then we have my favorites, those titles which have struck that delicate balance between old-hat origin and current story arc connections. Birds of Prey is definitely in that last camp. 

The issue starts one year ago. Black Canary gets herself hired as security for the Penguin. She’s actually working undercover to nab some terrorists looking to sell components for a bomb, and also looking to do some good and move on after the death of her husband. It’s here she meets Starling, also working security. The night of the exchange, Dinah is about to move in on the seller when Batgirl bursts onto the scene. A fight ensues, and Black Canary throws Batgirl out a window in order to tell her she’s working undercover. The two team up to take out the buyer and seller, and after the “Do you trust me?” conversation, convince Starling to leave with them. In the epilogue, Starling is having a chat with none other than Amanda Waller, who tells her to see where this friendship with Dinah goes. Amanda declines to tell Starling, however, that she has Kurt, Dinah’s husband, in a stasis tube and presumably alive.

This issue was a fun read. We’ve been dying to know why Dinah started the ill-fated Birds of Prey in the first place, and now we have our answer; she was just feeling bummed out after her husband died and wanted some people to work with. She missed having a support system of people she could trust. Sadly, the joke’s on her: of her new teammates, Katana is a loose cannon, Batgirl is auxiliary support only, Poison Ivy is…Poison Ivy, and Starling has apparently been working for Waller the whole time.

Amanda Waller, stop being in every comic book! Seriously, she was in Suicide Squad, Team 7, Deathstroke, Justice League 12, and now this. If you’ll permit me a moment of speculation: Waller was on Team 7, which was headed by Dinah (pre-sonic scream, I believe) and Kurt. The team was sent out to  control metahumans, but many team members became metas themselves. Dinah somehow gets her superpower, doesn’t know how to use it, and accidentally kills Kurt? The team falls apart, but Amanda stays on, now with a more personal vendetta against super-powered humans? Why she would keep Kurt alive but not tell Dinah is beyond me; maybe she’s just looking for a pawn to use against Dinah at some point in the future. I bet you anything Waller is going to have a very serious role to play in the Trinity War, why else would DC be punching us in the face with her this month?

Birds of Prey has been faltering a little bit lately; the ladies’ identities have begun to get lost in the shuffle of villains, plot points, and a rapidly dissolving team. In this issue, Duane Swierczynski swiftly brings us back to what we liked about this title in the first place. Black Canary, Starling, and even Batgirl are established personalities, each uniquely contributing to the dynamic of the group. Black Canary is smart and strong, Batgirl is confident and capable, and we get those saucy little Starling moments we all love so much.

I feel excited about this title again. I hope Swierczynski can carry this momentum forward. I’m looking forward to the inevitable confrontation between Starling and Black Canary over whom exactly signs Starling’s paychecks. I obviously am intrigued by the role Kurt will play; Dinah wouldn’t have felt the need to form the Birds of Prey if she hadn’t lost him in the first place. If she gets him back, what will that mean for the team? Swierczynski has given us a very balanced origin story. As a reader of this title, I am happy with the questions answered and new questions raised with this issue, but what did this title do for non-readers? With that question in mind, I’m going to turn it over to my guest writer, my awesome sister Lindsey! Now, Lindsey, I know you have zero experience with comic books; despite not knowing any of the backstory for these characters, were you able to enjoy this issue?
Lindsey: “Part of me wants to forget this stupid idea.”

No, that’s not what I said when I sat down to guest-write my review of Birds of Prey #0, it’s the opening line of the comic. I was a little nervous though when I first picked up my copy, as I’ve never been able to read comics very easily. My eye wanders over the page and I can’t soak up the information, somewhat akin to my inability to glean anything from reading a map. But the text was nicely separated from the artwork and each page had a very nice flow, so I was able to read it without a problem. Being new to the comic universe and almost new to Birds of Prey (I watched a few episodes of the TV show) my first response to this issue was: boobs and claw-hands. Ok, let’s do this!

Dinah Lance decides to go undercover as one of The Penguin’s (real name: Oswald Cobblepot. His mom had to know he was destined to emulate a flightless bird, right?) hot lady assassins. She needs to get the inside deets on Penguin’s sale of a “scary bomb” to some meta-terrorists (self-referential terrorists? I’m learning so much!). Here is where Dinah meets Ev, or Starling, a vaguely steampunk kind of gal who also has painfully large boobs. Weeks later at a villain party, Black Canary thinks she might have a lead on the Seller who has a “suspicious bulge” in the pocket of his hoodie (and who wouldn’t with all these bazoombas in the room?) Big krash, Batgirl enters through the ceiling.

“Later, you’re going to look back on this as one of the stupidest moves you’ve ever made.” No, that’s not what Shelby said to me after I agreed to be a guest writer, it’s how Black Canary greets Batgirl, with the threat of a solid ass kicking not far behind. Before they have a chance to connect, BC notices the Buyer escaping and BG reveals that’s the same reason she crashed the party — she’s trying to nix the bomb deal. Turns out the scary bomb is a mutation bomb! Extra scary! So BG goes off to grab the Buyer and BC stops the Seller’s speedboat escape with a sonic screech. The three ladybirds have a quick chat and realize they’re all out for themselves together and Batgirl decides they would make a good team. Quick cut to Black Canary’s bedroom for some gratuitous underwear shots and a reminder of her lost love, Kurt. Six hours later in a cafe, Starling makes a call to a scientist with big boobs, who encourages her to continue her friendship with Ms. Lance, and we see Kurt is not gone at all! He’s just in stasis! I don’t know what that means!

My initial reaction to reading this was, “That’s it?” I didn’t know comics were so brief. It was a good intro though, I liked the art, I’m ready for more. More boobs, I mean.

 Lindsey Peterson does community relations for Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center, a Seattle-area non-profit, and spends her time chomping on pop culture, crocheting, and hanging with her partner Tristan and their cat, Loki. The first comic Lindsey ever read starred Rodger Rabbit; he pretended to be a firefighter and flooded his home.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

12 comments on “Birds of Prey 0

  1. Hey Lindsey, you’re awesome.

    Also, I think we forget how boobilicious comic books are. I mean, this is considered one of the better titles for not being outrageously over-sexualized, but the Birds still have huge racks; is it weird that we Retcon Punchers are just used to it?

    • Romano Molenaar’s got to be a tit-man, right? I don’t remember these characters looking quite this silly in previous issues. In particular – there’s an image of Batgirl bursting through a skylight where her boobs are just HUGE. I could kind of understand giving Dinah and Ev a little extra cleavage for this issue: they are working for the Penguin (who is disgusting), so it makes sense that he’d demand his ladies to look a little bustier.

    • Yeah, it’s pretty funny that this is tame by our standards. Lindsey should check out the first few issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws or Green Lantern: New Guardians if she wants to see some really big boobs.

  2. Man, today is the day we review issues with 11th hour reveals, huh? SURPRISE! Kurt’s still alive. I doesn’t fundamentally change who Dinah is – her past is still plenty dark – but one of the central conceits going into BoP was that Black Canary was wanted for murder. I like Dinah so much, and I just want her to be happy, and I think she’s happier with the Birds than with Team 7… so I’m going to route for Kurt staying “dead” a little while longer.

    • I don’t know – I’m willing to withhold judgment on Amanda Waller until we get a story that really explores the character. Right now she’s just been popping up in a very Richard Alpert kind of way (but without the pretty eye-lashes). We just need some one to take a long, quiet, rational look at what motivates the character, and all these connections could be meaningful. All things in time!

  3. HEY! Explanation of Bird names! I love that. I always had a hard time shaking the icky feeling that they were called “Birds of Prey” because they’re women and “bird” is slang for “girl.” Much better this way.

    Also, I’m going to give Swierczynski the award for “Best Portrayal of the Penguin in an on-going New 52 series.” He was thematically relevant without quacking – YOU SEE HOW EASY IT IS, OTHER WRITERS?

    • I always just figured it was because Black Canary started the whole thing. So, was she Black Canary before her gig with Penguin, or was he the one who made her come up with it?

      • I’m willing to accept that Dinah is just called Black Canary, but this explanation for why Ev has a pseudonym is very welcome. Still, how weird is it that they still go by these names?

  4. Pingback: Birds of Prey 18-19 | Retcon Punch

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