One Year In: BIRDS OF PREY [Brightest Day]
One Year In: BIRDS OF PREY
Coming out of Blackest Night, Birds was one of the books that received a Brightest Day trade dress. It kicked off with Gail Simone at the writing helm and Ed Benes on pencils (though the art has undergone a few changes since). (I should probably add a disclaimer that the editor of the book is my good friend Janelle Asselin; however, I was not motivated to write about Birds today by her, but rather by my continued annoyance that the Birds episode of Batman: The Brave and The Bold has yet to run in the States. More on that in “Getting Animated” eventually).
Actually, the first year of the current Birds series marked a special anniversary for Gail Simone. With the first issue , she tied the number of Birds issues written by original Birds writer/co-creator Chuck Dixon, and she passed that on issue two. “Howzat?” some of you may say. And now, the math.
The concept first appeared in Showcase ’96 #3 (which doesn’t count because it’s named “Showcase”) in 1996; the first proper issue of Birds was really the one-shot Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey. Thereafter, Dixon wrote the four-issue Birds of Prey: Manhunt mini and four more one-shots before the title got an ongoing series. Dixon penned the first forty-six issues, bringing his Bird-count to 55 issues.
The first several issues of Birds were marked, on the retailer side, by a number of sell-outs. The fact of the matter is this: readers love their Birds. Of course, it’s helped that Simone retains the wit and flair that she’s always brought to the series, as well as bone-crunching action. Central to the appeal of the series to both men and women, in my estimation, is that the ladies fight hard. In much the same way that Bruce Willis is a bloody mess at the end of each “Die Hard”, Black Canary and company often get the tar beat out of them in accomplishing a mission. But they accomplish it. And that’s what’s important.
Another interesting development in the series (and part and parcel to the BD branding) was the addition of Hawk and Dove. Clearly, their names make them obvious candidates for a book that is so-named, but Simone has really made them work in the context of a team that’s been together a while.
Our take: the current incarnation of Birds of Prey remains a successful series built off a strong concept. Dixon made it solid, and Simone has made it her own. While there has been some rotation on art, the vast majority of the talent on the book has done a service to the story and allowed the skilled writers to craft a network of operatives that feels more like a family. A family that isn’t afraid to punch you in the face, but a family nonetheless. One year in, the days of Prey looks pretty bright indeed,