Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1
Written by Julie Benson and Shawna Benson
Art by Claire Roe and Allen Passalaqua
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
While it’s not one of their longest-running titles, Birds of Prey feels like an almost required inclusion to any DC lineup — and perhaps that’s why it’s unsurprising to see the title resurface during DC’s "Rebirth." While the team’s membership has rotated over the years, the core group of a Batgirl, Huntress and Black Canary have always driven the series, as Julie and Shawna Benson team up with Claire Roe to bring this iconic super-team back to its roots.
While this book incorporates the Batgirl of Burnside, rock ’n roller Black Canary and ex-Spyral agent Huntress' pasts, this debut focuses primarily on the story of Barbara Gordon, as Shawna and Julie Benson recall Babs being shot by the Joker, continuing her crimefighting as the information broker Oracle, and then resuming her role as Batgirl after undergoing experimental surgery. The pulse of the book comes from the idea of Oracle, and the power she possessed as that character and how being that character, helped Barbara not feel so invalid. The Bensons’ past work primarily comes from television, so for those that are worried about the shift in mediums, the Bensons cover these characters well enough that you get the bare bones of Dinah and Helena, but Barbara, as its her point of view for the most of it, gets the most attention and comes across as more fleshed out by the end.
What's great here is Claire Roe's ascension to the big time. The Scottish-born artist has been talked about for a minute with her work We(l)come Back with writer Christopher Sebela. Roe's style evokes a cross between Rafael Albuquerque and Chris Visions, and with Batgirl and the Birds of Prey under her belt, there's sure to be a ton more eyes on her work. While some of her heavy inks can be a bit overwhelming, Roe’s Black Canary is utterly superb. When Dinah channels her Canary Cry, you can nearly feel the pages shake with vibrations from the decibels. Meanwhile, a scene with Huntress in a church is full of emotion, as she turns a confession into a scene of dramatic violence.
Allan Passalaqua's colors though are another matter, though. There's definitely moments where he works, and others come across sort of muddy and not as consistent. Most of the book takes place at night, so the color palette stays about the same. There's some really great usage of gradients that echo a night's sky, but nothing really stuck with me after I finished the issue. Roe's heavy inks in some places might have done better lightened up and given to Passalaqua to play with, just to give the book a little something sharper.
We still have awhile until Batgirl: Rebirth #1 hits the stands, and it'll be interesting to see how that book ties in with Batgirl and the Birds of Prey as we are to assume that at some point Batgirl takes up the reins of the team. With Batman being in a handful of books himself, it's good to see the women of Gotham getting more than one spotlight act to give their fans, even if this debut could use just a bit more polishing.