Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #2
Written by Julie Benson and Shawna Benson
Art by Claire Roe, Roge Antonio, Allen Passalaqua and Hi-Fi
Lettering by Steve Wands
Published by DC Comics
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
The Birds of Prey haven’t had the best track record over the last few years, and DC Comics readers who jumped aboard during this time will have no concept of the massive legacy that these characters carried with them from the 1990s. There’s a few moments in this reborn (or is it 'Rebirt'h-ed?) series that almost feel like that old Chuck Dixon or Gail Simone charm, albeit filtered through very different models for these characters. It’s not always a comfortable fit, but it’s still a fun ride.
Batgirl, Black Canary, and the Huntress are still figuring each other out when they are forced together to protect a mafia boss from attack. Batgirl calls in a favor from the GCPD in the form of her father Jim Gordon, who doesn’t feel that they are up to the task. Lurking beneath this surface storyline is the wider arc of a mysterious hacker posing as Babs Gordon’s former Oracle identity, making this a personal mission for the Birds.
The in-fighting and bickering amongst the team is a far cry from the glory days of the group, but its a tried-and-true formula for a fledgling group and provides a low-lying tension that runs parallel to the overarching tale.
A cameo from several other members of the Bat-family, including both of Babs’ father figures, is potentially worrying this early in the series, usually indicating a lack of faith in the salability of the newish team. Yet the fact that each of the three leads manages to hold onto their own identity in the face of this move is indicative of the natural strength of the trio. It’s just a shame that Julie and Shawna Benson haven’t quite found the right tone yet, undermining their own strengths with incongruously self-aware captions.
Claire Roe, Roge Antonio, Allen Passalaqua and Hi-Fi’s art game opens on a strong shot of cop cars racing through Gotham, one that is almost cinematic in its leanings. There’s nothing show-stopping that really follows this moment, with each panel designed to functionally keep the issue moving forward. The most distinctive element is the shadow work, with the earlier action sequences bathing Batgirl’s face in a deep shade that gives a little edge to the Burnside local. It works best when it is at its most playful, such as the “training” sequence between Canary and Huntress on a Gotham rooftop.
While it isn’t quite a classic union yet, the Benson sisters have pulled all the necessary bits together to build something that is. Like many of the other books being released under the "Rebirth" banner, much of the first arc is being spent reestablishing some of the good will lost during the "New 52" years. Batgirl and the Birds of Prey is unquestionably a step in the right direction, and we can’t wait to see what a fully-functioning team will look like.