This is the first Birds of Prey level that I’ve played so that was interesting. Unfortunately, I can’t say that it was very good. The main characters aren’t the greatest and there are no real villains in this collection. Ah well…maybe next time I suppose. The concept is still pretty neat and as the group is made up of hand to hand fighters for the most part, that will give the series a chance for many hand to hand fights.
The Birds of Prey were on a routine mission when things quickly escalated in Metroplis. A lady became a big crime lord once her father was out of the picture, but the other mobsters didn’t take her seriously. That was their mistake and she decided to eliminate them all at once with her giant robot. Oracle’s preparations were sabotaged by Misfit and the thing became a big incident with many fatalities. Oracle’s confidence was shattered through this. Can she trust her instincts now? Meanwhile, Huntress must help Lady Blackhawk defeat an enemy from the past.
The plot in and of itself isn’t bad I suppose, but it’s not exactly an eye opener for someone walking through an aisle of comics. Seeing Superman was cool though and he made a lot of good points as expected. Oracle should have called in some extra heroes as soon as the giant mech appeared. That being said..who actually does that? You can bet that the Teen Titans or a fellow JL member would not have called for backup. While it is sound advice, nobody uses it and that includes Superman.
It’s also sad for Oracle since her group was doing just fine. In a way, Misfit saved the day by teleporting into the robot in the first place, but then she also wrecked everything by pushing the big red button. It was an odd scene as you would expect it in a comedy situation, but it actually had some real ramifications behind it. It’s always interesting to see that because when you really look at a comic, the heroes take crazy risks all the time. “Don’t move or the hostage gets it!” Heroes often ignore the villain and quickly charge in or throw something. It works out, but should it? Seeing these attempts and hunches fail sometimes is always intriguing for that reason, but it still makes Misfit look absolutely terrible as a character.
Oracle isn’t a likable lead, which probably hurt the comic a little. I’ve always thought that Batgirl was a character who could be likable one minute and irritating the next. She’s had a mixed track record, but I can’t say that I’ve ever seen an incarnation of Oracle that I was a big fan of. Barbara’s better as Batgirl and it would be nice to see her in that role again. Oracle is just too harsh with the characters and always acts as if she is in the right. Oracle isn’t actually helping on the field so she should act with a little more modesty. These heroes have a decent amount of experience under their belt at this point as well.
Huntress was easily the best character of the bunch. She still talks a little tougher than her skills can actually back up, but I would not call that a bad thing. It’s good to have one character who’s ready to take the win even if she’s not all that powerful. Lady Blackhawk is essentially DC’s Black Widow in terms of personality. At least, that’s how she is in this graphic novel and I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of her. That being said, she spends most of the comic being brainwashed so she didn’t have a chance to stop being a little on the generic side. We’ll see how she improves from here, but strength of will is something that she’s lacking.
Manhunter’s role was very small as she was mostly the group’s informant who went around doing the hard work. She seems like a good character and is certainly a tough one even if that’s part of why all of the members start to blend together. Each of the members is the tough and stern character who beats up on the bad guys. I feel like Misfit, Black Alice, and Huntress are the only characters with actual personalities and with the exception of the latter, the other two characters aren’t likable.
Black Alice is basically a villain who only pretends to be a hero when it’s convenient. She certainly has no business being on the Birds of Prey squad. She is decently powerful as she can steal your powers, which will come in handy when fighting someone like Superman. This technique seems to be activated by thought, which makes it nearly impossible to neutralize. That being said, she’s pretty whiney and isn’t a team player. It’s just hard to root for her.
Likewise, Misfit isn’t really a good character either. Oracle never lets her into the field, which makes you root for Misfit a little. That is all thrown out the window though when Misfit’s comic relief tendencies destroyed hundreds of people in a big explosion. Now we see why Oracle keeps her out of the field and it destroyed any chance that Misfit had of being a good character. I also don’t really care for jokesters if that’s their only gimmick. You have to have something to compliement it unless your jokes are just That good. If you’re great at that role, then it can work, but that’s not Misfit’s strength.
This comic would have been a lot better without the Killer Shark plot. One guy found some drugs in his grand father’s stuff and decided to become a super villain. It’s apparently easy to get into that profession once you have a costume. He was able to find Blackhawk’s apartment somehow and then he even made a villain lair as he defeated the two heroines. Do we really need more cheap villains like this? They seem to pop up all the time now. The plot twist about Lady Killer Shark also smells like a retcon to me. I hope that’s not the case because that would be a really bad change. Why not take things at face value like characters randomly being evil in the past? Of course, maybe this wasn’t a retcon, in which case it’s still bad, but not a bad twist since there wouldn’t have been a twist.
I did enjoy the art though. It’s smooth and fairly streamlined. The action scenes are fun when they happen and I’m always up for a good hand to hand fight scene when it’s done right. Good art can take a comic a long way. It won’t end up saving it in the long run, but it can win you part of the battle. This series just needs to step up with the rest of its sections to truly be a strong title. The writing wasn’t bad so we really just need a good villain and for the main characters to get a little more likable.
Overall, Birds of Prey is still a good concept, but this volume just didn’t work out for me. It could be a one time deal though and every series can have an underwhelming trade paperback at some point. There have been several Birds of Prey series over the past and this is volume 11 of one so maybe the series was just about to get good or it had jumped the shark. Instead of waiting to find out, check out the early Supergirl volumes in the New 52. That was a great series!