BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY #5 [Review]

Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey 5 Cover
BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY #5/ Writing by JULIE BENSON & SHAWNA BENSON/ Art by ROGE ANTONIO/ Colors by ALLEN PASSALAQUA/ Letters by DERON BENNETT/ Published by DC COMICS

One was a Mafia princess, who witnessed her family’s execution and became determined to destroy the criminals that robbed her of her childhood. She trained and joined the ranks of the secretive group known as Spyral. Now, she fights crime alone as The Huntress.

One was a homeless youth. She grew to become a special-ops soldier and gained sonic super-powers. By day, she hides in plain sight as one of the hottest rock stars in the world. By night, her siren song and martial arts mastery deliver a world of pain to those who would harm the innocent. She is Black Canary.

One was a humble cop’s daughter. Denied the right to follow in his footsteps, she grew into a talented student with a photographic memory. By day, she’s Burnside’s most prominent entrepreneur. By night, she kicks ass as well as she hacks computers. She was Batgirl. Then she was Oracle. And now she is Batgirl again.

Three different women, united in a common cause – tracking down a hacker who is working with Gotham City’s Mafia and using the Oracle name. A hacker who knows their methods. A hacker who knows their secrets. A hacker who is… a fanboy?

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I have to give Julie Benson and Shawna Benson credit for a well-played mystery and some truly amusing metahumor. The revelation of the new Oracle being a well-meaning hacker who tried to replace Oracle after Barbara returned to being Batgirl only to fall short (because NOBODY can replace Barbara Gordon as Oracle – wink-wink!) rather than a new villain is a brilliant one.  It remains to be seen if he’ll continue to have a place in this book but there is a precedent for The Birds trying to reform criminals whose hearts are in the right place. I suspect that theme of redemption may come into play next month based on the surprising revelation on the last page of this issue… but that would be telling.

The artwork for this issue seems equally inspired. Roge Antonio sports an animated style that proves a good fit for the lively script produced by The Bensons. And yet there’s also a thickness to Antonio’s inks befitting the shadowy atmosphere of Gotham’s underworld. Allen Passalaqua’s colors add to this aesthetic, with greys and blacks prominent to a degree that makes the purples and blues of our heroes’ costumes stand out all the stronger.

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I’ve seen other critics complain that Batgirl And The Birds of Prey does its own thing rather than being beholden to what is being done with these characters in the other Bat-family books and Green Arrow. They’ve complained that it is somehow too nostalgic in regards to Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey run whilst simultaneously ignoring much of what was done with the characters in the New 52 Batgirl, Black Canary and Grayson books. Those critics can sit and spin, as far as I’m concerned.

Batgirl and The Birds of Prey is precisely the kind of comic that Rebirth was meant to create. It’s easily accessible to new readers while still offering a nod to what came before. The characters are likable, the action thrilling and the artwork fantastic. In short, it’s a fun read.

Rating 4

About Matt Morrison

Matt "Starman" Morrison is The Grand Exalted High Macha of Raspur - a non-existent but real-sounding country. He has been writing about comics since before the word "blogging" was coined. He enjoys acting, role-playing, movie-riffing and sarcasm. You can follow his adventures on Twitter, @GeekyGeekyWays.

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