Series: Birds of Prey (2020–)
Publisher: DC – Black Label
Published: June 2, 2020
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Penciler: Emanuela Lupacchino
Inker: Ray McCarthy
Colors: Trish Mulvihill with John Kalisz
Letters: Steve Wands
Summary: Black Canary’s life has spiraled out of control: her personal life is going through the ringer and her band is in crisis when an old flame resurfaces only to flicker out and set her on an all-new mission against an all-new opponent. The only thing she has to be grateful for is the fact that she’s not alone, as Huntress finds herself on a collision course with Black Canary’s quarry at Detective Montoya’s urging. Meanwhile, Harley Quinn has resurfaced outside of Gotham City and out of the Suicide Squad, with a new lease on life that is sure to make everyone else’s life more complicated. And that’s only the first five pages of this high-octane, graphic novel-length one-shot that pushes the Birds of Prey far beyond their limits and puts them up against the most brutal crime syndicate to ever sweep into Gotham City! Hardboiled superstar writer Brian Azzarello and the bombshell art team of Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy take the Birds into the no-holds-barred world of Black Label, and none of them will ever be the same!
“No, Harley, you are what you became, and that…monster is what you’ll always be. Now, always, and forever… A monster ‘til the day you die.”
A new drug cartel, Esposas De La Muerte, is pedaling their deadly wares in Gotham City, attracting the attention of Black Canary and Huntress. Oh, and Harley Quinn’s back in town, after a brief stay at Bell Reeve, and she’s looking to fight some crime; thankfully, Black Canary and Huntress have room for one more in their squad.
Visually, Birds of Prey (2020–) #1 works well. High-energy, shoot-‘em-up scenes are packed with as much detail and emotion as the book’s quiet, more intimate—more telling—moments; Trish Mulvihill and John Kalisz’s color work is especially effective.
Brian Azzarello does a fine job in pacing this longer-than-usual one-shot, giving readers just enough information to pique their interests and keep them reading. His dialogue is telling and moves the plot along, appropriately. Other than by increasing this story’s length, I’m not sure how Azzarello could have gone deeper and given readers more Black Canary and Huntress, but come issue’s end, both characters felt somewhat unfamiliar.
Harley Quinn often steals the show, drawing attention away from whatever characters interact with her, thanks to a combination of her humor, depth of character, and ass-kickery. Batman and the rest of DC’s upper echelon have difficulty competing with her for readers’ attention; in Birds of Prey (2020–) #1, Black Canary and Huntress didn’t stand a chance. Out of the three converging plot lines used to bring this team together, I was least interested in Black Canary’s; this made her interactions with Harley somewhat lackluster, as what little information we get about Black Canary makes her quite unlikeable. Huntress is an interesting character, but her personality, what comes through, at least, doesn’t balance well with others.
After finishing my reading, I was left wanting more—much more…Although Birds of Prey (2020–) #1 offers almost one-hundred pages of story, more is needed, as this issue feels like the first chapter of a much larger tale that I wouldn’t mind reading. As it stands, this Birds of Prey story feels somewhat incomplete.
The Birds of Prey say f*** the Patriarchy and mean it, mostly, in this ‘graphic novel-length’ one-shot; heads literally roll, sure, but this Black Label book could have hit a bit harder. Black Canary and Huntress compete with Harley Quinn when the three are featured in scenes, together, but the group dynamic, as displayed here, works well enough, nonetheless. Birds of Prey (2020–) #1 leaves readers wanting more, and I’m not positive that was the desired effect, given that this is a one-shot.