I was hesitant about picking up this series. I really enjoyed the old Birds of Prey series and was upset that lots of plot lines would be left up in the air with it being canceled for the New 52. I liked the team and the interaction between the members. From the initial previews, this series seemed to have little to do with the series I loved besides a single member and the name. But it still looked interesting enough and I took a chance. Possible spoilers below; you’ve been warned.
My very first observation has to be that this series is hella confusing. I feel like most of that is intentional story motivated confusion, but since even after seven issues I haven’t reached the end of the first story arc, I’ll have to wait to find out if the payoff is satisfying. There has been group memory loss/manipulation which makes it kinda hard to figure out what is really going on as none of the girls are reliable narrators. There was also a bit with Batgirl that seemed to contradict her earlier attitudes in the series, but again I’m not sure if this was due to sloppy writing or if that moment has some bigger implication.
The pacing is also a bit off in places. I was really thrown by the gap in time between issues 5 and 6. All of the other issues pick up where the last one left off, so having 6 start somewhere completely unfamiliar with seemingly no acknowledgement of what happened at the end of the previous issue was jarring. I almost feel as though the writer had something planned and then changed his mind once he sat down to write the issue, since Ev’s ending with her “they really are all out to get me” is just kinda ignored and hand waved away in the next issue.
My biggest complaint is with a rather major inconsistency. I feel like the writer was told after 3 or 4 issues, “Hey, you know these characters don’t kill people right?” Because in issue 7 Black Canary makes a big deal out of Ivy killing an innocent dude (completely understandable) and then freaks out again when Katana kills a criminal (which Canary knows Katana has spent the last year doing). She lays out the fact that no killing is rule number one. But wait… Back in the issue 2 after Katana joins the team Black Canary says “In battle Katana is everything I’d hoped for. Lethal. Disciplined. Able to watch my back.” Lethal. As in, kills people. And that is what Black Canary herself says she wanted. She says this after Katana stabs a dude through the chest and then slices up two others. The only caution she gives at that point is that they need “at least one of them alive” for questioning. It’s not, “Hey Katana, don’t kill anyone,” it’s more like, “Hey Katana, don’t kill everyone.” So when did Black Canary suddenly decide that killing was their number one no-no? It may seem nitpicky, but it was really confusing to me as I was reading through. I figured they were the team that works kinda outside the law and although they still have morals and all, they wouldn’t hesitate to kill in kill-or-be-killed situations. But I guess that isn’t the case after all.
I like the characters. Starling is fun, although I know very little about her. I enjoy that she likes breaking things. Katana is interesting when we aren’t dwelling on the fact that she talks to her sword and could possibly be crazy. This version of Ivy has potential. I do appreciate that no one really trusts her, although I’m still not sure what she gets out of being on the team. The addition of Batgirl makes me happy, provided that they coordinate with the writer of the main series to keep her personality and the timeline of major events in her life consistent. And Black Canary is okay, although she may be the least interesting of the members. They have some nice interactions going on, which I appreciate.
The art had a few mistakes that I noticed. The first might not have been a mistake, but if it wasn’t it was poor sequential story telling as Black Canary kinds just suddenly appears on the cart Starling was driving away from the authorities alone on the previous page. The other annoyed me as it was a case of the artist forgetting to draw in some bandages on Starling’s arm, despite the fact that she has them on the same page in the bottom panel. But nothing too bad. Overall I like the interior art quite a bit. Even though the girls are all pretty well figured I feel like it isn’t super cheesecakey. There aren’t a lot of gratuitous ass shots or weird poses. The girls are portrayed as active and action oriented and they kick a lot of butt.
Overall I’m still okay with this series. I’ll probably keep getting this one for a while. The mystery, although confusing, is still interesting and I want to know how it all works out. I suppose if the ending is terrible I might drop it, but so far the comic has done its job of entertaining me.