Kelly Thompson makes her DC debut with Birds of Prey #1, a face-breaking first issue that features ninja assassins, vampires, and some cool-ass women. Here’s my review.
Birds of Prey #1: Megadeath Part 1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Leonardo Romero
Cover Artists: Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, Chris Bachalo, Jaime Mendoza, Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, Nick Bradshaw, and Jim Charalampidis
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Editor: Ben Abernathy
My Very Short Personal History with the Birds
I first got into the Birds of Prey towards the latter part of Ed Benes and Gail Simone’s first run back in the ’00s, right around the time Lady Blackhawk joined the team. I liked Benes’ art, sure, but I was into the series mostly because of cool-ass women kicking ass and taking names. I also followed them into their short-lived second run.
When a new series was launched as part of the New 52, I checked in to see if it can offer the same fun, ass-kicking team that Simone gave us. I quickly checked out.
Now, with the dawn of DC’s Dawn of DC comes a new Birds of Prey series, and it’s helmed by DC newcomer Kelly Thompson.
I hopped on the hype train because I’m subscribed to Thompson’s Substack, and she hyped up her DC debut with a series of teasers. I’m a sucker for gradual reveals of superhero team members for upcoming books, as well as unlikely combinations of characters that would most likely lead to friction and fun interactions, so I was immediately onboard.
There’s nothing new with first issues of team books revolving around member recruitment, but Thompson made sure that we don’t just get a quick, flashy recruitment montage.
We get short yet satisfying introductions to each of the BoP throughout the issue, giving us a glimpse of who they are and what they’re about. At the same time, different team dynamics are established, all while their bonkers mission is slowly revealed. There are also a couple of mysteries that I can’t wait to explore in later issues, including the first question that popped up in my head when the whole roster was revealed: Why isn’t Barbara Gordon in this?
Vampires, ninja assassins, and a quick flashback of a fight between two members of the team make sure that those of us who came for the action aren’t going to be disappointed. By the end of the issue, this weird mix of characters starts to make sense as a unit, just in time for the reveal of why they were brought together in the first place. And it sounds like they’re in for a lot of trouble.
Leonardo Romero’s clean, kinetic lines combined with Jordie Bellaire’s warm, vibrant colors give this issue a classic comic book texture, but with a modern polish. I particularly love how, in some panels, Barda is drawn in a style reminiscent of her creator, Jack Kirby. Not sure if that was on purpose or not, but it’s pretty neat either way.
The Kill Team
I like how there are very personal stakes in the formation of the group, not just a general desire to be heroic or to dispense justice. This isn’t Black Canary assembling a superhero strike force. This is Dinah Lance trying to save her sister by putting together a kill team of cool-ass women that will have people shitting in their pants.
Cassandra Cain Batgirl seems to be the glue that will hold the team together. I don’t know much about her, but from what I’ve seen here, it looks like I’m going to like Little Bat.
I can’t say the same about Zealot because the last time I read a comic book with her in it, it was a WildC.A.T.s book from the ’90s. I don’t know what her deal is now, and we don’t get a lot about her in this issue, other than “she’s as mysterious as she is deadly.”
Well-known face-breakers Big Barda and Harley Quinn round out the team. They’ve shown humanity, empathy, and heroism here, but I’m mostly looking forward to some grade A New God ass-kicking and chaotic violence peppered with quips from these two.
Thompson hyped, Thompson delivered. She successfully introduced a new group of Birds of Prey with a clearly defined purpose, a decent amount of intrigue, and the capability to break all the faces.
Whether you’re looking at Black Canary and Batgirl talking about the importance of sisters or the two of them absolutely wasting an entire army of ninja assassins, you can appreciate Romero and Bellaire’s gorgeous visuals.
Birds of Prey #1 is a cool-ass start to a series that I’m hoping will have people shitting their pants, but in a good way.
Birds of Prey #1 is available now wherever fine comic books are sold.