Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey is the first such trade paperback and is a compilation of seven comic books, featuring the following stories: Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey #1, Birds of Prey: Revolution, Showcase ’96 #3, and Manhunt 1-4. Birds of Prey #1 chronicles the beginning of the crime fighting team. Dinah Lance is down and out in Seattle, haunted by her past and stalked by creditors. In need of direction and a steady cash flow, when the phone call comes from Oracle, offering a job to Black Canary, Dinah quickly takes it. The job is an undercover mission. Someone is sabotaging Third World entrepreneur Nick Divine’s money-making projects and Oracle wants to know why. However, the answer is not a simple one. It is in fact more shocking beyond anything Oracle and Black Canary could have expected.
In Revolution, readers find Black Canary undercover as a would-be singer answering an ad in a local paper. Other hopefuls who have answered the ad have disappeared without a trace. What is behind the mysterious disappearances? A slave ring with ties to Santa Prisca. With the help of Oracle, Black Canary travels to Santa Prisca with plans to destroy the slave ring at its root. But when she runs into a mysterious man with an uncertain past, will Black Canary allow herself to be distracted from her mission?
Showcase ’96 #3 opens in a warehouse in Metropolis. Oracle and Black Canary have traced a slave ship from Santa Prisca to a warehouse. Unbeknownst to the Birds, Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane is already on the scene investigating the same warehouse. She soon learns that it’s a front for a slave labor operation. With Oracle’s help, Black Canary and Lois Lane join forces with the laborers and stage an uprising against a brutally abusive foreman with a superpower of his own.
The final tale in Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey is Manhunt, which begins as a revenge mission, but turns into so much more. Broiling over being duped by a gigolo / con-man, Dinah is looking for a little payback. With Oracle’s help, the Black Canary discovers that Archer Braun is actually a first-class thief, having stolen over one billion dollars from the Bengston Mint in Bristol. The confrontation gets out of control when two other women with a taste for vengeance show up – Huntress and Catwoman. Having been romanced and then dumped by Braun, Huntress has a personal axe to grind. Catwoman’s gripe is of a professional nature – she had assisted in helping Braun with the security alarms in Bristol, but he stiffed her on payment. The three women decide to team up against their common enemy, much to the chagrin of Oracle. Unfortunately, Oracle is correct in her feelings of misgiving. Black Canary soon finds herself kidnapped and without her transceiver earrings. She can speak to Oracle, but not hear her. Much to Oracle’s dismay, Catwoman is now wearing the earrings. Oracle is forced to work with Catwoman and Huntress to save Black Canary from the clutches of Braun and assassin extraordinaire Lady Shiva.
With the exception of Showcase ’96 #3, the artwork in this trade paperback is excellent. Bold colors and realistic drawings combined with talented writing make Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey a truly enjoyable experience. The banter between the rebellious Black Canary and Oracle, the voice of reason, is hysterical. In one particularly funny scene, Canary actually calls Oracle Jiminy Cricket, a reference to the conscience-like quality of advice whispered in her ear by Oracle via her transceiver earrings. Birds of Prey #1 and Revolution are particularly enjoyable, as they are extremely well-written and give the reader an opportunity to observe the peril-filled beginnings of a relationship built on trust. The fact that these women, usually strong and independent, grow to trust and rely on one another is incredible. Especially when one takes into mind the fact that Black Canary is trusting someone she has never even met and Oracle is trusting Black Canary to be the eyes, ears and physical presence on cases she once would have handled personally as Batgirl. The stories in this trade paperback delve deeper into the mindsets of the heroines of Birds of Prey, giving the readers more insight into their favorite characters. Action-packed drama, with comic relief in just the right places, Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey is the kind of trade paperback that will entice the reader to pick up the rest of the series.
For more about Birds of Prey, check out these links:
Birds of Prey
Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies
Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds
Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student
Birds of Prey: Batgirl / Catwoman & Catwoman / Oracle
Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn