Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies
Distributed By: DC Comics
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies features two one shots – Wolves and Black Canary / Batgirl - and issues 1 – 6 of the comic book series. In Wolves, Oracle and Black Canary decide to take a well needed break from crime fighting. Black Canary receives a surprise visit from an old acquaintance who has fallen on some hard times and needs her help. Meanwhile, Barbara has met an intriguing, enormously charming man who seems to know all the right things to say. Unfortunately, he’s a crook searching for the perfect mark – unfortunate for him, since he seems to think that the perfect mark is Barbara Gordon and he’s about to discover that you don’t mess with the Birds of Prey.
In Black Canary / Batgirl, Barbara Gordon is Batgirl and finds herself fighting alongside Black Canary. But things are not quite what they seem and Barbara realizes she is caught up in a hallucination created by Spellbound. With no one to aid her in her plight, Barbara finds she must use all the skills she has – those learned in the years as Batgirl, and those recently honed as Oracle – to escape from Spellbound’s clutches.
Issue #1 in the Birds of Prey comic book series, Long Time Gone, finds Black Canary traveling to Rheelasia. A bottom-feeder named Jack Pamerjanian, AKA: Jackie Pajamas, has just arrived in a country torn apart by the loss of its leader and Oracle smells trouble. The story continues in issue # 2, One of Those Faces. Black Canary has been captured by the very people she has been spying on. An unexpected ally turns up to rescue Black Canary, but there were a couple of things that Jason Bard, former paramour of Barbara Gordon, wasn’t counting on – having his cover blown and getting captured and blinded in the process. Issue #3, Hounded, Canary is introduced to Hellhound, a former student of the sensei that had once trained Dinah in the martial arts. While Oracle attempts to locate Black Canary with the help of Robin and Roland “Blockbuster II” Desmond’s bank account, Black Canary stages an escape with a blinded Jason Bard in tow. With Hellhound and Jackie Pajamas hot on their heels, can Jason and Black Canary survive the night?
Issues #4-6 mark the return of the Ravens, a nefarious group of female mercenaries. The Ravens have been hired by ruthless cult leader, Kobra, to find Solaris II, a long-forgotten piece of Russian technology. Just when Black Canary thought she was going to get a little vacation time in, she and Oracle must find a way to keep Solaris II out of the clutches of Kobra and the Ravens.
Though the comic book series is enjoyable, it’s easier to fall in love with the one shot stories in this trade paperback. Wolves and Black Canary / Batgirl are artistically well done and the writing is perfectly on the mark. Black Canary / Batgirl, in particular, gives us further insight into Barbara Gordon and her struggle with the fact that she can no longer fight crime the way she did as Batgirl. Barbara comes face to face with the feelings of helplessness that plague her with every behind-the-scenes stint as Oracle and realizes that she’s not so helpless after all – a powerful message for all. Issues #1-6 are interesting in the fact that there are several subplots being worked in that will each come in to play in latter issues, such as the fact that Oracle is appropriating funds from crime lord Blockbuster’s account to subsidize the crime fighting abilities of the Birds of Prey. Also intriguing is the possibility of a new love interest portrayed in the game of email tag played by Oracle and a mysterious cyber-pal named Bumblebeeb.
Unfortunately, the storyline involving the Ravens and Kobra is weak in comparison to the rest of the trade paperback. The story is not fleshed out enough and the reader finds him / herself wondering about too many things. The Ravens are an intriguing nemesis, but one would never know that reading this story. The biggest tip off that they could be dangerous is Oracle’s admonition to Black Canary to beware of Cheshire, whose kill total is somewhere in the millions.
As a whole, Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies is an enjoyable trade paperback, but one not worth paying the full price of $17.95. This one could be found at a fairer price on EBay.
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