Birds of Prey: Volume One: Trouble in Mind

Writer: Duane Swierczynski

Artists: Jesus Saiz

Colorists: Nei Ruffino, Allen Passalaqua and June Chung

Distributed By: DC Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon - DC Comics keeps cancelling Birds of Prey and bringing it back in a new shape and form.  But there are always two constants: Black Canary and Oracle…until now.  This latest incarnation of Birds of Prey features all new writers and artists and a new team which I had a chance to preview when a friend of mine sent me the first couple of issues.  I decided to get Volume 1 of The New 52 version of Birds of Prey, Trouble in Mind.

            Birds of Prey: Volume 1: Trouble in Mind compiles issues 1-7 of the comic and features Black Canary prominently as team leader.  Actually, as the comic opens, there is no team really, just Black Canary aka: Dinah Lance, a woman wanted for murder, and Evelyn Starling, a woman whose name appears on just about every government watch list known to man.  Dinah tries to get Barbara Gordon to join the group, but Barbara has been flying solo as Batgirl and isn’t quite ready to give that up yet.

            Black Canary and Starling have been fighting some rather tenacious criminals dressed in suits that make them virtually invisible, but Dinah has another pressing matter to deal with.  The two are being followed around by a reporter and she wants to know why.  But catching the reporter proves deadly when he suddenly explodes in a crowded airport.  Canary and Starling find themselves fighting a mind-controlling, chemistry whiz with a flare for explosive behavior.  Will they survive the encounter or become pawns of the murderous monster known as Choke?

            Okay, this is a somewhat grittier Birds of Prey.  The writers make an attempt to lighten things up and duplicate the Canary/Oracle banter by partnering Black Canary with Starling, a fun-loving, risk taker who loves a good fight.  I say make an attempt because this pairing doesn’t hold a candle to the banter of old, something that made the Birds of Prey comic book so enjoyable in the past.

            I did enjoy the addition of Katana and her belief that her dead husband’s soul is somehow trapped inside her sword, causing her to appear slightly unstable in the eyes of her partners.  She is a cool addition to the comic book, adding a more thoughtful, mystical side while still being an awesome and deadly fighter. 

            However, there are a couple of things I just don’t get.  Adding Poison Ivy to the group is kind of a strange move considering that she is normally a villain.  Don’t get me wrong, Birds of Prey featured DC Comic villains, like Catwoman, as allies before, but I find myself not really buying this union.  Whereas Catwoman always seemed a bit conflicted regarding good and evil, Poison Ivy was always portrayed as someone who loved being evil and killing.  If the Birds of Prey motto is that they don’t kill…oh, wait a minute…that brings me to another thing I don’t get.

            Yup, that motto still exists according to Black Canary in Issue 7.  That being said, I see the ladies inflicting injuries on the bad guys that I just can’t believe they could walk away from.  Especially when Katana slices and dices them with her sword.  Hmmm.  Am I missing something here.

            Even more vexing is that this volume ends on a cliffhanger!  How can you do that to us!  Shouldn’t you at least complete the story arc in a comic book compilation?! 

            Okay, it sounds like I hated Birds of Prey: Volume 1: Trouble in Mind and that is not the case.  I have conflicting emotions about the comic series as it appears now, that’s all.  The writing isn’t the same, but that doesn’t mean it’s horrible…just different and a bit more gritty.  There’s still tons of action and plot twists here.  And the artwork is absolutely spot on - no cartoony illustrations here, thank goodness (I just hate that cartoony look).  Oh, and just because Barbara Gordon is not a member, doesn’t mean she doesn’t make a cool appearance…hint, hint.

            If this trade paperback has done anything, it has inspired me to give the series another chance.  Maybe there is life after Gail Simone and her brilliant writing.  I’ll have to stick around for a while and see…if for no other reason than to find out what happens after that cliffhanger of an ending!


For more about Birds of Prey, check out these links:

Birds of Prey: Batgirl / Catwoman & Catwoman / Oracle
Birds of Prey: The Battle Within
Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn
Birds of Prey: Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey: Blood and Circuits
Birds of Prey: Club Kids
Birds of Prey: Dead of Winter

Birds Of Prey Feature
Birds of Prey: Metropolis or Dust
Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds
Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies

Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch
Birds of Prey: Platinum Flats
Birds of Prey: Secret Files & Origins 2003
Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student

Birds of Prey: End Run
Birds of Prey Television Series
Birds of Prey Television Series DVD

Oracle: The Cure

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