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Black Canary/Oracle/ Huntress: Birds of Prey (original 1999; edition 1999)

by Chuck Dixon, Jordan B. Gorfinkle, Gary Frank (Illustrator), Matt Haley (Illustrator), Stefano Raffaele (Illustrator)2 more, Sal Buscema (Illustrator), Jennifer Graves (Illustrator)

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872138,736 (3.6)None
Member:quilted_kat
Title:Black Canary/Oracle/ Huntress: Birds of Prey
Authors:Chuck Dixon
Other authors:Jordan B. Gorfinkle, Gary Frank (Illustrator), Matt Haley (Illustrator), Stefano Raffaele (Illustrator), Sal Buscema (Illustrator)1 more, Jennifer Graves (Illustrator)
Info:DC Comics (1999), Paperback, 208 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Oracle, Black Canary, Catwoman, Huntress, comic book, graphic novel, series, slavery, terrorism

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Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey by Chuck Dixon (1999)

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The start of the Birds of Prey. It starts with just Black Canary and Barbara Gordon, aka Oracle. Oracle hires Black Canary to be her eyes, ears, as well as her fists and feet to defeat those who are playing in the shadows and taking advantage of and even killing innocents.

In the later issues Oracle and Black Canary also work with Lois Lane, a very cool team, she and Black Canary have good banter. Then Black Canary and Oracle team up with Catwoman and Huntress as well. The Oracle/Catwoman stuff was pretty cool too, although I didn't love the Huntress/Oracle interactions.

Still, I thought that the best chemistry/banter was between Black Canary/Oracle throughout the entire TPB. It was alternatively hilarious, caring, and at times angry (although that didn't seem like a mean angry between them). A very, very well written bunch of team ups for sure. ( )
  DanieXJ | Nov 25, 2014 |
One series ends, another begins. Having finished The Sandman and all its sundry spin-offs, I've decided to tackle another series, one I've heard about for many years, and heard a lot of good things about: Birds of Prey. This first volume, with the somewhat ungainly title Black Canary/Oracle/Huntress: Birds of Prey, collects a number of one-shots and miniseries that introduced the Birds of Prey. Despite the title, the Huntress isn't really a member yet, just being along for the ride in one of the stories. The focus here is squarely on Dinah Laurel Lance a.k.a. the Black Canary, and Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Oracle f.k.a. Batgirl.

At the time this story came out, both characters were at something of a loose end, as far as I know. Black Canary had been cut adrift from Green Arrow some time ago (and then the guy had died), and Oracle had never really had a starring role since taking on her new identity. In the first story, "One Man's Hell," written by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by Gary Frank and John Dell, Barbara recruits Dinah to be her field agent in investigating a series of terrorist attacks against some butthole's Third World development projects. The story moves a little abruptly at times (the destruction of a dam and flooding of an entire village gets like half a page), but it's a decent start, with action and sass. I've read a lot of Green Arrow comics, and Dinah plays differently placed in opposition to Barbara: she's a bit of a wild card and loose cannon. Which was probably always case, but basically everyone would look reserved standing next to Oliver Queen.

I like Frank and Dell's linework: it's thin and clear. The depiction of women is, of course, a key issue in a series that starred DC's first all-female superhero team, and I think they handle it nicely. Dinah and Barbara are drawn attractively, of course, but I don't think this crosses the line into the "male gaze" too much. I like Black Canary's new outfit. (I liked the old one too, in general, but not the way it always seemed to be drawn in the 1990s, including here.) I also really, really like Dinah's short blond hairdo; I wish that had stayed around by the time of Green Arrow and Black Canary.

The second story, "Revolution," kind of feels like the same as the first one over again: exploited people in the Third World under the thumb of a local dictator being saved by the timely and glamorous intervention of the Birds of Prey. The politics-- such as they are-- get a little confusing, and I'm a bit wary of any story that invokes the token of "white slavery." The breakup, such as it is, between Dinah and Barbara feels a little contrived, too. And the art by Stefano Raffaele and Bob McLeod is the weakest in the book: a few too many jutting butts and cocked hips, and a wonky sense of perspective in some panels.

"Birds of a Feather" is the book's only story not written by Chuck Dixon, instead penned by Jordan B. Gorfinkel and illustrated by Jennifer Graves and Stan Woch. Graves and Woch have a simpler style than some of the book's other artists, aided by more solid coloring, and I liked it a lot: clean and elegant. And Lois is even dressed like a real person in jeans and a t-shirt! Gorfinkel does a good job-- it's fun seeing Lois alongside other superheroes without Superman-- but it's the shortest story in the book, and both the explanations and the resolution shoot by too quickly.

"Manhunt" is the longest story in the book, a four-chapter miniseries illustrated by Matt Haley, Wade Von Grawbadger, John Lowe, Sal Buscema, and Cam Smith. It's also the best story in the book: it's fast-paced, but unlike "One Man's Hell" or "Revolution," never moves so fast as to lose you. It's also fun, in the way that a story that teams Black Canary up with the Huntress and Catwoman just ought to be. There's a lot of mutual suspicion and differing motives in the group that keep the whole thing engaging on a level of character interaction, and it distracts from the repetitive "Stop being so reckless!"/"I'm the one on the ground!" interactions of Barbara and Dinah. There's even a Batman and Robin cameo, definitely worth it for how the Huntress and Catwoman react to seeing him speed by.

There's also good jokes, especially the one about the villain's butt. (I wish that being spurned lovers wasn't part of our heroes' motive here, even if it does seem to be a small one. I cannot imagine a Superman/Batman team-up where they teemed up to take down a woman who never called them after one-night stands. Nor even a Blue Beetle/Booster Gold one.) The art is good, too, even if there's a tendency to sexual posing (especially by Catwoman) starting to creep in here. The story sets up the idea of a team fairly nicely, so it's a little disappointing that in the next volume it goes back to being just Black Canary and Oracle once more...

Green Arrow and Black Canary: « Previous in sequence | Next in sequence »
Birds of Prey: Next in sequence »
1 vote Stevil2001 | Jan 27, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chuck Dixonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Frank, GaryIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Haley, MattIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Raffaele, StefanoIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Buscema, SalIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dell, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gorfinkel, Jordan B.Authorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Graves, JenniferIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lowe, JohnIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McLeod, BobIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, CamIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vasquez, GloriaIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Von Grawbadger, WadeIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Woch, StanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Ladies and gentlemen and all free citizens of the republic of Rheelasia, I give you... Generalissimo and President For Life Singh Manh Lee!
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These action-packed stories take some of the most intriguing women in the DC Universe--the hard-hitting Black Canary, Oracle (the former Batgirl), Catwoman, the Huntress, and Lois Lane--on fast-paced adventures in a variety of exotic locales.

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