|Birds of Prey|
|Group publication information|
|First appearance||Showcase ‘96 #3 (March 1996)|
|Created by||Jordan B. Gorfinkel|
|Birds of Prey|
|Cover of Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey #1 (1996), art by Gary Frank.|
|Series publication information|
|Publication date||(Vol. 1)|
January 1999 – April 2009
July 2010 – August 2011
September 2011 – October 2014
(Batgirl and the Birds of Prey)
July 2016 – May 2018
September 2023 – present
|Number of issues||Vol. 1: 127 |
Vol. 2: 15
Vol. 3: 34
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: 22 and a Rebirth one-shot
|Creator(s)||Jordan B. Gorfinkel|
The Birds of Prey is a superhero team featured in several American comic book series, miniseries, and special editions published by DC Comics since 1996. The book's premise originated as a partnership between Black Canary and Barbara Gordon, who had adopted the codename Oracle at the time, but has expanded to include additional superheroines. The team name "Birds of Prey" was attributed to DC assistant editor Frank Pittarese in the text page of the first issue. The group is initially based in Gotham City and later operates in Metropolis and then relocates once more to "Platinum Flats", California, a new locale introduced in Birds of Prey in 2008.
The series was conceived by Jordan B. Gorfinkel and originally written by Chuck Dixon. Gail Simone scripted the comic from issue #56 to #108. Sean McKeever was originally to replace Simone, but McKeever subsequently decided to leave the project and only wrote issues #113–117; Tony Bedard, who wrote issues #109–112, briefly took over the title at issue #118. Artists have included Butch Guice, Greg Land, Ed Benes and Joe Bennett; Nicola Scott began a stint as artist with issue #100. In 2011, the title was relaunched under writer Duane Swierczynski and artist Jesus Saiz. With the 2016 company-wide soft relaunch DC Rebirth, the Birds of Prey are re-introduced in the new title Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, featuring a team consisting of Batgirl, Black Canary and Huntress.
Despite the title of the series being Birds of Prey, the phrase was not mentioned in the book until issue #86, when one of the group's members, Zinda Blake, suggests that it might be a fitting name for the team, but other characters get sidetracked and do not respond to her suggestion. Oracle, the team's leader, refers to the group by that name in a conversation with the new Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, and later within the series.
The core of the team is made up of Oracle, who serves as the leader of the group, Huntress and Black Canary, with other heroines forming a rotating roster sometimes for extended periods, sometimes for merely one adventure. After Black Canary's departure, Huntress remained as the staple member and field leader, alongside new "core members". Following the events of Flashpoint (2011) and the company-wide relaunch as part of The New 52, Oracle recovers her mobility and reclaims her former Batgirl identity, taking a brief hiatus from the team in the process. Despite the previously all-female central roster, male allies such as Nightwing, Wildcat, Savant and Creote frequently assist missions. In addition, Hawk and Dove briefly joined the team, making Hawk its first male member.
The title series began with Chuck Dixon's one shot Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey (cover date 1996 / published December 1995). Initially, the two heroines featured were Barbara Gordon (formerly "Batgirl") and Dinah Lance (currently "Black Canary"). From the beginning, Canary was written as passionate and idealistic. In an interview with Comics Bulletin, Dixon described this choice as a fertile clash of values: "Dinah's more idealistic approach is at the heart of this book".
When Gail Simone took over the series in 2003, she added the Huntress to the lineup. In her first arc, entitled "Of Like Minds", Simone let Black Canary walk into a trap set by Brian Durlin, known as Savant, and his assistant Creote. With Black Canary now critically injured and chained, Savant begins listing demands, the most significant of which is the true identity of Batman. In the end, Huntress and Canary defeat their enemies, and form a team.
Author Simone commented on the new lineup, saying that each character provided a foil for the two others: "In this case, Babs and Dinah respect each other tremendously, and each is capable of great things the other is not. Dinah's not just Oracle's legs, sometimes, she's her conscience, or her muse, or just her best friend. And Oracle is far more to Dinah than just the mission controller. They trust each other, and out of that, there's a friendship that they believe in. Huntress...I see Helena as someone who is not a loner completely by choice. Dinah is so accepting and so open that Helena sees an opportunity to be part of something without having to force her way in. There's friction, because once Helena puts the mask on, she's really not very good fitting in. But she likes that they're giving her a chance. Whether she blows it or not, you'll have to keep reading".
Simone was appreciative of her work, saying Birds of Prey editor Lysa Hawkins "was looking for a slightly tougher Birds of Prey and asked me to submit a proposal. I have a huge fondness for Babs and Dinah both, so it's a bit of a dream come true. I'm really excited by the art, which is very sleek and sexy, with a nice dark tone, by Supergirl star Ed Benes".
The Huntress later meets Oracle in person for the first time while rescuing her from a potentially life threatening situation during the "Sensei & Student" storyline. The US government had become aware of the existence of Oracle and formatted a list of suspects to interrogate, one of whom was Barbara. Without any form of due process, two federal agents imply they believe she is the Oracle and that if any evidence is brought to light she will be tried for treason against the United States of America. Once again, Oracle relies on the Huntress when no other allies are available.
While Oracle and Huntress share a long history of animosity with one another, Black Canary eventually persuades Oracle to employ Huntress as a full-time agent. The budding friendship is cut short during the "Hero Hunters" arc. In the final issue of the storyline, the Huntress realizes Oracle has been manipulating her psychologically in order to make her "behave" properly, in the same way a teacher attempts to reform a troubled child. Despite Oracle's remorse for her actions, Huntress temporarily departs from the group. She later rejoins the team, once again as a full-time agent along with newcomer Lady Blackhawk. Although the personnel on Oracle's team grows and changes, Huntress and Lady Blackhawk remain core agents.
As Birds of Prey approached its hundredth issue, Simone used issues #99 and #100 to shake up the lineup. She let Black Canary leave the team with her ward, a little girl called "Sin", and used a prison break arc to introduce superhumanly strong Big Barda, pacifist Judomaster and rascally Misfit into the new squad, and with the new Spy Smasher as an ambiguous Jack Bauer-like anti-heroine and Lois Lane cornering Oracle into almost giving away her secret identity. Again, the characters were chosen to provide a foil for each other, and affirmed her love for her characters: "The team is a group of individuals, quite unlike the friendship between Dinah, Helena and Babs. And any team with Barda on it automatically has a certain bull in a China shop tremble, and I love that... The characters don't apologize for being asskickers, nor for being smart, nor for being sexy, nor for being sexual, for that matter. There are always going to be some people who find that not to their taste, but at the same time, Birds of Prey regularly brings in people who don't otherwise read mainstream comics, a whole audience that may not pick up any other superhero titles, and I love that niche, that little area between good taste and utter shamelessness". Finally, Simone stated her agony of leaving the book: "I miss the characters in all the books I've worked on. Writing the last issue of Birds of Prey I'm doing was actually physically painful".
After Simone's departure to sister title Wonder Woman, Sean McKeever wrote Birds of Prey from issues #113 to #117. McKeever used his short stint to pit a new incarnation of "Blackhawk" villain Killer Shark against ex-Blackhawk Zinda Blake and to introduce the location of Platinum Flats, called by IGN "the Silicon Valley of the DC universe and a hotbed of white-collar crime committed by mysterious villain 'The Visionary'". IGN called his short stint "enjoyable and creative". His writing deeds were taken over by Tony Bedard, who stated in a Comic Book Resources interview that he liked the concept of Platinum Flats. Bedard wanted to mix the concept of 21st century white collar crime with 1930s mob families and said that Oracle is his favorite Birds of Prey character.
DC canceled the series in February 2009, with the Oracle: The Cure mini-series beginning publication the following month as part of a company-wide reorganization of Batman-related titles.
Birds of Prey returned under the Brightest Day banner in 2010. Gail Simone returned to write series with Ed Benes providing the artwork. Hawk and Dove were brought as new members of the team as well, with Oracle playing a strictly supporting role. While in Singapore in December the same year, she announced, in an interview with the newspaper Straits Times, an intention to create a Singaporean superheroine.
The title was eventually cancelled along with every other DC book as part of a company-wide relaunch following the Flashpoint event. Two months prior to the title's cancellation, Simone left the book after issue #13.
In July, writer Marc Andreyko and artist Billy Tucci took over the title for the final story-arc, which featured the original Black Canary and Phantom Lady. Manhunter, a former Birds of Prey member created by Andreyko, appeared as well.
See also: The New 52
DC Comics relaunched Birds of Prey with issue #1 in September 2011 for The New 52 relaunch with the new series having some similar characters which existed in a different universe than the previous DC titles. Novelist Duane Swierczynski replaced Andreyko as the writer, with Jesus Saiz handling the art. Noted Batman villain Poison Ivy was one of the new characters joining the team.
The book's first storyline begins shortly after Barbara regains the use of her legs after the events of Flashpoint. However, she still has been paralyzed by the Joker, but thanks to a new kind of implant, she can walk again. She has to deal with some PTSD, though. Dinah approaches her old friend with an offer to join the new Birds of Prey team she is putting together, but she declines, instead suggesting that Katana take her place. The gun-toting vigilante Starling is also recruited into the team, along with Poison Ivy.
Following the departure of Poison Ivy after issue #12, the team roster changed again when Katana spun off into her own solo book along with providing her services to the Justice League of America. With occasional help from Condor and a former Talon (an assassin of the Court of Owls), named Mary Turner, a young African-American woman who became mute after being injured by a Japanese Fu-Go balloon bomb attack when she was a little girl whilst the rest of her family was killed from the bombing during World War II and was recruited into the Court. In Batgirl Annual #1, Catwoman freed Mary from Blackgate Penitentiary, and Batgirl chose her to replace Katana after she left. The Birds of Prey gave her the codename Strix (Latin for Owl). The Birds of Prey moved on with writer Christy Marx in issue #18.
Main article: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey
See also: DC Rebirth
DC Comics reconfigured the continuity of their shared universe again in 2016 with DC Rebirth. The Birds of Prey had their own title once again, now called Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. Huntress is aware of Batgirl and Black Canary's secret identities, but they do not seem to be aware of hers. The three women form an uneasy alliance in order to take down mutual foes. Batgirl and Black Canary are attempting to find yet another villain who is using the name "Oracle". Issue #4 is essentially Huntress's origin story, showing why she is waging war against certain mob families.
In June 2023, it was announced that a new Birds of Prey ongoing series would launch in September 6, 2023 as a part of the Dawn of DC relaunch initiative. The series will be written by Kelly Thompson, drawn by Leonardo Romero, colored by Jordie Bellaire, and lettered by Clayton Cowles. The initial line up for the first arc is set to be composed of Black Canary, Cassandra Cain / Batgirl, Big Barda, Zealot, and Harley Quinn.
The series has been collected into a number of trade paperbacks published by DC Comics.
|Title||Material collected||Publication date||ISBN|
|Birds of Prey||Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey #1, Birds of Prey: Manhunt #1–4, Birds of Prey: Revolution #1, a story from Showcase '96 #3||2002||978-1563894848|
|Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies||Birds of Prey: Wolves #1, Bird of Prey: Batgirl #1, Birds of Prey #1–6||2003||978-1563899393|
|Nightwing: The Hunt for Oracle||Birds of Prey #20–21||2003||978-1563899409|
|Batman: New Gotham, Vol. 2: Officer Down||Birds of Prey #27||2001||978-1563897870|
|Batman: Bruce Wayne – Murderer?||Birds of Prey #39–40||2002||978-1563899133|
|Batman: Bruce Wayne – Fugitive, Vol. 1||Birds of Prey #41, 43||2002||978-1563899331|
|Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds||Birds of Prey #56–61||2004||978-1401201920|
|Birds of Prey: Sensei and Student||Birds of Prey #62–68||2005||978-1401204341|
|Birds of Prey: Between Dark and Dawn||Birds of Prey #69–75||2006||978-1401209407|
|Birds of Prey: The Battle Within||Birds of Prey #76–85||2006||978-1401210960|
|Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch||Birds of Prey #86–90, #92–95||2007||978-1401211912|
|Birds of Prey: Blood and Circuits||Birds of Prey #96–103||2007||978-1401213718|
|Birds of Prey: Dead of Winter||Birds of Prey #104–108||2008||978-1401216412|
|Birds of Prey: Club Kids||Birds of Prey #109–112, #118||2009||978-1401221751|
|Birds of Prey: Metropolis or Dust||Birds of Prey #113–117||2009||978-1401219628|
|Birds of Prey: Platinum Flats||Birds of Prey #119–124||2009||978-1401222932|
|Oracle: The Cure||Birds of Prey #126–127, Origins and Omens: Oracle, Oracle: The Cure #1–3||2010||978-1401226039|
|Birds of Prey: End Run||Birds of Prey Vol. 2 #1–6||2011||978-1401231316|
|Birds of Prey: The Death of Oracle||Birds of Prey Vol. 2 #7–15||2011||978-1401232757|
|DC Comics: The Sequential Art of Amanda Conner||Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #47–49||2012||978-1401237400|
|Birds of Prey Vol. 1||Black Canary/Oracle: Birds of Prey #1, Birds of Prey: Manhunt #1–4, Birds of Prey: Revolution #1, a story from Showcase '96 #3, Birds of Prey: Wolves #1, Bird of Prey: Batgirl #1||2015||978-1401258160|
|Birds of Prey Vol. 2||Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #1–11, Birds of Prey: Ravens #1||2016||978-1401260958|
|Nightwing Vol. 5||Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #20–21, Nightwing #35–46||2016||978-1401264543|
|Birds of Prey Vol. 3||Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #12–21, Nightwing #45–46||2017||978-1401264543|
|Batman: Bruce Wayne – Murderer?||Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #39–41||2014||978-1401246839|
|Batman: Bruce Wayne – Fugitive||Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #43||2014||978-1401246822|
|Birds of Prey: Murder and Mystery||Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #56–67||2020||978-1401295844|
|Birds of Prey: Hero Hunters||Batgirl #57, Batman #633, Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #68–80||2021||978-1779503046|
|Birds of Prey: Fighters by Trade||Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #81-91||2021||978-1779508027|
|Birds of Prey: Whitewater||Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #104-112||2022||978-1779515766|
|Birds of Prey: The End of the Beginning||Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #113-127||2023||978-1779521521|
|The New 52|
|Birds of Prey Vol. 1: Trouble in Mind||Birds of Prey Vol. 3 #1–7||2012||978-1401236991|
|Birds of Prey Vol. 2: Your Kiss Might Kill||Birds of Prey Vol. 3 #8–12, #0||2013||978-1401238131|
|Birds of Prey Vol. 3: A Clash of Daggers||Birds of Prey Vol. 3 #13–17; Batgirl Annual Vol. 4 #1||2013||978-1401244040|
|Birds of Prey Vol. 4: The Cruelest Cut||Birds of Prey Vol. 3 #18–24, 26, Talon #9||2014||978-1401246358|
|Birds of Prey Vol. 5: Soul Crisis||Birds of Prey Vol. 3 #25, 27–34||2015||978-1401250836|
|Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Vol. 1: Who Is Oracle?||Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Rebirth #1, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1–6||2017|
|Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Vol. 2: Source Code||Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #7–13||2017|
|Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Vol. 3: Full Circle||Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #14–22||2018|
The Birds of Prey appear in a self-titled film, consisting of Dinah Lance (portrayed by Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Helena Bertinelli / Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). Additionally, Harley Quinn (portrayed by Margot Robbie) and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) appear as temporary allies before they part ways with the trio on good terms.