Summary : This is the Rebirth issue, meaning that it helps set up who and what Barbara is in this brave new Universe. Many of the things we know of Barbara is true, that Killing Joke did happen, but she got better. There was a time she was Oracle, but that got put to the wayside when she did the surgery to fix her spine. We also learn that Black Canary was her mentor and that they ran the ol’Birds of Prey crew back in the day until they broke the crew up to go solo. Unfortunately, all that past is going to come up and bite you in the ass if you aren’t watching and that is the big setup for this issue (and what looks to be at least the first story arc of the main Batgirl and the Birds of Prey series).
So how was it?
I am unfamiliar with the writing team of Julie and Shawna Benson, which is why I am glad they kept to a familiar story, re-treading the history of Barbara and her superhero career. This helped the writers establish what type of girl Barbara is and how they are going to portray her here on out (which is a slightly serious-minded Dick Grayson, a comparison I can live with). The Bensons (and I hope they don’t mind me calling them that, if you got the same last name, even if not related, you get the lumps) have a nice crafted hand at putting forth their story and showcasing the history, making it easy to follow and understand all the elements, both the subtext and literal text of it all.
Claire Roe is also an unknown for me, but I really enjoyed her art in this. None of the characters are over-sexualized (which is a good thing, trust me, if you want boobs, there are still plenty of other comics out there for you to ogle over, let these ladies show you how they do their super-heroics), but instead wear very distinct versions of their costumes that look like something an actual hero would wear. I especially like Huntress’s version, which looks like a nun’s habit modified for battle. The one thing that I found a little jarring is that Roe continuously seemed to give Barbara an overbite, which is a bit distracting (though will admit is an interesting visual choice).
Overall, a pretty decent issue, can’t wait for the actual series to start.