Birds of Prey, Volume 1: Trouble in MindNever fear, dear readers! If there is trouble on the streets, trouble on the trains, trouble in the sky – the Birds of Prey are here to save the innocent and bring the guilty to justice. But these aren’t the Birds of Prey you might remember from Gail Simone’s run on the series.

This fierce female fighting force is certainly a motley crew. Wanted murderer (but probably framed) Black Canary, aka Dinah Lance, tries to get her old pal, Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, back into the Birds, but after receiving a very polite “no, thank you,” Dinah decides to try for the next best thing. She calls on her old pal Ev Crawford, aka Starling, who is also in a bit of hot water — but there’s nothing too hot to keep Starling away from fighting crime in all of its forms.

Now, this is when it gets, um, different. You might think Dinah would call up another old pal (Huntress, maybe?) to complete the trio, but Dinah goes out on a limb and recruits not only Katana, a super sword fighter who also happens to believe her dead husband communicates with her through her sword, but also villain extraordinaire Poison Ivy. Determined to make this ragtag team something to be reckoned with, the Birds must work together if they are going to stop something so powerful and mysterious they aren’t even sure who or what they’re really fighting.

What started off as a simple mission of saving an investigative reporter from the clutches of superhumans wearing stealth suits that not only have the ability to turn invisible but can also seemingly withstand any type of attack turns into a full-fledged terrorist nightmare, as people start exploding after suddenly reciting simple nursery rhymes. Dinah didn’t think it could get any worse until she starts hearing the call of the leader in her own head and realizes she might be the next human bomb. Will the Birds find out who the mastermind is behind this nefarious plan? Will they ever learn to trust each other with their lives or will they have to accept that they might not win this battle?

This incredible story introduces a kick-ass team to the New 52. It’s one of mystery, intrigue, and science fiction. The dynamic between all the members and their own personal demons lends a new and fresh quality to the story and that cliffhanger of an ending will definitely leave readers wanting to get started on the next trade edition as soon as they can. All the characters are well developed and have interesting and distinct voices that really bring all of them to life. This was definitely a fun, entertaining and well-written story.

I also really liked the artwork in this book. The characters are all drawn extremely well, and none of them are reduced to the traditional stereotypes that show up in other female superhero books. It’s set up in the normal comic book style — 4-7 panels per page with thought and speech bubbles as well as boxed asides to the readers. The layout is easy to follow and speech order and action words are well placed so as to ensure reading comprehension and story progression. The book is vividly colored, nothing is muddy or overly shaded, and crisp, clean lines make this a book that’s definitely easy on the eyes. The action scenes work well within the story and no one is sporting a pose that’s unattainable for a human. Starling, especially, really stands out to me. Her expressions are perfectly drawn and I felt like I knew her personally from her drawn mannerisms alone. Also, the world of Poison Ivy is vibrant, green, and lush. I was a little nervous about whether I’d like this book since I really, really loved Gail Simone’s run on the series, but I think Starling is a great new character to add into DC’s lineup. All of the ladies are just really great, so this is another solid addition to the Birds of Prey canon. Great storyline, great artwork — a guaranteed enjoyable read for superhero fans.

Birds of Prey, Volume 1: Trouble in Mind
by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Jesus Saiz
ISBN: 9781401236991
DC, 2012

  • Traci

    | She/Her

    Traci has been a graphic novel selector and collections coordinator for kids and teens in libraries in Arizona and Oregon since 2005. She served as the chair of YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee, and served as a member of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens blogging team. She previously coordinated the Oregon Young Adult Network’s Graphic Rave list, OYAN’s yearly list of the best graphic reads for teens. Traci is a member of ALA, YALSA, and GNCRT. And, she achieved her greatest dream ever by serving as a judge for the 2019 Eisner Awards.

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