What Would Save The Pretty Birds?

December 15th, 2008 by | Tags: , , ,

I try not to read internet rumors.  Most of the time they just get me riled about something dreamed up by someone on a message board.  Unfortunately, this means that sometimes I get bad news in public places.  That can be unpleasant.  A few weeks ago in a comics shop, some friends told me that Birds of Prey was getting cancelled.  I won’t get into details, but there was loud wailing involved.  Loud, sustained wailing.

I’ve written about how the Wonder Woman mythos doesn’t do much for me.  Birds of Prey was my version of Amazon Island.  Up until Canary left, it was a long-preserved team.  It was all-girl, all bad-ass, all the time.  Since it was not one of the hottest-selling books it was a sheltered island, out of the way of the major continuity events, where some of the lesser known female characters could thrive.

Yes, I know that there is going to be an Oracle mini-series, and while Barbara Gordon is one of my top five characters of all time, I’m going to miss the rest of the Birds.  Canary was at her best with a team that she could have fun with, not fight with or mother.  Huntress was an awkward fit everywhere else in the DCU, too independent to be one of the bats, too bat-oriented to get away from them.  In Birds of Prey she got a chance to shine, and take control.  And of course there’s Zinda, who is one of the most fun characters in the DCU.  There’s Manhunter, who had her own book cancelled recently.  Even Misfit was growing on me.

When a favorite character of mine loses a book, I always wonder if I’ll see them again.  Being too unpopular for a book, but just popular enough to be noticed, is often a recipe for death when big events come up.  I feel like Daniel Day-Lewis in Last of the Mohicans.  “Stay alive, no matter what occurs!  I will find you!”

I also mourned the end of The Blue Beetle, but at least I know that Jaime will be preserved in Teen Titans.  Also, I think that, as stages of grief go, I am still firmly routed in ‘denial.’  Jaime will come back.  I know this.  He must.

Birds of Prey has catapulted me into ‘bargaining.’  What would it take to get the Birds back.  How would it be possible to drive up readership?  Let me rephrase that.  How would it be possible to drive up readership besides having a Babs, Dinah, and Helena three-way in each book?  (Yeah, I’ve seen that fanart.)

As the saying goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  What I have is a steadfast love of comics that are light, fun, and just a little nutzo.  My ideal Birds book would be a cross between the early Indiana Jones movies and Bruce Lee on pixie stix.  Three-to-five issue arcs, each one being a separate adventure.  Fast, fun, and ass-kicking.  I’d like constant wisecracks, mild indignity, ninja stuff, at least two issues in which people run to get out of the way of giant boulders, and Misfit as Short Round.  That’s Short Round, not Mutt.  Sorry, Shia.

I think the book was doing best with its four core characters; Babs, Helena, Dinah, and Zinda.  As said before, Misfit could be Short Round.  And, of course, since Indy got a new girl every movie, there could be a rotating spot for the last member to keep things fresh.

But hell, I’d favor an eighteen-person team in a somber, noirish book comprised of thirty-issue all-event storyarcs if I thought I’d be getting my Birds back.

What would you hope for in a Birds book?

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9 comments to “What Would Save The Pretty Birds?”

  1. In between working on my own comics, I regularly do little brainstorming sessions for DC/Marvel properties and post them to a comic forum I like. Here’s the one I did for the Birds.


  2. Gail Simone & Ed Benes*.

    * – as his work was, not as it now is

  3. Black Canary.

    I mean she is very literally the bird in the birds of prey. The Huntress, although I like her a great deal, is not a Bird. Birds of Prey without Black Canary is like Classic Avengers without Hawkeye, X-Men without Wolverine, the New Avengers without Luke, or the Gieffen Justice League without Blue & Gold. Leading the Justice League?…the character is certainly up to it but it’s not the best use of her.

    (also get rid of Misfit)

    ((also please post that fanart you mentioned))

  4. also: Cassandra Cain. The Birds could use a powerhouse (but not quite a super-powerhouse) and Babs and Cass’s relationship was one of my favorite thing about Puckett’s run on Batgirl.

  5. Assuming that there’s no way to get Black Canary back in BoP, I’d want her to be replaced by Lady Shiva on a permanent basis: Oracle, Huntress, Shiva, and Zinda as the driver, although I’d also want to see Savant and Creote come back every so often. I’d also want them going on missions that are more realistic, fighting more human bad guys, the way they used to. Above all, though, I’d want to see them get darker, much darker. Having Huntress and Black Canary working together was a great dynamic because the Canary could and did restrain Huntress, but Huntress and Shiva are both assassins by training and inclination, and I’d love to see them playing off each other to become more extreme, while also influencing Oracle to adopt more extreme methods.

    Here are some specific story arcs I’d like to see, in no particular order:

    A superhero in a very classic boyscout mold (one who would be introduced just for this story) in a city in middle America is found murdered. Oracle sends Huntress and Shiva to find who did it and kill them, and to steal the dead hero’s body from the morgue, so that he won’t be identified, which could endanger his family and friends. While on the mission, they meet the hero’s little sister, who was also his sidekick. She, of course, wants to avenge her brother, and Huntress and Shiva are of course happy to encourage her to do so. Oracle, on the other hand, wants to keep her out of it.

    The Birds intervene in a civil conflict in a fictional country in Africa (this story idea is inspired by the intervention of Executive Outcomes in Sierra Leone). The Birds push back the “rebels,” i. e., murderous thugs, from the capital, but the U.N. then intervenes to pressure the legitimate government to make a compromise peace with the rebels. Meanwhile, the Foday Sankoh stand-in hires Deathstroke to kill the Birds. I’d call this story arc something like “Warhawks.”

    Oracle sends the Birds to hunt down and destroy pirates off the Strait of Malacca. This is just so we could have a completely serious story entitled “Pirates Vs. Ninjas”

  6. @West: I think we all love Gail on Birds. Well, except this one guy I know. I’ve already told him that this indicates that he has a piece of his soul missing.

    @ONimaruXLR: Yeah, everyone wants Canary. And if Batman gets sixteen books a month, I don’t see why Dinah can’t handle three.

    ((Also no. This is a family blog. And by that, I mean my family reads it. Hi guys. I only saw that art because a creepy guy flashed it at me on a bus once. I had him arrested.))

    (((Google it, man. There have to be a thousand sites with that kind of thing.)))

    @ONimaruXLR: I guess we’ll have to see how her mini-series turns out. Could be. Could be.

    @RichardAK: Pirates vs Ninjas? Genius.

  7. I loved Gail Simone’s first eighteen or so months on BoP. They were pretty excellent comics, and featured Simone’s kind of jokey/quirky style, which was the perfect tone for the book. I feel like Simone’s gone too far with it these days (Secret Six is about a rapist/murderer villain and it’s got the tone of a slightly dark episode of Fresh Prince), but she struck the perfect balance back in the day.

    So, I’d like to see that kind of tone on the book again. The first move I would make is to drop Misfit from the cast, because she’s the kind of character I intensely dislike. Her and Cyclone from JSA feel like they have the same roots, and I find both of them frustrating.

    I’d have Oracle and Canary as the heart of the team and a rotating cast for two to four-issue arcs. Cycle in Batgirl (I never liked her Batgirl, but Simone even admits she screwed up on that), Harley, Catwoman, and the rest of the Gotham-based heroines and you could have a good vehicle for Amazing Spider-Man-style storytelling. Quick arcs that punch in and out with a quickness, even while moving along a few b plots in the background. Build up a supporting cast beyond just the main two and you’ve got a solid book.

    I’d keep it strictly Gotham-based, with maybe an occasional tale out in the woods, but that’s just me. Though if forced to choose between a Harley book and a BoP book, it’s red and black all the way. Sorry!

  8. Esther, it was hard for me to decipher from your post if you knew that Birds of Prey was being cancelled for company-wide Batman plot-shift changes, and not necessarily due to low sales. Nothing’s going to bring it back but time, but due to its reasons for cancellation, it’s much more likely to come back than another low-selling book.

    If you did know that, then mea culpa.

  9. DC being what DC is, if they do get rid of Misfit, it will be by having the Joker stuff her in a microwave. So, while the kid bugs me a little, too, I’d rather she stick around. Zinda never did anything for me, and I liked the book better with Dinah, Barbara and Helena. Those three and the rotating guest cast idea is great.

    I think Shiva is meant to be bad-ass and truly dangerous, and making her a regular member of the Birds without killing diminishes the character, and keeping her a killer would diminish the Birds.

    Oh, and I really loved that the book was called “Birds of Prey” but it was never the in-book name of the team. I think it might be only under Bedard that I’ve seen the team referred to as the Birds, or Birds of Prey. There’s really no reason for them to name their little get-together, especially since Oracle is all about stealth and backstage moves.

    I think the cumulative result of all these suggestions would be a series with Chuck Dixon scenarios and Gail Simone characterizations, and that’s a book I’d buy in a second.