Thursday, October 25, 2007

Birds of Prey

Another piece of the collection floated to the top recently: Birds of Prey #1, from 1996.

When I read "The Killing Joke" in 1988, I was a bit shocked by the Joker's attack on Barbara Gordon, as writer Alan Moore had meant me to be. At the time, she was a pretty stale character at best. Well-loved though Batgirl may have been, no writer had done anything interesting with her. Getting her elected to Congress was a bad move, as it is for most people, but only lasted for a term or two. The last thing we'd seen her do was to mourn the Supergirl that no one remembered.

And then, in series of panels, the Joker's bullets tore through her spine and ended that life. And for a long time, it didn't seem like we'd see her again. That Babs Gordon's useful life in the DCU was over. Oh, we of little faith.

(I read somewhere recently that Moore hadn't intended the KJ to stand firm within the continuity of the DCU, but they'd only just had the Crisis on Infinite Earths to weed down a healthy collection of "imaginary" DC accepted the decision to paralyze Barbara Gordon and moved on. And however incidentally, they set themselves up to eventually feature the story of a strong woman who overcomes great odds yadda yadda, positive role models for girls.)

I remember being intrigued by the mysterious Oracle, the anonymous computer entity which began selling information to Amanda Waller in the pages of Suicide Squad, and in other titles, too. It should've been no surprise that Babs had reinvented herself as the ultimate information specialist to the superheroes. It's perfect, and when she finally got her own series in 1996, well, the words "long-overdue" sprang to mind. I felt the same way about Babs' co-star in the series, adventurer Dinah Drake, the Black Canary.

As it turned out, that series was getting going at a time when comic purchases had to be trimmed, and I missed most of Barbara and Dinah's story, though I'm gradually enjoying it through trade paperback collections. I'm thrilled to see it's been such a good run.

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