This was a real turning point for the character. Having had a dramatic redesign following the events of FLASHPOINT and entering the "New52" era. Under the writing of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley was reinvented as an
As I write this, the Birds of Prey movie is set to debut tonight. So I thought this would be a perfect time to put down a list, of what I think, are essential Birds of Prey related books that you guys should read. Even though Harley Quinn, up until now, has never been associated with the team, I'm also including some of her solo stuff. While Barbara Gordon/Batgirl isn't in the film, she is a founding member of this team and arguably it's most important member, so I'm including her on this list as well.
Making their first appearance in 1996 in the comic Birds of Prey: Black Canary/Oracle, the original gang wasn’t a rebellious team of misfits as the film would suggest, it was more a covert team pairing brains and brawn. At it's core was the paring of Oracle aka Barbara Gordon and Black Canary. From it's inception, it created an unbreakable bond between these two and was always at the heart of this team, through every iteration.
The Birds of Prey comic series hasn't had the most straightforward continuity, with several writers, one cancellation and two reboots, that shouldn’t surprise any comic book fan. But that doesn't change the fact that the quality of the comics is absolutely amazing, thanks in no small part to the stellar collection of writers, who include Chuck Dixon, Gail Simone and Duane Swierczynski.
But it's not just the team books that thrive but the solo adventures as well. I'll be covering all of it in this list. Also be sure to stay tuned for continued Bird Of Prey coverage, n the form of some awesome retro reviews. Makes sure you hit that BOP hashtag at the bottom to find more.
BIRDS OF PREY: BLACK CANARY/ORACLE
This is where the Birds of Prey legacy all began. In a one-shot issue where Oracle and Black Canary went up against an international crime ring that neither could have taken down on her own. This was the beginning of, what would become, a lifelong friendship. With Chuck Dixon at the helm and joined by artist Gary Frank, this is one story you can't afford to miss.
BIRDS OF PREY: OF LIKE MINDS
This was the beginning of
's fan favorite run, and also where she added
to the lineup. In her first arc, Simone let Black Canary walk into a trap set by S
and his assistant
. With Black Canary now critically injured and chained, Savant begins listing demands, the most significant of which is the true identity of Batman. Having run out of options, Oracle enlists the help of Huntress. Now having this powerhouse trio, Huntress and Canary defeat their enemies and form a team.
This was probably the best iteration of the team and Simone would go onto right the series for over 60 issues before eventually returning before the events of FLASHPOINT.
HARLEY QUINN (2001)
Harley made her ongoing debut in this fun and lighthearted series. From the hilarious hijinks, to finally breaking away from the Joker, Karl Kesel and Terry Dodson delivered a great look at Harleys first solo outing. This series also saw the beginnings of a burgeoning relationship between Poison Ivy and Harley. By the end of this 36 issue run Harley ends up admitting herself to Arkham, which was very interesting turn of events to say the least.
HARLEY QUINN BY CONNER & PALMIOTTI
This was a real turning point for the character. Having had a dramatic redesign following the events of FLASHPOINT and enetering the "New52" era. Under the writing of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley was reinvented as an
who, after being released from the Suicide Squad and having her public files erased, valued human life and actively tried to improve life in her neighborhood, with hilarious results.
While the comic book version of the character was still romantically linked with the Joker, a more recent development had Harley also romantically involved with
. It was an interesting new dynamic added to these characters and was one of the more interesting aspects of the series. In my opinion, this is the best take on Harley besides the Batman: The Animates Series verison
BATGIRL: YEAR ONE
"Determined to join the ranks of crime-fighters against the wishes of her police-captain father, Barbara Gordon dons a caped costume to become Batgirl, and must overcome Batman’s skepticism while taking on archvillain Killer Moth".
This was a fantastic look into the origins of Barbara becoming Batgirl and is absolutely essential reading for any Batgirl fan.
BATGIRL OF BURNSIDE
This was an awesome reinvention of Barbara Gordon and really stands out as one of the best takes on the character. Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, took Babs out of her comfort zone and surrounded her with a new set of friends and new neighborhood. This run really gives off an indie vibe and showcases why Babs is such an integral part if the DCU.
BATGIRL: SILENT KNIGHT
This series starring the new Batgirl (Cassandra Cain), solidified her as a fan favorite in many peoples eyes. Her checkered past being trained as an assassin under her father David Cain, to becoming worthy of the mantle of Batgirl after training under Barbara Gordon, this story of heroic redemption was one for the ages.
BLACK CANARY VOL.4
The series from Brendan Fletcher and Annie Wu focused on Dinah Lance as she becomes a lead singer with her band Black Canary. It served a launching point for her Rebirth-era of comics and tied into the BTGIRL OF BURNSIDE stories. After her years with the JLA and the Birds of Prey, this series gave us a modern look at a solo Black Canary. This book also has a great indie vibe that really made this book stand out. It is one of the most unique books DC has put out in the last 15 years.
BATMAN/HUNTRESS: CRY FOR BLOOD
Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett's Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood is a great murder mystery that also dives into Helena's origins as the orphaned daughter of mafia boos who struggles to win Batman's approval as the Huntress. Helena Bertinelli is a character that straddles the line between going to far in her unique brand of justice. This is a must read for all Huntress fans.
While there are a slew of great stories starring these characters. These are great jumping on points for any of you that may be interested after watching the movie. Are there any stories you guys would add to this list? Leave a comment below. Also, don't forget to stay tuned for some awesome BOP related reviews coming your way!