BIRDS OF PREY: SENSEI AND STUDENT
Writer: Gail Simone
Pencilers: Joe Bennett, Ed Benes, Cliff Richards, Daniel Brereton, Mike Manley, Greg Land, Michael Golden
Inkers: Michael Golden, Ed Benes, Ruy Jose, Matt Ryan, Jay Leisten, Alex Lei, Scott Hanna, Daniel Brereton, Mike Manley
Rating: 8/10 Canary Cries
Among the Birds of Prey members that are making their debut on the big screen, Black Canary has been the one I’ve been the biggest fan of the longest. From first being introduced to her character along with Green Arrow in Justice League Unlimited, to reading some of the more recent series that she makes an appearance in. Black Canary was a character that stood out among many of the others as always being the most confident and sure of herself. It was that confidence that made her a character I really enjoyed. Even still, I didn’t have much knowledge of the Scream Queen’s history. Thankfully I was able to turn to a fellow member of the comic community as well as Black Canary fan, Marsden, and get some good recommendations that feature this hero (check out her video for some more great essential reads on this character HERE). For this review, I will be covering Birds of Prey: Sensei and Student, by Gail Simone. Warning. This read screams spoilers.
While this is a Birds of Prey title, this particular arc in Simone’s run focuses primarily on Black Canary as she travels to Hong Kong to see her dying master that trained her in martial arts. Finding out that Black Canary had extensive martial arts training overseas was just the tip of the surprise iceberg for me though when next enters Shiva, who even in recent comics, I’ve learned is one of the most dangerous assassins on the planet. Turns out they were both alumni of the same dojo. What was simply a visit to pay respects quickly becomes a whole lot more when the two women discover their master murdered and have to team up to take down whoever did it.
The pairing of Black Canary with Shiva was one full of tension as both women have very distinct views on how they want to handle each new problem presented, with Shiva’s being the more violent route and Canary’s being one of preventing her temporary ally from crossing that line. It was also really cool knowing that Shiva regards Black Canary as someone who is so high up on her list of top hand to hand fighters. It’s such a big focus of this story that you almost don’t realize that there isn’t much super screaming going on, emphasizing how tough Black Canary is.
The constant struggle that Black Canary faces while being in the presence of Shiva made for some interesting moments that delivered in both action and in demonstrating how confident Canary is to where Shiva will even respect her. This read not only reaffirmed the qualities I enjoy so much about Black Canary but also expanded more for me on why she isn’t just a powerhouse with her powers alone, but with being one of the best fighters in the DCU. This is a read that doesn’t fall short on action with some great panel sequences playing out and Simone puts together a story that weaves nicely with an interesting reveal at the end. If the Birds of Prey movie leaves you wanting more awesome stories about some of these women, be sure to give Birds of Prey: Sensei and Student a read to find some really cool focus on Black Canary.