Birds Of Prey: 10 Essential Comics To Read Before The New Movie Comes Out
BIRDS OF PREY: BLACK CANARY/ORACLE
The one-shot brought Dinah Lance/Black Canary back to superheroes as she accepted a job working alongside Barbara Gordon/Oracle, the former Batgirl turned information broker.
Chuck Dixon and Gary Frank kicked off the beginnings of the team here, and it’s a must-read for fans looking to explore the comic origins of the team.
As we previously mentioned, Robbie will be reprising her role as Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, though the character has never actually been a member of the Birds of Prey in the comics. Regardless, the film is set to explore Harley’s transition into a solo anti-hero, which is something her first ongoing comic series also explored.
Karl Kesel and Terry and Rachel Dodson brought Harley Quinn into the DC Universe on her own, away from the abuses of the Joker. The series also set the groundwork for her relationship with Poison Ivy and helped develop the comic version of Harley Quinn that has risen in popularity since the character’s first appearance on the Batman: The Animated Series.
Another character not commonly associated with the Birds of Prey is Renee Montoya, though she will join the cinematic team played by Rosie Perez. Montoya has been both a cop and a superhero during her time in the comics, and she shares a similar origin to Harley Quinn as they both first appeared on Batman: The Animated Series before transitioning to the comics.
While we would love to see the cinematic Montoya evolve into the vigilante known as The Question, it’s her time as an officer of the GCPD that will likely feature in the film, and some of the best examples of Montoya and the GCPD come from Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, and Michael Lark’s Gotham Central, with the “Half a Life” storyline showcasing some great character moments.
BATMAN/HUNTRESS: CRY FOR BLOOD
The first new permanent member of the Birds of Prey in the comics was Helena Bertinelli/Huntress, a newer member of Gotham City’s costumed heroes who had an edge that Batman never really warmed up to that separated her from the rest of Batman’s allies.
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 mafiosos who is struggling to win Batman’s approval as the Huntress. Mary Elizabeth Winstead will be bringing the character to the big screen and will likely feature moments from her origin that are further explored in this series.
BIRDS OF PREY: OF LIKE MINDS
While we highly recommend the first fifty issues of the first volume of Birds of Prey, those issues focused primarily on Black Canary and Oracle with appearances from other Gotham characters like Catwoman and Nightwing. So with no Oracle announced for the film, we’re going to jump ahead a bit until the “Of Like Minds” storyline, which first brought Huntress on to the team.
The storyline also featured the arrival of Gail Simone and Ed Benes to the title, who would take over from Chuck Dixon and carry the team for years across different volumes of the series. “Of Like Minds” tentatively introduces Huntress to the tight-knight group formed by Oracle and Canary, and created a new dynamic for the team as it began to welcome on new members.
BATMAN: WAR GAMES
Fans have also been waiting to see one of Batman’s most menacing villains show up on the big screen, and Birds of Prey will finally see the debut of Roman Sionis/Black Mask, played by Ewan McGregor. While the villain most often faces off with Batman or Catwoman as opposed to the BoP, we’re still very excited about his addition to the film.
The “War Games” storyline from the Batman titles featured a brutal war between the gangs of Gotham City that left one of Batman’s allies dead and Black Mask in control of Gotham’s underworld. And for an extra look at the sadistic side of Black Mask, be sure to also check out Catwoman‘s “relentless” storyline.
BATMAN: MARK OF CAIN
Ella Jay Basco will be playing the young Cassandra Cain in Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), and while the character never worked much officially alongside the Birds of Prey, she did work closely with Barbara Gordon/Oracle as the new Batgirl.
The “Mark of Cain” storyline was revealed during the No Man’s Land event in the Bat-titles and revealed Cassandra Cain’s upbringing at the hands of the master assassin David Cain. She was raised with fighting and violence as her only language, and the series serves as a great introduction to the character who would go on to become Batgirl/Black Bat/Orphan.
BIRDS OF PREY: SENSEI & STUDENT
Gail Simone and Ed Benes continued to explore the members of the team individually as they worked together on missions, with the “Sensei and Student” storyline diving into Black Canary’s past and her relationship with Lady Shiva, one of the greatest martial artists in the DC universe alongside Black Canary.
Black Canary is the most consistent member of the Birds of Prey and was a founding member of the Justice League in Pre-Flashpoint continuity, and this series dives into some of the various aspects of her character that make her stand out even when standing next to the other legends of the JLA.
BLACK CANARY VOL. 4
Jurnee Smollet-Bell will be playing Dinah Lance in the Birds of Prey film and we’ve seen both martial arts and her powerful canary cry on display, but the character’s first appearances in the trailers feature her singing at the Black Mask Club, and her overall aesthetic seems to borrow heavily from the fourth volume of Black Canary.
The series from Brendan Fletcher and Annie Wu focused on Dinah Lance as she went on tour with her band Black Canary, and served as the launching point for her Rebirth-era of comics. After years working with the JLA, the Birds of Prey, or Green Arrow, this series features a modern look at a solo Black Canary to get a sense of the character before the film.
BIRDS OF PREY: BLOOD AND CIRCUITS
While the original line-up took a long time to build past the original two or three members, after the addition of Lady Blackhawk and a few other the series really saw a big change in direction with the “Blood and Circuits” storyline as Barbara Gordon assembled a new team of heroes.
This storyline led to the largest roster of the Birds of Prey with heroes like Manhunter, Big Barda and Misfit sign up to work alongside frequent members Black Canary and Huntress. As the upcoming film is likely looking to kickstart a franchise as well, this expansion of the comic roster might give fans a look at the possible future of the cinematic Birds of Prey.