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Birds of Prey #1 (2020)

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Penciller: Emanuela Lupacchino
Inker: Ray McCarthy
Colorist: Trish Mulvihill and John Kalisz
Letterer: Steve Wands

This first issue of the new DC Black Label book, Birds of Prey, has violence, drugs cartel, old flames, and grudging new friendships. It’s a whirlwind story revolving around our three heroines, Black Canary, Huntress, and Harley Quinn. They each have a past, and some deeds catch up quicker than most.

Black Canary is out of the game for good, or is she? After a late night call from an unexpected source, she’s pulled back into the fray once again. Huntress and Detective Rene Montoya have a contentious relationship, both trying to protect Gotham from their own angle. Montoya is tired of doing things by the book, but Huntress has her reservations about Montoya’s intentions. Harley’s out of prison and looking to do some good for once; no more joking around. Trying to tread the righteous path, she stumbles headlong into something that might just work – a partnership with Huntress, Black Canary, and a Gotham City police officer. Together these unlikely allies have to follow the thread of violence back to its source and save Gotham any way they can.

With splashy action panels, bright colors, and clean line work, this issue really pops. It’s action packed, with danger seemingly around every corner. Buckle up for a wild ride from start to finish, and hang on tight!

Review by Megan Goble

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Harley and Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1

Title: Harley and Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1 (of 6)
Written by Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko
Art by Laura Braga, Tony Avina, and Arif Prianto
Published by DC Comics

Riverdale, the CW’s sexy soap opera take on America’s iconic teens, comes back next week, and DC is getting in the mood by sending two of their most popular characters out of Gotham for a visit!

Hiram Lodge, the richest man in Riverdale, wants to build a combination university and shopping center, but the only available real estate is the protected Sweetwater Swamp. To promote his plans, he’s got his daughter, Veronica, arranging a Heroes and Villains costume gala with the begrudging help of classmates like her nemesis, Betty Cooper. Even worse, the only costumes left on the rack are going to mean these two have to spend the evening as one of crime’s most iconic couples!

Meanwhile, in Gotham, Poison Ivy is livid about the ecological destruction Lodge has planned, and Harley Quinn sees a field trip to Riverdale as a great way to effect change… and maybe dodge a few loan sharks. But when the thoughtful Powerpoint about environments fails to sway the mogul, it’s on to Plan B – let’s hit the gala and kidnap Lodge’s daughter!

This comic is a ton of fun, showing that the team understands both the oddly timeless mythology of the Archie gang and the violence just under the humor of the Gotham Sirens. But it’s also a great example of the range of female friendships. Harley and Ivy can criticize each other, but deep down, they’re together forever, and they like it that way. They may not keep each other out of trouble, but they know they can face anything they get into side-by-side.

Betty and Veronica? They’re stuck together, too, but they’re too focused on their differences to really coexist. For decades, the Betty-Veronica relationship has dipped too far into the love triangle, fighting over Archie in unflattering stereotypes. But since Dan Parent brought the line into modern times a few years ago, and since Mark Waid gave the property the realistic upgrade that paved the way for Riverdale’s onscreen adventures, writers have found much more interesting stories in this pair as frenemies. They don’t hate each other, and they aren’t waiting for Archie to pick one. They just know each other well enough that the opposite parts stand out.

I think this miniseries is set up for a fun romp – we’ll get an issue or two of the supervillains enjoying quaint Americana, and once Harley and Ivy kidnap someone (inevitably the wrong kid), we’ll get the sweetest teens over their heads in Gotham’s muck. But I think this book is going to truly shine if it can keep up the comparisons of these two female friendships.