Every time I do a series of things, the first entry always comes out bad, and my Birds of Prey redesigns were no different.  So I tried again.
Kept a lot of the design intact, mainly focused on getting the body shape right, and it looks a lot better than it did the last time.  The body suit looked uneven, so I spread the details around a little more and kind of shrunk some of the features.  I made the cut along the bottom a little more circular, as the first was a little too square.
Larger version on my DeviantArt.

Every time I do a series of things, the first entry always comes out bad, and my Birds of Prey redesigns were no different.  So I tried again.

Kept a lot of the design intact, mainly focused on getting the body shape right, and it looks a lot better than it did the last time.  The body suit looked uneven, so I spread the details around a little more and kind of shrunk some of the features.  I made the cut along the bottom a little more circular, as the first was a little too square.

Larger version on my DeviantArt.

New page on Lucha Quest.  What’s up with this patch of ground?

New page on Lucha Quest.  What’s up with this patch of ground?

mtakara:

BostonComicCon sketch - Ambush Bug — for BostonComicCon sketch list: mtakaraart@yahoo.com

Yes.  Yes yes yes yes yes.

mtakara:

BostonComicCon sketch - Ambush Bug

for BostonComicCon sketch list: mtakaraart@yahoo.com

Yes.  Yes yes yes yes yes.

mingdoyle:

HeroesCon ‘14 - Lady Blackhawk

I’ve missed her so.

mingdoyle:

HeroesCon ‘14 - Lady Blackhawk

I’ve missed her so.

My Birds of Prey redesign continues with Huntress!
For starters, let me say that while Black Canary is and always will be my favorite of the Birds, the reveal that Helena Bertinelli was dead and never had been Huntress in World’s Finest is what made me quit the New 52, and it was her return in Grayson #1 that finally made me give it all another look.  That said, Helena Bertinelli’s return is still all up in the air.  We don’t know what her background is, and she’s obviously a much slicker iteration of the character than the previously rough and tumble version.  We can assume she’s Italian from the name, but basically everything else, including her status as a hero, villain, or somewhere in between, could go anywhere.
But in an effort to bridge where she is now with how she shows up in my Birds of Prey redesign, here’s some ideas.

Helena Bertinelli, daughter of the head of the infamous Bertinelli crime family, was the sole survivor of the massacre of her family.  Growing up an orphan with a taste for vengeance, she drifted aimlessly until she became acquainted with the spy organization Spyral.  Given extensive training in combat, the use of weapons, and (above all) skills in infiltration, deception, and blending in, she quickly became a top agent.  When the organization’s darker motives came to light and the organization was brought down (or something, whatever happens eventually), Helena was out on her own, a talented agent without an agency.
Enter Dinah Lance and Zinda Blake, two crime fighters in way over their heads.  Helena matter of factly decides to join their quest, bringing with her structure and organization that the team had been missing.  Initially, personalities collide and tempers rise, but through trial and error the women come to get along and rely on each other.

The idea is that Helena Bertinelli is essentially the same person and personality, and eventually she reaches the same place, however this version takes a completely different route to get there.  Where the Post Crisis Huntress is a tough cookie, she’s never been a particularly disciplined, well trained fighter.  She doesn’t exactly know what she’s doing in a fight, and that makes her unpredictable, but when faced with genuine talent, Huntress almost always came up short because she doesn’t have any training to fall back on.  She’s basically making it all up as she goes along, and sometimes that backfires.
New Huntress is trained by Spyral, and has the skills needed to back her up.  On the surface, she’s got a cool, calm, level headed demeanour, although just beneath, she’s as fiery and restless as she ever was, she just knows how to mask it better.  She and Canary would clash over more or less the same things, and having come from a ruthless, amoral spy agency, she’s still going to have that same ‘on the edge’ quality, but it’s all coming from a new direction.
Trying to design her outfit was more difficult than I thought it would be.  As much as I’m a fan of her last look before the reboot (and even, to a degree, the Helena Wayne outfit of the reboot), it is a really, really busy design.  This sleek, spy Huntress needed a more sleek, minimalist look, and so I started with the basic ‘black t-shirt, white cross’ design she sported in Grayson #1, then brought back just the most necessary elements to turn her back into a superhero.  I battled back and forth for a long time on the cape, and eventually opted to go without one.  Of all the Birds of Prey, she has always seemed the least ‘cape-y’ of them, and this was an opportunity to see her without one from the start.
I tried a couple different looks before settling on the minimalist iteration of her normal costume, and briefly flirted with the idea of making her outfit 70’s styled, in line with this design from the New 52.  I looked up a variety of 70’s styles, particularly ‘black women in 70’s vigilante movies’ before realizing that I was basically creating Misty Knight.  So then I went back to her classic look, took a more spy style approach, and came up with this.  I also was originally using a duller, more violet shade of purple (in line with her 2000’s color) but if there’s one thing black people (and most people of color) can undeniably do better than white people, it’s wear vibrant colors.  So I gave her the redder purple.
Also, while looking up references, I came across Claudia Cedro, a black Italian super model who I am now convinced is the visual inspiration for this new iteration of Huntress, and I am okay with that.
The variety of masks is mostly for fun, but many of these could potentially show up in stories, depending on the situation.  She’d primarily use the first one, but number two would be her night vision version, the fourth is her flight suit/gas mask version, the fifth is for when she’s on Mardi Gras related missions (she’s Catholic, it could happen), and the sixth is for when she’s masquarading as a luchadora (because I would make that happen).
Also, I’m not seeing any fanart of New 52 Helena Bertinelli.  Could I be the first?
As usual, larger version at my DeviantArt.

My Birds of Prey redesign continues with Huntress!

For starters, let me say that while Black Canary is and always will be my favorite of the Birds, the reveal that Helena Bertinelli was dead and never had been Huntress in World’s Finest is what made me quit the New 52, and it was her return in Grayson #1 that finally made me give it all another look.  That said, Helena Bertinelli’s return is still all up in the air.  We don’t know what her background is, and she’s obviously a much slicker iteration of the character than the previously rough and tumble version.  We can assume she’s Italian from the name, but basically everything else, including her status as a hero, villain, or somewhere in between, could go anywhere.

But in an effort to bridge where she is now with how she shows up in my Birds of Prey redesign, here’s some ideas.

Helena Bertinelli, daughter of the head of the infamous Bertinelli crime family, was the sole survivor of the massacre of her family.  Growing up an orphan with a taste for vengeance, she drifted aimlessly until she became acquainted with the spy organization Spyral.  Given extensive training in combat, the use of weapons, and (above all) skills in infiltration, deception, and blending in, she quickly became a top agent.  When the organization’s darker motives came to light and the organization was brought down (or something, whatever happens eventually), Helena was out on her own, a talented agent without an agency.

Enter Dinah Lance and Zinda Blake, two crime fighters in way over their heads.  Helena matter of factly decides to join their quest, bringing with her structure and organization that the team had been missing.  Initially, personalities collide and tempers rise, but through trial and error the women come to get along and rely on each other.

The idea is that Helena Bertinelli is essentially the same person and personality, and eventually she reaches the same place, however this version takes a completely different route to get there.  Where the Post Crisis Huntress is a tough cookie, she’s never been a particularly disciplined, well trained fighter.  She doesn’t exactly know what she’s doing in a fight, and that makes her unpredictable, but when faced with genuine talent, Huntress almost always came up short because she doesn’t have any training to fall back on.  She’s basically making it all up as she goes along, and sometimes that backfires.

New Huntress is trained by Spyral, and has the skills needed to back her up.  On the surface, she’s got a cool, calm, level headed demeanour, although just beneath, she’s as fiery and restless as she ever was, she just knows how to mask it better.  She and Canary would clash over more or less the same things, and having come from a ruthless, amoral spy agency, she’s still going to have that same ‘on the edge’ quality, but it’s all coming from a new direction.

Trying to design her outfit was more difficult than I thought it would be.  As much as I’m a fan of her last look before the reboot (and even, to a degree, the Helena Wayne outfit of the reboot), it is a really, really busy design.  This sleek, spy Huntress needed a more sleek, minimalist look, and so I started with the basic ‘black t-shirt, white cross’ design she sported in Grayson #1, then brought back just the most necessary elements to turn her back into a superhero.  I battled back and forth for a long time on the cape, and eventually opted to go without one.  Of all the Birds of Prey, she has always seemed the least ‘cape-y’ of them, and this was an opportunity to see her without one from the start.

I tried a couple different looks before settling on the minimalist iteration of her normal costume, and briefly flirted with the idea of making her outfit 70’s styled, in line with this design from the New 52.  I looked up a variety of 70’s styles, particularly ‘black women in 70’s vigilante movies’ before realizing that I was basically creating Misty Knight.  So then I went back to her classic look, took a more spy style approach, and came up with this.  I also was originally using a duller, more violet shade of purple (in line with her 2000’s color) but if there’s one thing black people (and most people of color) can undeniably do better than white people, it’s wear vibrant colors.  So I gave her the redder purple.

Also, while looking up references, I came across Claudia Cedro, a black Italian super model who I am now convinced is the visual inspiration for this new iteration of Huntress, and I am okay with that.

The variety of masks is mostly for fun, but many of these could potentially show up in stories, depending on the situation.  She’d primarily use the first one, but number two would be her night vision version, the fourth is her flight suit/gas mask version, the fifth is for when she’s on Mardi Gras related missions (she’s Catholic, it could happen), and the sixth is for when she’s masquarading as a luchadora (because I would make that happen).

Also, I’m not seeing any fanart of New 52 Helena Bertinelli.  Could I be the first?

As usual, larger version at my DeviantArt.

New page on Lucha Quest.  Somebody lost the fight, but how are they taking it?

New page on Lucha Quest.  Somebody lost the fight, but how are they taking it?

Let me just say this: Ev Crawford was not put together well as a character. From the get go, they were aiming for her to be a replacement for the Birds of Prey members we’d lost, but the fact that she took Zinda’s irreverent hellraising, Huntress’ trigger happy vigilantism and religiousness, and Oracle’s gadgetry, strategy, networking, and resources, all meant that she wasn’t just filling in an empty spot, she was filling in every empty spot. And they tried to retroactively slide her in as this old friend of Dinah’s, which just made it worse. She was a constant reminder of all the great characters we couldn’t have anymore.




And then they made her a bad guy and wrote her out entirely.
But I think she deserves a second shot. She just needs to not be an amalgam of other characters, and have her own voice and personality. To that end, it was really hard recreating her as a unique character. They had written her as so many things that there wasn’t anything that stood out as needing to be kept. What really helped provide inspiration, oddly enough, was the Wikipedia page for actual Starling birds.

Inspired by the real life starling’s tendency to mimic noises it hears in its environment and adopt them into its own songs, I see Ev Crawford as a chameleon human being, so eager to be accepted by others that she becomes them, and is no longer even sure of what her own personality is. She’s led a wild, rocky life, and to her oldest friends can be a pretty unreliable person. When she and Dinah met as preteens, Dinah saw Ev as a free spirited counter to her mother’s strict military structure, and the two hit it off. But as an adult, Dinah sees the harsh results of Ev’s wild, aimless lifestyle.
Rather paranoid because of the enemies she’s made both in law enforcement and in criminal circles, Ev comes and goes unexpectedly, returning most often to Dinah, her oldest acquaintance and one of the last who lets her stay around. It’s tempting for Dinah to leave her behind, as most of the trouble she’s in she caused herself, but Dinah is fiercely loyal and cannot bring herself to abandon a friend. When Ev shows up, Dinah embraces her with open arms.
The idea is for Ev to be pretty sympathetic, even while she serves as something of a shoulder devil in her early appearances and her rocky relationship with Dinah contrasts with Dinah’s more stable relationship with Zinda. She wouldn’t be an official member of the team, and wouldn’t always be present either, drifting in and out of stories as she needs to, but eventually I would plan on her getting her life together, and when she does, the Birds would be where she belongs.

Her outfit was hard to design, considering it’s more or less undecided what exactly she is (superhero, vigilante, grifter, whatever?) but I opted to keep (and emphasize) the shoulder holster and tattoo sleeve. She does carry a gun, but Dinah prevents her from using it while in her presence. I did give her essentially superhero pants. Everyone else in the team has boots, be they stylish or combat, so I figured Ev could be different. The pants here are designed like the leggings of a full body superhero suit, and colored after real life starlings (including the iridescent colors you get when you see their feathers in just the right light).
The tattoo sleeve also tells a story. The idea is that her earliest tattoos start at the hand, and represent her outlook at the time. Young adult Ev had bright, vivid colors, and had oscillating ways of looking at the world (the mix of scientific and religious imagery, with Dr. Fate’s Ankh and a representation of Rama Kushna). She took a more violent turn and starting having monsters and weapons depicted. She’s calmed a bit in her latest batches, using more self reflective imagery (like the uprooted tree), and duller, more earth tone colors. The completed line begins and ends with the starling, with a different color palette.
Larger version of the picture at my DeviantArt.

Let me just say this: Ev Crawford was not put together well as a character. From the get go, they were aiming for her to be a replacement for the Birds of Prey members we’d lost, but the fact that she took Zinda’s irreverent hellraising, Huntress’ trigger happy vigilantism and religiousness, and Oracle’s gadgetry, strategy, networking, and resources, all meant that she wasn’t just filling in an empty spot, she was filling in every empty spot. And they tried to retroactively slide her in as this old friend of Dinah’s, which just made it worse. She was a constant reminder of all the great characters we couldn’t have anymore.

And then they made her a bad guy and wrote her out entirely.

But I think she deserves a second shot. She just needs to not be an amalgam of other characters, and have her own voice and personality. To that end, it was really hard recreating her as a unique character. They had written her as so many things that there wasn’t anything that stood out as needing to be kept. What really helped provide inspiration, oddly enough, was the Wikipedia page for actual Starling birds.

Inspired by the real life starling’s tendency to mimic noises it hears in its environment and adopt them into its own songs, I see Ev Crawford as a chameleon human being, so eager to be accepted by others that she becomes them, and is no longer even sure of what her own personality is. She’s led a wild, rocky life, and to her oldest friends can be a pretty unreliable person. When she and Dinah met as preteens, Dinah saw Ev as a free spirited counter to her mother’s strict military structure, and the two hit it off. But as an adult, Dinah sees the harsh results of Ev’s wild, aimless lifestyle.

Rather paranoid because of the enemies she’s made both in law enforcement and in criminal circles, Ev comes and goes unexpectedly, returning most often to Dinah, her oldest acquaintance and one of the last who lets her stay around. It’s tempting for Dinah to leave her behind, as most of the trouble she’s in she caused herself, but Dinah is fiercely loyal and cannot bring herself to abandon a friend. When Ev shows up, Dinah embraces her with open arms.

The idea is for Ev to be pretty sympathetic, even while she serves as something of a shoulder devil in her early appearances and her rocky relationship with Dinah contrasts with Dinah’s more stable relationship with Zinda. She wouldn’t be an official member of the team, and wouldn’t always be present either, drifting in and out of stories as she needs to, but eventually I would plan on her getting her life together, and when she does, the Birds would be where she belongs.

Her outfit was hard to design, considering it’s more or less undecided what exactly she is (superhero, vigilante, grifter, whatever?) but I opted to keep (and emphasize) the shoulder holster and tattoo sleeve. She does carry a gun, but Dinah prevents her from using it while in her presence. I did give her essentially superhero pants. Everyone else in the team has boots, be they stylish or combat, so I figured Ev could be different. The pants here are designed like the leggings of a full body superhero suit, and colored after real life starlings (including the iridescent colors you get when you see their feathers in just the right light).

The tattoo sleeve also tells a story. The idea is that her earliest tattoos start at the hand, and represent her outlook at the time. Young adult Ev had bright, vivid colors, and had oscillating ways of looking at the world (the mix of scientific and religious imagery, with Dr. Fate’s Ankh and a representation of Rama Kushna). She took a more violent turn and starting having monsters and weapons depicted. She’s calmed a bit in her latest batches, using more self reflective imagery (like the uprooted tree), and duller, more earth tone colors. The completed line begins and ends with the starling, with a different color palette.

Larger version of the picture at my DeviantArt.





It’s easy to forget about the pre-Gail Simone period of the Birds of Prey, but it’s there and it’s also great. And it was also not really a team book. Before Gail Simone added Huntress as an official member, Chuck Dixon’s Birds of Prey wasn’t about an organized team at all, it was about two friends palling around fighting crime. Both Black Canary and Oracle were the stars, and the title suggests that the protagonists are plural, but as a superhero book it reads more like a solo superhero title with extra assistance and leadership from a second main character. So my idea was that, at least at the start, the new Birds of Prey reflect that duo-ness again.
Zinda Blake, this time a fully modern based character as opposed to the awesomely used ‘time displaced WWII fighter pilot’ aspect, is seen here as a young woman who becomes a close friend and ally to the currently teamless Dinah Lance, and things move into superhero territory from there.

Zinda Blake, a talented civilian pilot has been trying for a while to get onto a air force squadron, but is continuously rejected. One day, while having her own battles with the local air force center, she overhears another woman having troubles of her own: Natalie Lance, there with her daughter Dinah. Zinda joins the two women as they leave, recognizing Natalie as the former Lady Blackhawk and awed by her reputation. She quickly strikes up a friendship with Dinah, and the two become very close. As the two swap stories of adventures they’ve been on and battles they’ve fought, it becomes increasingly clear both women need to use their abilities to fight where they can. At Zinda’s suggestion, Dinah decides to restart the Birds of Prey, for the moment just consisting of the two.
While Dinah is a talented hand to hand combatant and skilled motorcycle driver, Zinda’s abilities are primarily with vehicles. While Dinah provides the muscle, Zinda uses her connections to get them missions and her skills and resources to provide getaways, transportation, bases, and hiding places.

A couple notes about the design: first off, the hair change. One of my top complaints of the old Birds of Prey was having two women on the team with long blonde hair and wearing black leather. They sometimes looked too close while together, but from behind they could be nearly indistinguishable. To make her visuals more unique, I’m giving Zinda a wavy, platinum blonde bob cut. I’m also updating her outfit a bit. The old school Blackhawk uniform will always be amazing, but it does look out of place in modern comics, even as a superhero costume. I have her here wearing a more modern bomber jacket. Not entirely certain what to do with the hat, but I gave her a variety of options, all based on military hats. I could see her wearing any or all of them.  I also wanted a distinct color palette from Black Canary; if Dinah’s all decked out in black and yellow, Zinda goes back to the old school blue.  The use of blue as highlights on black in older comics can make it difficult to distinguish what color was sometimes being intended, but with the Blackhawks I’m pretty sure their costumes were totally blue.I thought the military aspect was a good way to bridge several things, particularly two generations of Lady Blackhawk.  It gives both Zinda and Dinah a background that connects them and a place where they can meet, and it sets up a balance to Dinah’s occasional forays into liberalism by giving her a reason to be anti-military but all for the fair treatment of veterans.  Should this version of Black Canary meet the upcoming re-liberalised Oliver Queen, they would have some interesting debates.
Bigger version at my DeviantArt.

It’s easy to forget about the pre-Gail Simone period of the Birds of Prey, but it’s there and it’s also great. And it was also not really a team book. Before Gail Simone added Huntress as an official member, Chuck Dixon’s Birds of Prey wasn’t about an organized team at all, it was about two friends palling around fighting crime. Both Black Canary and Oracle were the stars, and the title suggests that the protagonists are plural, but as a superhero book it reads more like a solo superhero title with extra assistance and leadership from a second main character. So my idea was that, at least at the start, the new Birds of Prey reflect that duo-ness again.

Zinda Blake, this time a fully modern based character as opposed to the awesomely used ‘time displaced WWII fighter pilot’ aspect, is seen here as a young woman who becomes a close friend and ally to the currently teamless Dinah Lance, and things move into superhero territory from there.

Zinda Blake, a talented civilian pilot has been trying for a while to get onto a air force squadron, but is continuously rejected. One day, while having her own battles with the local air force center, she overhears another woman having troubles of her own: Natalie Lance, there with her daughter Dinah. Zinda joins the two women as they leave, recognizing Natalie as the former Lady Blackhawk and awed by her reputation. She quickly strikes up a friendship with Dinah, and the two become very close. As the two swap stories of adventures they’ve been on and battles they’ve fought, it becomes increasingly clear both women need to use their abilities to fight where they can. At Zinda’s suggestion, Dinah decides to restart the Birds of Prey, for the moment just consisting of the two.

While Dinah is a talented hand to hand combatant and skilled motorcycle driver, Zinda’s abilities are primarily with vehicles. While Dinah provides the muscle, Zinda uses her connections to get them missions and her skills and resources to provide getaways, transportation, bases, and hiding places.

A couple notes about the design: first off, the hair change. One of my top complaints of the old Birds of Prey was having two women on the team with long blonde hair and wearing black leather. They sometimes looked too close while together, but from behind they could be nearly indistinguishable. To make her visuals more unique, I’m giving Zinda a wavy, platinum blonde bob cut. I’m also updating her outfit a bit. The old school Blackhawk uniform will always be amazing, but it does look out of place in modern comics, even as a superhero costume. I have her here wearing a more modern bomber jacket. Not entirely certain what to do with the hat, but I gave her a variety of options, all based on military hats. I could see her wearing any or all of them.  I also wanted a distinct color palette from Black Canary; if Dinah’s all decked out in black and yellow, Zinda goes back to the old school blue.  The use of blue as highlights on black in older comics can make it difficult to distinguish what color was sometimes being intended, but with the Blackhawks I’m pretty sure their costumes were totally blue.

I thought the military aspect was a good way to bridge several things, particularly two generations of Lady Blackhawk.  It gives both Zinda and Dinah a background that connects them and a place where they can meet, and it sets up a balance to Dinah’s occasional forays into liberalism by giving her a reason to be anti-military but all for the fair treatment of veterans.  Should this version of Black Canary meet the upcoming re-liberalised Oliver Queen, they would have some interesting debates.

Bigger version at my DeviantArt.

OK, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the new Batgirl, and it got me thinking a lot about what’s been happening with the Birds of Prey.  The Birds of Prey is the comic that got me into comics.  I’d tried several before (Batman, Superman,Teen Titans) and none of them drew me in, and some of them even pushed me farther away.  But Birds of Prey hit all the right notes, and here I am several years later, officially a comic book fan.  And I’m not alone, Birds of Prey was one of the comics credited with bringing in a large number of audiences who wouldn’t have been reading superhero comics otherwise.
But then the New 52 happened, and all of that was wiped away.  Literally, all four of the main Birds of Prey team members are gone (Zinda Blake Blackhawk is MIA; Batgirl was never Oracle; Helena Wayne was Huntress and at the time they said Bertinelli was dead and had never been Huntress; and the Black Canary of the New 52 was revealed to be Dinah Drake, the first generation Canary, not Dinah Lance, the second generation Canary, and pretty much resembled neither of them in any recognizable way).  My favorite team, pretty much decimated.
I held out hope that if the Barbara as Batgirl experiment failed they might bring her back to Oracle eventually, but with the new Batgirl of Burnside it looks like Oracle won’t be on the table for a good long while, if ever.  The new Batgirl does however give me the first hope since the reboot that DC can produce good, fun, enjoyable comics still, so I figured now is the time to see how the Birds can be salvaged from the not great rebooted version of themselves.
So first off, Black Canary.
The issues I have with New 52 Black Canary essentially amount to how much her personality has been erased.  In the Post Crisis Birds of Prey, she was the fun, free spirited, cheery crime fighter to Barbara Gordon’s mature, wisened, logical Oracle.  Even though they were peers who both brought out the best in each other, Oracle was clearly the mentor, and Black Canary the mentee.  But in changing Oracle back to a youthful, inexperienced Batgirl, it left a role of ‘mature, competent leader’ open in the Birds, which they decided to have Black Canary fill, and it changes her personality dramatically.
The trouble with trying to fix her back up is that she’s a character defined by her relationships to other characters, and every last one of those relationships is gone.  The most important relationship, and the one that’s not coming back in this universe, is her mother.  Post Crisis Dinah being the second generation Black Canary affected the way the character operates on a fundamental level; it’s the first relationship that defines her and the one that changes all the others.  So to fix Black Canary, the first thing to figure out is how to reinstate something akin to that mother/daughter relationship while keeping the the New 52’s single generation of superheroes.
The answer is the Blackhawks.  Dinah’s mother can’t be a superhero, but she can still be a hero, and a volunteer pilot is a perfect way of doing it. 

Natalie Lance (née Reed) was a member of the freelance fighter pilot group known as the Blackhawks.  They were sent on missions by various governments for several years, but eventually the team disbanded.  The still young and active Natalie Reed would continue to volunteer her services, eventually performing wartime rescue missions throughout the 80’s and 90’s.  Eventually retiring, settling down, and caring for her growing daughter, Natalie is an extremely confident woman who takes on any task she sets her mind to.
Her daughter, Dinah Lance, grew up adoring, but feeling entirely inadequate compared to, her extraordinary mother.  Upon reaching young adulthood, she feels the need to make her own way in the world, and moves out.  Out of her mother’s shadow (and military inspired way of doing things), the young Dinah Lance begins riding motorcycles and learning martial arts, forming an all female vigilante team called the Birds of Prey, which very quickly fell apart and disbanded.
She remains close to her mother, and one day is helping Natalie (now in a wheelchair) in her unsuccessful attempts to secure a military gravesite for herself (despite her wartime rescue missions, her requests are being rejected for being a volunteer), she meets another young woman, dissatisfied with her own treatment by the military she’s trying to join, and the two hit it off.  With this new friend, one Zinda Blake, Dinah begins thinking about the possibility of starting the Birds of Prey again.

So there’s my origin, going through the New 52 versions so far but establishing a version with more personality, and reaching the point where a new version of the Birds of Prey could form.  I tried to retain as much as possible of the current versions, but seriously the modern version being Dinah Drake?  Being married to this Kurt guy and having him die?  I’m not dealing with that, sorry.  There’s no good reason to go back to Dinah Drake; Dinah Drake is a representative of a different time period, and a modernized version of that character is Dinah Lance the daughter.  Not using the daughter character does nothing but piss off the people who love the character so much.  Plus, that was all stuff from Team Seven, and I don’t think anybody actually read it.
My design hews close to the post crisis version, the body suit, fishnets, no blue tights, no cleavage, and the sensible ponytail.  I turned the swimsuit cut into shorts, and made the whole ensemble more informed by motorcycle gear.  I took particular inspiration from Ryan Gosling in Drive (didn’t see the movie, but I’ve seen pictures of his costume in it) and Ryu from Kamen Rider W.  I emphasised the black and yellow color scheme.  She now has a motorcycle jacket with a logo (and that is a line from Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.)
Here’s a larger version of the picture, for those interested.
I’ll post more soon, I’ve got a whole lineup going here.

OK, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the new Batgirl, and it got me thinking a lot about what’s been happening with the Birds of Prey.  The Birds of Prey is the comic that got me into comics.  I’d tried several before (Batman, Superman,Teen Titans) and none of them drew me in, and some of them even pushed me farther away.  But Birds of Prey hit all the right notes, and here I am several years later, officially a comic book fan.  And I’m not alone, Birds of Prey was one of the comics credited with bringing in a large number of audiences who wouldn’t have been reading superhero comics otherwise.

But then the New 52 happened, and all of that was wiped away.  Literally, all four of the main Birds of Prey team members are gone (Zinda Blake Blackhawk is MIA; Batgirl was never Oracle; Helena Wayne was Huntress and at the time they said Bertinelli was dead and had never been Huntress; and the Black Canary of the New 52 was revealed to be Dinah Drake, the first generation Canary, not Dinah Lance, the second generation Canary, and pretty much resembled neither of them in any recognizable way).  My favorite team, pretty much decimated.

I held out hope that if the Barbara as Batgirl experiment failed they might bring her back to Oracle eventually, but with the new Batgirl of Burnside it looks like Oracle won’t be on the table for a good long while, if ever.  The new Batgirl does however give me the first hope since the reboot that DC can produce good, fun, enjoyable comics still, so I figured now is the time to see how the Birds can be salvaged from the not great rebooted version of themselves.

So first off, Black Canary.

The issues I have with New 52 Black Canary essentially amount to how much her personality has been erased.  In the Post Crisis Birds of Prey, she was the fun, free spirited, cheery crime fighter to Barbara Gordon’s mature, wisened, logical Oracle.  Even though they were peers who both brought out the best in each other, Oracle was clearly the mentor, and Black Canary the mentee.  But in changing Oracle back to a youthful, inexperienced Batgirl, it left a role of ‘mature, competent leader’ open in the Birds, which they decided to have Black Canary fill, and it changes her personality dramatically.

The trouble with trying to fix her back up is that she’s a character defined by her relationships to other characters, and every last one of those relationships is gone.  The most important relationship, and the one that’s not coming back in this universe, is her mother.  Post Crisis Dinah being the second generation Black Canary affected the way the character operates on a fundamental level; it’s the first relationship that defines her and the one that changes all the others.  So to fix Black Canary, the first thing to figure out is how to reinstate something akin to that mother/daughter relationship while keeping the the New 52’s single generation of superheroes.

The answer is the Blackhawks.  Dinah’s mother can’t be a superhero, but she can still be a hero, and a volunteer pilot is a perfect way of doing it. 

Natalie Lance (née Reed) was a member of the freelance fighter pilot group known as the Blackhawks.  They were sent on missions by various governments for several years, but eventually the team disbanded.  The still young and active Natalie Reed would continue to volunteer her services, eventually performing wartime rescue missions throughout the 80’s and 90’s.  Eventually retiring, settling down, and caring for her growing daughter, Natalie is an extremely confident woman who takes on any task she sets her mind to.

Her daughter, Dinah Lance, grew up adoring, but feeling entirely inadequate compared to, her extraordinary mother.  Upon reaching young adulthood, she feels the need to make her own way in the world, and moves out.  Out of her mother’s shadow (and military inspired way of doing things), the young Dinah Lance begins riding motorcycles and learning martial arts, forming an all female vigilante team called the Birds of Prey, which very quickly fell apart and disbanded.

She remains close to her mother, and one day is helping Natalie (now in a wheelchair) in her unsuccessful attempts to secure a military gravesite for herself (despite her wartime rescue missions, her requests are being rejected for being a volunteer), she meets another young woman, dissatisfied with her own treatment by the military she’s trying to join, and the two hit it off.  With this new friend, one Zinda Blake, Dinah begins thinking about the possibility of starting the Birds of Prey again.

So there’s my origin, going through the New 52 versions so far but establishing a version with more personality, and reaching the point where a new version of the Birds of Prey could form.  I tried to retain as much as possible of the current versions, but seriously the modern version being Dinah Drake?  Being married to this Kurt guy and having him die?  I’m not dealing with that, sorry.  There’s no good reason to go back to Dinah Drake; Dinah Drake is a representative of a different time period, and a modernized version of that character is Dinah Lance the daughter.  Not using the daughter character does nothing but piss off the people who love the character so much.  Plus, that was all stuff from Team Seven, and I don’t think anybody actually read it.

My design hews close to the post crisis version, the body suit, fishnets, no blue tights, no cleavage, and the sensible ponytail.  I turned the swimsuit cut into shorts, and made the whole ensemble more informed by motorcycle gear.  I took particular inspiration from Ryan Gosling in Drive (didn’t see the movie, but I’ve seen pictures of his costume in it) and Ryu from Kamen Rider W.  I emphasised the black and yellow color scheme.  She now has a motorcycle jacket with a logo (and that is a line from Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.)

Here’s a larger version of the picture, for those interested.

I’ll post more soon, I’ve got a whole lineup going here.

Oh my God, I just realized why Kamen Rider W is so good:  it’s basically the Birds of Prey!

At it’s heart, it’s about a duo of crimefighters working together.  There’s the brainy one who stays at HQ, and the cheery, kindly field agent.  They work together, each bringing something to the table, each with their own flaws, and each bringing out the best in each other:

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Eventually, they’re joined by a third member, an on the edge crimefighter who wants to avenge the death of their whole family:

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Who the teams helps gain self control and be a better force for good.

Together, they protect the city they love and they all get motorcycles.

Also, Shroud is totally Batman.

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And now I really want a Birds of Prey tokusatsu.