Do you know what I love about summer? All the summer blockbusters! But what do you do those weekends where there’s nothing you really want to see playing? Well, you head on over to DC UNIVERSE INFINITE. It has plenty of comics to keep you entertained.
This weekend, if you’re looking for an action-packed story with the feel of a blockbuster movie, then you should check out Birds of Prey: Manhunt. This four-issue limited series has all the action, pacing and feel of a classic ‘90s actioner. It can be read as individual issues, or as part of the Birds of Prey Vol. 1 trade paperback.
Archer Braun has angered the wrong girls. The mercenary finds himself hunted by Black Canary, Huntress and Catwoman for separate reasons. The three women cross paths and decide to join forces to bring Braun in. This doesn’t sit well with Oracle, who is serving as Canary’s mission control coordinator. Oracle, whose existence is still a secret, doesn’t fully trust Huntress and she doesn’t want Canary anywhere near Catwoman.
Fortunately for us, Canary ignores Oracle’s warnings and heads off on an adventure that is part James Bond and part Thelma and Louise. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to Braun than meets the eye and the mercenary has some powerful friends. The Birds of Prey’s manhunt for Braun takes them across the globe in an action-packed story that will keep you turning the pages.
Let’s Talk Talent:
This series is written by Chuck Dixon, a writer who was at the forefront of Gotham’s biggest moments throughout the ’90s. Dixon participated in classic Batman crossovers such as “Knightfall” and “No Man’s Land.” He even co-created Bane. Birds of Prey: Manhunt is different than the masked manhunter stories Dixon was writing in Detective Comics and the gritty crime drama he was telling over in Nightwing. This is a globe-trotting action and adventure tale, showing off some of Dixon’s versatility.
Matt Haley penciled this limited series and his character-focused work brings a human side to the action. Just look at the opening page where Black Canary drives through a traffic gate. You can see the intensity in her eyes and the anger that’s brewing just underneath. Haley can draw an explosion or a fist fight that will put most others to shame, but it’s his character work that really shines. And we can’t forget Gary Frank! His covers are the cherry on top, with each one feeling like a movie poster.
A Few Reasons to Read:
- Go back to the beginning! This is early Birds of Prey. At the time Manhunt was published, there had only been a handful of previous Birds of Prey adventures. In fact, Birds of Prey: Manhunt is the team’s first multi-part adventure—that’s how early this is. If you’re a fan of the team and its many iterations, this is a great way to see its dynamic beginnings.
- This mini-series is the comic book equivalent of a ’90s summer blockbuster. It has lots of action sequences and exotic locations. What happens when you cross films like Speed and Goldeneye with Gotham’s female heroes? You get Birds of Prey: Manhunt.
- The character dynamics are pure fun. Catwoman is the bad girl, Huntress is driven to the point of obsession and Black Canary is just trying to keep it all together. Their personalities play off of each other in entertaining ways and the whole team seems like it might unravel at a moment’s notice. Maintaining this partnership is a delicate balance and it’s fascinating to witness.
- When you read this miniseries, you’ll see why people loved Barbara Gordon’s time as Oracle. This story was written during an earlier period in Barbara’s career, when most of the heroes had never met Oracle face-to-face. This made her more mysterious, as she ran the DC Universe from her computer.
- Lady Shiva shows up for the climactic battle and it’s glorious.
Why It’s Worth Your Time:
If you’re in the mood for a high-action summer movie, but don’t feel like driving to the theater, Birds of Prey: Manhunt will scratch your itch. It’s written and paced like a comic adaptation of a ‘90s movie that was never produced, combining superhero action with heartwarming humor. At four issues, it’s an easily manageable read, giving you enough time to take care of your weekend chores (or nap by the pool). Plus, it’s got Oracle, Black Canary, Huntress and Catwoman—four of the most iconic heroines in the DC Universe. The Birds of Prey have soared to some great heights, isn’t it time you saw how they first took off?
Birds of Prey: Manhunt by Chuck Dixon, Matt Haley and Wade Von Grawbadger can be read in full on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DC.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros., nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.