Birds of Prey: Futures End #1 “The Red League”
Written by Christy Marx
Art by Robson Rocha

We’re continuing Futures End month with a glance at where the Birds of Prey… er… Dinah is in the future. The last time we saw Dinah, she was flying into the sunset with Condor, so what will she be up to a few years from now? Well, Condor is nowhere to be seen (darn… I thought those crazy kids would make it…), and Dinah has apparently taken over the League of Assassins! I’m going to do my best not to give everything away, but Dinah leading the League is essentially the biggest talking point for this issue.

There’s been a debate over whether these Future End issues really matter, and if they don’t, are they even worth the read. I honestly think this will just depend. I found last week’s Grayson and Detective Comics to be quite enjoyable, and felt like they actually did tease the potential future of each title. On the other hand, you had issues like Earth 2 and Batwing that just felt like a waste of time and money. So where does Birds of Prey fall? I would say it falls in between these two “groups.”

The story itself is decent, and enjoyable. Dinah is leading the new League of Assassins – which she calls the Red League – to help rescue and assist women that are forced into abusive situations. This issue jumps three years into the future, with Dinah and the Red League rescuing a group of young women from captivity. One of the girls manages to catch Dinah’s attention. She’s clearly been abused, and it’s revealed that she was attacked for standing up for herself. Dinah sees this as a sign of strength, and offers the girl the opportunity to join her in her mission. The girl accepts Dinah’s offer, and the story jumps forward another three years.

Xi, the girl that Dinah rescued three years ago, has been training with the Red League. She’s ready to work in the field now, and it just happens to be perfect timing. Over the years, the league has slowly uncovered more and more intel on who was behind capturing all of these women, and forcing them into unspeakable situations. With this information, the League moves to stop him once and for all, and that takes them to Gotham City. It’s an all-out assault as the League attempts to neutralize their enemy, but someone from Dinah’s past finds their way into the middle of the fray. Who encounters Dinah, and how will she face this unexpected challenge? Will the League be successful in their mission? What lengths will Dinah go to, to stop this leader? And will Xi get to see the justice she’s been desiring for years? The only way to find out, is to read the issue!

I will go ahead and tell you that the biggest take away I had from this issue, is that it actually has a sense of purpose. I feel like this title suffered greatly after its first volume, because there wasn’t much of a reason to have it. The Birds were just… there. Here, Dinah has a clear and distinct mission. You know what her goal is, you see how she’s working to achieve it, and a part of you genuinely wants to know more about what’s going on. I would’ve much rather read this plot as an arc for the title over anything else Christy Marx brought to the table. That doesn’t mean this issue is perfect, and I would say it’s far from amazing, but it’s definitely a solid turnout from Marx.

Recommended If:

  • You like the idea of Dinah leading the League of Assassins
  • You want to read an issue of Birds of Prey where Black Canary actually reminds you of the Black Canary we’ve all grown to know and love (prior to the New 52)
  • You would like to end your New 52 Birds of Prey reading experience on a higher note that the “final issue.”

For more details and spoilers, see below.

The Art: I want to start off by saying how terrible I think this cover is. Dinah’s mouth reminds me of a horse, and I don’t feel like the overall image entices the reader to pick up the book. The cover looks like a representation of what I would expect from this creative team – subpar work. Instead, we’re actually treated with a decent story, and a terrible, terrible cover.

Rocha’s art looks better than I remember it being. His art has never moved me, but he does draw decent action. He was also much more consistent in this issue than he usually is, and that alone is an improves the quality of the book, comparatively speaking.

The Good: As stated previous, it feels like there’s a purpose for the book. The Birds were always there, and there wasn’t a reason for them. Dinah has a mission here, and it’s relevant and believable. This is something that was lacking from a series as a whole, so it’s a shame that it takes a one-shot story set years in the future to accomplish this.

Also, Dinah felt like Dinah. I hated her characterization in previous issues, so it was refreshing to see the “old Dinah” back. There was no crazy, poorly written, emotional garbage either! Dinah was a leader, and she actually acted like a leader! Hallelujah!

The Bad: I had an issue with a few things. The first of them being that Dinah infiltrated and took over the League of Assassins in less than two years… This would never happen. I don’t think Dinah could ever take over the League, much less in two years. It just bugged me. If they’d approached this as her building a League of her own to try and stop Ra’s al Ghul, then I would have completely believed it!

Bette Noire. I haven’t read the Batgirl issue yet, but Barbara is the person Dinah encounters in Gotham. She’s all “Bane’d” out, and it’s just kind of weird. I’m not sure I like it, but I don’t think it’s an issue on the writers part, I just don’t think I like the plot direction for Barbara. I will say this issue makes me want to read Batgirl: Futures End, just to see what pushed Barbara to become this way.

And what’s up with the names that Canary is giving Red League members? It was a college nightmare!

Overall: This issue was better than I expected it to be, and more enjoyable then what I’ve covered during the run of the series. It’s a shame that the creative team couldn’t pull this type of focus during the book’s actual run. If they had, this book might not have been cancelled. This book focuses on Dinah, so if you’re hoping to see what Strix or Condor are up to, you’re out of luck.

SCORE: 6.5/ 10