The Discount Spinner Rack: BIRDS OF PREY (2002)

Over the last few decades, comic book movies have reached heights of storytelling and spectacle that readers could never have DREAMED of. But for every triumphant high—The Dark Knight, The Avengers—there have always been a good number of stinkers… some bad enough to become punchlines or talking points, but most mediocre and ultimately forgotten…

Until they end up here.

The Discount Spinner Rack is where you’ll find the worst, the weirdest, and the most puzzling of comic book movie misfires. We’ll take a look at the things that actually work and the parts that absolutely don’t, and decide whether it’s worth your time and your dime. In the end, movies will be marked down on a scale from $1.00 (a surprise gem) to $0.05 (better used for kindling). For this whirl around the Rack, we’ll be taking a look at the thirteen-episode WB television series based on DC’s female vigilante superteam, Birds of Prey!


Imagine, if you will, a world in which the Batman has mysteriously disappeared. After serving faithfully as Gotham’s champion and a scourge of the criminal underworld, one fateful day the Dark Knight vanishes without a trace, never to return. YEARS pass. The streets of Gotham swiftly decay as criminals rush to fill the power vacuum left by Batman’s war on crime. Citizens live in fear once again. But suddenly, from the chaos, a new hero emerges—young, brash, armed with the tools and methods of Batman’s crusade and ready to fight for justice!

… No, I’m not talking about Batman Beyond.

… I’m ALSO not talking about the new Batwoman TV show.

Guys, did you not read the title? I’m talking about Birds of Prey here1.


It was the early 2000s, and the superhero boom in pop culture was just starting to ignite. X-Men had been a solid hit for 20th Century Fox, Spider-Man would soon become a MASSIVE box office success for Sony… and the WB network2 had just scored record primetime ratings with their pilot episode of Smallville3. The premise of the series was a simple one: it followed the adventures of a teenage Clark Kent in Smallville, learning how to use his powers and trying to help people without revealing his secret to the world. But showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar insisted that the series was not just a new take on Superboy; perhaps fearful of the presumed stigma of silliness still associated with comic-book superheroes, the duo famously issued a mandate on the show’s direction that would stick all the way until its series finale: “No tights, no flights.

… Plenty of flannel, though.

Smallville was a Superman show without a fully-formed Superman in it… but it compensated for this by HINTING at him endlessly. Every episode featured at least a handful of winking dialogue references or dramatically-ironic teases of Clark’s destiny as the Man of Steel—offsetting the show’s limited budget and smaller scale by evoking grander, more epic adventures that awaited (and benefiting from the reflected nostalgia for the Superman films and TV shows of old). It built its own unique mythology around a simple, formulaic set-up (Kryptonite gives people superpowers, and Clark has to stop them!), introduced a cast of pretty TV actors to play out the rote teen drama between action scenes… it was a superhero-themed knock-off of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.

And audiences ATE. IT. UP.

Smallville Jaw
Like series guest star Amy Adams ate a whole deer!

WB executives, now with an unexpected smash-hit series on their hands, were eager to make lightning strike twice. Of course, the logical follow-up was a show revolving around Batman, their OTHER marquee superhero4… but to prevent the concept from seeming TOO derivative, they decided not to make it a prequel. No, if Smallville was a “pre-Superman” story, then THIS would be a “post-Batman” story… something set after the Dark Knight had established his legend in Gotham City, and then vanished—leaving the stage set for some youthful, untried heroes (with no actual costumes, mind you—that part’s important) to try to step into his shoes.

And those heroes? They would be the Birds of Prey—an all-female crime-fighting superteam made up largely of Batman supporting players!5

Laeta Kalogridis, an up-and-coming screenwriter who’d done drafts of X-Men and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider6, was hired to create and develop the series. She structured the story around the aftermath of a last, great showdown between Batman and the Joker—one which decimated the city, and left Batman so despondent that he abandoned his crusade and vanished without a trace. Among the casualties would be Batgirl, a.k.a. Barbara Gordon (played by Starship Troopers star Dina Meyer)—who would end up getting shot through the spine by the Joker, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down—and Selina Kyle, the former Catwoman and Bruce Wayne’s ex-lover… who’d gone straight so that she could raise their daughter, Helena (Ashley Scott). After Batman’s disappearance, a wheelchair-bound Barbara would take Helena in under her wing, training her in her father’s methods so that she could take to the streets of New Gotham7 as the Huntress. Barbara, meanwhile, takes on a new role as the super-hacker Oracle to monitor Huntress’s activities and provide her with computer-assisted back-up. Sounds like a solid set-up, right?

Well… it keeps going. The story PROPER actually starts when young Dinah Redmond (Rachel Skarsten8) hops a bus to New Gotham so that she can find Helena and Barbara. See, Dinah (later revealed to actually be “Dinah LANCE”, a.k.a. Black Canary in the comics) has been having recurring dreams about our two heroines since she was a little girl; she’s a metahuman9—a touch-telepath with other psychic tendencies—and she forces her way into the narrative as the audience P.O.V. character because her family has disowned her and she has nowhere else to go. So the duo becomes a trio, the Birds taking Dinah in as one of their own, and the show subsequently gets saddled with high school melodrama subplots!

But at least now the team had a perfect ratio of hair color distribution.

The Birds of Prey would spend every episode battling criminals and metahumans that the New Gotham police couldn’t handle, never suspecting that a sinister mastermind was operating behind the scenes: Dr. Harleen Quinzel, the former Harley Quinn (played by Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star Mia Sara!), who spends the season plotting vengeance for the downfall of her beloved “Mr. J”… and who unsuspectingly happens to be treating Helena Kyle as a therapist for her day job. Helena, meanwhile, would come to form a contact in the New Gotham PD when she meets Detective Jesse Reese (Criminal Minds star Shemar Moore), a hunky straight-arrow cop who believes in metahumans10 and works with Huntress while vocally disapproving of her methods… and trading more than a few flirty asides (the dynamic was like Batman and Commissioner Gordon, but with just a little bit more sexual tension). And to round out the ensemble, the Birds were often doted over in their down time by faithful butler Alfred Pennyworth (the late, great Ian Abercrombie), who provided a warm and avuncular anchor to humanity for the girls (as well as a wonderfully wry comic presence) while handling the day-to-day matters of stocking the pantry and doing everyone’s laundry.

High five
He also provides moral support!

Birds of Prey was picked up by the network for a thirteen-episode season order 11. While the series premiere drew some of the strongest ratings for the WB ever among viewers ages 18 to 35, the viewership quickly plummeted—so quickly, in fact, that the WB execs decided to CANCEL the series once the thirteen episodes were up. But in an odd stroke of luck, the network announced this to the showrunners before the last three episodes had been written—allowing the writers to resolve all the show’s dangling plotlines, and effectively turning series into a thirteen-hour closed-end miniseries12.

So why did the ratings take such a precipitous plunge in the first place? What kind of a show WAS Birds of Prey, anyway? And did the series manage to craft a graceful, satisfying ending for itself—unlike its bloated and absurdly overlong progenitor13? Welp, only one way to find out…

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Okay, TWO ways, I suppose…

IN THIS ISSUE: It’s Gilmore Girls meets Smallville, but with exponentially more cleavage and a fraction of the wit!

Birds of Prey is a very schmaltzy, almost painfully sincere show about a trio of women bonding as a surrogate family unit—Barbara playing the matriarch, Helena the hotheaded and closed-off older daughter, and Dinah as her spunky yet sensitive younger sister—which is awkwardly grafted onto a noir-influenced sci-fi action framework. It’s a tonal mess from the word “go”, as characters will be investigating grisly superhuman-related murders one moment, and then switch gears to offer relationship advice or counsel Dinah through the trials and tribulations of the high school social scene the next. It’s a combination that COULD have worked with stronger writing or a more self-aware tone (after all, this kind of tonal dissonance was Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s bread-and-butter), but Birds of Prey doesn’t aim to be nuanced or meta14; it’s just looking to cram that square peg into the round hole, giving us a sentimental melodrama with a generous helping of crime procedural and superhero ass-kicking on the side.

And good old-fashioned cheap titillation!

This series is the apotheosis of the “capeless superheroes” trend of the late ‘90s-early 2000s—in which a TV show or movie would explore the broad tropes and concepts behind superhero storytelling while also explicitly and vehemently avoiding sillier genre indicators like costumes or codenames15. Unlike Smallville, which justified its lack of costumed heroics with the simple fact that its hero was still in high school, Birds of Prey should theoretically have been CRAWLING with colorful heroes and villains. It was set in a world that had already seen Batman and his entire coterie of crime-fighting partners hit the scene; one of the lead characters was a former costumed vigilante herself, and another one spent every episode actively fighting crime under a codename. Hell, they frequently self-identified as “superheroes”. Yet Huntress refuses to wear a mask16 or a costume, fighting crime in her street clothes (which more often than not amounts to a Matrix-style trench coat, black top, and black leather pants17); Dinah never becomes competent enough to don a costume or a codename; and while Batman’s ENTIRE Rogue’s Gallery should theoretically be kicking around somewhere out there, the Birds are constantly stuck facing petty criminals with boring meta powers—they only encounter THREE of Batman’s rogues over the course of the series, and only one wears a costume (but not the one you’d expect…).

Unlike most OTHER capeless media, however, the absence of colorful outfits and iconic characters in Birds of Prey was highlighted every week by the show’s “saga sell”—a short, expository montage at the start of the episode that explains who all the characters are and the basic premise of the series. By necessity, that included shots of Batman18, Catwoman19, the Joker20, and Batgirl—all of them dressed in repurposed costumes from the Burton/Schumacher Batman films. And they all look pretty great! But starting each episode with a glimpse of Batman adventures that we would never get to see, featuring iconic characters who would (mostly) never actually appear on the show… it only served to underscore the diluted nature of the series proper. And unlike Smallville, this show didn’t have the luxury of teasing future Batman adventures to carry its viewers through dull or formulaic episodes.

“Look at all the awesome stuff you WON’T get to see here!”

Rather than trading on the vast, preexisting Batman mythos to carry the show, though, Birds of Prey instead opts to build its OWN mythology… by stealing chunks of it from Smallville and the X-Men films. The show establishes early on not just the existence of mutan—uh, superpowered metahumans, but an entire subculture surrounding them; one of the show’s main locations is the No Man’s Land bar21, a metahuman safe haven22 run by the show’s most irritating character, Gibson Kafka (a nebbish-y nerd with total memory recall who spends virtually every scene he’s in hitting on Helena). Heck, it only takes until the show’s third episode, “Prey for the Hunter”, for the writers to make the “metas as oppressed minority” metaphor explicit, with an entire episode about Detective Reese learning to see metahumans as people when a bigoted cop starts killing them with their own powers. However, despite the wealth of evidence of their existence and their long history of inhabiting New Gotham, metahumans are also somehow a secret from the ordinary world23—giving the show a Smallville-esq “battling the hidden forces of evil” set-up. And just like Smallville, this translated into a formulaic “Freak of the Week” story structure: the heroines would fight generic, gimmicky meta criminals (like “Slick”, the guy who turns himself into water and drowns people!) in one-and-done adventures that rarely advanced the main characters’ arcs in any meaningful way.

To be fair, that generic storytelling carries into the non-meta episodes, as well. “Primal Scream” (S01E06)  is a tired riff on Point Break, in which Helena teams with Reese to go undercover with a rubber mask-wearing band of armed robbers (here, they all wear animal masks, allowing Huntress to wear a cat mask and channel the more reckless criminal impulses of her mother). She gets in too deep, her cover is blown, she fires a gun into the air whilst screaming—you know the drill. Then in “Split” (S01E07), Huntress meets up with another vigilante crimefighter whom Barbara knows from the good ol’ days. The guy has been tracking a killer for years, and teams with Huntress to take him down… but in a twist you’d probably find a bit familiar if you’d watched Fight Club, it turns out that the hero is actually the killer TOO, and that he has split personalities (like… y’know… in the title). Now, this COULD have been an effective episode, if the hero in question had been someone from traditional Batman mythology… someone the audience would never suspect of being the villain—like maybe Tim Drake, or even Nightwing, if the writers were feeling particularly bold. But no: for whatever reason, the hero is some schmuck named “Darkstrike”24—a male analog to Huntress, right down to having all the same powers and the same trench coat/black shirt/leather pants ensemble (albeit without the plunging neckline). Episodes like this make the series feel half-formed, even by the standards of a first season.

Nananananananana DARKSTRIKE!!!

But while the episodic narratives may be flaccid and the worldbuilding is rote, a show like this lives or dies on the strength of its characters, and the charisma of the actors who play them. And as it happens, Birds of Prey has three wonderful leads who carry the series even in its weakest moments!

Of course, you have to start with Ashley Scott as Helena Kyle/Huntress. She’s the face of the series—the first-billed actress, the sole lead on the poster, and the character conceit they sold the entire show with (“it’s Batman and Catwoman’s daughter!!!!!”). And while Scott may not necessarily have been a particularly versatile actress25, she exudes a charming, rakish energy that permeated the show; despite her personal demons, Helena revels in being a superhero, and that joy carries forward into all her relationships. Her flirty, entendre-laden meet-ups with Detective Reese are highlights of the series, as their obvious chemistry makes their push-and-pull trust issues (“How can I trust you when you won’t even tell me your name?”) far more compelling than they really ought to be.

And while I could mention that she’s an absurdly beautiful woman (her cat-like features almost certainly helped to land her the part), this is a show from the WB in the early 2000s—EVERYONE was an absurdly beautiful person. It was the network’s core business model.

You can always count on horny teenage boys to help keep the lights on.

Then you have Dina Meyer as Barbara Gordon/Oracle26. Meyer excels at being the mature, thoughtful head of the team—she is the propulsive, heroic heart of the show, the character pushing everyone to be the best versions of themselves and who discovers the best version of herself only after suffering the loss of her legs27.

She’s a straight-up hero… but she’s still human, often lapsing into neurotic, overly controlling behavior and mother-hen worrying. She also gets her own, dedicated romantic subplot, as she spends most of the series being wooed by Wade Brixton (Shawn Christian)—a hunky Mr. Perfect whose transcendent amazingness forces Barbara to reconfigure her work-life balance and find the time to catch the bad guys without missing their dates. But considering that she also spends her days working as a high school English teacher28 (seriously, when does she SLEEP?!), it’s clear that Barbara is something of a workaholic, and over the season she realizes that she needs to loosen up a bit and open up to the possibility of personal happiness.

Also, she’s, uh, gorgeous too. Do I even have to mention that?

And rounding out the trio, the third brightest star in our ensemble is undoubtedly… Mia Sara as Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn!

Dr. Quinzel is, by any measure, a delightfully campy villain. Mia Sara devours every scene that she’s in, making her Harley (the first live-action iteration of the character EVER, mind you) a gleeful vamp who relishes being evil and never loses her edge of menace, even as she’s stuck saying the goofiest things to her underlings. But she’s equally compelling in the therapy scenes she shares with Helena, playing the part of the compassionate psychologist—every bit of advice she dispenses laced with the faintest hint of nihilism, as she nudges her patient down the darkest paths she can manage without giving the game away. She’s just FUN to watch, and she elevates every episode she’s in.

… And best of all, when the finale finally comes around, THIS Harley actually dresses in red and black, with a diamond motif. Like Harley Quinn SHOULD!

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Yeah, it’s superficial, but y’know what? So is the rest of the show.

Okay, I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Dinah Redmond, as played by Rachel Skarsten. She’s the “Kitty Pryde” of the group, the young audience P.O.V. character through whom we learn about the world, cheering her on as she trains with the Birds and grows into a confident young crimefighter. And without a doubt, she’s the weakest part of the show.

Don’t get me wrong: Skarsten can be charming and likeable, from time to time. But her Dinah is constantly flying to melodramatic extremes whenever she’s put in the spotlight. Take the episode “Gladiatrix” (S01E10), which opens with Dinah upset at Huntress for not allowing her to handle a criminal alone. In the next scene, we see Dinah just WHALING on a practice dummy with fighting sticks, practically frothing at the mouth, and then calling out Huntress for a one-on-one throwdown like some ‘roid-raging MMA bro. Or better still, there’s “Sins of the Mother” (S01E05)—one of the best episodes of the series, which reveals that Dinah is actually the daughter of veteran superhero Carolyn Lance, a.k.a. the ACTUAL Black Canary (like, with the martial-arts skills and the Canary Cry and everything—as played by former Full House star and current accused criminal Lori Loughlin)! Carolyn, on the run from Gotham mob boss Al Hawk29, explains that she left Dinah with the Redmond family because she feared for her safety; Dinah, on the other hand, spends the episode flinging tearful recriminations at her as well as Barbara and Helena, and retreats to No Man’s Land to pout rather than taking Carolyn’s warnings about Hawk seriously… which leads to Carolyn getting captured and ultimately killed.

And did I mention that her presence means that the writers have to shoehorn in high school drama subplots? Like the time Dinah reads a cute boy’s mind so she can pretend to enjoy the same stuff he does, and then has to confess that she does not, in fact, like basketball or early-aughts indie rock? Yeah—it’s pretty tedious.

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This face means I’m sad!”

… Also, she’s apparently VERY into Darkstrike when he shows up, which is another big mark against her.

Behold, her “I’m attracted to another human being!” face.

One thing that sets Birds of Prey apart from most one-and-done seasons of TV, though, is that it actually manages an ENDING—and it’s a pretty good one! If you don’t mind knowing how it all turns out, click on the spoilers for a quick look at the final three episodes…




I kid, I kid… Cancelled or not, the showrunners wanted to go out a little more gracefully than THAT.

Episode 11, “Reunion”, brings Helena into focus as a character when her five-year high school reunion comes around. Surrounded by former classmates who’ve moved on to successful careers, and hustling to avoid Reese at her day job (his investigation into a series of murders leads him to the bar where Helena works as a bartender), the show comes to a crucial revelation about Helena: she doesn’t really have a secret identity. Sure, she tends bar as “Helena” and doesn’t advertise her name when she goes out as Huntress, but the fact is, Helena has no life outside of fighting crime—her need to hide her identity from Reese is far more about avoiding intimacy and keeping her defenses up than it is about protecting a civilian life. So the episode ENDS with Helena revealing who she is to Reese, and asking him out on a date—finally turning their “will-they-won’t-they” relationship into something solid.

(This is also the episode where it becomes PAINFULLY clear just how stupid it is to be a vigilante crimefighter when you refuse to wear a mask. All Reese had to do was walk into the bar when she wasn’t expecting him, and BOOM! Secret identity blown. But wait—it gets even worse NEXT episode!)


Feat of Clay” (S01E12) is easily the best episode of the series. It features a meta-of-the-week premise at first—a guy whose touch can turn people into clay statues (which is… odd, but… okay, sure)—but to track him down, Helena needs information… and for that, she turns to Clayface (Kirk Baltz), a notorious mob boss currently imprisoned in Arkham Asylum. Clayface is this show’s stab at a Hannibal Lecter-type: a manipulative sociopath locked in a clear glass cage who offers to help, but only if Helena will recount the night of her mother’s death to him. For inspiration, you see—he sculpts in clay (he’s nothing if not on-brand), and he wants to see her misery so he can recreate it. (He also speaks in a thick Cajun accent that can be jarring when you first hear it, but lends him a distinctly earthy personality, and no, I’m not apologizing for that clay pun.)

Also, they just… SLATHERED his f%$#ing face with clay for this part. Just slapped a whole art kit on him. Bake him in a kiln, and you’d have a nice human-shaped vase to put flowers in.

It’s not until her second visit that Helena discovers the truth: it was Clayface himself who murdered her mother, avoiding identification because… well, he’s a goddamn shapeshifter. Inevitably he escapes custody, joining up with the meta-of-the-week (turns out, it was Clayface’s son all along!) so that Helena can kick BOTH of their asses. She comes right up to the line of killing Clayface, but doesn’t—affirming once again that she’s a hero, blah blah blah, this is the fourth or fifth time they play this card so it’s not a huge shocker. Then she and Reese basically decide to skip the “first date” and go straight to boning. Seriously.

Another huge plot point in this episode is between Barbara and Wade. Babs has entered the “I don’t have time for romance because I’m a friggin’ crimefighter” stage of the relationship, cancelling a vacation with Mr. Perfect and ignoring his calls. Alfred calls her out on her toxic stoicism, but she’s not having any of it… so Alf pulls a Batman ’89 and lets Wade into the Clocktower without asking, forcing Barbara to reveal her secrets to him once and for all. At first he’s weirded out by it… but because he really IS Mr. Perfect, he shows up later with a bag of Chinese takeout and ends up patching things up. Happy endings all around!

There Will Be Smooching!

But wait! Who should happen to have been there when Huntress takes down Clayface and Son (a fight that happens at a PUBLIC fashion show) but DR. HARLEEN QUINZEL? Who immediately recognizes Helena, realizes that she is the superhero who’s been plaguing her criminal operations, and is now primed to destroy the Birds of Prey! All because Helena refuses to fight in a goddamn mask!


This all leads into the big series finale, “Devil’s Eyes” (S01E13). Dr. Quinzel manages to get Helena into one last session as her therapist, and Helena—elated by her newfound honesty and emotional openness with both Reese and Quinzel—proceeds to spill her guts, telling Harleen EVERY SINGLE DETAIL about the Birds of Prey: names, associates, loved ones, everything. She even tells Harleen about Wade, for some reason! It’s a bafflingly abrupt plot development (mask or no, surely Helena wouldn’t be THIS easy to give up all her secrets), but hey—it’s the last episode. Gotta keep things moving!

“They’re tearing down these sets in two hours, people! Let’s wrap this up!”

Rather than taking advantage of this tactical f%$#-up IMMEDIATELY, Harley does the next best thing: she recruits a scientist to build a machine to transfer metahuman powers into her—specifically, the ability to hypnotize people with her eyes. She uses this power to turn Helena bad, compelling her to battle her friends; then Harley breaks into the Clocktower, broadcasting her hypno-eyes across the city to drive the citizenry crazy… and, in one of the more surprising moments of the show, she murders Wade, leading to one of Dina Meyer’s strongest moments in the series as she learns about her lover’s death and can barely hold back her tears30.

But fear not: the Birds of Prey rally, as Barbara (equipped with a special device that allows her to walk31) manages to snap Helena out of her spell. The team (along with Reese) storm the Clocktower, putting an end to Harley’s broadcast… and the show’s mentor/student relationship finally comes full circle when Helena inevitably ends up talking Barbara down from killing Harley. Evil is defeated, the Birds ponder their many triumphs and failures, and all seems right with the world…


… And then we get a little stinger in which we overhear Alfred giving Bruce Wayne an update over the phone as to the Birds’ activities and the state of New Gotham—letting him know that he would be “very proud” of his daughter. Which is… creepy? I mean, I know the idea is that Bruce is watching out for them, but it seems more like he’s SPYING on them while simultaneously refusing to take any responsibility for their wellbeing.

Aww, well. I suppose it’s better than Barbara chatting with Bruce over text messages…


Birds of Prey feels like a growing pain—a false step on the road from Smallville to the contemporary DCCW Universe, showing the network just where the limit was on this whole “no costumes, no iconic characters” policy. But it was also a show too ambitious for its time: pushing to do big action and superpowers on a miniscule TV budget, and featuring a complex narrative set-up that viewers were expected to keep up with32. You get the sense that, however it may have turned out, the people making it were trying to do good… it was a progressive-minded show (foregrounding female empowerment with a splash of social consciousness for oppressed minorities) with strong characters and a cool aesthetic, marred by cheap production values, stale writing, and its network’s borderline-exploitative tendencies towards titillation (the “skimpy crop-top” budget must have been ASTRONOMICAL).

The show was, to put it mildly, a Mixed Bag. But it’s a mixed bag that was made with care, and that wraps up in a satisfying conclusion—something hard to find in MOST television shows, let alone ones that were cancelled halfway through the first damn season. It may not have had the longevity or the impact of Smallville, but Birds of Prey is a show that’s definitely worth remembering.


… Awww, man—I didn’t get to talk about how awful the editing is on the fight scenes!

Like the Matrix, you really do have to see it for yourself.

IS IT WORTH YOUR DIME?: Depends on your tolerance for schmaltz, inhumanly perfect-looking actors, garish video editing effects, and soft indie rock. The show is a relic, but if you give it a chance, you might just find characters worth sticking around for!

… Mostly Alfred, of course.



  1. “Half-Metahuman”: From the second episode on, the show makes it a point to describe Helena Kyle as “half-metahuman”—since her mother Catwoman was a meta cat person, while her father Batman was just a normal guy. Except… Helena has cat powers. She doesn’t seem any LESS powerful for having a human dad. So… doesn’t that just make her metahuman? Isn’t that like describing someone as “half-brunette” because only one of their parents had brown hair?!
  2. Combat Parenting: The fourth episode of the series, “Three Birds and a Baby”, opens with Helena catching a baby as it drops from a window… and then getting into an extended fistfight with a bunch of goons WHILE STILL HOLDING THE BABY. It… may just be the greatest moment in the entire show.
  3. “”””Lady Shiva”””””: One of the best episodes of the series, “Lady Shiva” (S01E08), has Barbara dealing with the return of, you guessed it, Lady Shiva—a foe from her days as Batgirl. But THIS Shiva—a common thief who becomes an assassin after the death of her sister33—is a far cry from the icy martial arts master of the comics. Aside from her bright red throwing-star calling cards, she also sports a restrictive faux-alligator skin leather jumpsuit, complete with a cowl and mask (which she ONLY has to disguise the fact that she’s actually Helena’s best friend from high school, Sandra Woosan).
    Yes—the ONE character in the series who wears a real costume is the martial-arts assassin who never actually wears one in the comics.
  4. Hawk and Reese: A fascinating (yet underdeveloped) relationship the show establishes is between Al Hawk, the powerful mob boss who kills Black Canary in the fifth episode, and Detective Reese… who’s revealed to actually be Hawk’s estranged son. It’s a REALLY strong set-up; the show only had an episode to get into it, but the revelation adds some depth to Reese (he was driven to become a cop after a patrolman ignored blood in the trunk of his father’s car), and turns what could have been a forgettable one-off crime boss into a memorable addition to the show34.
  5. The ORIGINAL Opening Credits Theme: Birds of Prey, like Smallville, uses a lot of licensed pop music—including an awesome opening theme song that sets the tone and brings the energy up for the show. But when the series was released on DVD in 2007, the licenses on some of that music had expired, and the songs were swapped out… INCLUDING the opening theme. If you watch Birds of Prey on home video or streaming, the show opens with a mellow soft-rock jam (“My Remedy”, a song that was recorded by an unknown artist for the DVD release and remains uncredited to this day)… but if you watched it when it was first BROADCAST, the theme song was “Revolution” by Aimee Allen… and it ROCKED!


NEXT ISSUE: To celebrate Disney and Sony finally playing nice with each other again, let’s all count our blessings by taking a good, hard look at the LAST live-action Spider-Man movie Sony produced on its own: The Amazing Spider-Man 2!