Tony Bedard kicks off his latest run on Birds of Prey with a one-shot that's on par with the four immensely enjoyable stand-alone issues he provided after Gail Simone left the series, one that sees the return of perhaps my favorite take on the New Gods of all time – the one seen in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory: Mister Miracle miniseries. Although there's absolutely no explanation for why the New Gods have returned to their human form (perhaps this is the first example of the New Gods "projecting" themselves in new forms following their "death"?), that doesn't take away from the inherent coolness factor of seeing Darkseid as an African-American gangster named "The Dark Side."
As in the Mister Miracle mini, the story takes place largely in the aptly titled "Dark Side Club," which now boasts Thunderdome-like battles between metahumans as its chief source of entertainment. By the looks of recent solicitations and the banner atop this issue's cover, The Dark Side Club will feature prominently in a number of DC's upcoming titles, and that has this fan quite giddy. But that's neither here nor there. What's important is that Bedard knows these characters extremely well and is a veteran of these types of character-driven action stories.
The issue stars Misfit and former Bird Black Alice, who find themselves in the clutches of Dark Side and his minions. Naturally, Dark Side is more than happy to provide the two young ladies a platform to rekindle their feud, which gives artist Nicola Scott the opportunity to let loose with a dynamic and energetic fight sequence. There's a fantastic moment where Black Alice steals the powers of the Demon Etrigan, and Bedard has fun with giving the Demon's trademark rhyming dialogue a bit of a hip-hop flavor through the voice of Alice. The dramatic weight of the issue comes from a shocking reveal about the two young heroines' past, one that will surely provide plenty of fodder for future dramatic conflict.
Oracle, Lady Blackhawk and Huntress only pop in for a brief moment, but we never miss their presence, as Bedard and Scott craft a dark and exciting tale that showcases both these young characters and the rich, creepy atmosphere of the New Gods' new operation on Earth. It's good to have Bedard back.