by Ryan Rigley
Last week, lucky ticket-holders were informed of not one but TWO awesome comic book TV series panels happening this year at San Diego Comic-Con International. First up, ABC announced that “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will be making its Comic-Con debut with a special booth set up all weekend long and a Friday panel featuring “Avengers” director Joss Whedon! Then on Saturday, the CW’s “Arrow” will be returning to Comic-Con in light of its immensely successful first season. Hopefully, we’ll even get a sneak preview of season two!
“Arrow” may be the latest TV series based on the DC comics universe, but it is by no means the first. In fact, back in 2002, Gotham City’s sirens (a.k.a. the “Birds of Prey”) had their very own short-lived TV series. Click past the jump for more!
Network: The WB
Broadcast Date: 2002 – 2003
Taking place primarily in “New” Gotham City several years after the disappearance of Batman, “Birds of Prey” stars Ashley Scott, Dina Meyer, and Rachel Skarsten as Huntress, Oracle, and Black Canary respectively. The series is loosely based on the DC comics title of the same name with several huge differences in place; i.e. Huntress is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman and heir to the Wayne estate.
Despite it’s initial success, “Birds of Prey” saw a massive decline in ratings weeks into its first season and was canceled after just thirteen episodes. But with cameos from such well-known Gothamites as Alfred Pennyworth, Harley Quinn, Batman, Catwoman, and even the Joker, it’s fairly safe to say that “Birds of Prey” was a show way ahead of its time. Can you just imagine how successful this series would be had it premiered following Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy?
With Batman missing, Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Batgirl, takes to the streets in his absence but is soon confined to a wheelchair after being shot in the back by the Joker. Now going by the codename “Oracle,” Barbara teams up with Helena Kyle (Huntress) and Dinah Lance (Black Canary) in order to stop a mysterious madman.
Three Birds and a Baby
After rescuing an abandoned baby, Helena brings the infant back to the Clocktower with the hopes that Barbara and Dinah will know what to do with him. Eventually, they learn that the baby is programmed to live its entire life within three days… and also that it wants to murder Helena.
Whilse investigating a series of missing metahumans, Helena stumbles upon a secret club in which metahuman women are kidnapped, drugged, and forced to fight each other in an arena. Helena soon finds herself kidnapped, leaving it up to Dinah to save the day.
Feat of Clay
Guest starring Batman’s clay-faced nemesis Clayface, Helena is forced to ask the shape-shifting villain for help after a robber breaks into a chemical factory and drinks a potion that gives him superpowers. Also in this episode, Alfred Pennyworth reveals Oracle’s secret crime fighting life to her boyfriend Wade.
Upon deducing that Helena and Huntress are the same person, Harley Quinn grants herself the gift of metahuman hypnotic abilities that allow her to brainwash Helena and gain complete control of the Clocktower. As Harley proceeds to hypnotize every citizen of New Gotham, Helena teams up with Alfred, Dinah, and Dinah’s boyfriend Reese in order to infiltrate the Clocktower and put an end to Harley’s reign of terror once and for all.
Still not convinced that “Birds of Prey” was a series way ahead of its time? Well then, check out this clip of the Joker changing Barbara Gordon’s life, with Mark Hamill doing his unparalleled Joker voice!
This is Comics On TV, the column that celebrates the classic comic book TV series that blazed the trail for modern day hits like “Arrow,” “The Walking Dead” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” If you have any favorite episodes of this week’s series, let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!