‘Birds of Prey’: 5 Essential Comics

The colorful tornado of violence, chaos, and glitter that is Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is arriving in theaters this weekend after a devastatingly long period of anticipation, leaving audiences shaken, stirred, and wanting more. While everyone waits to see if Margot Robbie’s Harley will return to the big screen beyond next year’s The Suicide Squad, it’s clear that the best place to go for more BoP action is the comics shop. With that in mind, here are five comic book runs to check out after you see Birds of Prey.

Harley Quinn #25

What’s that? You feel cheated that Harley didn’t get to dress down Joker in the movie over their entirely dysfunctional relationship? That’s OK! You can see it in comic book form here, in this surprisingly satisfying showdown between the former lovers. Before it’s done, you’ll be cheering on Harley and crowdfunding an audiobook version to be read by Margot Robbie.

How to read it: Available digitally or in the collected Harley Quinn Vol. 5: The Joker’s Last Laugh print edition.

Black Canary #1–12

The 2015 makeover given to Dinah Lance—a character who’s been around since 1947—didn’t just give her a new career after more than six decades as a florist. The transformation also gave Lance a much-needed contemporary feeling, as she ended up fronting a band and dealing with all manner of threats from familial complications to sneaky ninjas to, worst of all, former lead singers who haven’t quite gotten over being replaced. It’s rock and roll, it’s ridiculous, and it’s the best Canary in comics to date.

How to read it: Available digitally or in the Birds of Prey: Black Canary collected print edition.

Gotham Central #6–10

Renee Montoya is the object of Two-Face’s affections in this storyline from the critically acclaimed series focusing on Gotham City Police Department, and that’s just the beginning of her worries as his desire for the no-nonsense cop leads to her being outed, kidnapped, and eventually ostracized from her family. What happens when Batman isn’t around to keep the bad guys in line? This brutal, brilliant comic book.

How to read it: Available digitally or in the Gotham Central Book 1: In The Line of Duty collected print edition.

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1–6

The origin of the most recent version of the BoP in DC’s comic book continuity doesn’t just bring the gang together in a mission very different from the one in the movie (it’s far less violent, for starters), it also provides a backstory for the comic book version of the Huntress, whose origin ends up being even more twisted than she (or the reader) initially believed. You won’t see it coming—neither did she.

How to read it: Available digitally or in the Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Vol. 1: Who is Oracle? collected print edition.

Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #1–4

The ideal next comic book step doesn’t even reach stores until this coming Wednesday, but when it does it’ll give Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti—the creators who turned Harley into a modern phenomenon—the chance to return to the character under DC’s “Black Label” rating. What are “Black Label” books? Well, it basically means they’re entirely uncensored, so expect lots of dirty jokes, violence, and probably things you never thought you’d get to see in comics. It’ll be the movie in comic form, only somehow more so.

How to read it: Available digitally or in print.

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