Batgirl has been busy trying to figure out who Lex Luthor made an offer to and attempting to quell the chaos caused by his Year of the Villain. Oracle –now brought to life by Luthor– has been equally busy, searching for the creator who abandoned her. With Burnside on fire, the two are on track to meet at last.
This is an exciting week to be covering Batgirl. I’ve found the current arc interesting, because I love Babs and I loved her as Oracle. I also secretly (well not so secretly now) have been hoping this whole thing will push Barbara to take up the role again in some capacity.
Last time we saw Babs, she was suited up as Batgirl, fresh off of stopping a riot incited by Luthor’s announcement of evil. At the same time Oracle and her crew were just about to set fire to Burnside. Batgirl opens this month with Babs watching Burnside burn on tv, casually dressed, a spread of takeout before her. Burnside has been on fire for an hour when things start, and it’s a little hard to believe she wouldn’t have heard something on her way home that would have redirected her. A whole part of the city burning like we’re shown would have been big news fast.
Still, Babs makes it quickly to Burnside and starts working out what’s going on. Her entrance is displayed in a really stunning spread by Carmine Di Giandomenico, with Babs and Oracle juxtaposed across from one another. Babs in action as she swings in, and Oracle standing watch over the destruction she’s wrought. It’s the perfect set up for the clash to come.
This issue is all about the two of them trying to find each other. Barbara has no idea who she’s looking for, but as she searches, the clues quickly point to the culprit having a vendetta against Batgirl. I liked the way we’re shown her thought process through the search. She’s smart, and quick to pick up on things. She uses her familiarity with Burnside to help guide emergency teams where they need to go, and to help her piece things together as she’s on the hunt. It’s calculating, and fitting for the woman who created Oracle.
Oracle, on the other hand, I found to be incredibly unsettling. She’s so contrary to everything I picture Oracle to be: Something created for good and to protect the innocent, to help those trying to do good, and to be an unstoppable force against evil. When she grabs civilians because that will increase the odds of Batgirl finding her, or sets all of Burnside on fire it unnerves me. It flies in the face of that old view of Oracle, and I think that’s a good thing. If it makes for complicated feelings in the readers, it’s sure to complicate things even more for Babs, and I’m excited to see what she thinks about all this as the arc continues.
The moment I found the most frightening was when she grabs Vulture and uses him as her eyes outside the building she’s entering. Talk about robot apocalypse! If I had to list things I’d never want to happen, having my body and eyes taken over by a robot would hit the top. Di Giandomenico brings this scene to life wonderfully, as Vulture’s body stands limply, his eyes wide open. Jordie Bellaire’s colors make it all the more scary as we see Oracle’s eye over his, glowing green against deep shadows.
This scene also highlights for me just how wrong this living Oracle is, and I don’t mean wrong as in bad, but wrong as in broken and incomplete. Without Barbara there, full of passion and love for her city and the people within, Oracle is cold and cruel. She lacks the heart Babs gave her. She is searching for meaning, for her creator, and for something missing, and I don’t think she will find it without reconciling with Barbara first. Oracle just isn’t Oracle without Barbara.
One of the key factors in this issue is Frankie, or Operator, finding Barbara’s old wheelchair and turning it on. The signal it sends out is the thing that finally draws Babs and Oracle together, as they each seek the power it holds. I love the use of green in the flashback about the chair, as Babs declares that it is Oracle, and the green tint to the scene symbolizes the same thing. It’s a nice, subtle touch that I really appreciated.
I do have a problem with the chair also being ‘Oracle’. Last issue Babs was very upset about losing Oracle, and the scene where she wants to get it back was both touching and memorable because of her connection with it. In the clock tower she makes it seem like every part of the program was gone, and then in this issue we see her saying she’s basically got a backup installed in the chair. Not only that, this backup is so good, and contains such an important piece of information, that once robo-Oracle learns about it, she stops at nothing to get the core. It’s one of those contradictory details that had me flipping between issues to see if I’d missed something.
When Batgirl and Oracle finally meet their clash is cut short by the appearance of the same green symbol that’s shown up in every book this month. I really appreciate Castellucci working so hard to tie the Year of the Villain into this book, and explain what’s going on. It’s the first one I’ve read that actually included a note to help guide readers to the source of all this. I’m a little disappointed we weren’t treated to a longer fight, but at the same time, it fits well with the narrative. Babs has been struggling against the results of Luthor’s meddling this whole arc, so it works as an interruption.
Now that the two have met and come to first blows, I’m excited to see where this goes from here. Barbara will have to reconcile her deep love for her creation with the living embodiment of it, and the fact that she’s been told she failed in abandoning Oracle. Oracle’s finally met the woman who created her, and I can’t help but wonder what she’ll do next.
- You’ve been waiting on Batgirl and Oracle to meet
- Oracle’s search to be made whole is something interesting
- You’re interested in the contrast of this Oracle to Barbara
Batgirl and Oracle are both women on a mission. Barbara’s goal is to stop the chaos, and find out just who set her beloved Burnside aflame, while Oracle is out for revenge. Everything she does in this issue is aimed at drawing Babs in for a confrontation. Through this it’s made obvious she’s as incomplete as she keeps saying, missing the one thing that really made Oracle work, Barbara Gordon.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.