Last month Batgirl and Oracle finally came face to face as Burnside burned all around them. In order to survive, Babs did the one thing Oracle never would have expected of her: she ran. In fact, she threw herself off a building into the river surrounding Burnside. What will happen now that Oracle has defeated Batgirl? And will Babs be able to make it out of all of this unscathed?
We pick up right where the last issue left off, as Babs is sinking into the water, with Oracle victorious above her. It’s a really stunning set of pages, with the orange glow of the fire offset by the blue of the river Babs is sinking into. While Batgirl is underwater, Oracle turns to her new objective: Protecting Burnside and it’s people. She, unlike Batgirl, will not abandon the city. But wait, didn’t Oracle set the city on fire? Cause countless deaths? And round the citizens up to be bait for Batgirl? Yes, yes she did. This is another one of those moments that really shows how different Oracle is than the real Oracle. She seems to have emotions but they are none of the ones that really made Oracle who she was: there is no compassion or empathy, only hate and the desire to prove herself better than Batgirl to get her revenge.
Babs herself is absent for most of this issue, spending a large chunk of it swimming around or unconscious. I know the city is on fire, and Oracle is searching for her, but Babs claims to have fifteen minutes of air in her rebreather. That’s plenty of time to swim somewhere safe and get above water. It might make sense if she were swimming to the underwater entrance to a safe house or something, but never once does she think about that. When she does eventually surface it’s on Burnside’s outskirts by the bridge for no real reason. It simply doesn’t make sense to me why she’d waste all her time underwater when she could have surfaced a number of times to catch a breath of air. It’s not like the water is on fire, and even as bent on Batgirl’s destruction as Oracle is, if I were Babs I’d assume she’d stop checking after some time. Humans can only hold their breath for so long after all.
What’s worse, is that most of the time spent with Babs is spent with her wallowing in self pity, and contradicting herself. Instead of getting passionately angry about this Oracle, or trying to figure out what it really is, Babs seems to almost give up. She gives into the idea that this Oracle is the real thing and that she abandoned it, like she abandoned everything else. It’s honestly an argument that feels a little stale at this point. At the same time she keeps saying she’s not going to give up, and she’ll fight back even if she has to destroy something she loved. The mixed signals are frustrating, especially when Oracle is something that was such a huge part of her life.
While Babs is trying to escape, and Oracle is taking over Burnside, Jason Bard volunteers to head back to the city for both the PR and to find Barbara, worried she might go in alone. He stumbles right past an unconscious Barbara and into Burnside, now totally taken over by Oracle and an army of robots she’s controlling via the Oracle chair. He takes center stage in the second half of the book, quickly joining forces with Oracle in an “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” moment. It left me wondering just how good his intentions are if he’s willing to abandon all his reasons for showing up just for the chance to kill Batgirl.
Honestly, the whole thing with Jason makes me a little uncomfortable. I don’t know much about his character, having only picked up this book recently, but the fact that he’s so dead set against Batgirl makes my skin crawl, especially in light of him being enamored with Barbara. When he finds out the truth, it won’t be pretty, especially since I doubt there’s any way he can get over the palpable hate he has for her. I mean, it’s so bad he’s decided to partner up with Oracle to take her down! Oracle, the thing that just set Burnside ablaze and has kidnapped the citizens of the city. It’s also strange to me that he’d so quickly abandon both his search for Barbara, and his duties as a representative for the Congresswoman when faced with Oracle. Maybe it’s not strange, but more frustrating than anything. It’s hard for me to like a character so willing to dive headfirst into hate like he has.
The thing I enjoyed most about this issue is the art. Carmine Di Giandomenico’s art and Jordie Bellaire’s colors come together to make some seriously stunning scenes. The first two pages alone are gorgeous in their deep blues and firey oranges, the two colors contrasting sharply and making the whole thing gorgeous to look at as Batgirl falls into the water, and Oracle stands victorious above. Additionally, I love the use of holographics and digital displays in this book. Di Giandomenico really takes advantage of Oracle’s large role, and takes every opportunity to show maps, and digital images when characters are talking about things. It’s a nice effect, that uses Oracles abilities and shows us what’s going on in her head. I especially liked when we got to actually see through her eyes when she was looking right at Frankie. The panel is all orange, and very indicative of her simply scanning instead of looking at Frankie. We see the same technique again when Bard is speaking with Oracle. It’s a good tool to remind us that she’s not seeing these people as people, but instead as more data and information to make her goal a reality.
Things wrap up with Babs finally taking some action, and getting ready to fight back against Oracle. Dr. Leslie Thompkins helps her escape the hospital as Oracle attacks it, setting things up for Babs to finally have some time to figure out how to beat this new adversary. I hope she does take that time to really consider the situation, and get to the heart of how she views Oracle. Right now it just doesn’t feel like the story is going as far as it could: it’s there on the surface level, but I’d love to see it really dig into the potential that’s there.
- You don’t mind contradictory plots
- Jason Bard taking center stage is your cup of tea
- You’re enjoying this new Oracle
This issue feels a lot messier than the last one. There’s a lot of contradictions and decisions that just don’t make sense, like Babs staying underwater so long she almost dies. The story also feels like it’s missing the mark when it comes to how Babs sees Oracle. Instead of getting to the heart of what it was to her, Babs seems to have accepted this machine is all Oracle was, instead of an extension of herself. This arc could be a fascinating look comparing the two, but so far things aren’t really lining up properly. Hopefully next month things take a turn for the better.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.