BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY: WHO IS ORACLE?
Writers: Shawna Benson & Julie Benson
Artists: Roge Antonio, Claire Roe
Cover Art: Yanick Paquette
Rating: 9/10 Motorcycle Chases
Back when DC had begun its Rebirth launch, the number of titles that made their way into my pull list was steadily growing. With so many titles bringing cool new directions for DC to go and others reintegrating history, relationships, and events from pre New 52 in interesting ways, I found myself beginning my collection of comics at the best time. One series that I found myself and best friend sharing joint custody of was Batgirl and the Birds of Prey. This series was such a blast when it was coming out and with Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (hey they changed the title so now I don’t have to try and type the old long one out. yay) now in theaters, this was the best time to revisit this run while exploring other stories. I hope you have spoiler protection installed on your device.
Who is Oracle? That’s the title of this first story arc and literally what we are on the path to learning as Barbara Gordon, back in action as Batgirl, intercepts some thugs who were in communication with Oracle. For those who aren’t familiar with Barbara’s past, who is Oracle might be the burning question first as the Bensons’ give us some background of our hero’s past. We are taken back to the moment the Joker shoots her, leaving her paralyzed. As Baraba describes this moment though, what she chose to do next was a test of strength. Since she could no longer operate in the field as Batgirl, she took up computers and became a super hacker called Oracle. It’s one thing to take up a codename previously taken (just ask the Robins), but this mysterious person is selling intel to the mob and that's tarnishing a once-great name. With cathing this faux Oracle on the top of Barbara’s to-do list, she seeks the aid of former Bird of Prey Dinah Lance to help catch them. With Rebirth showing us that all things that once were will inevitably find their way back to each other, the duo finds themselves teaming up with Huntress (mostly for the bad guys’ well-being).
The highlight of this read is the Bensons’ finding a good balance throughout the story to give you some background into each Birds of Prey member. Rebirth #1 for this series alone does a great job at giving the general background for each but the actual six-issue run dives in more to each member in different ways. For Batgirl, we get a good sense of focus on her character in the main focus of this story since it’s all about finding out who has taken her old name. Barbara is an extremely gifted and smart individual, being that she is a martial arts expert in the field as well as super tech-savvy. She is both the brains and the brawn. This story had a lot of fun exploring Barabara’s personality as she can be quite the quipper in the field and also super focused when it comes to computer stuff, that the banter among the group from these moments is fantastic. One of the most interesting parts of this story for Barbar’s character in Rebirth is questioning who she is going forward. Barbara Gordon? Oracle? Or Batgirl? This was a fun exploration for Barabara and I felt like the Bensons’ really nailed it with the answer.
Sorry. It’s just so hard not to scream in excitement when you see Black Canary kicking ass. Dinah’s return to team up with her former “women in the chair” who guided her through all those missions together was a lot of fun. Disbanding the Birds of Prey after Barabara was able to walk again, Dinah didn’t see a reason for her to be around. Whether or not Batgirl has her own solo series or not, it’s obvious that these two needed to be teaming up again as their dynamic both fighting bad guys and hanging out is absolutely heartwarming to read as Barabra reassures Dinah of how important is to be working together again. For Dinahh’s portion of the story, we get a little more background on her through some flashbacks to her at a young age, running away from a foster home. I really enjoyed catching the reference to Dinah’s nickname, Siu Jerk Jai, at the dojo, she trained at. A great call back to Simone’s run on these characters and to her Sensei and Student arc. I was a little surprised to see how far less proficient Dinah was in her hand to hand combat in this first arc, especially after learning that Shiva once considered her one of the greats. I guess that’s just blending old and new to find a middle ground.
After reading so many Birds of Prey stories and more recently, Cry for Blood, I am finding myself really enjoying the Huntress character more and more among the Birds of Prey. First off, I want to say I love the new costume they gave Helena in Rebirth. Roe’s design is a completely different take from Huntress’s more well-known costume that did little to protect the wearer. Gone are the days of exposed midriff and long capes, now is the time for coats! Her new costume has Helena sporting an awesome hooded long coat that has its functionality brought into question a couple of times in funny ways. Her crossbow and crossbow bolts are part of her gauntlets and can pop out which is really slick. As for exploring Helena’s character, we get some great background on what set her down the path of Huntress through a couple of flashbacks that paid homage to Rucka’s origin in his story. This history of being involved with the mafia continues to play out and explore her path to being a hero as Oracle has been employed through the mafia which puts her’s and the Birds of Prey goals on the same path with some crazy reveals. Her abrasive personality and hyperfocused need to hunt down all mafia members that did her family wrong makes her a great opposite to counterbalance the group as they not only have to reign her in constantly but just trying to get her to relax is the real battle. After reading this story, I have been looking forward to revisiting her time as a super-spy of Spyral in Grayson to see some more badass Helena moments.
This read was an absolute blast that never had a dull moment. I feel like the Bensons’ did a great job at starting this series off and introducing you to the Birds of Prey members through brief flashbacks to know their history and a story that had the opportunity to explore their personalities. I found the art for this series to be one of my favorites that came out during Rebirth. I really liked how some panels would overlap into others giving this sense of transition as you moved through the pages. Fight scenes had moments where you really felt the blows being dealt with each elbow to the face or punch to the sternum visually putting the weight into it. More than anything, Roe really brought the characters’ personalities to life with the range of emotions and expressions they had everyone display. Almost every panel that features the Birds of Prey can practically replace my emojis with how great the expressions are. This is a read I can revisit often and not find myself tired of. So, if you found yourself walking out that theater having a good time with Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, and are in need of some more great content with these characters, check out Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Who is Oracle? And get ready for a great time.