With all that’s going on in the Battle For The Cowl series, the course DC has taken with Oracle: The Cure is really strange. Not the comic itself but the way DC is marketing it. After speaking with several comic book storeowners I’ve discovered that DC is shipping only enough issues of Oracle: The Cure to cover subscribers. For some reason DC is short shipping this story to comic stores making it impossible to find. It’s due to that short-change that I’m reviewing both issue #1 and #2 at the same time.
I have always been a Barbra Gordon fan, from her days as Batgirl all the way through her transformation to Oracle and this mini-series really does her justice. When you read Oracle: The Cute what strikes you is the possibilities. This book is obviously a catalyst for something, possibly something big in the Batman Universe. As you read Oracle those possibilities slowly present themselves, which keeps you interested in turning the pages. It’s also a very technical book, one that immerses the reader deep into Oracle’s virtual world. You’d think that would be confusing or even boring but here it really works.
Oracle: The Cure starts out with Barbara Gordon (Oracle) returning to Gotham to try and help in the fight against an out of control criminal element. With Batman gone Gotham is slowly burning to the ground and nobody seems to have any idea how to handle it. Street criminals aside, Barbara’s main reason for returning it to hunt remnants of the Anti-Life Equation, which had been shattered after Darkseid’s defeat in Final Crisis. Barbara spends most of issue one reconnecting to her old contacts in an attempt to try and find traces of the Anti-Life Equation that have squirreled away within the endless tombs of the internet. Meanwhile criminal mastermind The Calculator is also on the hunt for The Anti-Life Equation to use on his comatose daughter Wendy hurt while helping the Teen Titans.
That’s essentially the crux of both issues of Oracle: The Cure, the search by both parties for The Anti-Life Equation. For The Calculator it means sabotaging a corporate building as well as developing a way to use Anti-Life magic within the on-line world. Barbara meanwhile takes her search from Gotham all the way to Japan in order to beat the Calculator to the Anti-Life Equation. During the chase one of Barbara’s contacts loses her head, literally, at the hands of The Calculator, which ratchets up just how perilous this contest will be.
Writer Kevin Vanhook (Bloodshot, Superman & Batman vs. Vampires & Werewolves) has a really difficult task here and he rises to the occasion with flying colors. Creating a series that deals with the Internet and focuses on a woman without the use of her legs calls for the writer to be great with dialogue and plot development. Vanhook “hooks” you from the get go and then slowly reels you in. Bit by bit he lets things happen allowing tension to build from page to page. Vanhook also lets the reader discover the possibilities of where this could lead. That kind of writing takes a real knowledge of pacing and an ability to create action without relying on huge action scenes.
On the art side it’s clear that Julian Lopez has a thing for Barbara Gordon because he’s not only drawn her as “hot” but also given her a half naked shower scene and a scantily clad fight scene. I’ve always seen Barbara Gordon as more of the girl next door than a sexpot but the way she’s drawn here works for the story. Where Lopez really shines is in his faces, very expressive and very human which isn’t easy to do. Sadly Lopez’s art is largely over shadowed by artist Guillem March who knocks it out of the park on both issues with his amazing covers.
So let’s get back to those possibilities I was talking about. The first has to do with Barbara’s search for the Anti-Life Equation as it pertains to Bruce Wayne. Rumor has it that once Battle For The Cowl is done a new Red Robin comic will start up that focuses on a belief Red Robin has that Bruce Wayne is alive. As you read Oracle you can’t help but wonder if during her search for The Anti-Life Equation she uncovers something about what Darkseid did to Bruce Wayne that inspires Red Robin to begin his search.
The other possibility is that “The Cure” might be a cure for Barbara’s paralysis, which could really be an interesting development. Imagine a battle for another Batgirl; could Barbara even try to match up to the current Batgirl? If she does end up walking what will that mean to her role of Oracle and how will it affect Dick Grayson if he does assume the mantle of Batman?
See what I mean by possibilities and we’re only two issues in. Of all of the Battle For The Cowl (outside the main one) titles I’ve enjoyed this one the most mainly because I’m not sure where it’s headed. This story manages to be relevant and important to Battle For The Cowl but also just outside the main story arc so as to let it exist, as it’s own creation. I’m really excited for the final issue of Oracle: The Cure as well as findig out how it all ties in to the future of the Dark Knight.