This issue delves into the history of the new Oracle. That’s right; a new Oracle- not the wheelchair bound Barbara Gordon that you remember, but a new guy. This issue we climb into the history of Gus Yale.
Gus was your average blossoming hacker who took over the moniker of the Oracle when Barbara Gordon returned to her duties as Batgirl. One thing led to another and suddenly Gus was pulling in big money trading information to the superhero community. Sadly all of this came with a price, with the seeming return of the Oracle it triggered the return of Oracles arch-nemesis; The Calculator.
From here the story takes an unexpected turn. Gus is recruited by the Calculator and brought into the hacker lifestyle, trading information to criminals and gangs in exchange for big payoffs. Gus quickly comes to the realization that what he is doing is morally wrong; but he can’t turn away the money. He is using his ill-gotten gains to help his mother.
The Birds are still pissed that Gus has lied to them from the start and grill him on not only his associates, but also about his recent erratic behavior. It’s here that Gus reveals that he is bi-polar and is seeking treatment.
While the subject of mental illness is used here as an explanation for a characters recent mood swings, it doesn’t come off as hackney or cheap. The Birds respond with support and kindness. Sending out a positive message to readers that may be dealing with; or know someone who is dealing with; mental illness.
The twist at the end of the issue is going to lead to a tense story arc, as the Birds are going to help the Calculator rescue his kidnapped family. (It’s a long story)
The writing on the issue was very strong. Each character was well defined. Although the writing team of Julie Benson and Shawna Benson is not recreating the wheel in the pages of this title, they are adding a few solid spokes to the Batgirl/Birds mythos. I’m curious to see where they plan on taking this series as time goes on.
The artwork was serviceable. Antonio has his moments on few pages, but personally (and I can only speak for myself here) I wish the editor had reached out to an artist that was closer in style to the previous incarnations of Batgirl. I miss the sharp, cartoony style that came before in this series.
All in all this was a decent comic. It’s not a book that you should go out of your way to read, but if you pick it up you should be satisfied with the overall story and art. I place this comic firmly at average.
Final Score: 2 ½ Stars out of 5.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #11
Story: Julie Benson and Shawna Benson
Art: Roge Antonio
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Josh Reed