Welcome to a "Battle For The Cowl" tie in that's ACTUALLY a "Final Crisis" epilogue.
Wait. . .What?
Holy-Rack-oly! How about that cover?
Now that the elephant (s) in the room have been addressed. . .
I really liked Oracle as a character. She was probably one of the more unusual "superheroes" out there. I won't get into it, but I feel that DC made a mistake in taking a great character off their roster just to have Barbara Gordon being Batgirl again.
BUT. . .
That doesn't have anything to do with this mini, which is pre-New 52. It's a tie in to the "Battle For The Cowl" event, where everybody thought Batman was dead after the events of the ironically-named "Final Crisis" and everyone was trying to figure out who was going to replace Batman, or if he even COULD be replaced or SHOULD be replaced.
Oddly enough, this mini has absolutely nothing to do with "Battle for the cowl", and barely references it. It is ACTUALLY more of a follow up from Final Crisis itself, as the story picks up from events directly involving Final Crisis. . .namely, the Calculator's daughter being in the hospital on death's door and the Calculator trying to assemble a version of the "Anti-Life Equation" that was used by Darkseid in Final Crisis to save her. But I guess events have to have their tie-ins. This one just isn't much of a tie-in and is more of an epilogue.
ANYWAY. . .
Let's get this out of the way immediately. If you aren't familiar with the events of Final Crisis (I had to wiki-refresh my memory) then you will have a hard time understanding what is going on in this mini. The story directly references Final Crisis and it assumes you have knowledge of all the characters on deck. There is no real introduction to any of them and you are basically dumped right into the story. . .and it's not a very simple story. This mini is NOT for the casual comic reader. Fair Warning.
The story itself? It's a bit of a mess. Not only for reasons described above (It's an epilogue to a huge crossover event), but because it's just sort of a mess. It tries to mix the virtual world and the real world so that a character who spends most of her heroic moments behind a keyboard can be seen in her element. Unfortunately, scenes of people sitting around tapping keyboards aren't awesome, so they have to find ways to get Oracle out and about. . .and undressing for a shower. . .and having angry bo stick practice in her sports bra. . .and how about that cover again?
They REALLY make an effort to sexualize Oracle in this series. It's a bit distracting. That and the lack of much background to the convoluted story of the Calculator trying to save his daughter by assembling a version of the Anti-Life Equation online and testing it on computer hackers until he gets it right just makes one wonder why this mini exists in the first place. The art isn't bad, the writing isn't bad, but it just seems like there's no real justification for the existence of this story beyond those awesome covers on the. . .er. . .rack.
All in all, this mini confuses me. I like it because I like Oracle, but is this the Oracle I like?
WHOA! Downblouse! If you thought the cover to issue one was a "bit exploitative", the cover to issue 2 borders on NSFW.
And once again, the sexualization of Oracle continues inside. Look. . .I'm no Femnazi. I don't need a "safe space" to sort out my feelings on microaggressions or gender anything. I like to look at pictures of sexy women just like any other normal guy. That said. . .they seem to be going out of their way here. Within the first few pages, Oracle is assaulted and threatened with rape. Shortly after, her new hacker buddies are commenting on her nice wet shirt look. Then there's that cover. . .and so on and so forth. Barbara Gordon being sexy is okay, but do we really need to be hit on the head with it? Oracle is supposed to be saving people from a virtual threat reaching out into the real world. . .isn't there a better time to worry about how sexy she is? It's really starting to look like fan service of the wrong kind.
ANYWAY. . .
This issue suffers from the same problems as the first. The main problem being that it's an epilogue to a crossover and it isn't really explained what exactly the Calculator is trying to do, how he's trying to do it, or why he thinks it will work (He's making a virtual recreation of the Anti-Life Equation and testing it online on hackers he is luring before cutting crystals to the specification he discovers in order to re-create the Equation in the real world). It doesn't help that the story is a bit convoluted and it's never really explained how the Calculator can reach out from the internet to kill people in the real world. Just. . .reasons?
The writing and art are still good. . .an interesting paradox. . .how can the separate parts be good, but the combination be bad? Of note is a fantastic double page spread of Oracle's avatar moving through the virtual lattice framework of the internet. It's just an awesome piece of art! Now that's the Oracle I want to see more of. Not Barbara Gordon laying in a Hong Kong Alley being threatened by leering would-be rapists.
The good news is they toned down the cover from "borderline NSFW". The bad news is that they toned it down to "pulp damsel in distress"
Thank God this mini was only 3 issues. The ending is basically setup for further events in the DCU (i guess?) and the journey through the rest of the issue to get there is a hot mess.
Oracle confronts the Calculator in cyberspace and defeats him. . .then confronts him in the real world and it's shown that the effects of their avatars battling on the internet has affected the Calculator in real life. How? Nobody knows! Anti-Life Equation. . .reasons!
The ending was a real downer. No happy ending here. Calculator was just trying to help his daughter. He ends up in prison. His daughter ends up paralyzed. Oracle has this mini hanging around her neck like a boob-a-licious albatross. Nobody wins.
Okay, okay. . .it wasn't all bad. They toned down the sexualization in this issue and showed Oracle as a hero fighting in her own element. The characterization was better this time around. What I liked about this mini was that it showed Oracle as a hero on her own. No Birds of Prey. . .no Bat-Family. I also liked that it touched in several places on the events of "Killing Joke", where she was shot and paralyzed years before, giving some nice continuity.
Unfortunately, a convoluted story, awkward sexualization of Oracle, a downer ending based on unexplained powers suddenly showing up, and a basic lack of justification for the existence of this mini at all overshadow the good points.
All in all, I wouldn't suggest this mini to anybody new to comics or the character of Oracle as any sort of introduction. It's definitely "in-crowd" only on this one.
And there it is. . .Oracle: The Cure. I don't really know if I liked it or not. All I DO know is that I get a funny feeling in my pants when I look at the covers. I think that was exactly what DC wanted. Congratulations. You won my money, DC.
Next up. . .travel back to 1994 and the wonderful world of anger, crossbows, and clenched teeth that was The Huntress! DC's The Huntress 4 issue mini. Be there or be square!
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Issue # 18