Review: Batgirl and The Birds of Prey #11

“Source Code” Part 1: Miscalculation

Writers: Julie & Shawna Benson

Artist: Roge Antonio

Warning: Very Minor Spoilers Ahead!

 

 

 

Ok…I’m going to say it outright… this is the BEST issue of Batgirl and The Birds of Prey I have read yet! Holy DC Rebirth, what a glorious, emotionally impactful comic! Issue #11 has reignited my love for this series. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been enjoying the series since I started reviewing it, but after the cliche conclusion to the previous “Blackbird” story arc, my enthusiasm for the series somewhat wavered. That all changed when I finished my read through of issue #11. While it was light on action this time, I didn’t really mind. Julie and Shawna Benson’s impeccable writing more than compensated for the absence of action.

In issue #11, we finally learn more about the new Oracle’s (Gus) past and his motivations for why he claimed the Oracle mantle. Before joining The Birds of Prey, Gus used his Oracle alias to sell confidential intel to the highest bidder. Gus only performed these shady dealings to support his financially struggling mother, who has been working two jobs. That was until one of Batgirl’s old foes uncovered his identity. Noah Kuttler, also known by his villain name ‘Calculator’, exploited Gus’s impressive computer skills to aid him in enacting crimes, such as robbing banks. Feeling remorse for his involvement in Calculator’s crimes; Gus donated the money he earned to charity, paid off his mother’s mortgage and got himself a job so she wouldn’t have to juggle two jobs anymore. Calculator eventually found Gus and ordered him to arrange a meeting with The Birds of Prey.

Gus soon unveils the reason as to why he complied with Calculator’s orders. Gus confesses that he has bipolar disorder, and that Calculator has been supplying him medication to treat his condition. As someone who has OCD; Calculator empathized with Gus, to some extent.

What really gripped me about this scene was how The Birds of Prey reacted to his confession. After learning about Gus’s past and condition, The Birds of Prey forgave him and supported him. Batgirl herself knows what it’s like to endure pain, and she openly forgave Gus for his actions. This poignant moment redefined The Birds of Prey as true heroes. Once they’ve learnt about Gus’s condition, they supported and helped him, like how any person should do.

Julie & Shawna Benson did an incredible job of humanising Gus and provided readers with a believable backstory behind his motivations. His childhood involving growing up without a father and a single mother working hard to support him really connected with me on a personal scale.

While I have been a bit critical with the art style in my previous reviews, I’ve grown accustomed to it now. It’s not perfect and there are a few jarring character expressions, but the art style emulated the series’s tone faithfully. During Gus’s retelling of his encounter with Calculator, the background page would change to something reminiscent of The Matrix. The background page would be aligned with green ones and zeroes while the panels are connected via green circuitry-esque lines. It was like witnessing the story unfold on a computer screen. Those Matrix-esque pages were some of my favourite aspects of issue #11. I also appreciated the moments where the story was conveyed via text messages, instead of more speech bubbles. The text messages were a clever method to tell the story and I hope the writers implement this technique again in future issues.

Although the story was emotionally impactful, I felt it dragged on for a bit too long. Issue #11 still definitely  adheres to the standard twenty-one page length, except the overabundant exposition made it feel like I was reading a thirty page issue. This is my only gripe I have with issue #11.

There is so much more I want to talk about. Especially with an ending like that! Oh my goodness, that final panel makes me wish I was reading issue #12 RIGHT NOW. I’ll restrain myself, because this is just too big of a spoiler. The only thing I will disclose however, is that it involves a certain Batman character. That is all. My lips are sealed and my fingers restrained.

 Conclusion

Ok, it’s about time to wrap this up. Overall, I adored issue #11! Julie & Shawna Benson’s thoughtful characterisation of Gus, The Birds of Prey supporting him after his revelation, the emotional weight of the story and that jaw-dropping ending made issue #11 my favourite issue yet. The only downside was the overabundant exposition, which consequently rendered the story longer than it should have. If you haven’t read issue #11 yet, do yourself a favour and read it now! You’ll not be disappointed!

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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Philip Lawrence

Ever since he can remember Philip has been a passionate fan of the Batman mythos. He played all four Arkham games, watched all three Christopher Nolan films and started to obsessively read the comics. Outside of being a writer for Dark Knight News Philip is an aspiring actor, theatremaker, filmmaker and maintains a Youtube channel. He hopes to one day create the comics he loves to read so much.