Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Ramon Bachs
It’s my favorite time of the month, time to review my favorite book! This is the month where Birds of Prey‘s Death of Oracle hits the world of Stephanie Brown, and the Oracleless status quo that Miller teased is kicking in. Of course, without Oracle as Steph’s biggest crutch, page time is split up better amongst the other members of the supporting cast, and both Proxy and Grey Ghost get some nice moments in this issue.
The basic plot of the issue has Steph following after the speedster that came after her a few issues ago during her fight with the Reapers, when she was framed for murder. The speedster is ripping off banks, getting into vaults without being caught on camera, but only taking small amounts of cash from them. It’s a mystery, and it puts Steph in conversation with Detective Gage as they put their heads together to give us, the readers, the details. Steph’s been losing sleep over this guy, literally, especially without Babs helping out as Oracle. And then, on top of the speedster (who from this point on shall be referred to by name as Slipstream), Batgirl also has her own personal stalker in the Grey Ghost that she has to contend with, not in the “I punch your face” manner, but more in the “Clancy, you should go home and take your pills” kind of way. The exchanges are great, and I absolutely love the banter in this book.
Proxy gets a little spotlight time this issue, and it couldn’t come at a better time as this issue shipped out the same day as the final part of the Death of Oracle. New readers, or people who haven’t jumped firmly on the Batgirl bandwagon might be wondering why this matter, so I’ll explain it for you guys. Proxy, Wendy Harris, is the protege of Oracle, as well as the daughter of the Calculator. She’s not exactly straddling the fine line of heroism and villainy, but she has qualities that could easily push her one way or the other, like her pent up anger, and as Steph points out, her abandonment issues. The Death of Oracle gives Miller a chance to push Proxy a little bit harder, as she’s now coordinating Steph’s actions on her own. Of course, given the Batman Inc upgrade that their operation got, Wendy is going to have a very interesting journey moving forward as she now has the tool to truly become a new sort of Oracle, but she has to find what she wants to do with herself.
The Batgirl and Grey Ghost team up isn’t planned, but it winds up working rather well. I mean, rather well is subjective, and I’m really just judging how entertaining the entire encounter is. Like I said earlier, I love the banter. You know what else I love? That Miller lets Steph mouth off and, well, be Steph through her word balloons, while giving us insight into her method with the narrative captions. The contrast between her vocal ego and her quiet understanding of her situation, it’s character growth. She’s not in it for the kicks, or the laughs, she’s figuring the hero thing out, and her mind processes it all faster by the issue.
Ramon Bachs fills in on art this issue, though you wouldn’t know it looking at the cover which credits Dustin Nguyen (and forced a rewrite of this paragraph). His work is nice, but unfortunately, the faces get away from him a bit this issue, and for as many look fine and normal, a few are just awkward and a bit cartoony. Slipstream has a really cool looking design and the brief battle between him and Batgirl and Grey Ghost is a nice little take on the classic ‘speedster vs non-speedster’ fight. The little touches in this book make it, like the Gotham skyline, or better yet, the new and improved Firewall. I also want to give some love to colorist Guy Major for the red skies of Gotham and the Batman: The Animated Series vibe.
Another month, another great issue. There is a lot to love with this book, but it really all boils down to one thing. Steph is a lovable lead character, one whose voice has been successfully defined over the last year and a half. She’s grown into a must read character, in a fun and entertaining book that brings an original take to the Bat family. The other Bat characters have their serious edges, and sure, so does Steph, but his is a book with a character who has fun, and who wants to be who she is. There isn’t a great tragedy driving her so much as a desire to do good, and with a franchise built on horrible tragedies driving characters, that makes her a big breath of fresh air.
Tags: Batgirl, bryan q. miller, Reviews