Oracle’s hostile takeover of Burnside continues. If Batgirl wants to gain any footing in this battle against an enemy who knows her every move, she has to start being more unpredictable ever.
In a funny way, Cecil Castellucci’s script and plot here shows the reader just how well she understands Barbara Gordon. By purposefully having the character behave in ways that she never would, by throwing out Batgirl’s “rule book” and showing her flying by the seat of her tights, we see a new side of Babs, one that takes pride in subverting her own usual patterns. It’s a fun take on how to beat an unbeatable foe, but specifically, it takes into account how Batgirl in particular would do it.
The action sequences are thrillingly illustrated by Carmine Di Giandomenico, who manages to make the individual robotic enemies Babs faces pulse with a kind of uncanny life. Giandomenico again pulls off some wonderful acrobatic poses during the final battle, with Barbara seemingly surprising herself with some wild moves. As always, Jordie Belaire’s colors pull it all together, from the inhuman glow of Oracle to the raging fires coating the city.
On the downside of this issue, there are one or two moments when all of Batgirl’s attempts to subvert Oracle’s expectations get a little muddy. We’re meant to see these two essentially playing chess against one another, and thinking several steps ahead, but there are a few times when it’s unclear who “anticipated” what. This leads to a sequence where Oracle is certain that something is a fake-out, but then seems annoyed and confused when it turns out that it is.
Again, a lot of this is due to Oracle and Batgirl attempting to stay ahead of one another, so it’s interesting to feel as behind the ball as the supporting characters who are watching this play out. It’s just that it becomes unclear in a couple of spots.
Still, the story moves along at a fast clip, with this being the most forward momentum this arc has seen since its early chapters. Best of all, it continues to pay off the newly-discovered facets of Jason Bard’s character. His involvement in this chapter is an interesting one that I won’t spoil for readers, but it’s great to see that Barbara is finally paying attention to the man she’s come to know at work, if not the villain she knows he’s capable of being. Showing Bard’s development has been an interesting tightrope that continues to work for this story arc in interesting ways.
In many ways, this issue provides several strong emotional beats that fulfill every promise glimpsed at the beginning of Castellucci’s run. It’s a solid ending that sets up a new chapter for Barbara and her friends, which is the best you can hope for. “Oracle Rising” may have begun as a tie-in to Year of the Villain, but it has culminated in a strong starting place for Batgirl stories yet to come.