When Barbara Gordon discovered that her hacker handle of Oracle had been co-opted by a computer geek/Batgirl fanboy named Gus who was trying (albeit sloppily) to take her place as the hero The Dark Web deserved, she decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and offer him a chance to help her out.
Black Canary and Huntress thought she was crazy, but having your mobility restored following a revolutionary new surgery and being able to be Batgirl again will do wonders for your sense of optimism. And whatever else can be said about Barbara Gordon, she believes in second chances and the power of redemption.
Of course because Barbara is as paranoid as she is optimistic, she hacked Gus’ computers and security systems so she could keep an eye on him. Because whatever else can be said about Barbara Gordon, she’s also not a complete idiot and isn’t about to blindly trust an admitted black-hat hacker.
When Barbara discovers evidence that Gus was trying to set The Birds of Prey up for an ambush by a mysterious former employer, there will be a reckoning. Gus may finally come clean on his dark past, but what power has a hold on him? And what do they want with The Birds of Prey?
This first chapter of Source Code does wonders for addressing a complaint many readers had regarding how quickly Gus was brought into the fold as The All-New Oracle. Unfortunately, most of this issue is devoted to recalling Gus’ backstory and – eventually – the backstory of his secret boss, with the script by Julie and Shawna Benson telling us more than it shows. Granting that restoring this series to the glory days of Gail Simone in the wake of the mess that was The New 52 Birds of Prey is a daunting task, one still wishes that we were getting to see the past adventures of the original Birds team as a full flashback story rather than just getting a few panels of highlights.
Roge Antonio’s artwork is similarly off-putting. There are numerous panels where the characters look odd or off-model, with Gus looking more like a young boy than a twenty-something man. The above panel depicting The Birds looking down at at a trussed-up Gus and their distorted lips and philtrums is another example of a stylistic choice that just doesn’t work.
Thankfully, the art isn’t bad enough to distract from the story but this is one issue of Batgirl and The Birds of Prey that isn’t up to its usual high standard. This is unfortunate because there’s the start of a decent story here underneath the layers of exposition. Hopefully things will be back to normal next month.