Barbara Gordon’s been fighting crime since high-school – first as Batgirl, then as the white-hat hacker Oracle, before donning her cowl and cape once again after an experimental surgery fixed the spinal injury that sidelined her. When another hacker began using the Oracle name to help Gotham City’s criminals, Barbara went after him full-force, with her pal Black Canary as back-up. It was here the two met Huntress – an ex-spy with a grudge against Gotham City’s mafia families who had her own reasons for hunting the new Oracle – and discovered that the new Oracle was a wannabe hero named Gus who was in way over his head. Thus were The Birds of Prey formed.
Since then, Barbara has kept Gus on a short leash, convinced that his heart is in the right place no matter where his head may be stuck sometimes. Gus’s previous workings with The Calculator – a mastermind for hire who helps criminals get the gear and information they need for a price – gave Barbara a back-door into Calculator’s systems. It proved the perfect way to take down Calculator’s operation one client at a time, nabbing bad guys before they could do bad. Unfortunately, The Calculator has figured out that something is up and put two and two together as to just who is responsible…
I’ve come down hard on the art of Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey in recent months, complaining about odd palette choices by Marcelo Maiolo and the rushed, sloppy artwork produced by Roge Antonio. Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey #19 proves to be a surprising artistic 180. I can’t explain why but somehow all the odd-lighting effects Maiolo employed to nightmarish effect in previous issues work successfully here. While Antonio’s artwork still lacks fine detail at times, the inks shade the artwork to properly enhance what details exist.
For the first time in a long time, the artwork proves the equal of the excellent story by The Benson Sisters, Julie and Shawna. This issue is a fantastic and thoughtful character analysis of Barbara Gordon and any Batgirl fans who are limiting their comics purchases to the Batgirl solo title would do well to pick this issue up. Not only is Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey #19 a perfect jumping-on point for new readers – it’s a damn good comic, plain and simple. This is the Birds of Prey book we’ve been waiting for since Gail Simone left the series.
Batgirl And The Birds of Prey #19 comes out on February 14, 2018.