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I was looking forward to today’s comics for two books - the Oracle one-shot from Bruce Wayne the Road Home and Superman #704, a fill-in issue focusing on Lois Lane.
Okay, full admission. I love these characters. They are the two female characters I relate to more than any others. And I love reading about them. Barbara, of course, I can see each month in Birds of Prey and, until recently, in Batgirl. Lois (the real Lois not Robot Lois in Action Comics) unfortunately is relegated to her appearances in Superman.
But today each got her her own book. Unfortunately, I walked away from each disappointed and angry. (cut for spoilage)
First Oracle. If you are not familiar with how she became Oracle following The KIlling Joke, here’s the short story. Barbara suffered from depression after being shot but emerged from it stronger both physically and spiritually. She transferred her librarian skills to the internet and became an operative for the Suicide Squad. Following that she worked with Azrael and Batman, and the JLA and her own gig with Birds of Prey. The creators who saved the character from oblivion after being shot in The Killing Joke, John Ostrander and Kim Yale, told this story in Oracle Year One.
In canon, the role that Bruce Wayne played was this: he referred Richard Dragon to her a someone who could train her. And he probably gave her some money. The rest? Barbara Gordon did it herself. It’s canon. And it fits. Barbara Gordon chose to become Batgirl. She also chose to become Oracle.
Yet this is what happened in Oracle today. First Bruce came to see her in the hospital. Not Batman as in OYO, but as Bruce. And then he yells at her. “You can overcome this or you can whither and die. The choice is yours. I hope you make the right one.” And then this:
"I don’t know where I’d be today, if Bruce hadn’t come to see me that day".
Oh, I see. Oracle didn’t do it all for herself. She didn’t do it all by herself. She did it because/for Bruce Wayne.
I understand that this series is to show the impact that Bruce has had on Barbara. And he has had an impact. She first became Batgirl because there was a Batman. And there are numerous moments when she has impacted him. Why couldn’t this have focused on those moments? Why did they have to take the origin of Oracle and to make it about Batman?
I love Marc Andreyko’s work on Manhunter and he’s written the Birds before. So I was hoping I was going to get that Marc Andreyko. Instead I got the Marc Andreyko who wrote the infamous Nightwing Annual that had Dick and Babs sleep together despite Dick being engaged to Starfire.
After my sadness and rage eased on this book, I read Superman #704. I’ve written about my concerns with this issue and I have to say that it exceeded them. I knew it would probably have Lois thinking about the choices she made. Career women sometimes do. But this?
Who the hell is this? Is this robot Lois? Because this isn’t Lois. This is Lois:
Lois doesn’t just have self-esteem she oozes it out of every pore. Occasionally she may have wondered about Supes and Wonder Woman but that’s it. Lois Lane doesn’t have regrets. She makes people regretful. Reget they don’t know her, didn’t marry her and that they did whatever she’s on the phone getting a quote about right this minute.
G. Willow Wilson wrote this. I loved her Air. I even liked her Vixen mini-series. But this? What happened?
And here’s what Lois wants to know from Superman when he shows up. “Do you need me?” Huh? Does he need her? My God, if 75 years of Superman comics have taught us anything it’s that Superman desperately needs Lois. She’s his touchstone, she’s his link to humanity. And while he says this, why was this question even asked?
These are two of the strongest, most fierce females in the DCU. Lois slayed Catwoman in a match-up yesterday. Barbara looks to win hers today. They may be linked to Bruce Wayne and Superman but they have a rich personas that stand aside from these men. Why do we have to see them find their purpose from these men in their own books?
These women did not kick ass today. And that is a shame.