Written by Kevin Vanhook
Pencils by Julian Lopez and Fernando Pasarin
The anti-life equation is scattered across the Internet in code, and promises to be able to restore "life" if all of the pieces are assembled. A desperate Noah Kuttler -- The Calculator-- seeks to collect the pieces to bring his daughter back to consciousness but his plans crossed paths with Oracle, Barbara Gordon. Unaware of the Calculator's goal and spurred into action by the death of an associate, Barbara begins to find herself in a whole lot of trouble. A battle for the cowl tie-in.
The confusing description of the anti-life equation above is nothing compared to the complicated nature of the title's plot. In writing the description, it occurred to me that I don't have any idea as to what the anti-life equation really is despite it being the origin point of this entire story. Part of this is likely because anti-life may not be new to the Oracle mini-series [though it might be], but it's also because comic book writers don't know anything about science or technology. It's difficult to explain complicated ideas that exist, it's even more difficult to expose on ideas and technology that is complicated and doesn't exist. Within the few weeks since the first issue was released I've forgotten much of the details, the first of which was the made up scientific logic. It gets even worse in this issue. The comic spends much of its time talking, rather dully, about aspects of technology. Not only do most readers not care, they're also not likely to try and make sense of what you're written.
Captions run rampant in this second issue, when I fail to recall them ever being present in the first. They're effective when necessary to the story telling, but generally horribly written; far too over the top and faux writerly. They hamper the pace of the story, and are never very interesting. I found myself wanting to skip over them entirely.
It seems uncertain as to what Vanhook is building towards with Oracle, but it seemed that she was excessively violent and temperamental then she had ever been before. If I were asked to compose a list of comic characters who I believed to be quick to anger, Barbara Gordon certainly wouldn't be any where on it. These scenes felt uncomfortable, and far too much out of place even for a highly stressed Oracle. The captions seemed to mirror this mental state as well which further added to the oddness of the entire characterization.
Most concerning is Vanhook's insistence that the wheel-chair bound Barbara Gordon flaunt her sex appeal. In the first issue the reader watches her take a shower-- in this issue she is hit on and nearly gang raped. Even the cover of the issue emphasises this idea by prominently displaying her cleavage, bra and mid-drift. It's almost as Vanhook is making a fetishistic appeal to the reader with a "Disabled don't mean undesirable" theme. A handy-capped person being sexual is fine, but Oracle's seductiveness has become a very prominent aspect of the work-- and the situation is far too uncomfortable. Hopefully this aspect of the story will have some profound impact on its conclusion, but generally it doesn't seem so.
Rating: 3 out of 10.
First issue seemed promissing, but it feels like all the bad aspects of it carried over while the good ones didn't. If you want to read Oracle, the first two issues are available on comic shelves.