The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp, Manuel Preitano


Goodreads: The Oracle Code
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: March 2020


Paralyzed by a gunshot, Barbara Gordon is now living at the Arkham Center for Independence. They promise they can help, but Barbara is sure she will never feel whole again. Then she begins to suspect that not everything about the institution is quite right. Barbara is drawn by the mystery, but also hesitant to return to her old habit of solving puzzles. But, when a friend needs her, Barbara knows she has to uncover the truth about the center.

Star Divider


The Oracle Code is a new introduction to Barbara Gordon, with her time as Batgirl either removed or simply left unspoken. Teenage Babs is an aspiring hacker whose life takes an unexpected turn when she is paralyzed by a gunshot. Now recovering in the Arkham Center for Independence, Barbara has to decide if she is willing or able to return her former hobbies of puzzle solving and code breaking. She believes she has left that all behind. But, when a friend disappears from the Center, Barbara will rely on her old skills if she wants to solve the mystery.

Intriguingly, superheroes are not really a part of The Oracle Code, which focuses instead on Barbara’s character development and her puzzle solving skills–skills anyone could theoretically acquire. Batgirl is not mentioned, but neither is Batman. And Barbara never calls herself Oracle. Right now, in this moment, she is simply a teenager trying to figure out who she is. And I think that plot line will resonate with readers.

The story is fairly dark, which seems in keeping with what I know of Batman’s world. Barbara is now a resident in a creepy institution, where a nightly visitor spins her tales of children lost or stolen. All too soon, the stories become real. The illustrations match the tone of the story, making it feel even more suspenseful.

The Oracle Code stands alone as a story about Barbara Gordon–readers do not need to be familiar with Batgirl or Batman to enjoy it. I appreciated this immensely, as someone new to DC comics. I ultimately found that The Oracle Code is a wonderfully gripping tale, one that makes me want to learn more about Barbara.

4 stars

10 thoughts on “The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp, Manuel Preitano

  1. Lois says:

    I’m not the biggest comic book reader, but Barbara Gordon is one of my favourite comic book characters. I had no idea there was a book following how a teenage Barbara would recover from the shooting. It’s an interesting concept and one that sounds removed from the wider comic book universe so I think it’s a great way of bridging the gap with those unfamiliar with the character and longtime fans.


    • Krysta says:

      It’s newly released! DC is doing a whole line of teen superhero graphic novels and this is one of the latest! It is self-contained, which I like. We don’t even know what happened when Barbara was injured, if it was part of a larger situation, etc.


  2. Michael J. Miller says:

    If they don’t talk about her time as Batgirl (which I agree, is a brilliant way to make it an easy introduction to the character/universe!) do they talk about how she was injured? She wasn’t actively being Batgirl when it happened. But I ask because, while you say the story is “fairly dark,” I just can’t imagine what the Joker does to Barbara in ‘The Killing Joke’ fitting within the tone of this story :/. It’s perhaps the most horrific thing I’ve ever read in a comic and one of the most horrific things I’ve ever read in any medium. So I was curious as to whether or not they addressed everything around the gunshot wound in this. I kind of hope not…


    • Krysta says:

      The gunshot itself is kind of vague. Barbara is one a rooftop with her friend doing a hacker challenge when she sees her dad going after someone on the ground. She runs towards him, then there’s maybe a page where we see the weapon and it’s implied she was injured, but nothing is shown.

      The story is kind of dark because she’s in a creepy institution where children go missing and at night another girl visits and tells her weird tales about girls who are turned into ghosts and people with creepy dolls as friends, etc. The level of violence is probably suitable for even younger teens, but I would say if younger readers are easily scared or not into horror/ghost stories, this one might spook them a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Michael J. Miller says:

        This makes me really, really happy! I’m glad the changed how she was injured. It’s just…I don’t know. ‘The Killing Joke’ is a powerful look into abject evil with the Joker but…eh, I read it once and that’s more than enough. I didn’t sleep well after, either I’m glad they were able to tell her story without that needless darkness :).

        I like the idea of a sort of horror-light aesthetic. Gotham has some CREEPY villains roaming the streets. It sounds like a fun way to keep the book “scary” without it being needlessly macabre. Yay for this all around!


          • Michael J. Miller says:

            Here’s what I’ll say. As an artistic piece examining the nature of abject evil, it is one of the most haunting and well-crafted stories I’ve ever read. Your heart and soul feel broken and burdened when you finish. I was horrified and so, so uncomfortable with parts of it. So if you want to experience that, it won’t let you down. But it’s nothing you need in your life. I’ve always thought Alan Moore (the author) is overrated. Not that his stories have nothing worthwhile to them, but they are often dark and violent (for the sake of seeming “adult” by being dark and violent) and very misogynistic.

            I only read ‘The Killing Joke’ because I was looking for a comic addition to an old course I taught on theology and popular culture and I knew it was “a classic.” As soon as I read it, I was comfortable never picking it up again. Life’s dark enough, you know? So yeah, if you want to explore something dark and disturbing it’s a powerful read. But if not, I’d be just as happy in my life never having read it. Also I think ‘The Dark Knight’ film – and Heath Ledger’s brilliant performance as the Joker – address all the worthwhile parts of ‘The Killing Joke’ in a faaaaar more compelling and thoughtful way in significantly better story with none of the problematic or disturbing parts of the comic.


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