One of Batman’s oldest allies has taken his place as the de facto leader of the Bat-Family across Gotham City and beyond.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman #112 on sale now from DC Comics.
The Bat-Family has been evolving as of late. Batman has been adjusting to fighting crime without his usual resources, Nightwing has come into a new fortune, and even Damian Wayne is finding a way to make his own mark on the world. However, few have progressed as much as Barbara Gordon has lately. Since reclaiming her position as Oracle, she has become more than just a coordinator of the Bat-Family, functioning more like a leader in the face of crisis.
Even Batman has come to rely on her guidance in the field, especially now in the wake of Scarecrow’s attack as seen in Batman #112 by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles.
Since coming back online as Oracle during the Joker War, Barbara has been branching out to other members of the Bat-Family. This is most prominently seen with how she directs the two Batgirls, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. She provides the girls guidance as well as mentorship to ease them into the role she once occupied, allowing the two to become a highly effective team and grow into their own superheroes. But she didn’t stop there, she was talented enough to manage all the members of her network.
Over in Batman: Urban Legends, she has helped both Red Hood and Tim Drake. In Jason’s case, she not only helped him uncover more about the new drug cheerdrops, but also helped mediate between Batman and Red Hood when their relationship was once again in a difficult place. As for Tim Drake, she helped him search for his missing friend while simultaneously counseling him on his recent decisions. Ultimately, her advice was part of what helped Tim become more accepting of himself.
And of course, she’s still helping her off-and-on romantic partner Nightwing too, acting as the voice in his ear while he tries to clean up the streets of Bludhaven. That role is more about her making sure Dick doesn’t go overboard with his heroing, best exemplified when she angrily called him because he was investigating a lead while still suffering from a concussion. Regardless, her support has been essential for Nightwing, who is largely operating alone in Gotham’s sister city.
Even Batman has come to rely on her more and more. There hasn’t been a recent issue of his core series that hasn’t had Oracle lending a helping hand, trying to help him solve the vast web of lies and misinformation that Simon Saint and the Scarecrow have been spinning during the “Fear State” event. And he needs her now more than ever with his mind compromised following his capture and torture at the Scarecrow’s hands. Batman isn’t as focused as he usually is, but Oracle is, so the time to lean on her skills is now.
This makes her the de facto leader of the Bat-Family, even if the title isn’t formally recognized. She’s been guiding and advising all of her allies in the field, but more than that, she’s also been providing emotional support for all of them. That’s something Batman rarely does, at least, not in a way that requires being able to understand subtext.
Barbara has always been a coordinator, but these last few months have made it clear that her leadership potential is an untapped resource that could be vital to surviving the impending Fear State that is coming to Gotham City. And with great changes coming to Gotham in the aftermath of that battle, her time coordinating her friends may make her the perfect candidate to lead them into the next phase of their adventures.
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