cover image The Oracle Code

The Oracle Code

Marieke Nijkamp, illus. by Manuel Preitano. DC Comics, $16.99 paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-4012-9066-5

Shot while intervening in a robbery, Barbara Gordon loses both the use of her legs and her best friend, who stops talking to her after the incident. Enrolled in an in-patient rehabilitation program at the Arkham Center for Independence, Babs finds her anger and withdrawal lessening after she makes a group of new friends, who share stories of change and play card games and wheelchair basketball. When one, a girl named Jena, suddenly goes missing, Babs suspects foul play and immerses herself in investigating the unsettling mysteries of Arkham, utilizing her skills as a hacker and the help of allies inside and outside the center. This sharp-edged mystery nods to the Batman universe while centering Barbara, grounding her story, and granting her agency. Preitano excels at depicting emotion, particularly anger, through faces and body language to portray an intent young woman learning to move forward from trauma. Nijkamp repeatedly explores the idea that people with disabilities needn’t be “fixed,” along the way considering how stories can be used to reveal hard-to-communicate truths. Ages 13–up. (Mar.)