Or – “A.V. Skills That Even Neil Goldman Would Envy…”


Barbara Gordon. Sooooper-geeeenius. Multiple degrees in everything, photographic memory, smart enough to give even the mighty Batman a run for his money. Used to dress up as a bat (albeit a super sexy spandexy go-go-boot-wearing bat) in an attempt to fight crime. Noah Cuttler. Evil sooooper-geeeenius. No degrees that we know of, a wicked case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, with a criminal mind sharp enough to vex nearly the entire Justice League. Used to wear a calculator on his chest (and make boxing gloves out of dust particles to punch people) in an attempt to prove that no crime-fighter could stop him. Two sides. One coin. Their usual M.O. is to combat one another remotely via servers and firewalls, but they’re about to get up close and personal…

BP1.jpgPreviously, on Birds of Prey: Barbara Gordon has had a tough year. Her best friend and longtime partner Black Canary left the BoP operation, leaving her to rebuild with a new tactic: rotating agents in and out as necessity occurs. A mission in Russia collect stolen Rocket Red technology went wrong, turning first into a rescue (of former Justice League Tora [Ice] Olafsdotter) and then to a complete clusterschmozz involving the Russian Mafiya, black magic, the bloodline of Rasputin and the Secret Six. Upon returning, Oracle was on the fringes of the whole ‘Death of the New Gods’ yadda yadda, and the Huntress stopped a plot to blow up/poison half of Metropolis, masterminded by the imprisoned Atomic Skull. This issue starts in an unusual manner, with The Calculator strangling a bow-tied techno-nerd to death with a mouse cord. “I usually prefer… *nff*… wireless peripherals. But sometimes… *nff*… it’s best to go old-school.” Why kill a poor, defenseless techie? Why, for the uniform, of course. The uniform, and a rather grisly accessory…


“…and retrieve a certain data file in that building that I cannot access remotely and that I simply MUST have.” Calculator is up to no good, driven by his OCD, going to any and all lengths to find out the true identity of a certain computer legend, the mysterious ghost in the machine, and coincidentally the stunning and brilliant redhead whose book we’re reading.


Taking his place at the conference, a sly move by Calculator keeps the woman from registering that he’s scanning a SEVERED thumb rather than his own (he asks if the t-shirts are all cotton, and she checks, telling him he’s in luck.) “Luck has nothing to do with it when you’re always the smartest guy in the room.” Head firmly up his own ass, Cal doesn’t even notice when he bumps into ANOTHER convention-goer, and unbeknownst to him, another undercover spy…


Calculator uses the throngs of convention-goers to sneak away and enter the halls of “Macroware” (wonder who THAT could be parodying) while Oracle takes the tour. A sudden beep on her cell brings the voice of Misfit, her teenage ward, and Babs explains that she’s on a mission. “How come you’re at Macroware? You don’t use their junk, do you?” asks Misfit as she plays video games on the big monitor (been there…) and Barbara tells the story of her exit from the City of Da Big Bad Bat. “My original hideout was in the Gotham Clock Tower. I worked great until Black Mask found me. He made a live broadcast, holding me hostage. Batman promptly showed up to beat the snot out of him…”


Noah the Calculator sneaks through the private offices, trying to find the system he needs to get the information that might lead him to his imaginary nemesis. Not only does he have data-miners across the Intarwebs, he has a schmuck named Hellhound beating people up. “I was amused when Fred Cross denied he’s found a lead on Oracle’s identity. He was trying to protect the phantom of the Internet.” Walking right into the on-site cubicle farm (looks mighty familiar, too) Cal starts digging in the mainframe. Is their security that bad? I can’t get into my CALL CENTER without two passing a security station and badging through two checkpoints.


Calculator decides not to kill her (probably due to her general level of attractiveness, to be honest) and sidetracks for lunch. He introduces himself as “Simon” and she lies that her name is “Sylvia.” It’s like every bad first date I’ve ever had… He asks what the odds were of the two of them cute-meeting twice, and she replies that it’s about 34,000 to one. “Good lord,” replies the Calculator. “That’s… accurate.” “Within a two-percent margin of error, anyhow,” smiles Oracle, and I love her just a little bit more at this moment. Calculator explains that he figured out a proof for the Riemann Hypothesis when he was twelve, and she asks why he wouldn’t submit it. “What’s the point? I know it’s correct.” They continue to bond, and it looks like little Noah may be a bit smitten.


“Worst that might happen is I might get hit on by a roomful of nerds.” Ouch. Oracle and Calculator sneak back onto the floor, and both hack into Fred Cross’s account, only to find the other already there. Barbara suddenly gets an IM that reads “Fee-fie-foe-Fred. There’s a rat near my cheese, and I want it DEAD.” Rapid keypunching ensues, and once again, it’s difficult to make two people at two keyboards seem exciting. When she asks who he is, the Calculator on her keyboard pops into life (mighty clever of Noah, actually) and Oracle is faced with some of her own code gone wrong. The worm she fed into Cal’s system months ago has been warped to his evil ends…


“Simon” gets up, pulling a gun and calling for backup, before finding “Sylvia’s” wheelchair at one of the stations. He takes aim and fires, thinking “I knew you were too good to be true, Sylvia.” All he ends up ventilating is a stuffed lion that someone has on their desk (and don’t get me started about cubicle decorating) while Oracle shows that her head for numbers also extends to tactics…


Oracle is suddenly whipped back and thrown by Hellhound (I hate Hellhound) who remarks “That is one mean cripple.” Mmm. I don’t like that. The one time somebody used the word cripple during Gail’s run, they get shot for their trouble… Even more disturbing, when the listening Huntress asks Misfit to teleport her there, Misfit replies “My power doesn’t work that way.” It doesn’t? The power that let you teleport to RUSSIA with no reference point doesn’t allow you to get into an office block in Seattle? Really? Hellhound boasts that he killed Fred, and says that Oracle MUST be a guy, ’cause all he hires are hot chicks. Barbara responds by throwing her baton with pinpoint accuracy, cracking him across the jaw. Calculator stops him from killing her, the better to torture her and get to Oracle, when the slightly geeky cavalry arrives…


Heh. Oracle returns home, having covered her tracks, and finds that MISFIT saved the day, by texting all the people on the convention list. What, you didn’t think Oracle would go into the field without KNOWING who all was going to be there, did you? Misfit figured that techies would do anything to save Oracle, remarking “You’d do the same for Bigfoot, or Elvis.” In Gotham City, Calculator nurses his broken leg and obsesses even more about who his nemesis could be before crazying “Who is Oracle? They ALL are.” Psyyyyy-chooooooo!

This issue was pretty well-done, but for some reason I keep finding that Tony Bedard doesn’t share Gail Simone’s light touch for deft characterization, having to use slightly more obvious plot devices (like the “powers don’t work that way” line) to get his players to strut and fret upon his particular stage. There’s nothing inherently WRONG with that approach, I’m even liking it on Legion of Super-Heroes right now, but I expect Barbara Gordon to be… I don’t know… More subtle? Still, it’s a solid 3 out of 5 star effort, a good book that only suffers in comparison to other really good books…


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

FUNimation and Bigger Pictures Team to Pipe Anime Directly to Theaters

Next post

Witchblade Anime Volume 1 at Number 1


  1. Dr. Strange Cubicle
    October 23, 2007 at 11:38 am — Reply

    I think the “Powers don’t work that way” was referring to the fact that Misfit can only teleport herself and not other living things. Although that still doesn’t really make sense, as Huntress should know that already.

    Still, a fun little issue with a few good laughs.

  2. Thatguy
    October 23, 2007 at 1:05 pm — Reply

    Dunno why writers bother to bring teleporters into espionage titles when the escape is supposed to be as interesting as the break-in.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section