Birds of Prey: Batgirl / Catwoman & Catwoman / Oracle

Distributed By: DC Comics

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


           Batgirl / Catwoman and Catwoman / Oracle are parts one and two in a miniseries off-shoot of Birds of Prey.  In part one, Batgirl / Catwoman, the reader is introduced to a very young Batgirl.  Rife with self-doubt and fearing rejection from those she holds in high-esteem, Barbara Gordon is terrified of failure.  Uncertain whether she should reveal her secret identity to her father or how to proceed should she decide to tell him, Barbara throws herself into the investigation of the murder of Elizabeth McCay, a woman whose decaying body Batgirl accidentally stumbled on while apprehending a criminal. 

            Her investigation leads her to The Ninth Circle, a particularly seedy night club found in the Arcadian District.  It is here that she runs into an old high school acquaintance named Valerie Lewton, who disappeared in her junior year.  Valerie had run away from a tragic home life then and didn’t seem to be doing much better now.  Their conversation is brief as Valerie is approached by a Gothic Bella Legosi type.  Barbara returns to her investigation of the woman murdered by electrocution.  She soon turns up a witness who tells her that on the night of her disappearance, Elizabeth McCay left the club with a creep known to the club-goers as the Vampire – the same individual that Valerie just left with!

            Meanwhile, Selina Kyle is searching for a new mark.  She finds one in Ryder Burnham, a philanthropist confined to a wheelchair after a tragic accident left him without the use of his legs.  Careful investigation has revealed that Ryder Burnham’s family has a dirty secret.  Ryder Burnham, Sr. was not as clean cut as his son.  A former bootlegger, Burnham, Sr. used his illegally-gotten loot to invest in art stolen from European museums and private collections during World Wars I and II.  Despite his charitable façade, Ryder, Jr. has never made an attempt to return the stolen art or share it with the world.  This is what makes Ryder Burnham such an excellent mark.  The art is stolen and he knows it, so he can’t exactly report it missing once Catwoman relieves him of it.

            Catwoman’s plans are interrupted when a terrified Valerie Lewton runs screaming from Ryder’s bedroom.  Catwoman is shocked to note that Ryder is following Lewton…on foot!  Though she feels pity for the girl, there is a score to be made and Catwoman resolves to ignore the situation until Ryder grabs the girl, sending electric volts coursing excruciatingly throughout her body.  Selina Kyle’s human side gets the best of her and she rescues Valerie.

            Batgirl and Catwoman cross paths when Catwoman arrives at Valerie Lewton’s apartment to retrieve her wallet so the girl can safely leave town.  The Vampire is waiting and Batgirl and Catwoman join forces to defeat him.  Realizing that Ryder Burnham must be brought to justice - and contemplating another, more personal agenda – Catwoman suggests an alliance.  Although Batgirl is skeptical, she goes along with the idea and the two join forces to take down the murderer.

             Catwoman / Oracle picks up the story years later.  After the Joker's bullet robbed her of the use of her legs, Barbara Gordon was forced to give up the identity of Batgirl in favor of another.  As Oracle, Barbara continues to fight crime, only this time she does if from behind the scenes, using her vast knowledge of the cyber realm to apprehend criminals.  Her current interest is a string of crimes reportedly committed by a woman in a cat suit.  Realizing that the crimes were uncharacteristically violent for Catwoman, Oracle does a bit of investigating and discovers that each of the crimes has one thing in common – every person / place targeted has some kind of link to Ryder Burnham. 

            Oracle does some spying on Catwoman and discovers that she is being stalked by another woman in a cat suit with vengeance on her mind.  Oracle offers her aid in assisting Catwoman fend off and defeat this mysterious threat with one catch – Catwoman must turn over the artwork she stole from Ryder Burnham’s estate years before.  Once again, the two women reluctantly join forces against a common foe. 

            This off-shoot Birds of Prey miniseries is an intriguing tale.  Writer John Francis Moore offers the reader some insight into both Batgirl and Catwoman by allowing the reader a peek at their inner thoughts.  Birds of Prey fans will enjoy this look into Oracle’s past.  In the end, readers will be surprised to discover that Barbara Gordon has actually learned something from her encounters with Catwoman, ending the story on a positive note.  Although the artwork can be a tad cartoonish at times, the writing is captivating enough that the reader chooses instead to focus on the storyline rather than the quality of the art.  Selling for $5.95 apiece on the stands, this is one mini-series worth checking out. 



For more about Birds of Prey, check out these links:

Birds of Prey
Black Canary / Oracle: Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies
Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds
Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student
Birds of Prey: Batgirl / Catwoman & Catwoman / Oracle
Birds of Prey: Between Dark & Dawn


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