Nijkamp, Marieke. Art by Manuel Preitano. The Oracle Code. DC Comics, 2020. 208p. ISBN: 978-1-4012-9066-5. $16.99. MS HS ****
The Oracle Code, a graphic novel, follows Barbara Gordon, a hacker of Gotham City, as she learns to cope with the aftermath of a traumatic incident that leaves her requiring a wheelchair for mobility. She is sent to Arkham Center for Independence for rehabilitation by her father. Barbara feels isolated by her family and best friend as she tries to come to terms with her new situation. Several of the residents try to make friends with her, especially a young girl, Jena, who walks the halls at night. After Jena goes missing without record of transfer and few seem to notice, Barbara takes on the puzzle. Is Jena a ghost or a missing person?
The story text is done well, with great understanding by Nijkamp to portray Barbara’s anxiety, isolation, and trauma as a person new to utilizing a wheelchair. Preitano’s illustrations are vivid, changing between styles when a ghost story is being told versus live events. Overall, I feel some of the characters were a little underdeveloped and that how Barbara thinks about coding and hacking to solve problems was underutilized. This story is not an origin story. The why and how Barbara came to require a wheelchair is not explained in detail, but it is a good middle grade to early teen read that would appeal to those wanting solo side character Gotham City stories.
-Jessica Lundin, San Jose Public Library