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Convergence: Nightwing and Oracle #2 Review


NO_2-coverWhere we left off: Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon are in a changed (but not really changed) Gotham under the Dome. By night, they continue their work as Nightwing and Oracle, and by day they are Dick and Babs, two people in love. Dick proposes to Babs and she says no, but there is not much time to contemplate why when the Dome drops and Hawkman and Hawkwoman from El Inferno come with a legion of Thanagarians to take over Gotham City. The Thanagarians will forfeit the intra-universe-contrived fight if Gotham City submits to their rule. Dick says ‘No way, Jose,’ but Babs realizes/pretends she can’t fight them. Dick goes off to the cave to find an arsenal and prepare for battle while Babs secretly begins fighting in another way.

 

And now…

 

NO_2-cloakedfigureThe Story: Babs brings the reader up to speed on the threats surrounding Gotham City, including the Absorbacons (a small army of flying, Thanagarian spy cameras that see and hear everything – think Brother Eye – that double as nuclear cannons), powerful drones created by Brainiac but used by Telos, and Hawkman and Hawkwoman, who plan on taking over Gotham City as a city of refuge.

 

As the Thanagarians wait for Nightwing to arrive to battle, they are surprised to find him flying the Batwing towards them and even more surprised to see him use it as a kamikaze plane. The explosion knocks the Thanagarians down but they are not out, as Nightwing, who was not actually in the Batwing, comes zooming towards them in the Rocketwing, a shielded motorcycle and a gift from Bruce. Nighwing ejects from the cockpit and goes to fight the Thanagarian couple.

 

Meanwhile, at the Clocktower, Oracle is speaking to a cloaked figure, explaining that she put a mic and camera on Nightwing in order to monitor the situation. She knows the Thanagarians (or the Absorbacons – it’s ambiguous) are distracted, but they are still listening, and this cloaked figure needs to only speak when it is time. Oracle leaves in a Bat-copter.

 

NO_2-helicrashHawkwoman and Nightwing tussle, as she tells him how she read up on him and calls him a ‘tumbler’ (not to be confused with the website). Nightwing gets a piece of Hawkwoman, then Hawkman gets a piece of Nightwing.

 

Suddenly, outside the Clocktower, the cloaked figure disrobes and it is revealed to be Black Canary. Oracle has hooked a mic directly to the surveillance bots and Canary lets loose with her Canary Cry which damages some public property and nearly incapacitates the Hawkpeople since their helmets are connected to the Absorbacons’ network.

 

Knowing now that Oracle didn’t really back out of the fight, Nightwing goes to work to take out Hawkman, while Hawkwoman comes for Oracle. She sends the Bat-Copter careening to the ground, but Babs pulls herself from the wreckage to the conveniently located wheelchair, and readies her escrima sticks. She taunts Hawkwoman that she has not earned victory and is merely picking up leftovers. While Oracle is just using this as a delaying tactic until her final piece is in place, she does find herself in fisticuffs but is somehow able to take Hawkwoman’s mace. Nightwing appears carrying a defeated Hawkman, and Hawkwoman arms the Absorbacons to destroy Gotham. Hawkwoman touts that the Absorbacons are uncrackable (knowing how good Oracle is with systems), but luckily for Oracle (and the citizens of Gotham City) the alien drones are not. Oracle’s system kicks in and the drones begin destroying the Absorbacons. With Hawkwoman defeated, Babs offers an olive branch, allowing the Thanagarians to live in Gotham and preserve their culture. But if they think about trying something like this again, they’ll feel some pain!

 

NO_2-absorbaconsWith Dick and Babs reunited, Babs resigns herself to this world because it will be them together, and them making the best of the cards they were dealt. She asks him to ask that particular question one more time, with the feeling that she will say ‘yes,’ this time. We see Babs and Dick tie the knot with some other DC characters attending, and as they come home to the Clocktower, Babs realizes that no matter the situation, love will conquer fear.

 

Thoughts: The disappointing aspect of Convergence as a whole is, while the ‘Convergence’ title itself is several issues long, each of the satellite titles are only allowed two. Sometimes two is all you need (sometimes one is all you need), but sometimes two can feel like the story was rushed. After all, if issue one is all rising action and climax, then issue two is mostly falling action and conclusion. For this particular story, I am of two minds: one, it could have been a single issue given the outcome of the battle (but more on that later), or two, there could have been a third issue, where more of Babs’ plan is laid out and perhaps some part of it fails in part two. In any case, this two-part story does do a sufficient job to finish the story and bring an overall satisfying ending to the Dick/Babs relationship (pre-Flashpoint).

 

NO_2-canarycryStory elements that were introduced in the first issue, happily, were carried through here, and almost made a focal point. While the Thanagarians were the major threat, the Absorbacons were equally dangerous. Unbeknownst to Nightwing, while he was dealing with one threat, Oracle realized that was only part of the problem and dealt with the Absorbacons in the only way she knew how: with computers. I enjoyed seeing the Thanagarians do their legwork and find out about Babs (and Dick) before coming to Gotham City, and therefore beef up the security of the Absorbacons. One does wonder, however, how the Thanagarians are able to keep Oracle out, but drones created by Brainiac (practically a living computer) were hackable. I also question Dinah’s role in this particular part of the plan. Was she just waiting at the Clocktower watching the download status bar fill, or was she actually helping to break into the drone controls?

 

NO_2-bg40Black Canary’s appearance in this issue was a pleasant surprise. Her relationship with Barbara has always been one of my favorites, and I was happy to see that Babs does ask for help, despite not being forthright with Dick and his plan. It was also a nice role reversal, as Black Canary needed to remain at the Clocktower while Oracle went out and was on the ground (in pre-Flashpoint, Canary was the mission leader for the Birds of Prey while Oracle remained in the Clocktower, adding technical support to the team). When Canary let loose her Canary cry, I did wonder how Babs was able to attach a mic to an Absorbacon in order to magnify the cry. While the whole plan was a brilliant play, it did seem only slightly hollow since we had just recently seen this exact thing happen in the pages of Batgirl #40 with Dinah and the Hooq drones.

 

It’s amazing to think that Oracle had this plan ready from the word ‘submit,’ but completely believable given the character. I still have reservations about her hiding her plan (and the fact that she was fighting at all) from Dick. What purpose did that serve? Did she think he would tell her no? Did she think he wouldn’t be able to pull off his part if he knew she could be in danger? At this time, after all these years, these two are a well-oiled machine and should be able to pull off anything no matter the stakes. Babs being deceptive creates inner and outer conflict where there should have been none. Why add one other unnecessary thing to an already dangerous situation? There was also no fallout from this lie. The ending is a short discussion on perfection, a proposal in subtext, and a marriage. Shouldn’t Dick and Babs have had a discussion on her methods and her deception?

 

NO_2-dickwinsI also feel like this issue makes the first issue a liar. If you recall, Nightwing was pretty easily taken out by Hawkman in the first part, and Babs, while perhaps a lie, protested to Dick that she could not fight Hawkwoman. I love the fighting in this issue, and I think that it all played out well, but looking back, it doesn’t really make sense why Dick and Babs couldn’t have physically taken the Thanagarians out right away. Wouldn’t that have saved Gotham some anxiety? But as that is not what happens, I will continue to say that the way each of our characters fight is unique to them, and I was happy to see it all play out. Dick shows a little bit of Bruce in him with the feint of the Batwing, and his ‘tumbler’ nature is both highlighted and underestimated by the Hawkpeople. Babs is also underestimated, and while I do question how she was able to survive the Bat-copter crash, drag herself from the wreckage, and find her wheelchair unscathed, I’m glad she brought her escrima sticks along. It was great to see Babs dole out some of that Oracle justice that we have not seen in a long time.

 

If you break down this issue, it really comes to two parts: the fight and the aftermath. The aftermath itself, while only the last third or quarter of the book, is equally important as the lead up. As Dick and Babs are champions, we can assume Gotham City is saved (for the time being), but is it wise to offer the Thanagarians a place in the city? Sure, it is a nice and hospitable thing for Babs to offer, but she herself said that these are not like the Hawkman and Hawkwoman she’s knows, rather they ‘seem more like conquerors.’ Despite their defeat, do they really seem like the type of people who are going to let this slide and not try to rule once more? What good is a verbal warning going to do? I think welcoming these people is a dangerous idea, but other than exiling them from Gotham, I do not really have a solution.

 

NO_2-underestimated   NO_2-welcome

 

 

In the previous issue, we saw how Gotham had changed, both physically and psychologically. We saw that people, like caged animals, were growing restless and having trouble living in this enclosed environment. Dick seemed like he was adjusting just fine, but Babs was one of those people. This was the main reason for the initial proposal rejection, and perhaps her actions with the Thanagarians at the outset. So much attention was paid to this state of mind that another character was brought in to echo Babs’ emotions (Freeze). Why, then, are we given only one page to resolve this? Dick says that the underlying issue is that Babs lives ‘for perfection…[and] whatever this world is, perfect it most definitely is not.’ Babs acknowledges this, resigns herself to the situation, and they move on. Huh? Barbara’s desire for perfection is not the issue that was laid out previously. If that were true, she would be struggling BIG TIME because nothing in pre-Dome, post-Dome, whatever, is perfect. Her issue was that she was living in a place where she had limited control, there were too many unknowns surrounding the situation, and she felt almost claustrophobic in the confines of Gotham City. That is not even addressed here. Instead she just applauds Dick for knowing her mind, and resolves to be okay with the situation. That is about the only thing that makes sense here, because finding a way to live with the hand she has been dealt is something that is a trait of the character. Think of all the times she has been pulled down, only to work through and overcome it (losing her Congressional seat, her fight with the Cormorant, losing the use of her legs, etc.). I wish we could have seen more of a discussion or challenge in the relationship here, because I think this only scrapes the surface.

 

Also in this conversation, we get a complete change of heart in Babs, who is now ready to accept Dick’s proposal. Don’t get me wrong, I love that there is a happy ending in it for these two, but what made her change her mind? Nothing has changed from when she said no. Dick was never in life-threatening danger that she would realize nothing is more important than their love. The Dome, which seemed to be her main problem, is still up. So why? The outcome is great, but the lead-up is weak, which makes it seem like the whole purpose was to wrap it up nicely so that these two are together in the end. Wouldn’t it be better if it made sense and flowed organically?

 

Dick and Babs are my OTP (One True Pair) in shipping fandom, and I certainly was not disappointed with how they ended up, but there were some hiccups in the story that could have unnecessarily created some problems for them. Simone comes through with an interesting story that showcases the strengths of both of these characters, and leaves fans satisfied with a sweet ending that we may never see in the post-Flashpoint (cough New 52 cough) Universe. Overall, I enjoyed this story more so than the first because it was more streamlined, had less superfluous elements, and had the classic ‘Birds of Prey’ or ‘Nightwing’ feel to it. Nevertheless, there were some story elements that did not quite add up, and probably needed to be retooled.

 

 NO_2-aftermath1  NO_2-aftermath2

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