In Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle, Gail Simone is writing the Oracle story she says "was waiting to be told."
In 2011, DC suddenly eliminated the Oracle mantle worn for two decades by Barbara Gordon, giving the character the use of her legs again after she'd found a way to be a central DC hero despite being confined to a wheelchair. The negative reaction from Oracle's fans at the time was passionate — while some were glad she could return to the Batgirl costume she wore in her youth, others were sorry to see a disabled hero eliminated from the DCU — as well as the encouraging story of her recovery and triumph.
Yet it was encouraging, at the time, that one of Oracle's most fan-favorite writers, Gail Simone, was also the one relaunching her story as Batgirl.
Now that Oracle is returning during DC's mega-event Convergence, DC is turning to Simone once again to write her story. Uniting with artist Jan Duursema to tell the story of one of Convergence's "domed" cities, Simone is getting to put Barbara Gordon in close proximity to former beau Dick Grayson — and let the sparks fly.
In a series of interviews with Convergence creators, Newsarama talked to Simone and asked about the return of Oracle to the DCU. What does this mean for Oracle fans? And does Simone think there should be an Oracle in the DCU? Newsarama asked.
Newsarama: Gail, what's it like for you to revisit Oracle after she's been away for awhile?
Gail Simone: That's a big question.
It was emotional. I haven't written Barbara as Oracle for a number of years and I didn't know it would hit so hard. I really loved her in that role, every issue was just a pleasure to write because Oracle was in it. So, bittersweet, I guess, but ultimately very rewarding.
I love Barbara in all her guises, I think of Batgirl as Barbara who hasn't yet become Oracle. Writing her in the tower again, it's a lovely thing.
Nrama: Was this a story you were wanting to tell?
Simone: It's a funny thing, Dan DiDio asked me personally if I would do this, and I was just silent on the other end of the phone for so long he thought he got disconnected, but it was just that the story was laying itself out for me as we sat there. I think it was waiting to be told.
Nrama: What's the status of Oracle as we pick up her story?
Simone: They're under a dome, and they don't really know what's outside, or why. Resources are dwindling a little bit in Gotham, but Oracle is watching over everyone, and Nightwing works with her. She's doing what Barbara Gordon was meant to do, make the world better.
Nrama: What's Dick Grayson like in this story?
Simone: Antsy. Dick's all about freedom, he's all about the open sky. And here he is in a fishbowl, and he does not like that one bit.
?Also, it's Nightwing, drawn by Jan Duursema, one of the all-time greats and an artist I have been DYING to work with. You can't go wrong.
Nrama: What's the main threat, and why did you pick those characters in particular to meet Dick and Barbara?
Simone: They go up against a couple alternate world Hawks. And are called out specifically.
Nrama: With only two issues to tell the story, I suppose we'll have to read it to see what's next. Let's talk about the idea behind Convergence. What do you think of it? We've talked before about how you approach crossover events.
Simone: I have been involved in lots of crossover and event books, and the truth is, I dearly love them. I love stories that actually take advantage of the huge DC library and catalog — that stuff thrills me.
But some core ideas are definitely better than others, and this was one of my favorites...a bunch of isolated cities in bottles, from all different periods of DC history. That was hugely exciting for me. I started ruminating about what that could mean.
?Good ideas are common, ideas that ignite are much more rare. I like this a lot.
Nrama: Now that DC seems to be opening the door for her to exist in the Multiverse, do you think there's a future for Oracle somewhere in comics? Or do you hope?
Simone: I am desperate for the DCU to have an Oracle. If it can't be Barbara, okay, have it be someone else cool. But we need characters who think about the modern world, and function that way.
There are a lot of different kinds of power, and Oracle represents probably the best representation of that in superhero comics’ history.
Nrama: Looking back at the decision to make Barbara Batgirl in the New 52, do you still feel like that was the right decision?
Simone: I actually really like the idea of telling stories of the icons at various points in their timelines. I am proud of what we did with Batgirl; I know it meant a lot to a lot of people, but yeah, we lost a lot, too. This is a nice way to revisit Oracle, she is sorely missed.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle?
Simone: I am working with the great Jan Duursema on art, she doesn't do that many superhero books, and I'm just a huge fan. She kept sending in these unbelievable sexy pages, and would say, "Is this OK?" and we're all saying yes, that is very much OK.
Huge thanks to Marie Javins, one of the best and most creative editors I've ever worked with. She's my hero.
It's a fun, scary, sexy thriller set against one of the biggest shared universes ever created.
And it's also a story about a boy and a girl and how they try to be something in a dangerous time.
?I had a blast, hope the readers will, too.