WARNING: This Article Contains Spoilers for Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey #19
"From now on... Oracle is dead." This stunning declaration came at the conclusion of the latest issue of Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey, after an enraged Barbara Gordon smashed her computer's hard drive with a sledge hammer following the death of the Birds Of Prey's ally, Gus - a.k.a. the second Oracle.
One of the new series to spin out of DC Comics' Rebirth, Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey centers upon three heroines - grad-student computer hacker Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl), punk rock star vigilante Dinah Lance (a.k.a. Black Canary) and former spy turned scourge of the Mafia Helena Bertinelli (a.k.a. Huntress). The series' opening arc saw the three superheroes joining forces as they stumbled across each other while investigating a mysterious hacker helping the underworld of Gotham City while using the alias Oracle. This was a personal concern of Barbara Gordon, who used the alias Oracle as a white-hat hacker to fight crime during the time she was paralyzed before reassuming her identity as Batgirl.
The trail led to a well-meaning hacker named Gus, who had decided to appropriate the Oracle name and use it to set a trap after winning the trust of Gotham's villains. Though The Birds disapproved of his methods, Barbara decided that Gus' heart was in the right place and agreed to let him continue to help the team under strict supervision. Unfortunately, Gus' activities attracted the attention of The Calculator - a criminal mastermind who acted as a middle-man for various super-criminals, offering them information and assistance for a price. Thankfully, The Calculator approached Gus not with a threat but a request for assistance in saving his family from a corrupt company he had helped rob. That encounter left The Birds of Prey with a backdoor into The Calculator's computer systems, which Barbara Gordon decided to take advantage of at the start of Batgirl And The Birds of Prey #19.
Snagging information on Calculator's clients and busting them before they could commit the crimes they were planning, The Birds had a briefly successful run of crime-fighting before The Calculator figures out that something is up and sends a robotic assassin called Burnrate after The Birds. When they prove able to defend themselves, Burnrate goes after a helpless Gus to beat Oracle's real identity out of him. Staying true to his reformed ways, Gus keeps his mouth shut, though the wounds he sustains at Burnrate's hands lead to his death.
It will be interesting to see how (and if) The Birds of Prey can hold themselves together in the wake of this issue. Black Canary and Huntress were incredibly upset by Batgirl's actions even before they directly led to Gus' death. It will also be interesting to see how long Barbara Gordon lets Oracle remain "dead." Ignoring how short-lived this kind of revelation in comics usually is, it is important to note that Batgirl And The Birds of Prey #19 is only the first part of a storyline titled "Full Circle" so anything could happen in the coming issues to change the status quo yet again. The only certainty in all of this is that Batgirl And The Birds of Prey #20 will be one hell of a read.