A MOUNTAIN HIGH, A RIVER DEEP
Most comic fans are familiar with the popular and rightly-acclaimed DC series, BIRDS OF PREY, featuring Oracle and Black Canary. What fans may not be aware of is the fact that the series was first proposed several years earlier. Here’s a sample of the original series-note how fundamentally similar it is to the current series, including its focus on cutting-edge technology.
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An angry mid-summer wind sweeps through Gotham, strong enough to float the detritus of the city’s day through its alleys and streets. Batman or no Batman, the wise and the righteous stay off those same streets at night–still, an attractive blonde woman wearing what looks like a leather swimsuit runs breathlessly from her pursuers. Her legs are exposed to the wind, but the chill she feels comes from within.
BLACK CANARY: Oracle! Come in! Come in, Oracle! I need some assistance, STAT!
ORACLE: I’m here, Dinah. What’s the situation, and where’s your location?
BLACK CANARY: The situation is WITHOUT A PADDLE and the location is UP THE CREEK. I need some BACK-UP, or something, and fast! I’ve got four big guys after me, all carrying Kalishnikov rifles. Oracle, I think…Oh, God, I think they’re Spetnaz Special Forces!
ORACLE: Oh, my Lord. Dinah, you’ve got to get OUT OF THERE!
BLACK CANARY: I KNOW! I KNOW! You think I don’t KNOW that?
ORACLE: At least your earpiece is functioning, so we can stay in contact…
BLACK CANARY: I don’t get how you can call an Army Surplus Mobile Command Phone and Receiver an “earpiece.”
ORACLE: Hey, hey, that little unit played a crucial role in Korea…
BLACK CANARY: It weighs almost sixty pounds, and I have to keep turning this stupid crank to keep it charged!
ORACLE: Hey, if you don’t like it, then you can go back to calling me from phone booths all the time. I swear, it’s like I get no appreciation….Dinah? Dinah?
BLACK CANARY: Sorry! I accidentally stepped out of the 300 yard transmitting radius, I think. So, where do I go? These guys don’t look too happy I stole their microfiche…if you don’t find me an escape route, I’m hosed!
ORACLE: What about using that Sonic Screamer I built you?
BLACK CANARY: What, the whistle you taped to a bullhorn? Thanks, but I don’t THINK so.
ORACLE: Okay, okay, hang on now. I’ve got the city sewer schematics right here on my Sinclair ZX-80….yeah, yeah, this’ll take a while. Darn monochromatic display!
BLACK CANARY: Oracle! I don’t have TIME for that! I need some answers-NOW would be nice. I’m at Main and 152nd, in the alley. Left or right? Which way gets me someplace safe? I could take a COUPLE of these guys, but there’s no way I can take all four!
ORACLE: I have to re-type the program each time. Quit yelling! You’re making me nervous! The keyboard is really SMALL!
BLACK CANARY: ORACLE!
ORACLE: Dammit! I jostled it. The little cord fell out. Now I have to start OVER! DAMMIT!
BLACK CANARY: There’s no TIME! Look, can’t you get on one of those supercomputers you’re always talking about and call some help?
ORACLE: Heh. Dinah, seriously…we have GOT to get you into some computer classes at the community college or something. Heh. You’ve got to learn SOMETIME.
BLACK CANARY: Oh, God…I hear them. They’re right around the corner.
ORACLE: I’m ON it, Dinah. I’m moving over to my Texas Instruments 994/A. This bad boy’s got high speed Datacassette technology, AND almost 12 K for code, in BASIC! AND…wait til you hear THIS!
BLACK CANARY: What?
ORACLE: I programmed it to SAY that! Man, that’s just SO COOL! HA! Listen to THIS:
BLACK CANARY: Well, can you program it to tell me the way OUT of this thing?
ORACLE: Not really. To save memory, the keyboard doesn’t even have a “Q.” I mainly use it to play Adventure, or Burger Time. I once programmed in this little thing that can tell you what day of the week you were born on. It took four hours.
BLACK CANARY: Man, computers suck. I thought you could DO things with them, you know, like find information and learn military secrets…
ORACLE: Mine came with Hangman. Quick, pick a letter!
BLACK CANARY: No, I’m not playing hangman with you right this minute.
ORACLE: I have a Coleco Adam, too. When you turn it on, it automatically goes into word processor mode. It’s really loud, though. Plus, you can play Coleco games on it. It’s a powerhouse, and so versatile! Do you think if I typed you a letter, it would help in some way?
BLACK CANARY: No, Oracle…Come ON! I need HELP, here!
ORACLE: How about if I balanced your checkbook?
BLACK CANARY: No!
ORACLE: Sorted your recipes alphabetically?
BLACK CANARY: Shhhh…! The Russians’ve moved on, but they left one to check this alley…he’s coming right AT me!
BLACK CANARY: Okay, it’s okay…I hit him with my ‘earpiece.’ I’m pretty sure I fractured his skull. I think the rest have moved on, at least for the moment.
ORACLE: Okay, I’m going to arrange some transport for you. I’m going to use my brand new COMMADORE 64. This cutie-pie has it ALL. 64 K of RAM, floppy diskette data drive, and best of all, I’ve tricked it out with a 300 bps MODEM!
BLACK CANARY: Never mind all that geek-speak! Can you call someone up with that thing and get me some transport?
ORACLE: You bet I could! Well, if I wasn’t downloading a picture of Nightwing from my local bulletin board. It’s been loading for three days!
BLACK CANARY: Is it that picture of Nightwing that shows what a nice butt he has?
ORACLE: Yeah, he’s really showing off his butt.
BLACK CANARY: Being a WOMAN, I enjoy talking about guys’ butts.
ORACLE: I ALSO enjoy discussing guys’ butts! You will have previously noted, of course, that I am ALSO female!
BLACK CANARY: Another female thing I enjoy talking about and ALSO doing, is eating ice cream!
ORACLE: Oh, yes! CHOCOLATE ice cream!
BLACK CANARY: Yeah! Chocolate ice cream! The only thing better than guys’ butts!
ORACLE: I enjoy getting my hair done, as well! Then, when I come home, I eat ice cream!
BLACK CANARY: CHOCOLATE ice cream!
BLACK CANARY: Oh, yes! And new shoes are ALSO something I enjoy! I like to purchase MANY new shoes! Hahaha!
ORACLE: Hahhaha! I feel a real moment of sisterhood with you right now!
BLACK CANARY: Hahahaha! We’re such WOMEN, aren’t we? So strong, yet so emotional?
ORACLE: We really ARE women, as we have just pointed out.
BLACK CANARY: Yes. This is a nice moment, like we always have, isn’t it?
ORACLE: Yes. I truly feel that it makes us better partners to discuss our femaleness. We women are so much more in tune with our estrogen-charged bodies, don’t you think?
BLACK CANARY: Yes, but guys have cute butts!
ORACLE: Amen to THAT, sister!
BLACK CANARY: Right about now is generally when someone shoots at me, right? Right after our obligatory cute moment?
ORACLE: Yes, I’d duck if I were you.
BLACK CANARY: I’m being fired at! The other three Russians are back!
ORACLE: Okay, SCREW Nightwing’s butt! This is MORE IMPORTANT! I’m logging on to my local BBS and getting you some help!
BLACK CANARY: Try to get Superman!
ORACLE: I’ll do what I can, Dinah. Just try to hang on!
ORACLE (speaking her words aloud as she types…): D&D DOOD, this is ROLLING THUNDER. I have a RED ALERT. Orcs are everywhere and a maiden needs rescuing. Can you borrow your mom’s car? Repeat, can you BORROW your MOM’S CAR?