With one issue remaining in his monster mash, "Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves," DC Comics has tagged acclaimed horror author and filmmaker Kevin VanHook ("Frost: Portrait of a Vampire," "The Fallen Ones") to pen the Battle for the Cowl" tie-in miniseries, "Oracle."
The three-issue series launches March 18 with art by Don Kramer and Jay Leisten and covers by Guillem March.
As a long-time fan of Batman, VanHook told CBR News what made the project truly "awesome" was he got to see behind the curtain and find out exactly what's going on with the Dark Knight and the rest of the Batman line in 2009. "I was able to sit down with [DCU Executive Editor] Dan DiDio and get the lay of the land as far as where all the Bat-Books are going. There's a really terrific storyline unfolding," said VanHook.
What the writer loves most about the Caped Crusader and his home turf of Gotham City is the mystique and the atmosphere. "And the fact this guy puts himself through all this by choice," said VanHook. "It's what he believes in."
But this series is not about Batman, it's about Oracle.
After being introduced in "Detective Comics" #359 in 1967 by industry legends Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino, Barbara Gordon enjoyed more than two decades of success protecting Gotham City as Batgirl. It was Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's groundbreaking one-shot "The Killing Joke" that changed Commissioner Gordon's daughter's life forever, as Barbara Gordon was shot and paralyzed by The Joker.
Barbara was re-introduced to DCU continuity by John Ostrander and Kim Yale as Oracle in 1988, in "Suicide Squad" #23, but her secret identity wasn't revealed until two years later. Formerly serving as leader of the recently disbanded Birds of Prey, Oracle is considered one of the most brilliant minds in comics and a master of computer technology and information gathering.
VanHook said his first memories of Barbara Gordon were as Batgirl, played by Yvonne Craig, in the 1960s' cult classic TV show "Batman," but as she evolved into Oracle, his fondness for her grew, as well. "As a kid, watching the TV show in old re-runs, I knew she was in the episode if she rode across the screen on her motorcycle," recalled VanHook. "Then later reading the comics, and of course 'A Killing Joke' [changed everything]. I love Oracle's strength, her brains. And I've been a computer geek forever.
"She has inner strength, will-power and guts. And like Batman, she does all this because she wants to."
VanHook said the fact Oracle is confined to a wheelchair "helps bring her incredible strength of purpose to the forefront."
It's teased in the solicitations for March that in "Oracle," Barbara Gordon will pay the "ultimate price" while facing her arch nemesis, Calculator, an information source for DCU's supervillains, who seeks the remnants of the Anti-Life Equation to save the life of his daughter.
VanHook, who confirmed the series would also tie-in to Final Crisis, would only say of the showdown: "He's hellbent to achieve his own agenda. And he hates the Oracle."
The writer also revealed Oracle would be going to Hong Kong and he would be exploring the character's "cyberpunk aspect."
VanHook said he is also writing a six-issue miniseries that's yet to be announced for DCU and he's hoping to get going on another horror/heroes series for next Halloween. "I had a blast with [artist] Tom Mandrake and [editor] Mike Siglain on ['Superman and Batman Vs. Vampires and Werewolves']," said VanHook.
"Oracle" #1 goes on sale in March from DC Comics.