Review by Ian Keogh
This is very much a hodgepodge of a collection, compiling the three issues of the title story with the final two issues of the original Birds of Prey series, one of which was turned over to Oracle’s villainous analogue, the Calculator.
It’s with him that the collection opens. When last seen in Birds of Prey: Platinum Flats he had allied himself with a bunch of fellow technologically savvy villains, and Tony Bedard picks up on a plot point some may have wondered about. If Kilg%re is a sentient computer program how is it that he’s not already tracked down and disposed of Oracle? It leads to an upgrade for the Calculator, and thereafter into a conclusion to the Birds of Prey’s generally lacklustre stay in Platinum Flats. Bedard throws in a couple of nice touches, particularly with regard to the Calculator, but he lacks a handle on so many of the remaining cast, who’re either mediocre to begin with (most of the villains), or given little but a momentary cameo role. It’s not helped by unimaginative art from Claude St Aubin, and the ending for Birds of Prey is abrupt, unlikely and poor. Thankfully it kicks off again under its best writer Gail Simone, beginning with End Run.
That turns the focus on Barbara Gordon, once Batgirl until crippled by the Joker, and thereafter computer genius Oracle. This is nicely synopsised by Kevin VanHook and Fernando Pasarin in a short interlude before the title feature begins.
For this VanHook and Pasarin are joined by Julian Lopez who illustrates the real world scenes while Pasarin occupies himself with those set in a virtual environment. Both artists are first rate, and those interested in seeing the stages of how Lopez creates the art can check his blog where pages of The Cure are still online.
The Cure is a deceptive title. When originally released it was intended to misguide readers who’d automatically assume it referred to Barbara Gordon’s crippled condition, when in fact it’s the Calculator searching for the means to revive his comatose daughter. It returns Barbara to Gotham, but the cat and mouse game with the Calculator isn’t particularly enthralling. VanHook captures Barabara’s determined character and her computer talents, but a plot centred on people interacting with a computer screen isn’t ever going to be the most dynamic.
An overwrought final page proclaims the story continues in Batgirl, but that’s more sleight of hand as Barbara Gordon is a mentor to that particular iteration of her former identity.