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CSBG Archive

When We First Met #15

Each day in June you’ll get an entry showing you the first appearance of seemingly minor characters, phrases, objects or events that later became notable parts of comic book lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of what I’ve featured so far.

Enjoy!

It’s an all-Oracle edition of When We First Met! Reader Third Man asked about a couple of Oracle firsts, so I figured let us just do one big Oracle edition!

First Appearance of Oracle

Oracle first appeared in 1989’s Suicide Squad #23, as she contacted Flo, the computer technician for the Suicide Squad (who had a huge crush on the Bronze Tiger and also happened to be the niece of Amanda Waller).

In #24, Oracle explains what she is all about (well, at this point we don’t know who she is)…

For the next year, Oracle supplied the Squad with information, as well as supplied info to people in the pages of Manhunter (also written by Suicide Squad writer John Ostrander and his wife Kim Yale, who was the inspiration for Barbara Gordon becoming Oracle). She also developed a friendship with Flo.

In 1990’s #38, writers John Ostrander and Robert Greenberger reveal Oracle’s identity in a brilliant fashion. You see, in a famous Squad storyline from #33-37, the Squad goes to Apokolips, where Flo is killed.

So in #38, Oracle learns of Flo’s death as we, in turn, discover who Oracle really is…

Oracle became a mainstay in the pages of Suicide Squad until the book’s cancelation in 1992.
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First time Oracle began Batman’s source of information

Later in 1992, Denny O’Neil brought Oracle over to the Bat-books with her appearance in Sword of the Azrael #1…

I don’t mind the purple prose, but it really does not read well as DIALGOUE. Could that possibly be a mistake? Seems like an odd way for Batman to discuss Oracle.

It would not be for awhile (and writer Chuck Dixon) that Oracle became a minstay in the Bat-books.
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First interaction Barbara Gordon had with Dick Grayson as Oracle.

Amusingly enough, in 1993, in Black Canary #10, Huntress uses Oracle to contact Nightwing (Black Canary, Huntress and Oracle all in one comic! Who could believe such a thing?)…

Nightwing meets up with Huntress, but he really doesn’t interact with Oracle.

His first real interaction with her was 1995’s Nightwing #2 (the mini-series), written by O’Neil (hair by Greg Land)…

And his next interaction wouldn’t be until 1997’s Nightwing #7 (the ongoing series) by Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel…

I guess Dixon liked their interaction, as he started to have them interact more until they developed a romantic relationship.
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Thanks to Third Man for his suggestions (he wanted to know when she showed up in the Bat-books and when she first interacted with Nightwing)!
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Feel free to send in ideas for future debuts I should feature here to bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

26 Comments

I’m wondering if Oracle’s identity would be immediately recognizable for a reader in 1990, if he/she hadn’t read The Killing Joke (even with the Batgirl doll on her desk).

Did she keep appearing on the Bat-books after she was shot?

Also of interest: the complete tale of how Barbara became Oracle was penned by John Ostrander & Kim Yale for Batman Chronicles#5 (“Oracle: Year One”).

Ed (A Different One)

June 14, 2011 at 9:15 am

Good Lord, is that Dick Grayson with the long flowing locks in those Nightwing panels? I have to admit, I know next to nothing about DC in the 90’s outside of Knightfall and Death of Superman.so I never knew he went through a “long hair” period.

Man, the 90’s were a weird time for comics . . .

Sad thing is that people in years to come with see mullet Superman and Fabio Nightwing and believe at some point those were cool 90s looks. I remember even at the time those appeared they were hideous looking and widely mocked, even in the 90s.

nice for could not remember when after her first appearance of oracle if it was in the bat books or suicide squad that barbara revealed she was oracle. plus always wondered when as oracle she and night wing finaly started crossing paths. though would have included when black canary first learns babs is oracle.

Ed (A Different One)

June 14, 2011 at 10:48 am

@T

So true – both the mullet and “fabio hair” were well “out of style” in the 90’s and probably better attributed to the decade prior.

In my opinion, comics were one of the few things which really languished in the 90’d. I remember the 90’s as a particularly good time for most things – music, the economy, sports, TV, etc., etc., etc. It seems comics were one of the few things that really suffered in that era.

And for you youngins’ out there, no we did not wear our hair like Dick Grayson or Supes did during that decade. We also did not look or dress like anybody that Rob Liefield drew (ever) . . .

Ditto what the prior Ed said. The true irony of the 90’s was how its always gets bashed for being style over substance, yet the style was laughably outdated even at the time.

And as a black person, we got it even worse. For example look at Bronze Tiger up there. The weird upside down triangle with widow’s peak does not look like any flat top a cool black guy would wear back then. Drawing the hair of black people was apparently even harder for white people.

Photoreference of Dick Grayson and Superman’s hairstyles in the 90s may be the 80s hairstyles of Adam Curry and Richard Marx (I’d link to photos but then this comment would get stuck in moderation.)?

A few years ago, for reasons I don’t quite remember, I wound up drawing a handlebar mustache on a ’90s panel of Nightwing, and oddly it really worked with his long hair. Made him look a bit like Marvel’s Tarantula, but it just completed the look somehow.

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A lot of what was “cool” in the Image revolution actually came from the 80s. Movies like TERMINATOR, ALIENS, DIE HARD, RAMBO had a lot to do with the 90s anti-hero.

I wonder if comics are always one decade late? A lot of the comics in the 2000s had an influence from 90s crime movies like SE7EN, PULP FICTION, FIGHT CLUB, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, THE USUAL SUSPECTS.

Brian-

Thanks for going with my suggestion, lots of good pages and info here. Funny that Oracle’s first appearance in a batbook, which would seem to be an important DC event, was drawn by Joe Quesada, who has since become one of the all-time most identifiable Marvel guys.

Rene-

There might be a logical reason that comics tend to be ten years late on societal and cultural trends. Because comics are largely marketed to kids and depend on that source of sales and income, mainstream comics are forced to at least kind of conform to what parents will allow their children to have. When major cultural shifts occur, it usually takes years before the parents of young children see new trends/movements/styles as anything less than harmful. For example, Stan Lee couldn’t have started having Marvel comics reflect the counter-culture in 1967, because parents wouldn’t have allowed kids to buy them. (Brother Power only lasted 2 issues in 1968.) Even when Green Lantern 85 had the Speedy is on heroin story in 1971, the book was cancelled 4 issues later. And that was 5 or so years after drugs became a pretty major part of the counter-culture. It takes a while before people are desensitized to things enough to let their young kids be exposed to it.

And regarding 90s comics, I’ve always been a bit annoyed when people describe it as being such a bad decade for comics. On the contrary, a large percentage of comics’ most well-regarded works either came from or mostly came out in the 90s: Sandman (started in ’89, but mostly ran through the 90s), Preacher, Starman, Marvels, Bone, Kingdom Come, JLA, Hitman, Spectre, Hellboy, Astro City, Transmetropolitan, etc. I think the very best stuff of the 90s was actually better than the very best stuff of most other eras. The difference is (and I think what often stands out in people’s heads), the very worst stuff of the 90s was legendarily bad. Very few comics in the 90s existed in the middle ground of average–there was either great or awful. And it’s easy to look at the awful stuff and think “the bad comics in year XXXX weren’t nearly as bad as the bad comics in 1993.” The 90s was an era of highs and lows, instead of a steady average. But I think it would be difficult for anyone to argue that the best works of the 90s don’t trump the best works of the 70s. So I guess it boils down to whether you judge an era for it’s peak output or its worst output.

Ah. Found the picture of ’90s Dick that I scrawled the mustache on.

http://pics.livejournal.com/buttler/pic/000d6dt4

Somehow it made it better that he’s being kind of a pretentious prick in that panel.

Travis Pelkie

June 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Isn’t there a character who DOES look like that, Buttler? I just can’t think of who it is right now.

But yes, that ‘stache totally works there.

The Dude:

The only post-Killing Joke appearance I can recall is her attending Jason Todd’s funeral while in a wheelchair (which I think is the first issue that acknowledged Killing Joke as being in continuity), and she’s mentioned in Batman #449 or 450, when two nameless thugs talk about the Joker and say something like “Did you hear what he did to Gordon’s daughter?”

Barbara appeared in the 1989 Batman Annual, which was really, really depressing (it flashes back and forth between the past and the present and shows how Gordon is reacting to the events of The Killing Joke).

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 15, 2011 at 5:28 am

I liked Dini Meyers portrayal of Oracle on the short-lived tv series, BIRDS of PREY (I think that was the name).
She was damn sexy.

Hmm, I think Sword of Azrael might have been the first time I encountered Oracle. Nice job by O’Neil, he made it seem like she was an established Batman information resource. Also, man…I love those Quesada pencils with Nowlan inks. Nowlan makes pretty much anyone look good, but that book really looked outstanding.

JC LEBOURDAIS

June 15, 2011 at 7:52 am

Re: Third Man

You must be deluded my friend, Starman, Marvels, Kingdom Come and Astro City are merely glorified fanfic nostalgia, Transmet and JLA are unreadable, Preacher is tamed british comic from the previous decade and Bone is a riff (although a lovely one) on LOTR. I give you Hitman and Spectre, those were decent 90s comics in an ocean of dreck. Not so much for a dreadful decade.

Buttler, that’s a fu-manchu mustache, not a handlebar. Do a Google Image search for both and you’ll see what I mean.

Babs appeared in the Prestige Format World’s Finest mini-series by Gibbons and Rude – post-Killing Joke, pre-Oracle.

@JC LEBOURDAIS: So what do you enjoy? Other than being a pretentious troll?

Brilliant to see all these panels in one place, and it’s especially surprising for we fans of Oracle these days to see that she was not so integrated into the Bat-titles as she is now, nor introduced there with much fanfare (first time in Sword of Azrael? Who would’ve guessed?!). Great post.

It always tickled me that Oracle was the source of info in the DC Universe – here in the UK in the 80s & early 90s one of the main Teletext (like a primitive, 8-bit internet viewed broadcast by the TV networks) services was called Oracle. I always loved the fact that when I needed to check out weather, news, sports results, I’d just “ask Oracle”…

John Trumbull

June 18, 2011 at 8:23 am

Actually the reveal of Barbara Gordon as Oracle in Suicide Squad was even earlier than that. In one of her early appearances, there was a pullback that showed the Batgirl doll by Oracle’s computer. It was pretty obvious to anyone who had read the recent Secret Origins story on Batgirl that it was meant to be Barbara Gordon.

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