Batgirl's Rehab Center is Somehow More Twisted Than Arkham Asylum

Fans know Arkham Asylum has a bad reputation - with good reason - but a lesser-known Arkham facility that Batgirl lives in is even worse. The Oracle Code features the Arkham Center for Independence, a rehab center for Gotham's youth. However, this center has dark secrets that are kept from its guests.

Barbara Gordon's disability has become a core part of her story. Often her paralysis is caused by the Joker. In The Oracle Code, Barbara never became Batgirl. Instead, she is shot in her youth during an armed robbery. Much like how Young Justice changed Oracle's origin for the better, this story removes the Joker. Instead, the one-shot focuses on Barbara's hacking abilities, desire to solve puzzles, and her healing following the injury.

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The Oracle Code has the creative team of Marieke Nijkamp, Manuel Preitano, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles. During her stay at the Arkham Center for Independence, Barbara is able to make friends, including Jena Newton. Jena lost her family in a fire, which left psychological scars. She tells Barbara that her brother is missing, though no one seems to be aware of this, and shortly after, Jena herself is gone. Barbara's puzzle-solving and persistence leads her to the answers no one wanted her to find: secret genetic experimentation on children. The facility was established by a man who lost his daughter and it is run by him with the assistance of other medical professionals and therapists. However, unknown to the inhabitants, some of the center's professionals are also running a basement operation in which they take children who won't be missed and experiment on them. This is said to be for the sake of healing all the children in the center with global application potential. The head of this Arkham facility, Dr. Maxwell, is set on the idea of "fixing" the children in his care. This is something that greatly upsets Barbara and her friends since they don't see themselves as people who are in need of fixing.

Arkham Asylum has numerous inhabitants and the facility serves more like a prison than a rehabilitative center. However, most of the inhabitants are adults and the most popular patients there ARE criminals. They are also often altered due to a variety of experiments they conducted or that were conducted upon them, which is not true in the case of the A.C.I.'s children. While the Joker had a genuine accident, his activities following it cannot be denied as being horrible. The children at the A.C.I. have not done anything that merits being locked up, much less experimented on. No one deserves to be experimented on without consent, but tampering with children who are not able to resist or care for themselves is especially vile. This graphic novel puts a dark twist on Oracle's origin despite removing one of the darkest elements of her initial origin featured in The Killing Joke.

Overall, The Oracle Code focuses on Barabara finding herself. Barbara faces ableism, kidnapping, and rehabilitation in what could be one of the worst facilities in Gotham. Good intentions may be at the heart of the villainy in Batgirl's temporary home, but it makes Arkham Asylum look far less evil by comparison.

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