Cassandra Cain as Batgirl – Chaos McKenzie
Starting with plots by Kelley Puckett and Scott Peterson before Puckett’s scripts took over both jobs with occasional relief by Chuck Dixon, this version of Batgirl remains in my mind the best Batgirl ever. I get the legacy created by Barbara, and I lived the tribulations of Stephanie’s brief time in the role with anxious breath, but there is something about Cassandra that places her above the rest with a unique and irresistible charm.
No Man’s Land was a huge event that sprawled over several months and several titles and ended up being wildly successful in bringing all the attention back to Gotham and the Bat-family. So many amazing things came out of No Man’s Land that I just realized I could do a series of articles about it and not run out of things to discuss. From No Man’s Land came Huntress’ upped role in Batman lore; Greg Rucka’s legendary run; more deeply considered gangs and communities in Gotham; there was just so much to love and on top of it all there came a new Batgirl who would last longer than any other in the role, outside of the original.
Cassandra was extremely different, her origins linked to the criminal backgrounds of not one, but two popular Bat-villains. She was dominantly a visual character, using speech at a precise and direct minimum. She had a clear focus and direction for her title that kept it deeply enmeshed in the Bat-mythos while being completely fresh in it’s point-of-view, themes, and stories.
Cassandra is seeing a bit of return to glory, with new popularity in current Detective Comics as the Orphan, and I do love the Rebirth stuff, but it lacks the emotional wallop the original stories held and can now be read in these new volumes after being long out of print. Cassandra’s many battles with Lady Shiva are worth the price of admission alone, but there is no end to strong stories as presented here. In one tale Cassandra vows that none shall die over one night when left alone to watch the city. In another Cassandra tries to use her limited language to explain a dark and brooding past to her dark and brooding master. A special father’s day tale tugs at the heartstrings in its strange twist on a warped childhood. Cassandra really had a large number of unique and amazing tales.
This is also some of the clearest and strongest pencils from Damion Scott, who’s graffiti inspired work really brought a fast paced feel to intense Kung-Fu battles. It remains my favourite of all his works, with page layouts that stay vivid in the mind long after reading.
So, if you are curious about Cassandra Cain, give the original tales a much-deserved look.
Cassandra Cain as Batgirl v1: Silent Knight
Batgirl v2: To the Death
Batgirl v3: Point Blank
DC Comics – Kelley Puckett, Scott Peterson, Chuck Dixon (writers) / Damion Scott, Coy Turnbull, Dale Eaglesham, Mike Deodato, Pablo Raimondi (pencilers)
DC Comics – No Man’s Land (is available in four deluxe volumes)