Just a reminder, here is my intro to this new feature that I just started:
Yes it has been a decade since the one true Dark Knight Damsel first made her comics debut. Barbara Gordon may have been the first to go by the name Batgirl (if you don’t count Bat-hyphen-girl Betty Kane) but it is Cassandra Cain who in the last decade has shown that she is the Dark Knight Damsel.
She is one of the most underappreciated (By creators, not fans) characters in comics today. Cassandra should be a member of the Bat Family on par with Dick, Tim, and Babs but superstar creators like Grant Morrison and Jeph Loeb have consistently neglected her.
A new Batgirl series is debuting in August and if it is not Cassandra Cain under the mask, I want to show how stupid that is on DC’s part by showcasing her to the maximum here.
Stephanie Brown has now taken up the mantle of Batgirl and while I hope Cassandra will be back under the cowl sooner rather then later, this truly is the end of an era. It was a fantastic ten years and I happy to reflect on it.
This time around we are going to finish off May 1999 and then go on to her comic appearances in June of that year. We will start with her second appearance ever in Detective Comics #734:
This issue marks the first time Cassandra Cain comes face to face with her future adoptive father – Bruce Wayne aka Batman. We start off the issue with Batman seeing Cassandra Cain save the life of Gordon once again, this time by jumping out a window at her biological father – which turns out to be quite the emotional reunion.
Batman saves them both from certain death – but Cassandra does not care about living. She only wants all of the killing to stop, even if that means she dies too. Cause she is a true hero.
You can tell just from her facial expressions that this is a girl who has some daddy issues. I should probably mention that this issue was written by Kelley Puckett and drawn by Damion Scott. Hats off to them for creating such an amazing character.
Batman – of course – saves Cassandra for a second time and then tells her not to get involved – and figures out that this is a girl whose only language is one of violence. She can not speak.
Gosh I really miss the way Batman was drawn in the nineties. The all-black costume and yellow bat symbol. To me that is the iconic look – I got into comics through the Tim Burton bat-films and Batman: The Animated Series which both featured the yellow-bat symbol.
I like how Cassandra both recognizes that Bruce was trained by Cain and also that he is not the same as Cain – that he wants to stop bad men just as much as she does. All of this can be seen just in the art. You really need a good artist to pull off a good Cassandra Cain story – and Scott sets the precedent for that here.
Despite Batman warning her not to get involved, Cassandra is clearly inspired by the Bat as you will see below.
Bruce sees potential in her now. She emulated him by putting on a mask – not to go to a costume ball (like Barabara Gordon did) or because she was given a hand-me-down costume (like Stephanie Brown) but because she saw the importance of the bat symbol and what it stood for. Even though she was raised to do wrong, she only wanted to do what was right. This is a smart girl and Bruce realizes all this at this moment. Apparently, so does Barbara Gordon because she introduces Cassandra to the mantle of Batgirl soon after.
Her next appearance was in June 1999’s Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #120. Cassandra meets the rest of the ‘Bat family’ in this issue and finally puts on the cape and cowl. This issue was written by Greg Rucka with art by Mike Deodato.
Legends of the Dark Knight was usually a book reserved stories of Batman’s early years but during the No Man’s Land storyline it was briefly telling stories set in current continuity. Batman assembles his ‘family’ in this issue and they all get to meet Cassandra for the first time.
Cassandra shows her limited social skills when she meets the original Azrael – Jean Paul Valley.
I like her too Azrael! I just wish DC editorial did as well ):
Similarly when she meets Dick Grayson on the next page – she holds up a fist. This could be seen as a foreshadowing of their future relationship when they would come to blows many times. But for now, he simply explains to her the correct way to greet people. Although she doesn’t quite seem to grasp the concept because soon after she greets Robin in another strange and amusing way.
Just as he will many times in the future, Dick questions whether or not Cassandra can be trusted from the get-go.
Unlike Barabara before her and Stephanie after – it is Batman who voluntarily gives Cassandra the honor of wearing the bat symbol. This is another reason why she is the one true Batgirl in my eyes.
And just like that Cassandra Cain becomes Batgirl. Stay tuned for next time when we explore her adventures for the rest of the Summer of ‘99.