Celebrating Ten Years of Batgirl: May-June 1999

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:

detective comics 734 (kebbin) #00

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.

detective comics 734 (kebbin) #03

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.

detective comics 734 (kebbin) #05 detective comics 734 (kebbin) #06

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.

detective comics 734 (kebbin) #12

detective comics 734 (kebbin) #13

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.

detective comics 734 (kebbin) #21Cassandra Cain just stole Two-Face’s silver dollar! Now that is what I call kick-ass!

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.

detective comics 734 (kebbin) #22

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.

lotdk 120 (kebbin) #06

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.

lotdk 120 (kebbin) #09

Just as he will many times in the future, Dick questions whether or not Cassandra can be trusted from the get-go.

lotdk 120 (kebbin) #19 I really like Batman’s explanation. If only someone had read this post-infinite crisis and not decided to make Bruce and Babs look stupid. Ugh it makes me so mad!

lotdk 120 (kebbin) #21Unlike 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.

I thought Cassie’s costume was the coolest looking thing in the world when I first saw it – and I still do. Apparently Dick Grayson agrees with me. lotdk 120 (kebbin) #22

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.

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10 thoughts on “Celebrating Ten Years of Batgirl: May-June 1999

  1. Cassandra got a bum deal, that’s for sure. I don’t hate Stephanie the way most fans seem to, but I do resent the fact that DC straight up ignores Cassandra, and she VERY flippantly gives up the cowl.

    • This is the Didio Regime at its finest again where blatant character assassinations, biases and outright carnage are the order of the day. You should read the fine mess they did to Green Arrow and company in that shock value crapfest “Cry For Justice”.

  2. I think that once Didio leaves that this decision will be reversed I can guarantee. I also guarantee that the Spoiler Batgirl series will flop in a year or two just like the new Azrael Michael Washington Lane. The way I see it both Cassandra and Jean-Paul got bum deals due to Didio and co. apparent bias towards the characters and by giving us two replacement characters that they foolishly decided to give their own ongoing series so soon without waiting for feedback from the fans. I don’t think DC learned anything from the Hal Jordan/ Kyle Rayner debacle in the 90s that replacement characters don’t last very long. Like I said, I give the current Batgirl and Azrael series two years at the most before they are cancelled due to the lack of interest from the fans-had they kept Cassandra as Batgirl and brought back Jean-Paul it would have been much better.

    • I don’t think Jean-Paul saw Cassandra in an intimate way due to the fact that she was under-age at the time they met. Jean Paul may be crazy and psychotic at his worst but he is no pedophile from what I can see.
      I think the connection that he felt to Cassandra was the fact that they had similar backgrounds and were forced into a life of violence as children by their fathers and were taken in by Batman to serve a better purpose in life.

  3. Just discovered this blog. Glad to see more people who think that Cass Cain is underused and under-appreciated. One of the most amazing characters that creators just don’t know what to do with. I think Steph is a great character, but she’ll never be as good as the best Batgirl ever.

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