|Probably the oddest odd couple of the DCU|
Now I feel I covered the details of who these two characters are very well in past articles (here and here) so if you don’t know who they are you can check those out. However if you’re too goddamn lazy here’s the short version of what I previously wrote:
1) Cassandra Cain, daughter of the amoral Lady Shiva, was a martial arts prodigy who was literally bred and raised to serve as the ultimate assassin and bodyguard for Ra’s Al Ghul by the League of Assassins. She rejected this and eventually joined Batman as the new Batgirl. After years of serving the role DC Comics decided to try turning her into a villain, becoming a murdering despot despite being totally against her character, but it backfired and resulted with a public backlash before turning her back to normal. Soon after this she abruptly quit being Batgirl, leaving the mantle in the hands of…
2) Stephanie Brown became the vigilante known as The Spoiler in order to rebel against her super villain father the Cluemaster. She became a frequent ally of Robin (Tim Drake) before a series a events led her to replacing him as Batman’s partner…only to quickly be fired from the role. DC then killed her off in a particularly controversial (and brutal) way while also denying that she was ever truly Robin. After a few years she was retconned back to life and soon afterwards took up the mantle of Batgirl from her friend Cassandra.
Today I’d like to catch up with both characters and see where they are now and what can be done for them in the future. If you regularly read this blog you likely already know what became of them during The Great DC Reboot of 2011 and you may also know what I’m going to say. Everyone else may want to prepare themselves for good old fashion nerd rage.
|The very best of |
Two former Batgirls after the jump.
|So DC sent Cass to Hong Kong because, what, she's Asian?|
Couldn't she fight crime just as easily in Miami?
We would not hear from her again for a while, really not until Bruce Wayne returned from the dead. It not only turned out that she went to Hong Kong, where she was still fighting crime without any real reservation, but that her disillusionment was a ruse and she had given Stephanie Brown the identity of Batgirl as part of a Batman ordered contingency plans in the event of his death (probably one of thousands). Why she couldn’t just tell Stephanie all this at the time and save everyone migraines is unknown (though I suspect the usual “Oh my god, our female fanbase is pissed off over something we did so let’s make something up” was in effect). During this time the now alive and well Bruce Wayne had concocted a new scheme for his war on crime: Batman Incorporated, a new global alliance of superheroes who act as their local region’s Batman all the while taking orders from the original (which would allow Dick Grayson, who was Batman during Wayne’s absence, to continue acting as Gotham City’s chief protector). This included the introduction of the Batman of Africa (later Batwing) and the controversial Batman of Paris. Cassandra was invited to join the organization and she agrees but rather than simply becoming the “Batman of Hong Kong” she instead returns to Gotham with the brand new identity of “The Black Bat”.
|As "The Black Bat" Cass would gain a new lease on life-JOSSED|
Unfortunately her development were derailed when the reboot was announced. But we’ll get to that in due time.
|Their relationship is a tad different from their 1960s counterparts|
Hell, there was even a great issue where Batgirl had to team-up (kind of) with Klarion (BUM-BUM-BUM) the Witch Boy that was so good it actually convinced me to start reading the book again. Basically Stephanie as Batgirl was a pretty decent success, at least critically as it was usually met with praise from reviewers. And while it wasn’t exactly a runaway hit it maintained pretty decent numbers; better than a lot of the current New 52 stuff that have avoided cancelation somehow.
|A new definition to the term "sidekick" (Cue Rim Shot)|
This brings us to the reboot. Batgirl was indeed canceled but not because of sales but rather because the powers-that-be decided to magically restore Oracle’s ability to walk, de-age her, and all around undue well over twenty years of continuity by having her again become Batgirl (as seen in this review). So Stephanie lost her spot and her series but that didn’t mean anything, right? After all she was a popular character with a devoted fan base so clearly she’d show up somewhere in the new status quo, right?
Wrong. It’s been sixteen months and there has been no appearance of either Cassandra or Stephanie. For the common viewer that doesn’t seem like a huge deal; after all the DCU is a big place and there are a lot of characters to focus on. However it turns out that several writers tried to use both characters but ended up being VETOED by the higher ups for no explanation that’s been made public. Furthermore a lot of rumors have floated around that DC has blacklisted both characters and refers to them as being “Toxic” though exactly what that means is unknown.
For example Bryan Q. Miller, who also wrote the pre-reboot Stephanie starring Batgirl comic, reportedly wanted to introduce Batman and a female partner in his new Smallville comic (taking place after the TV show’s ending) and thought it’d be cool to use his semi-signature character Stephanie Brown as “Nightwing”. When the internet heard this there was a lot of rejoicing since even if she wouldn’t be in the main books at least Stephanie Brown existed somewhere. Sadly Miller was told he had to change it to someone else (it ended up being Barbara Gordon…again) and I don’t know the exact reason though I’ve heard a few guesses from fans.
|Man, Stephanie isn't even allowed to exist in the Smallville universe|
In the earliest days of the reboot, and even before the reboot, many of DC’s top guys implied we hadn’t seen the last of those two characters but now it seems that they have no intention on utilizing them. Obviously there’s interest among the writers but they are simply being told “no.” That implies that someone at DC doesn’t want either character back in the comics. There have been rumors of such but nothing has been explicitly proven. However what’s not being said seems to be speaking louder. Though on the other hand Stephanie was featured on the Young Justice cartoon so there’s at least some good news for fans (even if she’s still non where near the comics).
So the question remains: why not Cass and Steph? We have no answer but the head honchos at DC always seem a bit…hostile when discussing it. If I were to guess (and it’s just a guess) I’d say it’s one of two things: 1) Perhaps the rumors are true and someone powerful at DC (maybe even Dan DiDio) despises both characters and wanted to use the reboot as an excuse to finally get rid of them. That would explain why there hasn’t been a proper explanation for their disappearance since if it came out that an executive at DC was conducting business based on his personal preference the internet would likely break in two (though this would be far from the first time this sort of thing has happened). 2) DC has come to the conclusion that the vocal fanbase of the two characters are not as numerous as they may have thought six years ago. Perhaps the executives consider all their backtracking from planned storylines (Steph’s death; Cass becomes evil) to be the result of bullying from what they thought was a huge portion of their readers. Maybe now that they are convinced that it’s actually just very vocal minority they’ve decided to bench them in a sort of “F**k you, you aren’t our bosses” kind of deal. Again were this the case it would behoove them to keep their reasoning quite to avoid a reader backlash.
Is there even a place for the two former Batgirls in the current state of the DCnU? For Stephanie I’d say “yes”. As a contemporary of Red Robin (Tim Drake), current leader of the Teen Titans, there’s no reason why she couldn’t still exist. She certainly doesn’t need to be Batgirl to bring the same charm she’s always had (And I’ve been wanting to see her back as The Spoiler for years). She’d have to be slightly de-aged, just like Red Robin was, but there are worse things. As for Cassandra…that’s a bit trickier. Apparently in the new Nightwing book Lady Shiva was retconned to be at least similar in age to Dick Grayson who is likely no older than twenty-one in this new continuity. Meaning that there’s no way a seventeen (plus) year old Cassandra Cain exists in this universe, unless she has radically different origin. And since she has one of my favorite superhero origins ever (all about “Redemption” and “Nature vs. Nurture”) I wouldn’t be too happy about massive deviation. But even that aside I really think DC could easily bring them back at any time and it wouldn’t be out of place or weird. If I had my way I’d be reading (or even writing) a Bat Black/Spoiler team up book that not only helps the lack of lady heroes (there are some right now but we can do better) but it could be a pretty interesting story of two opposite personalities that still manage to be friends. I’d read it.
|One's a unstoppable killing machine, the other really likes waffles!|