Friday, May 25, 2018 • Morning Edition • "At least we're not!"

Your Top Teens part 56

Written by Chris Mitchell on Friday, October 23 2009 and posted in Features

One character I love, the other not so much...


16. Cassandra Cain (144 points - 4 first place slots)
"Before she became a whiny, talky, killy joke, Cass had a pretty great book. Batman+teenage girl+ninjas by the bucketful=money. DC stopped liking money."

"Best Batgirl out there. Yeah, I said it."

"She was great. Then Didio came along."

"She and Tim represent two opposites of the Bat Clan. Where as he's wasn't buried in tragedy she was, though away from the usual parents are dead stuff. Instead her entire life was made to be the perfect killing machine by her own father. When she realized just how precious human life by taking it, she ran away from it. Seeking redemption for the sin of murder and to use her talents for good she became Batgirl. Some say her qualities as deux ex ninja master are why they hate her. But if you truly understand the character it make's her much more interesting. She has all these skills and yet she really has nothing else. She cannot read, at a time she knows only a handful of words and in the end is still a rookie hero thus messing up a lot. She's a true Outsider we've watched her be a loner with a death wish, develop a family (Oracle and Bats as her adoptive parents to be), to love, and great loss (losing Steph and her friends in Bludhaven). Such a fantastic character and yet it seems DC just doesn't either like her or give her to a writer who just doesn't understand the core of the character. Hopefully one day some writer realizes how great a character she is again and show's again how great Cassandra truly is. That and I hope to God Pete Tomasi uses and expands the sisterly relationship she had with Katana when Chuck Dixon wrote the book."

Cassandra spent the next nine years homeless, beating herself up mentally over what she'd done as she traveled the world. Entering Gotham City at 17 Cassandra came to be one of Oracle's agents in the No Man's Land of Gotham City. After saving Commissioner Gordon's life from her assassin father, she was given the Batgirl costume with the approval of both Batman and Oracle. She became Barbara's ward and in a sense, the Batman's adoptive daughter. As the No Man's Land wore on the new Batgirl was introduced to the rest of the Bat family with varying levels of acceptance. Usually going out under the Batman's watchful eye she was finally allowed to go on a solo mission when a patrol station needed guarding against a local gang. Near the end of No Man's Land Batman noticed her death wish and forced her to make a decision between suicidal actions and self preservation. She opted for self preservation.

At the end of the Batgirl series featuring Cassandra, she gave up the Batgirl identity, but after One Year Later, she has appeared wearing it once again, this time as a villain in Titans East and the leader of the League Of Assassins. Cassandra had even framed Robin for murder.

It had been revealed that the super villain Deathstroke had drugged Cassandra Cain and kept her as his loyal subject. Thanks to the interaction of Robin and the Teen Titans, Cassandra was released from the influence of the drug and has reverted back to her original personality.

After what happened with Deathstroke and the Titans East. Cassandra went on a man hunt for Slade and her father. She then found a name and went back to the batcave and ran into Nightwing and got into a fight. Batman and Robin arrived and stopped their conflict. She then left after her conversation with Batman and continued her search. Which led her to a factory where she ran into a masked woman named Marque. Cassandra and Marque eventually teamed up as they were both after David Cain and Slade Wilson. A no killing rule was established by Cassandra, but was promptly broken by Marque. Soon after she and Marque "joined forces" they were caught by Ravager, who was also looking for her father, Slade Wilson. Again Cassandra was able to gain an ally and the three fought together against Marque and Cassandra's "sisters". They are working together to find Wilson and Cain. At the end of the story, Cassandra decides not to kill Cain and actually saves him. She is then adopted by Bruce Wayne.

Cassandra joins the outsiders at the end of Batman and the Outsiders (vol.2) #2. Only for the team to fall apart during "Batman R.I.P". With the fall of the Outsiders Cassandra has been looking for super-humans whom are trying to redeem themselves to join a new incarnation of the Outsiders. As well as having certain abilities or aspects like the hero Batman. Alfred states it will be difficult and asks why Master Dick (Nightwing) is not in her line-up. Cassandra replies he wouldn't understand. Nightwing appears after she leaves and next issue it's Batgirl versus Nightwing!

15. Speedball (153 points- 5 first place slots)
"I'm sure others will write better descriptions about Speedball, BK. I'll just say it's a damn shame how Marvel completely ruined a great, fun character. Isn't that usually DC's job?"

"I'd like to note that Penance shouldn't be included in this. Speedball is not only the greatest teen character of all time, but the greatest fictional character of all time. If you debate this, I will fight you, bare-knuckles in the parking lot. He was the soul of the New Warriors but still had his emotional moments, his powers were unique, and they were visually appealing. Nova and Speedy still remain one of the greatest duos in comicdom."

Robbie Baldwin is the son of Justin Baldwin, District Attorney of Springdale, Connecticut, and Maddy Naylor-Baldwin, a popular actress. His parents held very opposite views and often argued in front of Robbie, a fact made more poignant as their arguments often had to do with what Robbie should be doing with his life and future career.

As a high school student, Robbie was interning at the Hammond Research Laboratory in Connecticut. There, Doctor Benson and two colleagues began the final stages of their attempts to tap an extra-dimensional energy source, but the researchers did not construct adequate safeguards and the energies began to overload Hammond Labs' equipment. Part of the energies fed back into the generator, shorting out the entire system. Unfortunately, Robbie had sneaked into the lab where the experiment was taking place, curious as to what all the hush-hush preparations had been for. Robbie was bombarded by energy from the dimension but survived, finding himself surrounded by weird energy bubbles, clad in an odd costume, and having a hollow and resonant voice. Panicking, Robbie sought to escape to the roof of the lab building where he encountered four masked gunmen. During the ensuing battle, Robbie discovered that his body now generated a kinetic energy field that protected him from any impact and made him a bouncing dynamo of kinetic energy.

Shortly afterward, Robbie's parents were accosted by Johnny Roarke, a criminal Justin Baldwin had put away, and Robbie used his powers to defeat him. The media leaped to the story, reporting the appearance of a new hero, whom they dubbed "the Masked Marvel." Robbie continued to use his powers to fight crime, and the Masked Marvel enjoyed a great deal of popularity from the townspeople, although his parents held very diametrical and vocal views about the costumed vigilante. Baldwin was forced to keep his power under control, avoiding any potential contact that might trigger his powers. He also spent much of his time trying capture Dr. Benson's cat, Niels, who was similarly caught in the energy experiment and gained Speedball-like powers, and using him to help understand his powers.

During a trip to New York City, Robbie ended up helping Spider-Man and Daredevil stop the Purifiers of the High Evolutionary, but mostly Robbie fought criminals in Springdale, such as the Sticker, Leaper Logan, the Bug-Eyed Voice, and the Feathered Felon. Robbie hoped to become a big-time superhero, and even joined a tryout for the premier hero team Avengers, only to be rejected. During a shopping trip to New York City with his mother he saw a battle breaking out involving Terrax, former herald of Galactus. Joining the fray along with the other heroes that would subsequently become the founding members of the New Warriors, Robbie agreed to join the team as well after Terrax was defeated.

Despite the long distance he often had to travel, Robbie stayed with the New Warriors for a long tenure, quickly becoming an annoying but lovable kid brother to the older Warriors and continuing to grow in the development of his powers. Shortly after joining the team, he asked his teammates to join him in investigating the long absence of his mother, who had joined a fanatical ecological watchdog group, Project: Earth. The Warriors discovered the group wanted to kill Baldwin's mother, as her celebrity would serve to make her a martyr to their cause. Robbie helped save his mother and defeat Project: Earth, and in so doing he revealed his secret identity to her. Although shaken, she supported her son's lifestyle as a superhero. For a brief time Robbie Baldwin was an intern with the construction firm Damage Control.

Speedball had battled numerous villains with the New Warriors, including Terrax, the Sphinx, the Puppet Master, Gideon, Force of Nature, Psionex, and the Folding Circle. At one point, the cosmic villain Magus created evil doppelgangers of Earth's heroes, and Robbie's duplicate used its powers to virtually destroy the town of Springdale. It also confronted Robbie's parents, and Robbie was forced to kill his duplicate. This led to his father discovering his secret identity, and Justin Baldwin denounced his son because of what he saw as vigilantism.

Robbie’s parents got divorced, and Robbie chose to live with his mom in New York. This allowed him to develop deeper relationships with his teammates, notably Nova, Rage, and, perhaps more reluctantly, his neighbor Carlton LaFroyge (who used the knowledge of Robbie’s identity to force his way onto the team as Hindsight.)

When Timeslip joined the Warriors, telling of her visions of Speedball’s death, she and Robbie nevertheless developed the beginnings of a romantic friendship while seeking the truth behind these visions. At the same time, despite Speedball’s ever-increasing control over his powers, Robbie began experiencing severe spikes in his power levels that wreaked havoc over his immediate area. The Warriors were confronted by the Sphinx, who claimed the presence of Speedball was creating chaos with time itself. They were also confronted with the evil techno-organic being Advent. The Sphinx succeeded in killing Speedball before escaping, and Advent left for the future. Timeslip, holding Speedball when he died, received memories from him in his dying moments-- memories of a citizen from the future named Darrion Grobe.

Grobe, the son of the man who would become Advent, hoped to undo the meddling his father had done by traveling through the kinetic dimension to the past. He used futuristic technology to become a duplicate Robbie Baldwin/Speedball, replacing Speedball when he was trapped in the kinetic dimension by the Sphinx several months before. Timeslip used her knowledge and powers to transport the New Warriors to the future. There, a holographic persona of Darrion helped the Warriors to undo all of Advent's manipulations. Ultimately, the team had to enter the kinetic dimension to escape the future before it became re-made, and they brought back the true Speedball while returning home.

Robbie has always been a New Warrior at heart. Even when the team seemed to be on a long hiatus, he and Nova helped re-form the Warriors to defeat Blastaar, adding new members Aegis and Bolt. Robbie and Nova even tried to pitch the New Warriors as an animated series, but they were forced to flee when they saw the producers’ unique take on the team. Nevertheless, Speedball returned when the New Warriors were led by Night Thrasher into a unique re-branding as a reality-TV show.

Robbie’s bouncy personality seemed a perfect fit despite the contentions of other teammates, and the team hit the road to become heroes for the common man throughout small-town America.


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