Read about one of the Outhousers' favorite characters in the weekly Character Spotlight! This week, we look at DC Comics' Cassandra Cain!
The Black Bat
Origin Story: Cassandra Cain is one of the greatest hand to hand fighters in the DC Universe due to her ability of reading body language and movement with uncanny accuracy. However, this ability initially denied her of the ability to speak or read. She was taught how to fight through childhood, learning nothing but violence. Her father, David Cain, did this to craft the perfect bodyguard/assassin for his master, Ra's Al Ghul.
All went according to David's plan until Cassandra saw the reality of death first hand in her very first mission when she took the life of a mobster at the innocent age of eight. Realizing how precious life was she fled her father, and became a wanderer.
For seven years Cassandra avoided contact and led a solitary life. Eventually, she found herself in Gotham City during the mega event No Man's Land and came under the wing of Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl and currently Oracle, who began to teach her how to read and write. She originally was part of a messenger network Oracle used to send messages across Gotham to allies of the Bat. However, after saving Commissioner Gordon's life twice, and proving herself against Two-Face, Cassandra, with the consent of both Oracle and Batman, became Batgirl.
Having numerous life learning adventures, Cassandra became quite the crime fighter. Though like all good things, Cassandra's career as Batgirl ended due to her growing out of the role. She then struck up her own identity, but kept the bat symbol as the vigilante, The Black Bat.
It's a tough question to answer. For fans of the character, there are numerous reasons why the character appeals to them. She was bred to be evil, to be a weapon. The moment she took that life and saw how precious life was she knew how wrong this path for her was. She's an outsider and for all her prowess as a martial artist, Cassandra Cain is flawed beyond belief. She's never had an actual childhood, or life other than one of violence. Cassandra at numerous times feels like an alien when out of the vigilante outfit and watching the life go on around her totally wanting and hungering for the thoughts and emotions she see's others have. This insecurity is a powerful hook.
Another appeal she wants to be exactly like Batman. Cass's Batgirl wasn't simply a moniker, she really wants to be the next Batman. Compare Steph or Babs in the costume then Cass. She really comes off as someone you really don't want to meet in a dark alley. Her whole Batgirl costume just takes that concept scaring the cowardly lot of crooks works well. Much like Bruce Wayne, she's almost fully committed to this crusade unlike say Tim, Steph, or Dick who ponder a possible normal life outside their vigilante identity at times. But again this is but one key of numerous, that makes Cass such a bad ass super hero and is endearing female hero to many (perhaps even DC's greatest female minority hero).
Batman #567 and Detective Comics #734 - Her first appearance and story arc (The Mark of Cain) where she tries to stop her father, David Cain, from murdering Jim Gordon. She proves her worth as a soldier to Batman and Oracle protecting Jim Gordon's life and stopping her father. The arc was written by Kelley Puckett and drawn by Damion Scott (both of whom would move onto to her ongoing for over thirty issues).
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #120 – Her first appearance as the fourth Batgirl.
Batgirl vol. 1 #1-73, Secret Files and Origins #1, and Annual #1 – Her entire first run in the Batgirl role where she matured as a crime fighter learning important life lessons throughout her run. Highlights throughout the run where: She struck up friendships with Tim Drake (#18) and Stephanie Brown (#20) that would last beyond her ongoing. Team-Ups outside the Bat Family with Green Arrow (Connor Hawke) and Superboy (Conner Kent). Cass tangled with the deadliest of fighters in the DCU, Lady Shiva, and cleanly won twice (#25 & #73). For light moments, none get better than Cass wearing Barbara's outfit for an issue (#45) with humorous results.
Superboy #85 – Her first encounter with Conner Kent aka Superboy. The pair teamed-up to take down a super-villain. Sparks flew between the two during the encounter and continued on in her series (#39-42) before being ended due to Batdickery.
Nightwing #81 – Her first meeting and fight with Deathstroke the Terminator. Their rivalry would continue into her own ongoing (#63-64) and was the basis for an infamous time period for the character (the less said about that era the better).
Detective Comics #790 – A team-up between her and Batman as they deal with a new killer drug hitting the streets of Gotham. But given her talent in reading body language Cass can see something is greatly upsetting poppa Bat. That little thing? The anniversary of Jason Todd's death.
Batman & the Outsiders vol. 2 #2-14 – Her tenure with the Outsiders led to some interesting interactions with teammates Green Arrow (Ollie Queen) and Katana. However, #13-14 spotlight her alone as she starts up an early version of a crime fighting network which would become the template for Batman Inc.
Batgirl vol. 3 #1 – Cassandra quits being Batgirl and passes the title over to her best friend, Stephanie Brown.
Red Robin #17 & 25 – Her first appearance after quitting the role of Batgirl, striking out on her own in Hong Kong. Red Robin aka Tim Drake meets with Cass asking her to return back into the Bat Family and presents her old costume. Cassandra turns him down on being Batgirl again, but hinting at a return fully to the Bat Family. She later returns to the book, saving Tim from a relative of Ra's Al Ghul and assists him in ending an assassins' tournament out to kill him and others.
Batman Inc. #6- Cassandra returns fully to the Batman books and family in full force with her new identity as the Black Bat. In the issue she busts criminals trying to ship neo-herion out of Hong Kong.
Cassandra Cain Can Even Beat Superman: She once smacked Conner Kent before he could get his tk shield up. During her EVIL phase in Supergirl #14, she had Supergirl all but defeated, before being impaled by some deus ex machina shiny spikes (alas I am not making this up. Like I said, the less said about this particular era the better).
Where the Character is Today: Currently, Cassandra appears in the Scott Snyder/Kyle Higgins miniseries Batman: Gates of Gotham. After #5, the series ends in August, and it is unknown where she'll show up next. It's sort of DC's current quirk with the character, having her appear out of nowhere unannounced (Batman Inc #6 or Wonder Woman #600 being the best examples). Alas, she's one of the causalities of the 52. Given the news out of SDCC 2011, it seems likely she'll be appearing next in Batman: Leviathan, but that's coming out January 2012. All other alleged appearances are hearsay, but speculation and unconfirmed sources hint that she'll be appearing in Gail Simone's Batgirl series.
Written or Contributed by: Zechs