You knew this was coming, Zechs tosses his two cents into the whole "toxic" situation involving Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain.
I admit that I am a biased supporter and defender of Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown.
I enjoy the rogue, that is true, but I also enjoy the underdog villain most of all (the ones barely on anyone's top list). It appeals to me, hence why Hobgoblin (original), Riddler, Taskmaster (before he became cool and mainstream along with Deadpool), and of course the Cyborg Superman are my favorite characters. For heroes, it works the same way but in different context. The heroes I enjoy reading are the underdogs because their own flagship company, DC Comics would rather forget about them and more recently, considers them "toxic".
Being a fan of the pair for so long, this isn't news to me. It may be for new fans of the New 52, but not for longtime fans. Everything appears changed with the New 52, but the truth of the matter is that it's the same old tune I've been hearing from DC for years. Yes, they have thrown their fans a couple of bones with a twenty-four issue ongoing with Stephanie Brown and Cassandra returning to the Batman Family in force via the Black Bat identity. However, just as the fans are savoring that delicious bone, DC sweeps in and takes the bone away. There are other websites, such as Bleeding Cool, who believe there to be hope for these characters. I on the other hand cannot help but think not, given that the past has shown otherwise.
If you don't believe me then we'll have a history lesson since certain heads of DC enjoy the past. Flashback to six years ago to just after Infinite Crisis: the "then" Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, had her ongoing series canceled. The obvious answer to why would be low numbers, but in this case it wasn't. The book was actually performing better than several books from DC at that time. Hawkman, which was converted to Hawkgirl, Firestorm, Catwoman, and The Demon all come to mind. The book always performed around the same tier or just near Robin and Nightwing. We don't know the reasons why DC trimmed the fat. We only have theories and hearsay.
What we do know is that a month later Cassandra Cain showed up in an arc on Robin during the One Year Later event (#148-151). Obviously, it was on DC's part to cash in on the character and have the Robin book's numbers increase. And they did. However, it was in the third part of that arc fans were given a revelation that the character had become evil. The twist would have made more sense if the writer, Adam Beechen, had actually done his homework on the character and the editor, Pete Tomasi, had actually done a better job of editing. The reasons why seem oddly out of character for Cassandra. To Cassandra's fans, the move reeked of something unsettling in the state of DC. It is then after the event at cons that fans were given the answer we're being given now: "We've got BIG plans for Cassandra Cain. Stay tuned..."
A year later those big plans were DC turning back the decision of her being evil and bringing her back to the good side (Teen Titans vol. 3 #43-47). Of course, not before the same writer, Adam Beechen made it all the more confusing with her appearing evil the same week that she was good again. Then suddenly we were given our first bone: Cassandra Cain was to be added in at the last minute to the new creative team's Batman & the Outsiders (changes that happened a month before the book was set to debut). Fans were reveling and enjoying the return of the character. Not soon after, DC announced a Batgirl mini. Did DC FINALLY turn the corner?
Then it happened. Chuck Dixon, after a long spat with the editorial, left B&O and Robin (ironically just after he had brought back Stephanie Brown). The next blow came shortly thereafter when Adam Beechen, the writer "only writer capable" of handling the character in the past during her evil run was given the reign as writer for the mini.
What followed wasn't surprising at the very least:
I know Beechen meant well with the mini, and was trying to clear up any wrong doings. More so, I noticed the jabs he took at fellow writer/former editor Pete Tomasi, who had been ignoring Cassandra Cain in all his Bat-books (see here and here for such evidence when he wrote Nightwing and Batman & Robin runs were a certain character was noticably absent even though Beechen at the end of his mini made her a Wayne. The first one, Nightwing #151, was just a month after Beechen's Batgirl #6 and no doubt a response to the final page. The other in Batman & Robin vol. 1 happened much later though when Cassandra had just returned to the books). It's just that the idea of the story being Beechen cleaning up of all his plot holes from his Robin run was like DC reopening the sore wounds they had inflicted on their fans. Not to mention how is that supposed to attract new fans? Well, to say the least barely anyone bought this book.
Anyone with sense could know what was coming next. The higher-ups at DC had their excuse and now after several questions of "why did this happen?" I was beginning to see the true underside to DC. How it truly held Cassandra Cain in contempt rather than enjoyment. That was added even more to the fact with the announcement of a new Batgirl ongoing and the hints throughout the "Battle for the Cowl" event that Barbara Gordon would be returning to the role (Nightwing vol. 1 #153 and Birds of Prey vol. 1 #127). I cringed at that fact because I knew the regressive nature it would have with that character. Then the ongoing came and shock of shock, DC changed their minds: Stephanie Brown was the new Batgirl. Cassandra's fate though was undecided and she was pushed to limbo.
The rest we all know. I wanted to explain this history one more time to show that the current regime at DC still despises the character. That must be the answer one finds with the layer after layer of evidence. Yet, ironically fans keep supporting Cassandra and I find myself being the voice for her plight.
If DC truly has changed their ways, I would like to see it happen with action rather than same old words. I want them to come right out and say it; be truthful to the fans instead of bullying them, or saying the same old answers time in time again. The "Big Plans" answer has been used so many times by DC that we no longer believe it.
We get it DC; you don't like the characters.
We have mountains upon mountains of evidence to show that fact. If not that, then the hearsay is endless as well. None of it is positive in the least. It's surprising how easy this could be resolved. A simple answer. A simple ongoing. They brought back the fifty-two worlds. Any of these worlds could have had Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, or the so called "benched" heroes run around in, while they can keep whatever they want on their "prime" world. It just seems that DC can't throw fans that long-lasting bone and give them what they want. Or even so, give creators such as their biggest breadwinner Scott Snyder, the opportunity to write what he says he'd love to write: Cassandra and Stephanie in the new 52.
Obviously, though we won't see any of that. DC co-publisher Dan Didio will continue to fumble and give answers that contradict themselves. The two characters, along with the rest, will sit in limbo until DC decides to give their fan bases another bone before snatching it back. Or worse, they'll die in some forced mega-event. Whatever the case is, it'll be the same old business at DC. In truth, that's the real reason why I haven't bothered with the new 52. For all of DC's claims that they want to have more minority heroes, the fact is that they don't use the ones that matter most to their fans. It's hypocritical!
Until DC actually makes the right choices in their company and makes use of its vast assortment of characters stuck in limbo, they will barely be getting the money from this fan. Not to mention I will continue to complain about the "sore wound" until DC FINALLY administers something to heal it. To those at DC or fans of the company who believe what I say is false, I welcome the opportunity to email me with your opinions. My email is on the staff page and I will keep things confidential unless you'd like to make your opinion public. I WANT to be proven wrong, it's just that what I've seen of the past cannot deter me from knowing this vicious cycle will just continue on.
Regardless, my opinions of DC are what they are. I will continue to voice and report these opinions. I will continue defending characters like Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown to the end, because as I said before; if the actual company won't go to bat for them, who will?
Written or Contributed by: Zechs