batgirl vol 1

Batgirl Vol 1 #1

We are now entering the big batch of Cassandra’s first run as Batgirl, encompassing 73 solo issues and many, many, many tie-ins and guest appearances. Today: Batgirl Vol. 1 #1!

We start this issue with a flashback of Cass when she was still a little girl, solving a puzzle with a red rose on it while her father sets up a camera. Since the rose motive will be coming back later, I am tagging this for Symbolism! A bunch of tough-looking guys enter and Cain orders them to try and attack Cass with a knife. She promptly proceeds to wipe the floor with them.
Symbolism!: 3

Following the flashback, we arrive in the clock tower, where Barb is training Cass and actually manages to defeat her in a moment of distraction. She then sets up a file on the batcomputer for the new Batgirl and gives everyone who didn’t know her yet the obligatory info dump. The two most interesting things to note about this page are that 1) Cass is said to know ten words at best and one of them is “Me”, and 2) Barb is royally pissed off at Cain for raising her into severe aphasia, because speech impediment aside, Cass is clever as they come. She is also noted to have been “drifting” for nine years since escaping from Cain.
Aphasia: 27
Batmom: 3

We get another rather confusing flashback of some crooks running away from young Cass, before snapping back into the present, where Batgirl and Batman save a young woman from being raped in an alley. After this quick interlude, we find Cass peeling red rose petals while looking over Gotham from her window sill, her expression melancholic and sad, which makes sense, since red roses are symbols of both love and grief, and given Cass’ regrets about how her father raised her, both are equally applicable. Barb takes her to a nearby park and tries to get her to open up about what’s bothering her, but given her aphasia and her screwed up backstory, it doesn’t go very well:
Symbolism!: 4
Aphasia: 28

We then find out that Cass has nightmares pretty much every night. Barb, being the reasonable person that she is, tells Bruce that Cass seems to remind her of him and suggests that maybe Bruce should not take her to patrol every night. Bruce, being the absolute authority on how to healthily handle childhood trauma, shrugs it off and tells her that Cass is “one strong moment away from making sense of it all”. Bruce, I love you, but please let your kids get therapy at least, okay?
Batmom: 4

On the bright side, at least Bruce explains to her how Cass came to be as she is today (Cain raising and training young kids in isolation so that they would learn body language as their only language). He also informs her that Cain did not teach her how to fight with escrima sticks. Bruce did. And it took all of five minutes. Bruce’s “proud dad” smile in this picture is priceless.
Batdad: 4

That night, Batman tells Batgirl that something is off and that she is holding back to much. He asks her to hit him as hard as she can and Cass obliges, striking him so fast that not only do we not get to see it on page, but Bruce doesn’t even realize how hard she hit him until his mouth starts bleeding.
Fast As Lightning: 13

They are interrupted in their sparring by a robbery in progress. It is here, while mopping up the bad guys with little effort, that Cass sees her own shadow on the wall and notices just how intimidating she looks to others in her Batgirl costume. We also learn that “shutup” is in her vocabulary.
Creepy Bat: 6

A little later, Batman tells Batgirl that he is leaving Gotham to her tonight and that it’s all hers, except for “costumed criminals”. His expression here as Cass goes from intimidating statue to caring sidekick to swooping angel of revenge in all of five seconds is absolutely adorable.
Living Emoji: 28

The issue ends with another flashback, this time of Cain watching the video he took of Cass demolishing the guys form the first page, with a bottle of vodka firmly in his hand. I am sensing some remorse here…

3

“Nobody ever talks about your parents. What was your dad like?”

“Assassin. David Cain.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah.”

“Hahaha”

“What?”

“You’ve been listening to me whine about having the Cluemaster for a dad, when your dad’s like.. the scariest killer on the planet?”

“Yeah.”

“When my dad was mad at me he’d lock me in the closet. What did yours do?”

“Shot me.”

“Hahahahehehe”

“Oh, man. I can’t beat you at anything.”

- Batgirl Vol 1 #28(2002)

Batgirl Vol 1 #2

At last, we are back with the actual Batgirl comics! Now, I don’t usually comment on covers, but this one needs to be addressed: could we really not even go for a handful of issues without painting Batgirl as a cutesy, innocent damsel in distress? I mean, this is HER comic. If it were Robin, Suberboy, or any other male super teen, you could bet your ass this cover would have them doing something epic (or at least trying to look intimidating), but with Batgirl we have to go straight into “oh, she’s a helpless girl, help her not to die” kind of crap? And it doesn’t even make sense, because at no point in this comic is Cassandra in any serious danger of dying! DC = disappointment and constantly indeed.

The issue starts with a man named John writing a letter to his wife/girlfriend from inside jail. We then find out that John was an innocent bystander, who came across a woman being threatened in an alley (didn’t we just have this a few issues back?) and decided to confront the perps to gain some time until the police arrive. He is saved from getting gunned down right then and there by Batgirl, who swoops in, kicks ass, hands John the bag he dropped to help the woman, and kisses him on the cheeks as her version of thanks.
Unusual mannerisms: 9

The next morning, Cass seems to be in a rather oddly happy mood. Barb wants to talk about Cass’ vocabulary lessons, which she seems to be neglecting, but a news report mentions that our good Samaritan, John Robinson, got kidnapped from his apartment. Cass asks “What?” and Barb explains to her that she’s working on finding him, but it is going to take time. Cass wastes no time showing just what she thinks of all this.
Aphasia: 31
Living Emoji: 33

Turns out the guy John stopped was the son of a mob boss and he has now imprisoned John in a former steelworks factory. As soon as Barb has found out where they are, Cass heads out, apparently with her suit right in her backpack, and takes a cab to get there. Here is where things are getting a little confusing for a few pages as to who did what and how people got from A to B, but short story is Cass gets locked in with John, who is in very bad shape, and – since no one has apparently taught her how to pick locks yet – proceeds to solve this dilemma by punching a hole into the wall. Nice.

She then proceeds to carry John outside while taking out every guard in the place like it’s nothing, but she’s too late. With his dying breath, John hands her the letter he wrote for his wife and Cass’ sadness and anger is written all over her body. The goons arrive to gun her down, but Cass kicks ass again and comes out victorious.
Living Emoji: 34

A short while later, Gordon delivers the sad news to John’s wife and Cass delivers the letter, which makes John’s wife break into tears. Our issue ends with Cass having fallen asleep while trying to practice her letters and Barbara wondering what brought that on, before switching off the light to less Cass rest.
Aphasia: 32
Batmom: 5

From Batgirl Vol 1 #73 written by Andersen Gabrych, penciled by Pop Mhan, inked by Jesse Delperdang, coloured by  Jason Wright, lettered by Nick J. Napolitano

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) breaking Lady Shiva’s neck, who may or may not be her mother. Don’t worry, she got better…

This post is part of a series called #DC Hates Necks that will finish with the release of Batman vs Superman on March 25th!

Batgirl Vol 1 #6

Issue 6 begins with a quick reminder page about the meeting between Batman and Cain in Macau, before switching back to Gotham, where Cass is musing about her new-found ability to name things and starts to come to terms with the fact that not everything about her new self is bad, while Bruce stalks her from the shadows.
Aphasia: 39

He then goes to find the telepath Mr. Jeffers. Turns out he was paid to be part of a medical experiment gone right and fled from his handlers after he started hearing their thoughts in his head. Now someone has offered 5 million dollars to whoever can bring him in. Batman is confident that no killer will get past Cass, until Jeffers points out that one already did. Above ground, Cass muses that she hasn’t been beaten up as badly as she is right now since she had been six, but her new-found confidence still has her face three-armed guys knowing that she can lose… theoretically. Bruce hears the sounds of the fight while Jeffers explained what he did to her. Bruce’s expressions here are priceless. More importantly though, his protective side kicks back in and he rushes to save Cass.
Batdad: 9

The fight is going moderately well, with Cass being hesitant to use any of her disabling moves for fear of accidentally killing someone, until one of the thugs deliberately tries to shoot her through one of the others. This paralyzes Cass long enough for them to put a gun to her head. This enrages Cass so much, she drops the niceties and almost kills one of her attackers, but in the end, she lets him live. Not before using her creepiness to full effect and stopping Bruce from intervening though. She can’t communicate it in words, but, boy, does her body language show that she is not willing to take any shit from anyone in that moment.
Plight Of Permanent Perfectionism: 4
Ghost Of Failures Past: 2
Creepy Bat: 9
Living Emoji: 38

Bruce tells Cass that he is going to take Jeffers to Robinson Park and he wants her to bring the scientist who gave Jeffers his powers to them. To Cass’ very evident surprise and sadness, Bruce does not want her to be part of the ambush he has set up, since she stopped a man’s heart on instinct and he doesn’t want “any more surprises”. We also learn that she knows the word “why”.
Living Emoji: 39

Inside the shack, Cass shuts down all attempts at communication as she monitors the situation. She sees a group of armed mercs coming to ambush Batman and decides to jump into the fray.

Things go pretty well until she finds herself in a similar situation as before, only this time it’s not a crook between her and another, but she between to mercs, and if she dodges, the one behind her dies. Out of options, Cass decides to charge at the guy with the gun. She takes many bullets, but still manages to wrestle the gun from him, making him run away in fear at the sight of this creepy kid bat who just won’t die. She wakes up later in the Batcave and Bruce asks her why she did that, to which she replies “instinct”. The issue ends with Bruce smiling proudly at her answer.
Fiercely Assertive Protector: 10
Made Of Steel: 3
Creepy Bat: 10
Batdad: 10

Where to start reading Cassandra Cain?

Let’s start with her first appearance in Batman #567 followed by Detective #734 then lets continue on with

  • Batman #556-559
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #120
  • Batgirl Secret Files and Origins #1
  • Batgirl vol. 1 #8, 24-25, 71-73
  • Batgirl Annual #1
  • Robin/Batgirl: fresh blood
  • Batgirl vol. 2
  • Nightwing #81
  • Justice League Elite
  • Robin #148-151
  • Superboy #85
  • Teen Titans #43-46
  • Batman and the Outsiders #2-3
  • Batgirl vol 3 #1, 13, 33
  • Batman: Gotham Knights (especially #2, 5, 33-36, 42, 45-46, 48-49, 56-57)
  • Red Robin #17, 25
  • Batman Inc #6
  • Gates of Gotham
Batgirl Annual Vol 1 1: Introducing: Aruna!

Next up in the supportive padding: a Batgirl Annual, which surprisingly takes part in India. How did we get there and why? Who cares? Cass is getting out of Gotham for once and I’m all up for that.

We start with a splash page shot of Cass that is double cringe-worthy, once because female anatomy does not work like that and once because she is seventeen; this is followed by over-sexualized ass-kickery at its finest. The only saving grace in this is that Batgirl is apparently intimidating enough to make the bad guys darken their pants just by looking at them.
Creepy Bat: 7

As it turns out, she and Batman are looking for upcoming movie star Ashok Ramanan, who was recently kidnapped. The two of them throw on some disguises and visit the set, poking both the director and a woman on set – Ashok’s agent, maybe? – who shows them a clip from his latest film. Cass is so adorable enraptured by the kali figure in that movie, she wants to see the video four times:

As it turns out, the Kali figure was done by Aruna Shende, master actor and special effects artist, who seems to be a genius at pretty much everything. They go to pay her a visit and she flees instantly. The remarkable thing here is that Cass enters the apartment after Bruce, but leaves before him, once again demonstrating that she’s the new speedster in the family. Her ability to read other people’s body language also pays off, as they encounter an elderly gentleman on a nearby roof, who is quickly ignored by Batman after he tells them that he didn’t see where Aruna went. Cass is not fooled and as it turns out, the old man is Aruna, a shapeshifter in disguise. (As a side note: Jesus, Bruce, are those ears or horns?)
Fast As Lightning: 15

Unfortunately, the conversation doesn’t go very far, as a group of guys with too many knives and too little brains arrive and taunt Batman about their superiority in numbers. Batman freely admits that he can’t take all of them out, but Cass can. And, boy, does she!
Little Lady Of War: 10
Fast As Lightning: 16

She also manages to track down Aruna, who proceeds to give us an exposition dump on “Untouchables”, a very real and regrettable part of the Indian caste system, which basically forbids any physical contact with the lowest caste of society and leads to huge discrimination. Upon correctly guessing that Aruna is an Untouchable, too, Cass’ entire body language changes from badass vigilante to empathically sorrowful human being, and she comforts Aruna with a gesture that speaks more than a thousand words: she touches her.
Living Emoji: 29

In the following pages, Cass and Aruna visit Ashok’s parents and it is all but confirmed that they are also Untouchables. They don’t know where their son is, but they narrow down the list of people who might know significantly. This time, Cass does the exact opposite: switching from kind, empathic Cass to ruthlessly effective Batgirl in the span of two pages, as they had to interrogate their new target, Ashok’s wealthy neighbor.
Living Emoji: 30
Fast As Lightning: 17

Aruna shapeshifts into a number of different people while interrogating the man, including the shape Ashok. The neighbor instantly tells him that Ashok’s “out back”, but when Cass comes back, the news ain’t good. Her heartbreak at the loss of this innocent boy and anger at the man who killed him out of pure classism and hatred are written all over her body.
Living Emoji: 31

As Batman finally catches up with them, Aruna wonders who would avenge and protect these people that even the law would consider worthless. Cass’ appearances in this issue end with a little grin which expertly communicates that Aruna already gave herself the answer.

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Love Is Love

  • Celebrate Bisexuality Day: Bisexuals in the Batman Titles (Prime Earth)
Today is Celebrate Bisexuality Day (23 September) and I thought that I would celebrate this day by doing a collage/photoset of the canonically confirmed bisexuals in the Batman Series of the DC Universe. My intention was to make the photoset look like the Bisexual Pride Flag – hopefully it’s faithful to the true article.

Image Used:
  • Alysia Yeoh (Middle Row):
    • Batgirl (Vol. 4) #1, #19, #21, #45, and Annual #2
  • Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn (Lower Middle Row):
    • Harley Quinn (Vol. 2) #1 Cover + 2nd Printing Cover and #9
    • Suicide Squad (Vol. 4) #1 Cover and #6 Cover
  • Harper Row/Bluebird (Top Row):
    • Batman and Robin Eternal #1, #4, #11, #13, and #24
  • Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Lower Row):
    • Catwoman (Vol. 4) #4 Cover, #18 Cover, #21 Cover, #47 Cover and Annual #1 Cover
  • Violet Paige/Mother Panic (Upper Middle Row):
    • Mother Panic #1 + Cover +Variant Cover, #2–#3