Here's how it started. I suddenly got a hankering to learn about comic book artist Ric Estrada because he drew some war comics I read as a kid and his name just floats into my stream of consciousness from time to time. And do to some kind of weird Jungian synchronicity thing, it turns out Estrada co-created Lady Shiva along with Denny O'Neil for the fifth issue of that ancient DC title Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter.
Yeah, I know. How strange that a comic book creator I've heard of might have had something to do with a comic book character I've also heard of. The universe is a mysterious place. But I don't assign any meaning to coincidences, even real ones as opposed to semi-spurious ones like this.
The problem is, I don't know a lot about Lady Shiva other than what I've read about her in Batgirl. I don't read that many superhero comics and I'm not all that interested in company-wide continuity. But after finding out my old pal Ric Estrada had a hand in creating Lady Shiva, which makes him Cassandra Cain's grandfather-- or one of them-- after a fashion, I decided the cosmos was telling me something.
And that something was, "Learn a little bit about Lady Shiva, you dummy."
I'd tell you what I've learned today, but I'd rather just link you to it because it's a joy to read. Jason Levine has written a marvelous essay about Cass's epic initial confrontation and battle with Lady Shiva. It's illustrated with lots of art from the Batgirl comic, it's funny and it's informative. Plus, it's very Cass-positive.
I especially like this line: "It’s like you waking up one day and you’re suddenly illiterate (which Batgirl also is)." Levine's talking about the storyline which saw Cass lose her defensive abilities thanks to the mental meddling of a psychic who thought he was helping her by giving her a more conventional means of communication-- spoken language, rather than the body kind she was used to. It's very much like someone waking up and having no ability to read. A massive subtraction. A major source of information... gone. It really screwed Cass up and sent her to Lady Shiva for help, something which would cause major conflict with her mentor Batman if he found out about it, and he was already having doubts about her. Neat stuff, storywise.
Few things please me more than following a thread of information, finding a fun coincidence and then coming across someone's funny and smart analysis of our girl Cass.
Now I have to learn more about Ric Estrada, Lady Shiva and Richard Dragon. If you'll excuse me.