Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Once again, the Mary Sue is your source for exhilirating Cassandra Cain discussion!

It's really past time for DC to bring Cassandra Cain back.  There never was a good reason for any of the lousy decisions they've made regarding her, from the cancellation of her solo title, to her "heel turn," to putting out a badly-written miniseries recapitulating said "heel turn" after it had already been disposed of as offhandedly as such a stupid character development deserved, to her strange and illogical absence from the "Death of Bruce Wayne" storyline, to the way she was forced to give up being Batgirl for a truly lame in-story reason, to her continued absence in the New 52.  If anything, this is a lesson on how not to treat a character.  Any character.

The comments following this article made a lot of those points in detail.  I do want to take a little time to address a few points raised in it and those comments. 

First, I agree absolutely it's mean to pit one character against another.  The whole "why not both?" attitude really resonates with me.  While I think it's fair game to tease a character or make some fun of any of them-- and that includes Cass-- at the same time, as fans, we should be past the "either-or" mentality. 

You don't have to love one character by hating another.  Everyone is free to love or hate each and every character on his or her own merits, or their perceptions or misperceptions of those, but hating one character specifically because one loves another is silliness.  They're not rivals.  They're not sports teams.  There's no reason to pit them against each other, or fans against each other.  I like Cass more than I like certain other characters, and I dislike a few characters, but none of that has to do with only having a place in my fan-heart for one and only one character.

If that were so, there would be no way I'd spend time drawing cartoons of Supergirl and Wonder Girl teaming up with Cass-Batgirl, just to give one example.

You can like more than one character.  That's all I want to say.  And it's in no one's best interest to wage war on other fans just because they're not as into your character, or because you feel their favorite character is somehow unworthy.  There's room for every character.  Not everyone can be a Batgirl.  I'm completely fine with, say, Stephanie Brown becoming the Batgirl of record.  But explain to me why that means there can't be a Cassandra Cain as Black Bat in some other DC city.

Second, I would like to know why Cass ended up shunted off to Hong Kong as Black Bat.  Was it because she's bi-racial and part Asian?  As someone pointed out, she doesn't speak Cantonese and her mother is from Detroit.  Hong Kong is a spectacular setting for an adventure series, but wouldn't a Black Bat series set in the DC version of Detroit be just as gritty and exciting?

Third, a couple of commenters write of not liking Cass because she's "dark and broody."  I think she was written that way towards the end of her solo series run, but dark and broody were never the main thrust of her characterization.  I will forever champion the idea of a more violent, Kill Bill-esque Cassandra Cain series, but at the center would be that forceful, never-give-up, never-say-die-although-she-has-a-deathwish version of Cass we first met under writers Kelley Puckett and Scott Peterson

There weren't too many stories in the original run under Puckett and Peterson where Cass was moping around emo-style.  There were moments where she sat around a bit wistfully, and some where she got upset because she couldn't be Batgirl anymore.  But brooding was not really part of her make-up.  She was more likely to be out hitting things.  She'd be wearing out the training dummies in her private dojo, or having Batman repeatedly hit her in the face.

I would never have gotten into this character if Puckett and Peterson had made her a brooder because I absolutely loathe stories about people with incredible abilities who are made miserable by them.  Cass may have had a death wish due to guilt, but mostly she just tried to redeem herself by doing good, by saving everyone-- and I do mean everyone, including a guy about to be executed in a prison in one memorable story-- and who was so thoroughly into being Batgirl and exercising her abilities she was willing to forgo living any semblance of a "normal" life via secret identity.

The stories themselves were sometimes dark, but Cass was a shining light in them.  A true innocent in many ways, naively trying her best to understand the complex world into which she'd forced herself.

Anyway, let's have no more of this "Cass is a mopey/brooding/downbeat" kind of character.  I reject that characterization absolutely.  If she ever went down that route in a story, then you know you were reading something badly written and you need to go back and pick up the original series and see Cass as she should have been written all along.

So let me just say this once again: it is past time for DC to reintroduce Cass into their comics.

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