Monday, January 21, 2013

Every so often, you just start thinking about Cass (or Steph)

As a fan of the medium, I read a lot of comics.  I read a lot in general, but obviously various comic books and reprint collections of comic books make up a huge portion of my reading diet.  Some-- most superhero books-- are sugary or salty junk food snacks and others-- the artsy stuff-- are heart-healthier choices (they also tend to soothe my high blood pressure more than the cape books).  Yes, I either eat or read a lot of comics.  Sometimes I'd be so caught up in another title or series and go for weeks or even months without remembering there even was such a character as Cassandra Cain.

Inevitably, she'd creep back into my consciousness like the black-clad stealth assassin she was born to be.  Persistence is her way.

That seems to have happened recently to Beta Magnus at his blog Beta is Dead.  Magnus is a hardcore Cass fan.  He puts a lot of thought into the character and isn't shy about expressing his opinions.  And he's got me thinking again about how DC could reboot Cass.

But as Bryan Q. Miller suggested the other day, a rebooted Cass might not be the same Cass we loved before.  In fact, I don't think of any of the current DC characters as the ones I used to read about, or the ones I still read about whenever a Showcase Presents comes out collecting a title I once enjoyed or featuring a lot of pages by artists I follow.  Sure, they have the familiar names and versions of the familiar costumes, but their personalities are different.  I'm not going to say it's a change for the worse because I've only read a scattering of books in the New 52.  It's just these versions by and large don't interest me (although the new Katana kicks all kinds of ass and I'm really looking forward to her book) because I'm not that wed to this idea of superhero narratives meaning much of anything.  There are other kinds of comics to read and all that jazz.  But dammit, people, I love me some Cass and would love to read something new with her in it.

Even a pseudo-Cass of the New 52 persuasion?  Or would she be a sort of comic book version of a "Ship of Theseus" fraud?  How many times can you change parts of Cass Cain before she's no longer Cass Cain?

With Lady Shiva de-aged, introducing Cass would more than likely involve giving her a new biological mother.  Which means a lot of her backstory would of necessity become vastly different.  The father issues with Cain-- central to her character arc-- would remain, so we'd have that much.  On the other hand, as ludicrous as the New 52 chronology is, Lady Shiva could have given birth a year ago and the baby could have aged instantly into a 17-year-old Cass.  Or a 52-year-old Cass for that matter.  While the Cass-David Cain relationship is arguably the more important of the two parental issues, losing the Lady Shiva connection would definitely mean she's not Classic Cass, but New Cass.  Sweeter, not the familiar taste.

Another aspect is the apparent cherry-picking of continuity involved in the New 52.  Some elements-- such as Barbara Gordon's having been Batgirl then shot and paralyzed, remain.  Dick Grayson and Jason Todd have both been Robins, as has Tim Drake.  What about some of the major storylines the Bat-family has been involved in-- how many of those have still happened in the narrative?  What I'm getting at is-- did "No Man's Land," the story arc introducing Cass, happen or not?  And if so, it's obviously changed thanks to her absence.  No courier service for Oracle.  That element of Cass's story would also be missing.

Fortunately, that's not all that crucial.  Cass could have any number of reasons for finding her way to Gotham City and coming to Barbara Gordon's attention, and then to Batman's.

So how would Cass re-enter the narrative?  They'd have to re-set her in some way, which would be fine by this Cass fan.  That would allow them to instantly undo a lot of damage done to the character and take her back to basics.  We could have the silent, guilt-ridden, death-wish possessing ass-kicker of yore.  And that would be pretty nice.  Slow down her character arc so she's not watered down as quickly as she was during her original series, keep the concept as pure as possible for as long as possible.

And one more thing-- to make it all the easier, she could just become Black Bat, with no stint as Batgirl.

But I doubt she'd be the same Cass after all of that.  We'd have to learn to love her all over again.  And a lot of that would depend on how well she's written and drawn.  The character concept is still incredibly strong and viable-- maybe more so with DC's new direction.  I'd be willing to give it a try.  I'm willing to meet DC halfway on this.  With money.  Money, money, money.

So how about it, DC?  Wanna give it a try?

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