Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Batgirl, Batgirl... Who Is the New Batgirl?

I'm still trying to find out. More accurately, I'm still trying to find out what DC has planned for Cassandra Cain, but you can't do a Batgirl search these day without finding lots of speculation about who will assume that role in the Bat-Family. Favorites include Cass, Spoiler, Wendy, Vicki Vale (ehhhh?!), Ravager and other characters who are complete mysteries to me because of my only occasional following of DC's products.

If you've read much of this blog, or any of my previous blog, you know I'm a hardcore Cassandra Cain fan, at least when she's written properly. She's the character that got me back into reading mainstream superhero comics after a long lay-off. And actually, I might have been better off staying away considering how DC has abused and misused that character over the course of her fictional crime-fighting career. From mute bad-ass to talkative wimp. And now, apparently, a completely different direction.

Whatever they plan to do with her next, the first teaser image of a smiling Batgirl and her happy boobs and the new one with a subdued Batgirl slipping her foot demurely into a yellow boot both seem to rule out Cassandra continuing in that costume. I mean, really, can you imagine Cassandra Cain bending her wrists and pointing her toes like that? She'd throw herself into the costume in a completely butch sort of way, her body language full of aggressiveness. Er... barring yet another non sequitor personality change a la Adam Beechen's haphazardly written version.

I also tend to doubt it will be Barbara Gordon again, as attractive as that might be to most old schoolers. She's doing just fine as Oracle, and even if she were to regain use of her legs and begin costumed adventuring again, why give up that identity in favor of Batgirl's? She's outgrown that label. Batgirl is-- and should be-- a teen. That leaves only a passel of characters I'm not that interested in and know little or nothing about.

But then there's the infamous "DC Picture Board." Under the category "Batgirl," they've posted five images: Spoiler, Oracle, Batgirl (C. Cain), Misfit and Calculator. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Calculator's a guy, so that rules him out (for the most part). Some people are theorizing this means there will be a Batgirl team with Cass, Spoiler and Misfit each taking turns and headed by Oracle. Possibly. But it's just as likely the many of the images on the board are red herrings. A fish I don't particularly care for.

Sure, the new Batgirl is pictured there according to Mike Marts:

Mike Marts: Correct. We've released the fact that it's coming out in August as well as the creative team. This is very much a question mark. We've been intentionally coy about Batgirl information. We don't want people to automatically assume Cassandra Cain is Batgirl. I will say that the person who becomes Batgirl is indeed on the board.

But other than that? Not much on what exactly is in Cassandra Cain's future. So don't worry, Mr. Marts. This Cassandra Cain fan isn't automatically assuming she's going to be back in black. If DC's done anything successfully over the past few years, it's to program me to approach with pessimism almost anything having to do with Cass. Try as I might, I can't imagine DC will take Cassandra Cain in a direction that will please me. I don't really care if she continues as Batgirl or not. I tend to think she's outgrown that role as thoroughly as Barbara. But I've always wanted her to achieve her true potential as a character-- DC's answer to Kill Bill and Lady Snowblood, with emotionally wrenching yet blood-drenched stories of coolness and ultra-violence. She can do that just as well out of costume as in.

For the more optimistic, there's always Dan Didio's take on Cass:

Dan Didio: Cassandra is appearing in one of the Battle for the Cowl one-shots – I think the Network one shot. She will also be appearing in the Streets of Gotham. There are bigger plans down the road, as she is a very viable character.

That does give me one small glimmer of hope. I'm not a complete cynic on this issue.

Here's what I imagine will happen: we'll get a clumsy yet game'n'spunky new red-haired Batgirl who happens to look identical to all those Silver Age images of Barbara Gordon in the costume. And don't forget all those animated series, statues and toys, the financially lucrative licensing potential of a Batgirl with familiar red hair streaming behind. It makes perfect sense-- why have a title in which the main character in no way resembles the ancillary merchandise? For most people, Batgirl isn't an Asian killing machine (or even Barbara Gordon... I doubt many outside the comic world know her "real" name or that she's someone called Oracle now despite that one brief TV series); she's Yvonne Craig or a blonde Alicia Silverstone.

So if they decide to go that route with Batgirl, that's fine by me. I gots nary a problem with that. My greatest fear is simply a Cassandra Cain storyline where the character is either killed off in an attempt to give the story emotional resonance, or turned into a villain again to give nouveau Batgirl someone powerful to humiliate in order to establish her "cred" on the message boards among the fickle fanboys and girls. What better way to gain support for the new Batgirl than by having a dying Bat-Cass endorse her in the role, or by having her face off as an underdog against an angry, once again out-of-character Cass and kick her ass against all odds?

Oh, and Mr. Marts, if you're reading this-- I would be quite happy for DC to prove me completely wrong.

And anyway, eventually Bruce Wayne is going to come back as Batman and most of this will be undone.


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