Friday, April 16, 2010

Whither Cassandra Cain?

I often ask myself this. I often ask DC this in this blog. I suppose I should write a letter to some editor or other and ask directly, but it'd go straight into the crank file or something and being ignored in this venue takes less effort on my part. Why am I asking this question again, this unanswerable question? This stupid, pointless, infuriating question? The kind of question idiots like myself ponder late at night when they should be drunk or drugged into a stupor? The kind of question I should have stopped asking about a year or so ago when the abysmally written Batgirl: Redemption Road miniseries tanked?

This time it's because over on Occasional Superheroine, Valerie D'Orazio posted a pic of an iPad with the caption, "[A]rtist's rendering of what Batman would look like on an iPad if DC got their act together," but the image on it is of the Cass Cain Batgirl swinging into action with Batman. DC's iPad offerings will probably never look like that because they don't seem to want anything to do with poor ol' Cass.

On April 5th, Comic Book Resources published a story about the recent DC Editorial presentation at WonderCon in San Francisco. It features this tantalizing exchange:

Another fan asked about the future of Cassandra Cain. [DC Senior Story Editor Ian] Sattler cryptically responded, "There's a plan. I don't know if it's in action."

If DC's own senior story editor doesn't know what's going on, how are we, the few remaining Cassandra Cain fans who haven't completely given up, supposed to hang onto those remaining shreds of hope? Obviously, we've long since abandoned our dignity.

The only other mention of Cassandra Cain outside of fan-produced porn I've been able to find recently is Amanda Tarbet's nifty Sequential Tart review of the new ongoing Batgirl series starring Stephanie Brown. Tarbet makes some good points about Cass, especially this one:

[E]ven though it wasn't so long ago that she told Bruce she fought for the symbol and not him[.]

This echoes a post I illustrated with exactly the panel in which Cass tells Bruce that very thing, from issue 50 of her own late, lamented book. A post that pre-dates Tarbet's review by one week, I might add. So I feel validated by her agreement and have to thank her for backing me up. We don't agree about the quality of the new book, though. I think it's pretty wan stuff even by the meagre standards of mainstream superhero books and not nearly as memorable or engaging as the initial issues of Cass's series. But I can enjoy the enthusiasm evinced over Stephanie Brown's inheriting the Batgirl identity; if any character deserves it, it's Stephanie Brown.

See, I'm very much in favor of Stephanie as Batgirl and don't begrudge that change one little bit. I simply don't like how the changeover was handled and how Cass has disappeared most ridiculously from all the Bat-books despite a massive new storyline that would involve her emotionally if we're to buy the last couple developments in her character history.

Actually, if the new Batgirl ongoing did anything we haven't already seen in dozens of equally generic superhero books, I'd probably be buying issues on a semi-monthly basis whenever I could make a trip to Tokyo to look for it. Being a Cass fan doesn't make me predisposed towards disliking the Stephanie Brown-starring Batgirl, and I could not care less if DC used Cass in that identity again; the editors and creators there could make me happy by giving her a completely new costume and codename.

A non-Dragon Lady n0n-villainess new costume and codename, natch.

Like someone with the deviantART handle FSbot drew: Cassandra Cain as Nightwing. It may not be a new name or costume, but that's a pretty sweet idea, as far as I'm concerned-- and FSbot's artwork looks very professional. I am a-diggin' it, but know this isn't going to happen. I'm only bringing it up here just to share FSbot's conceptual art and because it's a great example of what DC could do with Cass.

You know, as oppposed to... oh... the nothing they're doing with her now. Even though it makes absolutely no fictional sense whatsoever for her not to running back to Gotham City excited as all get out over the merest possiblity her adoptive father is still alive somewhere in time.

Ah, superhero funnybooks. I suppose I'm a fool for expecting you to make sense. At least Marvel gave me Dani and Xi'an back in a kick-ass way.

Thanks, Marvel!


Nathaniel said...

Whoops, posted this on the wrong entry the first time.

Well, if it makes you feel any better, apparently two people asked about her at the C2E2 convention today and got much the same response. They asked about the possibility of her showing up in Birds of Prey and got the answer "Not right now," so... I don't know what Cass fans are supposed to think. At least we're still vocal, if nothing else.

What will be truly horrible is when Bruce Wayne returns and Cass does not, even though her entire reason for leaving was because he was gone. DC just doesn't know what to do with the character, and doesn't have anyone willing to think up something.

Joel Bryan said...

Haha! No problemo and thanks for the update! You're someone who can always be counted on to come up with a quick Cass tidbit. I hope someone asks that question every single time a DC editor or writer-- even ones with no real connection to the Bat-family books-- makes an appearance at a con.

Maybe one day they'll see there a a few extra readers out there they'd pull into the fold with a little Cass in the mix. Until then, it's looking very doubtful I'll buy any DC books on my last Tokyo fling, or when I get back to the States and have easy access to them.

Not when there are so many other books out there from publishers who don't blame their characters for story flaws that lead to poor sales that are really their responsibility. I'd mention something about alienating fans with snide or dismissive comments, but we've probably thoroughly antagonized them over the past few years so they have few other resources left from which to draw.

Joel Bryan said...

I mean, what must they think? We Cass fans demanded she return, then the Redemption Road mini dumped readers issue to issue.

Here's my Dan Didio impression: "What are you loonies bitching about now? We gave you trite, poorly-written garbage starring Cass and you didn't buy it! Well, if you're going to be all particular about our books, I'm all out of ideas for her. Make her vanish, boys, and we'll pretend this never happened."

Nathaniel said...

We just can't win, because if we'd bought the Redemption Road miniseries, we would have been rewarding DC for continuing to destroy our favorite character. Since we didn't buy it, they decided there was no interest in the character and wrote her out of the universe. It's all part of that "Someone has it out for Cass" conspiracy of mine.

I mean, I can understand Cass not having her own title anymore. I would be okay with that. But why isn't she a supporting character in one of the ten billion Batman books DC is putting out now? The only reason I can think up that the Batgirl writer won't use her is that he doesn't like her (he made a statement about how there was "nothing left to do with her dramatically" which caused a bit of a stir). Red Robin fights the League of Assassins every other issue now, and it would seem like a logical place for Cass to show up.

But alas. We are made to suffer, are we not?

Joel Bryan said...

I agree completely. And you've gotten me thinking more about this, especially with that writer's quote. So much so I'm going to have to expand on it in a blog entry. Thanks!