Friday, June 10, 2011

Gail Simone responds to the Batgirl controversy and mentions Cassandra Cain

I have to admire Gail Simone for doing this-- addressing the end of Oracle in an interview with the woman who wrote the most impassioned, affecting essay about DC's plans for Barbara Gordon. This interview is some big time damage control from DC, and I have to express my complete and open admiration for Simone for doing this. When DC wrecked Cassandra Cain's narrative, all her fans got were smirking dismissals and vague promises. In this case, a creator is tackling reader concerns head-on in as open and candid a way as possible without giving away secrets best left for the stories themselves. That said, I still see more divisions and impassioned essays in our immediate future.

But here's what I really want to talk about.

Cassandra Cain. And the silence from DC regarding her. While trying her best to soothe understandably upset Oracle fans, Simone hints at two things. One, that many of these characters are being re-set to earlier points in their careers:

This is a huge wave going through the DCU, and part of that wave is that most of the Bat-verse, and the DCU at large, are going to be shown a bit earlier in their careers, a bit less experienced. We don't want the characters to already know everything. As time goes on, at both DC and Marvel, characters notch up so many victories that we often start to think of them as infallible, which is kind of death for adventure fiction.

And two, that for now, there are zero plans for Cass in the new order:

I know people are worried about Cass and Steph. All I can say is, I cannot imagine that those characters won't have a role in the new DC. It just seems very unlikely. If no one else is using them, don't be surprised if they show up in Batgirl in the near future. They are awesome.

It could very well be that point one answers point two-- Cass will be re-set to before she became Batgirl. It could also be Simone just isn't privy to DC's plans for Cass because she's not the one writing the character. For now. Grant Morrison has already revealed Batman Incorporated-- with its international league of Bat-associates, it's the book that's most likely the best fit for Cass-- will continue with a new #1 in 2012, so perhaps she'll soldier on in the Blackbat costume as if nothing's changed. In this case, no news would be good news (as they say in the news industry right before they get fired for being wrong about no news being good news).

This is interesting:

When Steph was announced, I don't know if you remember, Jill, but there was a massive outcry from the readership. Massive. They felt that it was a betrayal that an Asian character, Cass Cain, who was much beloved and tremendously popular as Batgirl, was being replaced by a blonde-haired white girl. There were angry letters and threats of boycotts, the whole thing.

That's true. But a sizeable chunk of that outcry wasn't just the replacing of Cass with Steph. It was also that before doing so by having Cass quit being Batgirl-- in the most asinine, perfunctory way imaginable short of her slipping on a banana peel into the path of an oncoming steamroller or being beaten up and murdered by a baby-- they wrote her completely out of the DC universe as if she'd never existed, turned her into a grotesque Dragon Lady stereotype, mooting the entire character arc of her monthly series, returned her as an evil Batgirl, stuck her in Batmand and the Outsiders and just as quickly jerked her out again, involved her in a shamefully slapdash miniseries, set her up for new adventures, then wrote her out of the DC universe again at the beginning of a storyline in which by the nature of her relationship with its central figure she should have been a major player. And then more vague promises before having her show up again seemingly repaired for the foreseeable future. And now a huge, potentially game-changing announcement involving almost DC character that's ever existed in the company's long history... except Cass. To understate the matter, fans tend to find such things unpleasant.

Especially when, with such a track record, DC could just as easily do worse to Cass and her long-suffering fans.

However, in lieu of hard info and in the interest of generating some good will for my favorite DC character, I'm going to try my best to stay positive and use my mighty brain to convince my uncertain heart my good friends at the company that owns her wouldn't do something quite so stupid as put us through all that again, not when they so recently gave Cass a compelling new identity and sense of purpose. Which is why I'm going to keep grinning as if my face had been badly Botoxed by a doctor of uncertain credentials operating in a seedy strip mall also featuring a massage parlor, a title pawn establishment and more empty storefronts than tenants.

Yes. See how happy I am? See my smile? It's a big, big smile of love and joy and it means I'm anxious to see what Morrison's going to do with Cassandra Cain in Batman Incorporated volume 2! Or what Gail Simone's going to do with her in Batgirl volume infinity! But would it kill someone at DC to include something to that effect in one of their many relaunch press releases?


Nathaniel said...

I've been arguing about this with a lot of people, and what I hate is that it felt like momentum was finally building in Cass's favor. She appeared in Batman, Inc., is a main character in Gates of Gotham, and has an upcoming guest appearance in Red Robin.

And now, it kind of feels like it's all for naught. Her progress is getting thrown off the rails thanks to a line-wide relaunch.

Gail can assure me all she wants that "surely there must be plans for Cassandra!!", but I've heard that song and dance before. And more often than not, there actually aren't any plans.

The only way this can be positive for Cass is if they take her back to her Puckett characterization thanks to the "everyone is younger and more inexperienced!" edict.

Joel Bryan said...

I have similar feelings, but I really want to believe Gail Simone on this. Even though she appears to be guessing as much as we are.

Actually, I was hoping Blackbat #1 would be in the list of new titles. I'm not disappointed it wasn't... yet.

The "younger and more inexperienced" thing seems to be inconsistently applied already. For Batman, Inc. to work and there to be an African Batman, wouldn't Batman himself have to be at least somewhat experienced and well-known? Or will Morrison have to start his story over again from the beginning and have this relatively unknown upstart Bruce Wayne running around the world trying to convince people to join up with his crazy scheme?

Which would be interesting. And in his travels, he'd run across this silent young killing machine in need of redemption and more positive father figure...

Nah. They'd never do that. Instead, there will be this slight disconnect going on they'll have to try to fix later in a 12-issue maxiseries event.

Joel Bryan said...

Actually, I agree Cass had been gaining momentum and it seems like she-- and Stephanie Brown-- are going to be the sacrificial characters in the Bat reboo-- er-- relaunch. But maybe Blackbat in Hong Kong is far enough away from DC's corporate offices to kind of slip through and meet her fans on the other side.

Joel Bryan said...

Sucks for Steph fans, though.

Joel Bryan said...

I just wish they'd announce something. Good news, bad news, anything is better than just silence. If it's good news, I'll pick up her next few appearances, if it's bad news I'll hop completely off the DC bus once again and keep on rollin' with Dark Horse, IDW, Fantagraphics and all the others. Nothing DC does can upset me at this point. Disappoint me, yeah, Mildly please me as well.

But upset? Nah. Life's too short and we've been there way too many times before.