Batgirl #2 Review
Batgirl #2 review by Armeka Jackson
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by J. Calafiore
Though not as popular as the Robins or the Gordons, Cassandra Cain is an integral, if unofficial, part of the Bat-family. Making her debut in the Batman crossover No Man's Land, she is the daughter of David Cain and Lady Shiva, two of the most skilled combatants in the DC Universe. Raised by Cain through violent and abusive methods without being taught how to speak, she instead learned to read her opponent's body language in accordance to fighting methods, allowing her to foresee their next move before they even knew what it would be. Batgirl's book, written by Kelley Puckett, had only minimal narration by the main character, some issues with none at all, following the theme that Cassandra let her actions speak louder than words ever could. The Oracle Barbara Gordon and Batman were also written incredibly well in their appearances, learning to be both a reluctant parents and teachers to a young woman who had a more painful upbringing than Bruce Wayne himself (who coincidentally, also received training by David Cain).
When writer Adam Beechen gave Batgirl Cassandra Cain a new M.O. in the Robin series after DC's mega-event Infinite Crisis, she had taken the role of her mother as leader of the League of Assassins, and harbored deep and unexplained resentment towards the Batfamily. It was later revealed that fan-favorite and DC bad-ass Slade Wilson, also known as Deathstroke the Terminator, drugged and manipulated Cassandra Cain in a similar way that he had done to former Teen Titan Terra. Cassandra regained her memories thanks to Robin and his Teen Titans, and eventually found redemption with Batman and even joined his Outsiders.
With her memories cleared and access to the Batcave, Cassandra is on the hunt for Slade Wilson and David Cain in her new miniseries. Now with dialogue (Cassandra learned how to speak fluently during Batman's long absence in 52), she intends to make the men who ruined her life the last two kills she will ever commit. She also meets Marque, another woman of many raised by David Cain in his search to create the world's most dangerous assassin. Marque herself wants to kill Cain. And that's pretty much the plot, clearly subpar to what a character like Batgirl deserves. Cassandra simply out for revenge is not what made her such a hit with fans. Her awkward interaction with an ESL classmate is much closer to what I would like to see in her series, but even that feels forced.
Some could see her new development in speech and her access to Batman's wonderful toys as character growth, and they may be right, but it's also a step backwards from what made Batgirl such a likeable character. Was it the right thing to do to give control of a new miniseries about Cassandra Cain to the writer who was seen as responsible for her downgrade? Obviously, the decision to take away from Batgirl what made her the most appealing wasn't just Beechen's, but two issues in, it seems that very little has been done to bring back the storytelling, action, and mood of Cassandra's original adventures. Kelley Puckett's Batgirl series was a very approachable book and only occasionally coincided with Batman crossovers, while this series seems to be rooted in knowledge of the happenings of DC in recent years. Maybe it's unfair to judge Beechen's work to the old series, but that's exactly what readers will be doing. Cassandra Cain fans hoping that this series would bring back the tone of Puckett's work are better off looking for trade paperbacks of her old series.