Cassandra Cain is about to burst onto the big screen together with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey, but prior to she was a cinematic pocket picker, she was somebody much larger: Batgirl. Cass’ origin story evokes powerful themes of battling your own trauma and choosing your own course– and it’s the focus of DC Comics’ most current YA graphic novel, Shadow of the Batgirl, from author Sarah Kuhn and artist Nicole Goux.
While Cassandra Cain is Kuhn’s preferred Batgirl, she never expected to be able to do a book about her.
[…] I was thinking that Cassandra was the long shot.
Developed in 1999 by Kelley Puckett and Damion Scott, Cass Cain was the child of the greatest assassins in the DC Universe and Barbara Gordon’s very first successor. By the time she wore her outfit, she was likewise the very first Batgirl in over a decade, acquiring a fan following that made her the star of the first continuous Batgirl series.
Cass’ tenure in the role didn’t last through today day; in 2009, she ceded the mantle to a 3rd Batgirl, and in 2011 a continuity reboot eliminated her from DC history. While she was ultimately re-envisioned as the vigilante Orphan, Barbara Gordon is still the only person to have actually been Batgirl in the modern-day DCU.
As a pitch, Shadow of the Batgirl might have been a “long shot” on a forgotten character, however as a book, it’s a wonderfully understood coming of age story about found household, ladies mentoring females, and choosing your own way. And it’s a terrific intro to an excellent character, aimed at an audience that wasn’t even alive when she initially struck comic shop shelves.
Provided all of that, Polygon is delighted to share a complete scene from Shadow of the Batgirl, which hits racks on Jan. 29, in addition to excerpts from our interview with Khun and Goux, everything about how they retold the 2nd Batgirl’s origin story for a new generation.
Goux, who joked that her background is in mostly “indie comics that are just teens sitting around talking,” had specific objectives in crafting her variation of Batman’s home town.
” I wished to develop this world that felt both like Gotham– something that could be huge and frightening– but likewise had minutes of calm and of home and serenity,” she told Polygon. “I actually like quiet moments in stories, and I like having area to check out these moments in between the action and what’s taking place.”
In her timeless incarnation, Cassandra Cain’s assassin father raised her in a way that mapped the language centers of her brain to motion instead of speech. He forged Cass into a martial arts prodigy with an incredible capability to anticipate her opponent’s moves, but at the expense of her capability to read, compose, and speak.
With help from the Bat-family, Cass had the ability to end up being increasingly more spoken, but speech impairment is a constant trait for her character in many incarnations, and one that Kuhn and Goux didn’t want to ignore.
“[Cass’ language impairment] did feel like a core part of the character […],” Kuhn stated, “Truly the only language she has is body language. So we discussed that a lot, and I likewise wished to show the struggle of her beginning to get these first little bits of language and trying to determine what to do with them, and how they connect, and how they are used for communication.”
Comics are a marriage of text and image, and with much less speech on the page, the onus was on the art to carry much of the interaction. To Goux, nevertheless this was “less an obstacle than a chance to really showcase what art can do and tell stories through simply imagery.”
” We had actually discussed concepts of putting images in word bubbles or discovering some other methods of revealing what she was thinking without using text,” Goux said, “However we landed on simply relying greatly on the body language and expressions of the characters, which I in fact think works actually well for this story because that’s how Cassandra comprehends the world.”
” At initially the voiceover was in fact rather extensive,” Kuhn chimed in, “because we were attempting to assist individuals through the story […] however when we went back, and once we had kind of figured out [Cass’] voice and how it established through the book a little bit much better, we really ended up cutting a lot of that.
After Cassandra turned down the course her parents set her on, she became a homeless runaway, and ultimately fell under the mentorship of Barbara Gordon, who had retired from being Batgirl. Cass’ tutelage under Barbara was a big part of the character’s beginnings, in a superhero genre and period in which female characters were pretty thin on the ground– making female/female mentorships even rarer.
” There is something effective about a female superhero mentoring a younger female superhero,” Kuhn informed Polygon, “helping her recognize who she desires to be, and helping her gain the abilities that she needs.
But Kuhn and Goux went a step further with among Shadow of the Batgirl‘s initial characters, an older owner of a pho dining establishment.
” I also desired [Cass] to have an Asian girl role model– since that’s certainly been important to me in my life– we created the character, Jackie, who is her other mentor. I like that she gets different things from Barbara and Jackie and incorporates them into her own superhero identity in addition to things that she’s determined she wants for herself. Showing that relationship was really essential and I enjoy that the three of them wind up being their own sort of found household, assisting each other.”
Your typical teenager was not raised by assassins as an ideal killing machine, Cass’ origin followed a time-honored comic book tradition: utilizing outsized sci-fi ideas as metaphors for more relatable experiences.
” I think it’s really essential to keep in mind that [Cass] has actually been talked her life that she needs to be something,” Goux stated. “And during this really volatile period in her life– being a teen, which is insane for anyone– she is confronted with this choice to continue along the course that she has actually been told to go, or to select a new path and decide what she wishes to be on her own. […] I think that is really powerful and actually important, to inform women her age that you get to pick who you’re going to be. […] Despite The Fact That Cass’ issues appear larger, they’re truly the very same problems but just on a various scale.”
” Cass is this badass assassin,” Kuhn stated, “but on the inside she’s likewise a teenage woman who has actually never ever gotten to be a teen.
” I constantly loved that [Cassandra] was a character who was offered all the tools to be a supervillain,” Kuhn said. “That’s her path, that’s what she’s been trained to do, she doesn’t understand anything else. And then she picks instead to be a hero. […] I believe there’s something effective about stating to, especially girls, you can select who you get to be. You can determine your identity, and it’s OK if you make some errors, it’s OK if it’s not immediately perfect– but you have that choice, you have that power.”
Shadow of the Batgirl strikes racks on Jan. 29,2020