mad: Batgirl, Cassandra Cain (Batgirl II)
[personal profile] mad posting in [community profile] scans_daily
With the return of Birds of Prey on a bright and shiny horizon, I've been thinking about all the things I'd love to see there. High atop my wishlist, is seeing three particular relationships restored and/or acknowledged.

It is an odd double standard that people like Batman and Green Arrow can have a thousand kids apiece and yet, when female characters take on parental roles, the relationships don't last long in canon, they get ignored or generally get treated as though they are of lesser value. And I think that kinda sucks, big time.

In chronological order, here's a bit about three younger heroes who have had Birds of Prey characters as parents: Cassandra Cain, Sin, and Misfit. (It's heavy on Cass, scan-wise.)



Cassandra Cain and Barbara Gordon:

Now, to my knowledge, Cass hasn't had a lot of page-time in BoP, and that's understandable considering that Cass had a 73 issue run in her own solo series, Batgirl. But Oracle had a fairly strong and consistent presence in that series, not just due to her status as a former Batgirl, but as someone who regularly behaved like parent to Cassandra. It should also be noted that Babs was the first of the bat-crew to meet Cassandra and bring her into the fold, during No Man's Land.


(Batgirl #5)


(Batgirl #7)



(Batgirl #17)


(Batgirl #25)

However, their relationship wasn't without difficulties. Babs was often frustrated by Cassandra's resistance to literacy (it's not Cass's fault that she's illiterate, of course, but she frequently didn't show much interest in learning either), and Cass was often caught in the middle of Babs and Bruce, who sometimes had very different ideas on what was best for Cass.



(Batgirl #3)

I believe it was during War Games, when a lot of bad things happened, that Babs called Cass "stupid" out of frustration, and although IIRC apologies were made, it still caused a bit of a rift between the two. After Steph died and after Cass went to live in Bl├╝dhaven for a while, Cass found out that Shiva might be her biological mother. She decided to go search for her, and called on Babs for help.



(Batgirl #67)

(This is when Babs did a scan of Cass's brain to discover the language centres of her brain operate completely differently than most people's. And then there was a thing with Black Canary strapped to the top of the Aerie, but that's not important just now.)


(Batgirl #67)

And...then they didn't speak for a few years. Cass quit being Batgirl for a while, went evil/was drugged-up by Deathstroke and her father, yada yada yada. They were seen in contact again in the Adam Beechen-written mini-series from 2008, but we never heard any explanation for why Babs never made more of an effort to find or try to save Cass beforehand.

More importantly for the present, in the current Batgirl series that's starring Stephanie Brown as Batgirl, is that we again haven't seen any indication that Babs is concerned about and/or looking for Cass now (as it seems she's taken off mysteriously again).

I think it would go a long way to acknowledging and repairing Barbara's relationship to Cass as a mother-figure if in Birds of Prey (or Batgirl, for that matter) we see that Babs is in fact staying in touch with and/or keeping tabs on Cass these days. After what happened the last time Cass fell off the radar, it would only make sense to do so for someone who cares about her like Babs does, especially considering that Babs is effectively the only non-evil parent Cass has left at the moment.


Sin and Dinah Lance:

Dinah had made a trip to the village where Lady Shiva supposedly comes from (there's some ambiguity there) to be trained to fight as Shiva does. There she met a little girl named Sin, who was on the path to being trained to take Shiva's place if Canary didn't. (You can read more about those events here and here.)

Dinah ended up taking Sin back home and adopting her.


(Birds of Prey #96)

Canary decided to quit the Birds team for the time being so she'd be better able keep Sin away from the dangers of being a superhero's child.


(Birds of Prey #100)

...and then everything changed again.


(Birds of Prey #100)

Dinah went on to chair the JLA, which was cool in theory. Then League of Assassins decided Sin was their future leader/chosen one or something, and Ollie faked Sin's death (without telling Dinah beforehand and waiting a few days to tell her Sin was alive) so that he could whisk Sin away to a monastery where she'd be safe from the League. Then Dinah married Ollie.

Personally, I find the idea that superheroing and parenting are somehow incompatible annoying, because clearly it is possible to write such stories, it's just that it usually only seems to work out for men in the long-term in comics. That makes it especially frustrating that even once it seemed Dinah had decided to keep being a superhero and a mother at the same time, Sin got sent away without Dinah's consent. (Not that being apart from Sin means she has ceased to be a mother to her, it's just that we don't see it, and that pretty much has the effect of ignoring the relationship entirely.)

So far I don't believe we've seen any indication of Dinah keeping in touch with Sin or going to visit her, but we really, really should.


Misfit (aka Charlie Gage-Radcliffe) and Barbara Gordon:

Ah, Misfit. She first appeared on the scene while Cass was in her drugged-to-be-evil phase, I believe, and was dressed up in a makeshift Batgirl costume:


(Birds of Prey #98)

Babs and the Birds were understandably confused and determined to track down this impostor. Turns out, this would-be Batgirl had healing and teleportation superpowers:


(Birds of Prey #98)

Babs did not take kindly to being surprise!stalked, and they fought.


(Birds of Prey #99)

Charlie didn't take it personally, though, and went on to tell Babs she was a fan of Batgirl. Babs was understandably upset about Cass, and about Stephanie's death. In fact, she went so far as to warn Charlie off of being Batgirl by telling her what happened to Steph and showing her autopsy photos, and talked about getting shot herself. Charlie promised not to be Batgirl anymore, and Babs gave her the bullet that was pulled out of her spine as well as the little Batgirl plushie doll Babs always used to have hanging around her desk. Charlie promised not to be Batgirl anymore, and left, noting that she "never said [she] would stop being a superhero."

Next time we saw her she'd changed her costume and codename to "Misfit" and joined the Birds (uninvited) on a couple of missions. Misfit had previously said that her mom was a movie star and that they lived in a mansion, but eventually Babs learned it was a lie.



(Birds of Prey #108)

Babs took her in, and reluctantly let her help out on some missions too.

Then, at the end of Birds of Prey (Volume 1!), Babs disbanded the team and dumped Charlie on Helena.



(Birds of Prey #127)

The kid who's "all too used to disappointment" was effectively abandoned by the woman who'd set out to take care of her. Now, we did see Charlie again in Batman: Battle for the Cowl: The Network and things seemed fine between them, but it was never explained what Charlie's living situation was, and we've heard nothing about her in the new Batgirl series so far. And given that Babs has found the time to mentor Stephanie, it seems pretty weird and out of character that Babs wouldn't have made things right with Charlie again.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: having Babs send Charlie away like that would be equivalent to Bruce telling a young Dick Grayson that he can't handle this whole mentor thing right now, and that he should just go live with Clark. But he'll be in touch! Hnn. It's not that Helena isn't trustworthy or wouldn't be a kind protector, but when you compare Babs taking Charlie in to letting her go, it reads like a broken promise to someone who needs and deserves better. Batman is far from being the perfect parent, but at least he gets to be one.

So here's hoping we see Babs and Charlie's relationship repaired.

(For bonus awesomeness, it would be great to see some of these girls actually interact with each other! You know Charlie would fangirl Cass and Steph to a delightfully obnoxious degree, Charlie and Sin have had some fun interaction, Cass and Steph are BFFs, and it's not like Sin and Cass have nothing in common, so it's definitely a recipe for fun stories.)

I realize that not all of these relationships may be top priority in either Birds of Prey or Batgirl, but I think it's really doing a disservice to the characters and the stories they have to tell if these various relationships continue to be unacknowledged in current continuity.

I've been enjoying the new Batgirl series so far, and I'm absolutely thrilled that Birds of Prey is returning with Gail Simone at the helm, but I would be a much happier customer if the mother-daughter and sisterly relationships between these woman and girls were acknowledged too.

Date: 2010-02-05 07:37 pm (UTC)
ravenous_raven: Combo headshot of Cass Cain, Steph Brown, and Babs Gordon, the 3 Batgirls, "Bow to the Goddammned Batgirls" in a corner (Default)
From: [personal profile] ravenous_raven
it looks like the hardest problem with having Babs mentoring so many girls is that there are just too many of them that when a writer focuses on one relationship, some of the others seem to be pushed to the side.

however, if a writer was really skilled and had all these girls get together despite their differences, they could find that they all love Babs for similar reasons (as a mother/big sister figure/mentor) and all have pretty similar goals in life (justice, trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in Gotham).

it would be really cool if Gail would write a "Mother's Day" story to kick-off the series, since mother's day is early May in the U.S. Babs could be having Steph over to do Batgirl stuff, then the other girls dropped by or snuck in one way or another. after much bickering, the girls could be paired off (Cass and Steph with either Charlie or Black Alice, since the first two are much more mature and the last two argue too much) to take down some sort of bad guy. obviously there will still be some riffs going on, but then at the end, all the girls will cooperate with each other surprise Babs with a cake or some sort of small party to recognize her role in all their lives!

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