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 07:58 am (UTC)
suzene: (Luff!)
From: [personal profile] suzene
I'll hopefully have more thoughts on this when my brain's rested, but short version:

Fantastic points, great post, and I'm excited for the BoP relaunch all over again.

Date: 2010-02-05 08:15 am (UTC)
requiem2adream: (DC Comics: BoP: BFF)
From: [personal profile] requiem2adream
I would be a much happier customer if the mother-daughter and sisterly relationships between these woman and girls were acknowledged too.

Yes. A whole world of yes.

Date: 2010-02-05 04:12 pm (UTC)
shadowpsykie: Information (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowpsykie
wsell with Gail Back on the series, (and Misfit and Black Alice on one of the covers) it looks like we will be getting some acknowledgement. (in fact, gail created most of those characters soooo :)

*Most=not Cass but she had a pretty good handle on Cass as well

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] kingrockwell - Date: 2010-02-05 09:11 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-02-05 08:28 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] theanswer
I don't really go about my life interacting with people with constant reminders that they're like sisters or a mother to me. It's just sort of an unspoken understanding.

Date: 2010-02-05 09:04 am (UTC)
01d55: Jigglypuff (Default)
From: [personal profile] 01d55
It's pretty hard to abandon someone who can teleport, especially when they can teleport into a pocket dimension that allows them to observe the world and stalk find you.

My assumption is that Charlie sleeps in Helena's house and her "secret identity" is officially in her care, but she can and will bounce to Bab's place and spend time with her whenever.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] promethea4 - Date: 2010-02-05 08:37 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-02-05 12:07 pm (UTC)
espanolbot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] espanolbot
Hm, not sure how well Charlie would get along with Cass and Steph, considering how massively jealous she's been to other superheroines Babara's attempted to mentor in the past.

Like the time Babara's tried to steer Black Alice on the path to superheroism, but Charlie thought that she was being replaced so she physically started a fight with her. Picking on the girl who is on medication in order for her to have a villainy relapse was kinda mean. :(

Can't really imagine what her reaction to meeting Steph and Cass would be, considering how she had installed herself as the "real Batgirl" after cass disappeared for a few months.

Annoyed and punchy that Steph was given the job, as well as mildly baffled as to where the autopsy photos came from?

Using the method she used against Cass in order to provoke her into a fight, figuring her superstrength etc. would help her beat her up better? I don't know.

She might get along well with Sin though, if only because Charlie used to have a little sister already and could transfer her feelings over.

Date: 2010-02-05 09:14 pm (UTC)
kingrockwell: he's a sexy (Ferdinand)
From: [personal profile] kingrockwell
this'll be easier if we pretend McKeever never happened
However! Charlie and Sin have met.

Date: 2010-02-05 12:08 pm (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
Now then, this is just a theory but I think one of the reasons we don't see women as mother figures in comics is that some writers may have thought they might have been enforcing the whole 'women should stay home and cook' mindset, now I don't attribute DC writers as feminists but I don't think they are full on misogynists either so from what little they might know of feminism I can see them coming to such a conclusion.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] yaseen101 - Date: 2010-02-05 05:58 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-02-05 12:08 pm (UTC)
yaseen101: (Default)
From: [personal profile] yaseen101
In other news I hate it when writers use Bat-Dickery as an excuse to create conflict or give any of the Bat-Kids a reason to Call The Old Man out. Am I suppoused to believe that Bruce Wayne who trained himself for years upon years to discipline himself and become a Detective and has been crime fighting for roughly 15 or so years up to this point and has been known to be sympathetic and bond with children with troubled pasts easily would have that much of a hard on over someone dying accidentally?

*yaseen101 of earth you have great rage in yo...*

AAAAGH, GET OUT! GET OUT! *flails broom stick around*

Date: 2010-02-05 12:27 pm (UTC)
darkblade: (Default)
From: [personal profile] darkblade
Those Red Rings are like popup ads. They just keep coming back.

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Date: 2010-02-05 01:35 pm (UTC)
thebigapricot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thebigapricot
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!

Great post. I'm not really sure which is worse though. Is it Babs abandoning Charlie to Helena or her mentoring Steph as the new Batgirl without any indication that she has checked up on Cass to see if she was all right.

You would think that Babs would be attuned to the importance of a mother figure, given her own loss. I wish the mother-daughter like relationship between her and Cass had played out more in BoP. But i suppose Gail had her own stories to tell. Or maybe she wanted to focus on Babs' role as mother figure through Charlie. This makes the massive fail of that last issue all the worse. It will be interesting to see how the relationship between Steph and Babs gets integrated in BoP II.

And putting more work on Gail's plate, she should also address the Sin/Dinah story. I always thought it would be great if Conner had gone off to watch over Sin. If not, maybe Cass is with Sin.

Date: 2010-02-05 02:04 pm (UTC)
espanolbot: (Default)
From: [personal profile] espanolbot
Well judging from the flashback panel in the previous issue, Steph did go looking for Cass, and apparently catching her at an airport. Only Cass asked her not to follow her.

Maybe it'll be expanded on in next week's issue, after Steph and Damian save Dick from getting mobbed to death by supervillains.

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Date: 2010-02-05 02:26 pm (UTC)
iskander: (Default)
From: [personal profile] iskander
When does the new book come out ?

Date: 2010-02-05 02:50 pm (UTC)
majingojira: (Crapfic)
From: [personal profile] majingojira
Isn't is cure, you expect the portrayals of various characters to be kept consistant between writers. Don't you know, the editors are far to busy mandating storylines and events than keeping track of the characters they are writing about!


I'm gonna go cry now.

Date: 2010-02-05 03:45 pm (UTC)
jarodrussell: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jarodrussell
If I've learned anything about family from Birds of Prey, it's this: be white.

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Date: 2010-02-05 04:38 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
Honestly, that last panel from Batgirl #67 is slashtastic.

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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!

Date: 2010-02-05 10:00 pm (UTC)
roibenrye: (Default)
From: [personal profile] roibenrye
Thanks so much for posting, I was wondering about mistfit and had only seen a scan here or there about her (didn't get into Birds of prey until after it had ended, thus is much of my life).

I hate it when they introduce characters without really committing to them and I feel like it happened to Misfit and/or Sin (though, with both like I said, I don't know a whole lot). I mean, it might not be the writers or anything, but like you, I'm sad to see them fall to the side or pushed under the bed. If they're going to create a new relationship, stick to it please.

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] roibenrye - Date: 2010-02-06 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2010-02-05 11:48 pm (UTC)
shadeedge: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadeedge
The idea that parenting and superheroics are incompatible seems to be considerably more used on female characters than male. There's countless stories of male superheroes providing, even when not genetically fathers, mentorship and fatherly concern and advice to younger men or boys. With women, it seems as if a lot of writers have trouble with writing a character who is at the same time both heroic and motherly/parental (probably Wonder Woman is the only character who is often well-written along those lines, and then only by some authors). Sure, there are simply more male superheroes, but I wager that if you looked at it proportionally there'd be considerably less mentor/parental female/female relationships than male/male.

I'd wager in terms of relationship the most to least common would be parental male/child male, male/female, female/female, and then female/male last.

Date: 2010-02-06 12:54 am (UTC)
suzene: (Default)
From: [personal profile] suzene
The idea that a guy can do it all and still be a great father so long as he makes time for his kids on weekends, while a woman who gives less than 100% herself to her family isn't doing her job is still pretty prevalent, and I think that a lot of the writing in superhero comics reflects this. Women can be heroes/heroic or they can be mothers/teachers, but they can't split their focus and still be considered good at both.

Date: 2010-02-06 06:06 am (UTC)
jaybee3: Nguyen Lil Cass (Default)
From: [personal profile] jaybee3
This post is made of awesome and I pretty much second everything you said.

There are some people who say Miller is not writing Babs OOC in Batgirl, but I think of it this way, no matter what editorial order he has from Didio & Co. not to use Charlie and Cass in Batgirl, the fact that Barbara has yet to give even a single thought or worry or frown over the fates of 2 teenagers who looked up to her a a hero, a role model, a sister and yes, a mother is just bad characterization and something I would hope to never see anyone who really appreciates the character of Oracle do (even a throw-away line would suffice at this rate). Hopefully the Babs we see in BoP will not be like that.

And I'm sure we'll see Sin back with Dinah in Birds. With Ollie (seemingly) out of the way there's no reason Dinah can't just take Sin out of the monastery and sprint back to Gotham to Helena, Babs and Zinda. Maybe Sin can teach Lady Blackhawk the intricacies of Pokemon just as she did Barda.


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