Evil Cassandra Cain: “You’re Welcome Tim”
from Robin v2 #162 2007-07 1280x1920 (max tumblr)
Hi-resolution version of Cass holding her sniper rifle 1988x3056:
Here is the wrap up to Cassandra’s “evil” phase with her killing a very evil business man who’s been doing illegal, unethical and ultimately deadly drug experiments on society’s undesirables.
Cass goes on hiatus after this issue and next appears in Batman and the Outsiders #2 2008-01. With her move into the Outsiders, Evil Cass is gone and she’s on the road to recovery.
While it’s a damn shame that DC’s executives (probably Dan DiDio) decided that Cass had to take an evil turn, having her be a rogue vigilante who kills bad guys isn’t so bad.
Cassandra’s torturing Captain Boomerang and trying to kill Supergirl for money in Supergirl v5 #14 2007-04 is much less nuanced and basically makes her into a typical evil, money grubbing killer.
But alas no, we get Casssandra heading up the League of Assassins (wtf?!?) and after doing the Supergirl gig and whacking this baddie in Robin 162, she’s back to being good.
DC seems to have heard loud and clear from Cass fans that making her evil and Adam Beechen’s terrible implementation of this change had to go. Looking back, they really back peddled pretty fast and came up with the (pretty lame but I’ll take it) retcon of Slade drugging Cass to make her evil.
Oh well, it’s done and done. Though Cass being evil was terrible writing of a beloved character, her art in Robin 161-162 looks really good. She looks great in the last image holding the sniper rifle.
As bad (and I’m talking horrible) Beechan’s ideas and implementation were, the Cass vs Supergirl issue was the ultimate insult to the fans. Not only was Supergirl regularly portrayed as entitled and obnoxious in HER OWN BOOK during this period (aka a lot of her own readers didn’t like her) but we have scenes of Tim (Tim!) giving Supergirl (a Kryptonian who is one of the most powerful beings on the planet) the intel on Cass and how to beat her without Tim seemingly telling Bruce or Oracle jack squat about any of it - and it never comes up again so we have to assume he never did. And then Kara beats Cass with deus ex machina crystals coming out of her body (that should have killed her) and then Supergirl leaving Cass for dead (remember she was obnoxious). There was a reason that whole SG era and personality was retconned away when Sterling Gates took over the book.
The most interesting thing about the whole Evil!Cass plotline was not that Didio (c’mon we know it was him) came up with it and how the editors destroyed the only WOC in the Bat-Family (and the most successful female Asian hero in the company’s history) all so she can be a supervillain for male Robin #3 but that they cared so little about Cass and Beechan himself knew so little about the character that the two Bat-Characters that played major roles in Cass’s title and her on-page history - Barbara/Oracle and Bruce/Batman - played ZERO ROLE in the entirety of the Evil!Cass storylines.
Listen, realistically, given her skill set and backstory, if Cass Cain suddenly became the Head of the League of Assasins it would NOT be Tim Drake who would stop her - it would be Batman. But DC? Couldn’t have cared less about that plot point. Nor could Beechan - and that IS his fault.
The thing is though, the “Cass goes Evil” storyarc isn’t even one that’s meant to be centric to her. Her being evil wasn’t a Cass story, but rather a Tim story that she happened to be a character in.
It wasn’t like that later godawful Roy Harper story where he joins a group of supervillains following Lian’s death, that was about a hero falling to the darkside. It was more like if, say, they cancelled Green Arrow so that he could show up in Birds of Prey as a villain, with the story more focusing on the BoP than Evil!Ollie, if you get me?
That’s one of the things that pissed me off about the move. The SOLE REASON they cancelled Cass book was so they could make her evil, and they only reason they made her evil was to make her an addition to Tim’s Rogue’s Galley post-Infinte Crisis. That’s it. Maybe you could finagle a “they didn’t want people to get Cass mixed up with the then-newly introduced Kathy Kane” but’s not as likely.
I can’t blame anyone for thinking that Cass would make a great villain. She certainly could. It’s not even that that I think most fans despise.
I don’t even think it’s the fact she was made evil to be part of Tim’s rogues gallery. That could have had potential too.
I don’t even think it was Beechan himself as the writer that made people upset. Beechan is capable of some very good stories. He wrote well received episodes for the Teen Titans tv show, he wrote a fill-in for the Teen Titans comic that was one of the better WWIII/52 follow-ups and really got Raven’s character (and was supposed to write a full arc that I think I would have been very happy with that never came to pass). His stuff in the Batman Beyond universe in the New 52 has also been stuff actually worth reading.
It was the numerous backflips he did with the character because he didn’t take the time to really research her enough! He read just enough to get a basic idea of her, then it seems read her Wiki to get her back story, and then tried to make a fucking kadamari domashi out of those basics and his convoluted ideas of what would make a cool villain that didn’t really stick together (because the core was too small to support this giant ball of chaos). His laziness forced him into so many corners that he seems to have said, “Fuck it. I don’t care if it don’t work! It’s my story, and you’re going to love it regardless!”
For example, Cass spent ages in her book trying to make herself literate. This story was written about the time Rosetta Stone came out. Why have her learn a near impossible language for outsiders to learn like Navajo when it would have just taken her a little more effort and some Rosetta Stone in English (or just some good old hooked on phonics!) to make her literate. She was just right there for a long, long time. Just a little more effort from her and she would have been able to read in a short time anyways. And why give her the motivation he did? Wait, what was the motivation anyways?
Oh, that’s right! “I have a random creepy ass crush on Tim that I’ve never had before and my parents were hired killers for the League of Assassins. They were among Ra’s al Ghul’s very best, and raised me in their footsteps. Because, you know, homicidal tendencies are completely genetic, and I haven’t spent 8-10 years of my life, minimum, doing everything that I can to prove that notion wrong.”
Hell, even using that motivation, there could have been a number of ways to make this work. The obvious being making her essentially a Jason Todd like character. A Bat-related character that comes to blows with the family because of experiences that force them to reconsider the Bat code of ethics and opt for more “permanent” solutions and a total distrust/disregard for the rehabilitative capacity of the US justice or mental health systems (which, given the sorry state of both, anyone with half a brain should be at least slightly skeptical of them at all times, even when one needs to rely on them because they’re the best options we have right now). Heck, if you want to make her insane-o, after Cass’ encounter with Shiva in the last issue of her book, Shiva came back as more of an anti-hero as opposed to the anti-villain she had been dating back to the O’neil Question series, eventually gaining membership to the Birds of Prey, which lead to a few interesting stories. Maybe she could have watched Shiva grow more heroic, watching her mom experience a literal rebirth into a new person from the shadows. To have successfully experienced that release she had desired for so long and been able to forge herself anew. Maybe watching this had warped her into thinking that maybe the only real chance of redemption some people have is to literally die and be reborn. Why the hell not? It’s better than the nebulous bullshit we got. It makes internal sense if you think about it from the mind of a delusional person (which is the key to writing crazy characters. The motivation should seem like the utter bullcrap it is one the surface, but make a twisted sense underneath).
This is a case of a good writer failing spectacularly for the dumbest of reasons: PURE LAZINESS!
And his attempt to make up for it wasn’t much better. The Redemption arc set up interesting concepts for Cass going forward (expanding her family and that dynamic, introducing a new possible love interest), but Beechan’s insistence that he did nothing wrong, that Cass being possible killer even while reformed in no way violated her character, and that he was going to half-ass his apology run as a result, created a mess that just endeared him less to Cass fans.
I think the worst of it was that DC wanted it both ways. Didio said Beechan was hired to write the Cass/Batgirl mini-series as a way to “make up” for what he had done to Cass without ever acknowledging that anything bad was done to Cass.
So what did Beechan have to apologize for? Beechan himself had stated at the time of the Robin arc that he had worked everything out with his editors (Berganza and Tomasi) and everything he did was consistent with Cass’s character development - a statement that was repudiated by Geoff Johns VERY quickly with his creation of Deathstroke’s magic evil juice to explain away Evil!Cass. Yet Beechan apparently didn’t get the memo since continued to say Cass’s actions made sense even after the retcon (hence we have his idea of Alfred teaching the formerly dyslexic girl who could barely read one word in English one of the hardest languages on the planet - Najavo - OFF-PANEL) and spent much of the six issue mini-series that was supposed to gauge true fan interest in Cass as Batgirl into explaining away Beechan’s own previous characterization of her (complete with her wish to kill Cain which is something that NEVER existed prior to Beechan himself). That is not only shoddy writing but it is selfish writing. Beechan himself said in an interview that “IF HE HAD BEEN A FAN” of Cass Cain he too would have been upset with what was done to her which clearly implies he wasn’t (compare say to Cass’s previous writers - her co-creator Kelly Puckett, Dylan Horrocks, or Anderson Gabrych, - who were all fans of the character and clearly wrote FOR her and not against her). So instead of writing a heroic, heartwarming, action-filled six issue mini series about the most prominent Asian hero in the entire company, Beechan spend six issues with a boring retread explaining and justifying himself - and that’s nothing to do with Editorial.