Scattered stuff from a native New Yorker, disorganized former English Major, film buff, haiku enthusiast, semi-professional photographer and totally amateur fencer.

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imageAdam Beechen himself responded to one one of my Tumblr responses about Cass Cain. Makes me feel more than a little bad about it that people are still on him about a “8 year old comic” (and by “people” I mean me).

I tweeted him back that I actually liked some of his Teen Titans Go and JLU work and that most people actually blamed Editorial and not him. It’s just that his “8 year old comic” was the start of 8 years where Cass Cain has been declared “toxic” by DC Editorial for some reason and they have come up time and time again with reasons to slight the character (yes because all 4 male Robins needed their own BOOKS in the reboot but Batman’s adopted daughter who is a WoC in a mostly white world - and the one protege most like him - has still not existed two years into the DCnU). None of which is Beechen’s fault - but if we have to go back to when it all started it all goes back to that “8 year old comic”.

Also, in Beechen’s defense, he has always manned up and taken responsibility for Evil!Cass even though we all know it was an Editorial decision handed to him (even if he decided the Dragon Lady direction). No one at DC Editorial (like Beechen’s editors, Eddie Berganza and Peter Tomasi who still work at DC) has ever taken responsibility or even talked about it. Didio has even jokingly blamed Beechen as the man who “ruined Cass Cain” at conventions (and we all know it was ultimately Didio’s decision). Now that’s shady.

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Ollie Queen piles on the charm by attempting to murder Cass for her numerous murders whilst brainwashed… apparently the hypocrisy of this course of action (particularly has Ollie has both killed people in the past while in control of his faculities and would go on to kill others in the future) doesn’t occur to Mr Queen.

Particularly baffling is that this isn’t the first team that Cass and Ollie were together on, as they were both in JLElite together back in the day. Hell, I’m pretty sure he was the one Bruce told Cass’ secret to at the time as well.

From Batman and the Outsiders

Can we also include the fact that Ollie voted to mindwipe Bruce and lied about it (to Bruce’s face) or years and years (an incident which somehow only stuck to Zatanna). I figure that means Ollie owes Bruce FOREVER.

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Ah, Beechen’s Cass Cain. So badly written and more than a smidge racist.

Wait, that’s a flintlock pistol, generally they only have one shot, so after it went off that one time, how was Tim going to shoot David Cain at that point?

And here we see the most apparent problem with evil Cass…

IT COULD HAVE WORKED! Having Cass become a ROGUE, operating OUTSIDE THE BATFAM because she had lost faith in them, could have worked great! But instead they made her a Dragon Lady type completely inexplicably and try to become top dog in the very organization both her parents worked for, that she RAN AWAY TO AVOID BECOMING A PART OF, which OPPOSED HER ADOPTED FAMILY FOR YEARS, because…being a member of the League of Assassins is a hereditary thing? It’s just hardwired into some kids’ genes because of who their parents are?

See…if they were going to make Cass go bad, they should have made her a Red Hood type, and kept Jason Todd dead.

Also there’s no way she a fight loses to Tim Drake (just none and I like Tim). If Cass was to become a super-villian she would be on Deathstroke level (or at least Cain+Lady Shiva level) and would DC let Tim beat Deathstroke in a straight-up fight. Let’s face it Cass can straight up take out any of the Robins and that’s the problem when making her a villain just so she can be a Robin rogue (especially Tim). Also, no matter what weird crap Beechan and Tomasi/Berganza made up to justify themselves there’s no way Cass would harm any of the Bat-Crew. They were her family. Until Beechan she couldn’t even bring herself to kill Shiva or Cain.

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Black Bat Chronicle: Cass Passes The Mantle To Steph
from Batgirl v3 #1 2009-10 and #6 2010-03

Cass: That symbol…
His crest, his fight…
Steph: Cass— what are you doing?
Cass: I fought for him.
But no more.
Now, the fight it yours…
Steph: Cass?

This is so sad and a little confusing. And the last panel with Cass at the airport leaving Gotham is (yet another) Cass heartbreaker.

Did Cassandra fight for Batman or did she fight for compassion, for empathy, for redemption? I can’t think of a more single minded Gotham hero who wants to stop death and suffering. Yes, including mister intensity himself, Batman.

Cass was always haunted by her upbringing (if it can be called that) and the culmination of her abuse with the Macau murder. THIS was the dark, grim energy that drove her to atone for her great sin, murder.

In addition to being haunted by her murder, she was a victim of a horrendous 8 years of abuse by her father and abandonment and neglect by her mother.

Cass was both innocent and guilty. This conflicting combination churned up guilt, anger, sadness and regret into a powerful determination that others would not suffer, others would not be killed.

Simply saying Cass “fought for him” is to ignore what truly drove her: redemption and compassion.

But alas, Cassandra Cain had to go making room for a new Batgirl, the awesome Stephanie Brown. So Cass is disillusioned and wants to move on, leaving Gotham for a new venue to fight crime: Hong Kong.

Happy Cassandra Cain Appreciation Month!

Clearly Miller was told to get rid of Cass in the fastest way possible (and he did in one page and in a way that was reminiscent of Adam Beechan levels of research). Even if you like the Stephanie Brown Batgirl title (and I know oodles of people do) the way Cass was treated in it (Babs never even brings up her name in the course of the entire two year run) was tasteless considering Cass had held the Batgirl title for over a decade and had her own six year run (a run that no other Batgirl title has equalled as of today).

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Evil Cassandra Cain vs Supergirl part2 - The Fight
from Supergirl v5 #14 2007-04

This is it, the (in)famous fight between Batgirl and Supergirl. Cassandra Cain is in full “evil” mode and is the head of the League of Assassins when she’s contracted to kill Supergirl.

Even though DiDio/Beechem’s Evil Cass change was a terrible idea for many reasons and was sloppily implemented, I do like much of the Supergirl #14 art. Cass’s ninja outfit in this issue is the same as Robin #162; I think it looks good. And she’s very fit and muscular with pretty resonable proportions except for the leaping swords page where she’s a bit too busty and her lower legs get pretty thin. But these are quibbles, the art looks good for comics.

Plus, I like the red glowing lightsabers on black background with Evil Cass wielding them. It looks cool and I’m glad the writer tried to add some “comic physics” to how Evil Cass might kill a Kryptonian: diamond dust and UVB lights.

Along with the dust/light and Evil Cass’s ninja skills, there’s Boomer who she’s seduced and then captured and tortured. (Bad Cass!) This throws Supergirl way off and gives Batgirl an edge.

And finally, the big mistake that almost every villain makes: gloating over your seemingly defeated enemy instead of killing first and gloating later.

Then it happens: crystal spikes emerge around Supergirl’s stomach wound from Batgirl’s light swords and long crystal spikes shoot out of her back and into Evil Cass. Here’s the crystal spike page in full resolution:

Huh? I’m not big into Kryptonian physiology but I don’t remember this happening with Super[fill in the blank] in the past.

Since I’m a huge Cass fan, I wanted Evil Cass to win. So these spikes just seem like a deus ex machina by the writer to end the fight. This was hugely confusing/upsetting to the Cass-Cult crew that authored the excellent Casstoons. They named them retardo-spikes and then after being chastised (and fairly so) for this term they changed it to crystal herpes. Oh you nutty Cult-Cultists! :)

I feel compelled to note that Evil Cass surviving this isn’t so far fetched. It only appears that 2 spikes pierced her and they didn’t hit any vital organs. And she’s taken worse, much worse.

In Batgirl #6 2000-09, Batgirl (“good” Cass in this case!) was fighting some bad guys with automatic rifles and one of them started shooting at her though he was likely to hit a comrade in his line of fire behind her.

Cass being Cass, she was enraged at the shooter’s disregard for life, even his fellow baddie’s life. So she ran full speed at the shooter, carefully moving to block his shots with her body. She took 4 shots, reached the shooter and disarmed him before collapsing. Batman also raced there and put a serious THAWK on the shooter. The talk afterward with Bruce and Cass while Dr. Leslie is attending to her in the Batcave is great:

Batman: Wait. Batgirl. It was suicide to rush the gunner like that.
(Batman leans close and puts his hand on her head)
Batman: Why did you do it?
Batgirl (weakly): Instinct…
Batman (standing up with a smile): Good answer.

Cassandra Cain Bullets Can’t Stop Cass

And on that reference to a fantastic “good” Cass moment, I bid you all:
Happy Cassandra Cain Appreciation Month!

On one hand you can count it as a compliment that the writer couldn’t think of any way Paris Hilton…I mean…Supergirl would actually beat Evil!Cass that despite her having powers on a level with Superman (and Cass having no powers at all) he had to come up with crystal herpes to defeat her that were never brought up again.

On the other hand, Evil!Cass bears even less resemblance to any previous incarnation of the character that it seems the writer did less research than Adam Beechan. Something that seems impossible, I know.

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Evil Cassandra Cain vs Supergirl part1 - The Prelude
from Supergirl v5 #14 2007-04

Here’s Evil Cassandra Cain in her most (in?)famous fight vs Supergirl.

Standard disclaimer: Cassandra Cain is awesome and I condemn the heinous editorial decisions and writing by Dan DiDio and Adam Beecham that made her temporarily evil.

Here we have the prelude to the big BG vs SG fight: Cass is charming (seducing?) a hard drinking Captain Boomerang. There’s some really interesting dialog here, even bizarre dialog considering Cass probably had the highest attractiveness to asexuality ratio of any Gotham super. She goes from flirting once and kissing a boy as Good Cass to being a full on seductive secret agent. Wow! But anything’s possible with Evil Cass! (/sarcasm)

This dialog is pretty good, Evil Cass has charmed Boomer for sure:

Boomer: This girl, though… my “friend.” She gets me all turned around. She’s… I don’t know…
Guess, if I could be a friend to someone like her… Made me a little special too.
Bah, my old man would’ve slapped me in the head twice already for not letting you get a word in edgewise…
But you’re a damn good listener.
Evil Cass: Mm.

As bad as the story and characterization is in this issue, at least the writer got Cass not being talkative right! :)

The second page has a great pic of Evil Cass’s ninja outfit which I really like. Notice high on her right thigh there’s a cell phone! That’s great… along with her swords and throwing stars there’s her cell phone. And it’s pink! A very girl-ish touch by the artist; why not red or black?

The third page has interesting dialog between Robin and Supergirl who broke in to use his computers.

Supergirl: What? You don’t think I can take her?
Robin: She’s the only person I’ve ever met who’s truly hurt Bruce. Hurt him bad.
As far as I’m concerned, that makes her the most dangerous person on the planet.
She’s a special case, Supergirl. You should think this one through.
Supergirl: Thinking hasn’t really been my strong suit.
What button do I press to Mapquest this chick?

I gotta say that I like Robin trying to warn Supergirl that this isn’t a “normal” non-super powered ninja trying to kill her. Too bad the DC execs and editors didn’t realize Cassandra Cain was a special case to fans and didn’t turn her evil. They can cancel her title, business is business, but completely changing a beloved character … but I digress.

Supergirl’s response to Robin is so, so disappointing: "Thinking hasn’t really been my strong suit." Jeez, I’m glad I’m not a Supergirl fan because this line made me retch. It’s demeaning to young women and simply demeaning for any supposed hero, idol or role-model to say.

So the stage is set, now on to The Fight.

Happy Cassandra Cain Appreciation Month!

There are so many things wrongs in these panels that it makes your head explode. It’s like the author/editor (and these were not the Batman editors doing this for once) had never even heard of these characters before. It’s almost as if they were DCnU characters!

As for the Supergirl line about her own intelligence - that was par for the course for the title. There was a reason this title was DESPISED by real Supergirl fans who had waited for the return of Kara Zor-El for so long to DCU continuity only to be given…this.

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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.

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