Birds of Prey | Book Club Wks: 18-21 | Origins | The Batgirls: Cassandra Cain/Stephanie Brown/Barbara Gordon

I do hope we get to see Babs suit up as Batgirl as well. I know a lot of writers have been using her as Oracle, which is fine, but I want to see her in both roles too.

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A friend of mine had that same idea several years ago.

Yeah, I’ve been hoping for it since Future’s End, in 2014!

I think they’ve been hinting at a Batgirls book or series literally since the end of Joker War. I think we’re going to get it fairly soon in the next few months, since it sounds like Urban Legends is going to have a story featuring Steph and Cass.

My only hope is that when it does come out, that Barbara isn’t just in the clocktower as Oracle, but is in the suit as Batgirl with the other girls. Especially since the look they’ve tried to give Barbara to go out in the field as Oracle is…kinda blah, to be honest. Since it’s fairly recent I’ll put it in a drop-down menu:

Mild “Batman: Urban Legends #2” spoiler
It just feels like a half-assed, low effort April O’Neil cosplay.

At least her looks in Batman and Nightwing have been sharp as hell:

Yeah, I worry about this. The Future State Batgirls book I think was very poorly done, and I worry that instead of having the trio of Batgirls, they’re going to have Oracle and the Two Batgirls, which I think is fun, but I think it’d be much better for the fandom with Three Batgirls.

Completely agree that the Sauvage outfit was pretty bleh - I didn’t hate it as much as some fans, but it does feel very low effort, and not very stylish. Not at all like how sharp Jimenez has been drawing her! Or Redondo!

Speaking of which, the last Batgirl issue #50 just dropped today. I really hope a new Batgirl series gets announced soon.

I think however long the Batgirls backup story by Bennett and Sweeney Boo in Urban Legends goes, it will spin out into a Batgirls story. I just hope it’s good. The Castellucci and Ayala pieces so far have made me extremely worried about how DC handles and assigns the Batgirl property.

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I feel the only proper way to do a Batgirls title, since they like saying “all universes are canon”, is to go pre-Flashpoint. No reinventions, no Flashpoint, and especially no Tynion (he can only mess it up). Get him out of town for a while–send him to Atlantic City with a cardboard standee of Harper Row.
He might never come back, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

I know some people got excited because Not-Steph and CassINO slapped bats on their suits and said “now we’re Batgirlses ,too”, but that feels like a very cosmetic alteration posing as a “return to form”. It retains every mistake with those characters since 2013 while pretending their original histories are somehow still in play.

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Well, I’m a big fan of Tynion, so obviously we’re going to disagree there. And I think Cass and Steph, though they do have some differences from their pre-Flashpoint selves, still have a huge majority of their character DNA from their origins.

I just think that a Three Batgirl series would be best because then none of the fans would hopefully feel slighted.

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I didn’t see any of it, myself. Maybe some of Steph’s dialogue and a couple minor or superficial similarities, but not much beyond that; nothing to justify reinventing them to begin with beyond “orders”, and less reason to keep the reinventions after Rebirth.
Between the Eternal books and Tynion’s 'Tec run, it felt a lot like his personal headcanon at work, and anything he misses he just expects readers to mentally fill in the blanks. Part of that, I’ll grant is due to lax editing. Though I question if his 'Tec run actually had editors on it.

I get the feeling that there’ll be some slighted readers of a “Three Batgirls” title no matter what, it’ll just depend on who DC feels comfortable slighting. Not like it’d be the first time.

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Agree @millernumber1 and I’d love to read it! :purple_heart:

Also agree w/ this :point_down: @Jay_Kay

I’m not a fan. Put her in something rad, or…is she going to brunch or something?? :woman_facepalming:t2:

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Hi, nest! Moth stopping by to give some reading reactions! I will structure this by individual Batgirl.

Cassandra Cain:

I would probably echo the sentiments of @Mr_Morbach that Cassandra is, probably, my favorite Batgirl. A big part of this may be because she was Batgirl during the height of my Bat-Family obsession in high school. When Cassandra became Batgirl, I was reading just about every Bat-related monthly title, so I had read most of Cassandra’s selected reading before EXCEPT Batman & Robin Eternal #13.

I took a loooong hiatus from Bat-books after Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc. ended. That hiatus only just recently ended, so I missed Batman & Robin Eternal. After reading issue #13, I didn’t know quite what to make of it except I got the notion that this Mother character was being put in place as the boss and inspiration behind David Cain and how he raised Cassandra. I’m not sure I like that because I feel that it takes away from the power of the abusive/complicated Cassandra and David Cain father/daughter relationship. Then again, I haven’t read anything else out of Batman & Robin Eternal, so… maybe I would feel differently if I read all of it…? Let me know if that full series is worth the read.

My favorite issue out of Cassandra’s selected reading was and still is Batgirl (2000) #3. I enjoy it because you get to see Cass both learn about metahumans and figure out how to deal with one. When I first read this issue at the tender age of 15 (…yikes…), I also had this sense that the Bat-books existed on their own island of the DC Universe. Batman and co. definitely interacted with the rest of the DCU outside of their main titles, but, within the main Bat-books, everything felt darker, more grounded in reality. Having the concept of metahumans acknowledged in this issue kind of broke those walls up a bit for 15 year-old Moth which I thought was cool.

Another big part of why Cass is my favorite is because it was pretty awesome having a Batgirl who could beat the crap out of Bruce if she decided to. Hey, Batman, do you bleed? …You will.
Do you bleed Bruce
The Batgirl: Secret Files & Origins issue really illustrates this best as it partially covers the aftermath of Cassandra defeating Lady Shiva. I remember this being a big deal at the time both in the DCU and in real life comic fan circles. I have vivid memories of DC Message board threads at the time that put Cassandra at the top of the Best Martial Artists in the DCU lists over this. I don’t know if she would be ranked the same today and the ranking as it was seems to currently be outdated because of the new Robin series. In my head cannon, though, Cassandra is still the best martial artist in the DCU.

Stephanie Brown:

I think I will start by saying that I think Stephanie has been pretty hard-done by DC over the years. First, there was her tenure as Robin which ended with Steph getting fired, accidentally starting a gang war in Gotham, and getting “tortured to death” by Black Mask. Then she got to be Batgirl… for a little while, but New 52 kicked in soon after and she was essentially gone from the stories for a good length of time (though, she was technically the Batgirl for Batman, Inc. which forever endears her to me). Basically, I don’t feel like DC has done Stephanie a lot of justice over the years and I think she deserves better.

These issues helped sooth that wound a bit. I enjoyed Point of New Origin quite a bit. I’d never read Steph’s Batgirl origin and it didn’t disappoint. Scarecrow is always a fun villain and it was fitting that Steph had to overcome her own insecurities in the role of Batgirl to overcome him. I’m also glad that Stephanie was selected as Gotham’s champion for Convergence and was impressed with how she and Catman outsmarted Grodd. I think stories like these do help repair the damage that DC has done to Steph’s reputation over the years.

Finally, I’ve mentioned before that Tim is my favorite Robin, and Stephanie Brown has always been an important figure in Tim’s life. That being said, this fanboy has always had trouble deciding on whether he ships Tim and Steph or Tim and Cassie Sandsmark. It’s the real Sophie’s Choice of my fandom… Moments like Steph and Tim’s reunion in Robin #174 help push the needle in Steph’s direction.

Barbara Gordon:

First off, uhhhh… WHAT???
Wen Lu
The REAL Moth calls his lawyers…

Seriously, though, I had a lot of fun with Beyond Burnside. Having worked at a South Korean hagwon (cram school) for almost five years, a lot of what was going on here really resonated with me. The South Korean exam system was BRUTAL, so I can see how this would be solid motivation for a costumed crime syndicate. I also liked the retconning of Fruit Bat as a Golden Age Japanese hero. Overall, watching Babs have adventures through Asia made me pretty nostalgic for my adventures through Asia.

Then there was Elseworld’s Finest which got me to totally nerd out because… ALTERNATE JSA!!! I love the JSA! I love alternate earths! I had so much love for this! A lot of cool stuff going on with this JSA line -up, too. It had Abin Sur as Green Lantern, an African American Shazam who went by the original name of Captain Marvel, Big Barda, Tarantula, a totally ripped Hawkgirl, and best of all… AMBUSH BUG! I would love to read a series just with this JSA team. It was also cool to see Babs being more Bruce than Bruce here. A good one-shot which shows how strong the Elseworlds stories were back in the 90’s.

Anyways, I had fun spending time with all the Batgirls! Do us all a favor, DC, and put out that Batgirls team book ASAP. I would add it to my already excessive monthly pull-list…

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@TheCosmicMoth I have more to say, but I’ll be back! For now you’re getting one a these: :hugs: Glad you enjoyed the books! …and I vote Steph & Tim :eyes:. And for this :point_down:

image
Same.

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:hugs: @Razzzcat
And…

Yeah… That’s probably the ship… but… the end of this issue, though…

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I recently did a reread of many of these issues for a nice discussion I had with a friend, and since we’re also doing this book club, thought I’d also share some reactions.

I think Cass’s series is classic, beautifully crafted one shots that build together into larger arcs and developmental passages. When I got into comics (around 2005ish), Cass was The Batgirl, of course, so I have a lot of affection for her time in the cowl, but I didn’t read her systematically until around 2015. I have to admit that there’s a few things that hold me back from loving her series whole-heartedly - while Cass is a wonderful character, I think that introducing her and her father in the same issue feels a bit too coincidental - many people today critique James Tynion’s creation of Ghost-Maker for back-filling him into Batman’s history, piggybacking onto established events/history to give the character more weight than perhaps earned (I personally don’t mind as much because of the history of characters like David Cain). However, perhaps I’m a bit biased (as will become clear later on in this post), but I prefer building things a bit more organically - instead of introducing a character and their supporting cast with a lot of coincidental connections to each other and to the main characters (in this case, Batman) in the same issue, I prefer when they’re layered over time - sort of like how Cluemaster was introduced in the 1960s, and then almost 300 issues later, Steph was introduced. (You could, of course, argue that in the n52, they committed the same problem by introducing Steph and Arthur in the same issue, of course). My second problem with Cass’s series (not her character) is that Puckett and his editors tended to like to give Cass situations where all of her skill and good intentions cannot save the day. While it’s a very distinctive and memorable tone, and her fans always tell me they think that Cass’s fairly constant losses make her feel more human, it overall gives me a sense that no one can really make a difference, and that kind of disappoints me. (I should mention that I have the same problem with a lot of Batman stories which have the same structural choices made for the same reasons. Just not my type of story that I enjoy to read a lot of.) That being said, Cass is a truly wonderful character, and I really love the relationships with Babs and Bruce setup here - a lot of people are (rightly) bothered by how cold Batman is during this era of Batman comics (from about 2000 to 2005, for various reasons), but I think that he truly understands Cass from the inside out, and that really moves me.

Batman and Robin Eternal #13 is, quite frankly, the issue that justifies the existence of those 26 issues. There are about 6-8 other issues from that maxiseries that I love, but #13 is a masterpiece, and I think everyone should read it. Tynion and Takara write an incredibly powerful issue that honors Cass so well, integrating her into the status quo of Batman at the time. The way Tynion structures the flashbacks, giving us Cass’s history and longing, and pays it off with the flashback to Endgame (which I still think is absolutely brilliant) - it’s what I love about comics - inserting and integrating things into the history to make them fit, even if it might take a bit of looking sideways.

For Steph, her first arc is a warm bath of happiness - BQM’s tv-polished banter is pitch perfect for reading, even though I will admit it doesn’t always map perfectly onto previous character’s voices, but since that’s always going to happen with collaborative comics, I don’t mind that much (probably why I enjoy someone who can do a distinctive style as well as capture voices, which I think BQM does brilliantly). It takes continuity where it is - with Babs and the Birds of Prey (which clearly BQM was a massive fan of, given how deeply he references the connections between Babs and Steph from that series), and develops Babs from bitter, despairing anger after the breakup of the Birds and The Cure storyline, to looking forward to training Steph again. The vow in issue 3, especially after Steph’s triumph in facing the Scarecrow, is a high point - followed by 22 issues with high points of their own!

While a lot of fans critique Batgirl: Convergence, for the rushed art and the very distractingly odd choices with characters, I’d read several Alisa Kwitney stories (from her work in the Minx graphic novel line), and it very much fit into that style and tone, with a lot of research for Tim, Steph, and Cass. The whole arc is really focused on getting Tim and Steph back together, and though I think it’s a bit awkwardly done, and the art really doesn’t help it, when looked at as a romance comic, I think it’s quite nice. Nowhere near as good as Shazam or The Question from the Convergence event, but not as bad as I think a lot of people reacted.

Robin 174, the finale of the “Steph Returns” arc, is a very nicely done story - a retcon that perhaps frustrates, but I’m just glad to have Steph back and Batman not being the absolutely worst, as well as the fantastic Tim sweeping Steph off her feet to plant a big romantic one on the mouth page. I am still sad that the Robin/Spoiler special, which directly follows up on this arc, isn’t digitized for DCUI or Comixology, though. Rafael Albuquerque on Steph is to die for.

The Beyond Burnside arc, speak of beautiful Albuquerque art, is nicely done, though I have a bit of frustration with that run given what followed from it, and the way Larson treated Babs’s brain like a computer or a superpower she could reprogram or train, but it was fresh and fun to read.

The Elseworld’s Finest: Supergirl and Batgirl story is really nice, though I wish it had been a full miniseries of at least four issues, preferably six. The idea of seeing Babs as the main Bat in Gotham, and Supergirl taking on a similar role as Clark in Bruce’s life (bringing hope and brightness into the darkness of Gotham) is really fun, and seeing how Babs makes the Bat her own, isntead of just being a Bruce clone, was fantastic.

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I respectfully disagree with–basically all of this.

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That cover for ‘Batman & Robin Eternal’ #13 is awesome! I’ve never seen that before but I love it.

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Carlo Pagulayan really captured my attention with his covers for Batman and Robin Eternal, including this one, but especially for issue #22

I’m really glad he did, since that led me to check out Deathstroke by Priest, which Pagulayan served as lead artist for, when I normally wouldn’t be interested in a villain title like that - and it turned out to be one of the best titles of the decade!

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