Saturday, November 18, 2006

Profile: Batgirl 2

Cassandra Cain, Batgirl 2
First appearance: Batman #567, July 1999, during the No Man’s Land crossover.

Current status: believe it or not, not only did she abandon the path of goodness that the Masked Manhunter’s Gotham family tried to help her find, ditto her secret ID, she’s now become the leader of the League of Assassins. Yes, that very League that Ra’s al Ghul founded back in the Bronze Age.

Was subjected to the following acts of discrimination: her [illegitimate?] father, ganglord David Cain, never taught her real vocal or written languages. Rather, he just taught her how to study body languages, for the purpose of making her an assassin. When she joined up with the Bat-family, she did learn more about how talk and communicate, yet she still remained very limited in dialect, and was unable to accomplish much in mathematics, if at all.

Batman is also guilty on his own end regarding his personal failure to provide Cassie with an education (it appears that no Bat-writer to date has written Babs Gordon, her predecessor, as giving her a real education either). Nor had she been taught any real social skills, and the Masked Manhunter even went so far in taking control of her as to forbid her to have any real contacts with the superhero community (come to think of it, he probably didn’t allow her much activity in the general public either). Finally, to add insult to injury, she abandoned her superheroine’s role and became a leader for the League of Assassins.

What’s wrong with how this was done? No real character development for Cassie, as a result. One could reasonably argue that there was some kind of editorial restriction and sabotage that kept a character whom readers do want to like from having any truly positive developments, like how she comes of age with learning to talk and read books, and now that I think of it, such an argument could have something to it. In any case, the failure to actually develop her seriously, and then, the only thing DC Comics could think of doing with Cassie was to turn her into a crook, not to mention their refusal to cut it out with the Bat-control-freakiness, just goes to show how badly the concept of character development has dropped out of sight within the industry.

So, despite any claims to the contrary, this can serve as but a bit of proof that comics today are very far from being “realistic”, and that the writers, publishers and editors who put these books out don’t really mean what they say when they tell you that they’re writing something realistic, or even developing the characters in any genuine way. Time will tell if we find out that editorial heavy-handedness had anything to do with these negative non-steps taken.

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