This post is only for those of you who've read the latest issue of Robin. If you haven't, before you continue, please leave the house, get into your car, drive to one of Big Monkey Comics' convenient locations, buy it, read it, then come back.
Back now? Good.
Kalinara thinks the whole thing is a ploy so boldly hackneyed that no one can imagine it. She may very well be right. She probably is right.
But I hope she isn't right and I'll tell you why: I've never liked the new Batgirl.
Oh, I warmed up to her a little toward the end, when she got her own title, her own "Batgirl cave", and such. Her character filled out some. But on the whole, I didn't like her. Many of the reasons aren't "her fault", if you know what I mean; I don't blame her for my not liking her. But neither do I blame me for not liking her.
For one thing, her backstory is too eye-rollifying for me, especially since it so obviously smacks of editorial desperation. Perry White walks into the DC bullpen and shouts,
"Listen up! I need a new Batgirl by 5 o'clock today! She's gotta be a kick@$$ Asian ninja because they're the new gorillas. Give her some connection to part of Batman's history, a name that invokes the original Batwoman, and she needs to be immediately ready to kick criminal butt in her first panel without any tedious training sequences like we wasted on Sasha Bordeaux! Get to work, people!"
Or something like that. That brown, by the way? That's what your voice sounds like when you smoke cigars every day. So 4:58 = Cassie Cain.
Another strike against is her connection to David Cain, who's part of the needless filling in of Batman's "path to Batmanhood". Yawn. Maybe I'm just too "Golden Age" for all that stuff. As far as I'm concerned, Bruce Wayne mastered all the skills he need to become Batman in two panels of his origin, then sat down in his study to smoke a pipe and rest a bit. It's just a three-part process, people:
Lift barbell; examine test tube; smoke pipe.Don't listen to the narrator, Bruce; I think those panties are darling.
That's Who He Is and How He Came To Be. Anything more than that, for me, is just the modern equivalent of those Silver Age stories where we discover Thomas Wayne once wore a bat outfit at a costume party or that "Man-Of-Bats" used to fight injustice among american native tribes.
And David Cain. Ugh. See, he's named "Cain"; like the first murderer; and he's an assassin! Isn't that CLEVER? No; no, that's not clever. Naming Kite-Man "Charles Brown"; that's clever.
Oh, and the whole "trained in body language to be a killing machine" schtick? I'm just going to be nice and leave that entirely alone, pretending it doesn't violate linguistics, anthropology, psychology, physiology, and probably some ologies I've never even heard of.
Another strike against poor Cassie was the "turning a criminal into Batman's partner" trope.
It was a bad idea with Jason;
it was a bad idea with Kirk Langstrom;
it was a bad idea with Cassandra;
it was a bad idea with Azrael;
it was a bad idea with Bane;
it was a bad idea with Onyx;
it was a bad idea with Selina Kyle;
it was a bad idea with Harvey Dent.
As a general rule, it's a bad idea to do that.
It's a nice personality bit that "hardcase" Batman is the one hero who actually seems interested in and focused on helping criminals turn over a new leaf. But making them into a partner is not the way to go, Bruce; just pay for their therapy bills and go fight somebody on a giant typewriter.
Oh, and all those mean things Cassandra says to Tim at the end? They are completely true -- just not about Robin. They're true about her. On the whole, Batman just used her as a convenient chess piece; Batman did that because that's the same way the writers were using her.
I'll admit another thing I had against Cassie that's not her fault: I really liked Sasha Bordeaux. I did not want to like Sasha; but I could not stop myself from liking her. Like many Sashaphiles, it seemed "clear" to me that the editors were having her groomed to become the new Batgirl/woman. That may have been "clear" to us, but it sure wasn't clear to the editors, who did something, er, slightly different with her. So when this, this snip of a girl pops up out of nowhere and basically takes Sasha place... !
That's when the Secret Society of Sashaphiles was formed, and our wheels grind slowly but exceeding fine, mwu-hu-ha-ha. Guess who's running DC now, baby? Forget fumbling FEMA; we are the shadow government. That's why Bordeaux is a central figure in the blood-drenched tapestry of Infinite Crisis, while Cassie's been reassigned to chewing scenery as a Robin foe (Big Trouble with Little Shiva!), joining such luminaries as the Clock, the Joker's Daughter, and Crazy Quilt. Revenge is sweet.
Cassie's also not to blame for the stitched-over, no pie-hole mask. The problems with that have been hashed out enough on-line. Suffice it to say I think Cassie should partner with the Scarecrow. Only villains cover their mouths when they chew scenery. Yes, I'm looking at you.
The original Batwoman (and Bat-Girl and Batgirl) were daring, sassy, spunky, and independent. They were like brightly plumed jungle birds that poop on your tropical shirt then fly away mocking you to do anything about it. Cassie-Batgirl was just creepy, more like some skinny one-eyed alley cat that slices your jugular just to steal an anchovy off your pizza.
With a new more fiery/less psychotic Batwoman on the way, I'm betting Kalinara is wrong and that they really are clearing the decks for her. Because, gods forgive me, Cassie interested me more in two pages of psychofreakout screech party than she did in years and years and years of silent soldiering. So, so long "Batgirl", hello "Little Shiva!"
Of course, if Kalinara is right, well ... then forget I said anything!