Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

"Of course she is...", My Problem With Cassandra Cain

I have a confession to make. One that will likely alienate me from much of the comic blogosphere...

I don't like Cassandra Cain/Batgirl.

I've tried. Believe me. I've read most of the issues, thanks to a friend who's a big fan. But I can't bring myself to like her.

It's just...she's so cliched in concept. And I know that now that I've said that, I'll probably get a few people going on about the "originality" of a fighter who can't speak and communicates through/perceives body language as an actual language.

And that is original, I suppose. But honestly my reaction to hearing that, even listening to the character being described was: "...Of course she does."

Let me explain that. I've mentioned before that one of my biggest problems with Kitty Pryde as a character is how she seems to be more of a collection of traits that the writers thought were cool than an actual character. Of course she's a ninja, ballerina, world-class chess player, et cetera.

I will give Cass a bit more credit. I think she's got a very distinct personality (um, barring recent OYL events), it's just...yet another "of course" for me.

I have no problem with martial artists with unique abilities, I have no problem with children of pre-established characters, I have no problem with traumatizing pasts or moral decision or really any trait that Cass possesses individually. It's just...somehow together, they become eye-rolling to me.

Let's take the basic for a start. She's David Cain's daughter. Okay, cool. And she's Asian. Now I have no problem with Asian heroes. I love seeing more non-white heroes. But she's introduced as the daughter of an enemy/trainer of Batman, and that person is white. On one hand, I'm glad to see more evidence of mixed race relationships in comics. They're always good. But in this case, it doesn't seem like a genuine attempt at portraying someone mixed race. I've never seen a single instance where her mixed-race aspect comes up in the story or even out of the story. She's always described, even by the people that created her, as "the Asian Batgirl".

Honestly, it always seemed to me, like the decision to make her Asian was mostly because "everyone loves hot asian martial artist chicks" rather than any sincere desire to portray a mixed race character.

Now really, regardless of the reason for it, it's good to see more color in the DCU. Especially the almost chalk white Bat-family. This reason on its own is not enough to make me dislike her or even pause much. (For the record, I love when relatives of pre-established characters are introduced.) It is, however, the beginning of a trend.

Because she's also trained to be an uber-assassin. Possibly a better fighter than Batman. Which on it's own, I have no problem with also. I've liked, actually, how she's portrayed as a brilliant fighter but incapable/inexperienced in basically any other area. She's brilliant at fighting but then, really, that's all she can do.

Her past is tremendously angsty. Okay, I can dig that. She was trained as an uber-assassin by a villain. Makes sense. He was abusive and scary and raised her without the capacity for speech. It's a bit over the top for my taste, but it's original at least. And ties into a particularly neat ability to read people's body language like a book.

And naturally, she's not really a killer! After all that, she only killed someone once! When she was too young to know what she was doing! And she ran away immediately afterwards! At the age of 8. And she lived alone, incapable of speech until she hooked up with the Batclan at age 16/17 or so. ...now we're getting to things that I start to find hard to swallow. It's such a cliche. Someone raised to be a killer, but somehow managing to be so pure that she only did it once. When she couldn't possibly be blamed? And then immediately left? Because she was so good at heart, she couldn't take it? Oh, brother.

And of course, she's pure of heart! She's genuine, and good, and completely without artifice. She is haunted by that one horrible incident for years and even has something of a death wish because of it. She's tragic! She's so pure that she rescues a man from the death penalty because she's so against killing! She's the one character with the deepest and most sincere idea about what Bruce's mission is all about! Because of what happened to her. She feels it. Of course she does.

She's socially awkward and completely illiterate. Which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. In fact, it'd be pretty interesting. Except, oh, she's really not the first. And she might as well not be the second, for the amount of storyline focus her illiteracy has actually had. Not like Bruce or Barbara couldn't possibly have figured out a way or called specialists to help her learn. And for someone "socially awkward", she certainly seemed poised enough at any social event she's attended. She's well-mannered and polite. She's a good-hearted, kind person. She's physically attractive and knows how to wear clothes in a way that showcases that. She's really only isolated because of her inexperience. She's a debutante.

Let's not get into the male fantasy of a girlfriend that's completely inexperienced and socially innocent, but is also beautiful, poised, intelligent and kind. Leading to a combination that very likely dates "ordinary guys" like them.

She's got her flaws as a character. But they're, honestly, what I call "cheap flaws". As in they're personality flaws that really aren't. "Too kind" is not a character flaw. It's a shame because the world will take advantage of you. But it's not a flaw in you. "Too driven" isn't either. Not unless you have people (like a spouse or children) that might genuinely suffer for your lack of presence in their lives. "Inexperienced" is considered by many people to be a plus, and if not...well, it's curable.

I'm not saying she should be Guy Gardner. But hell, everyone needs a few flaws. A few genuinely dislikable, mockable qualities in their personality. We all have them. I, for example, am stubborn, obnoxious, oblivious, lazy and quite convinced that I'm right, you're wrong, and we're only one good old fashioned verbal brawl away from you realizing that.

I think the fairest comparison to make to Cassandra would probably be Kyle Rayner. Kyle is, in a lot of ways, probably the purest character in the DCU. When given absolute power, he erred on the side of trying to help too much, and when this was brought to his attention, he gave it up in one big flashy bring-light-back-into-the-universe move. He was the one character selfless enough to try to save his enemy in Obsidian Age, proving to the Manitou wizard that he, and by extension the team, were on the side of good. He constantly forgave unfair treatment by the hands of everyone who resented him for Hal's fate. He's even forgiven and become friends with the man who literally ripped out his heart.

But Kyle also has some very real flaws. He's extremely self-centered. He's occasionally whiny. He's incredibly vain, (the first thing he did with absolute power, and the one moment that made the whole story work for me, was cut his hair), he can be catty. In the fights with Ollie, for example, he was equally as childish and petty. He's insecure and clingy. He's immature. Constantly fights with his mother, and at one point hadn't seen her for years. And sometimes he's a damned idiot.

But these flaws make what would otherwise be a far too saccharine character human and fun. When has the Batgirl comic ever really allowed you to laugh at her? Even Batman's flaws have been poked at a little. Definitely Robin's tiny control freak tendencies. Barbara? Maniacal machiavelli behind the computer screen, you betcha.

And not to mention her complete reliance on a male role-model whose philosophy she adopts religiously. The one part of her admittedly-well-written comic that really struck me was that point with Shiva looking through all of Cassandra's bat toys and wondering which if any she herself invented. Because Cassandra doesn't use them and doesn't need them. (This in itself is an interesting story though, and why I was actually really happy and intrigued by the end of Batgirl and Cass going to find her own path.)

It's the combination that gets me. She's an Asian-because-Asians-are-cool daughter of a pre-established evil character with ties to Batman, trained as a killer-but-the-only-time-she's-actually-killed-it-wasn't-her-fault, pure hearted, virtual saint, with no real flaws...

Of course she is.

That said, I'm not particularly happy with the direction OYL has taken her either. If only because, I was perfectly fine just staying away from her comic (though I have to admit, the first and ONLY time I ever found her interesting was in Shiva's coat at the very end of Batgirl, when she seemed to be finding her own path.) I found the character change inconsistent and cartoonish. Like there was no real way to turn her evil without completely shredding her character in the process. (Bullshit, there are dozens of ways to turn a character evil without resorting to that. OR to mind control. Even a saint has a breaking point.) Besides, I sympathize with Cass fans. It has to suck to see your favorite character completely unrecognizable.

I might actually find it interesting if she is undercover and working for Deathstroke as an agent of Bruce's. It'd be a nice way to get her hands just a teensy bit dirty and jade her purity just a teeny bit. I don't want her unrecognizable either, but a tiny bit of tarnish really does make the silver brighter in comparison. A bit more human as opposed to tragic romantic figure would go a long way.

(Edit from the future: I may have reconsidered my opinion of Cassandra here.)

73 Comments:

  • At January 18, 2007 1:12 PM, Blogger Marionette said…

    You have an awful lot to say about a character you aren't interested in. It's okay to just not like a comic, you know. You could just say "it wasn't to my taste" and move on to Green Lantern butts or something, so I'm wondering why you feel the need to rant at length on the subject.

    I haven't read every issue of Cass Batgirl. It lost a lot of the charm for me after the original creative team left in the mid-30's and I've only read the odd issue after that, but I think the first 25 issues are gold.

    You seem to have come to this comic with an agenda and you've been so busy finding fault with the pieces that you misunderstand how they fit together.

    You will likely get a lot of negative response. Please don't confuse it with a knee jerk reaction to anything negative said about a fan favourite. Had you kept to why you don't like Cass, I doubt I would have bothered responding. When you start telling me why I shouldn't like her, that's another thing.

    And for the record, I've never thought of Cass as "the asian Batgirl".

     
  • At January 18, 2007 1:29 PM, Anonymous david brothers said…

    I might actually find it interesting if she is undercover and working for Deathstroke as an agent of Bruce's.

    Just out of curiosity, have you read any of Joe Kelly/Doug Mahnke's Justice League Elite? It was a 12 issue (plus one issue origin story) maxiseries they did a few years back. It was honestly the best the JLA had been since Morrison left the book, too.

    Think of it like JL: Strike Force, only not bad. They were kind of a blackops JLA team composed to Manitou Raven, Coldcast, Green Arrow, Flash (in the snazziest redesign ever, Vera Black (Manchester's little sister), and a few others. They do what the JLA can't because of politics and such. It was really very, very good.

    This is only a slight spoiler, as it's revealed in issue three or so, but Batgirl is on the team as an undercover assassin. She was asked by Batman to keep an eye on the JLE. She was to follow his orders, but by the end of it, she's realized that the team doesn't need watching. She reveals her identity to one of the other characters when they both think that they're doomed, and at the end (IIRC), she goes against Batman's wishes directly in order to help out her new team.

    In short, she shows a lot of the traits that you wish she had. Stubbornness and brazen independence, for two.

    Of course, in true DC fashion, they've reprinted only the first portion of it, leaving issue 6-12 (I believe, maybe 5-12) currently non-traded. It does make me want to see a Joe Kelly-written Batgirl (Or "Daughter of Cain" because that is an awesome title for a comic) miniseries, though. He seemed to really "get" her.

     
  • At January 18, 2007 1:41 PM, Anonymous Mela said…

    You put into words a lot of the complaints that I've had with Cass as Batgirl, and I thank you for that. The part that lost me was the fact that Batman - who vetoes lethal force even in training - would let someone who killed while still a child become one of his inner circle, even as a one-time incident. He is not forgiving enough of a guy to find this plausible, or else Huntress would've been back on his good side long ago.

    And then there's the costume. The argument I always hear when I mention how disturbingly fetishistic Cass's costume was is that, and I do quote one person's, "Babs' was fetishy too, with the tights & high heels." Uh, no. It looks like Babs put on her costume voluntarily. You can see her eyes & part of her face and know she's human. Cass's mask looks like it was sewn on as she tried to somehow get out; her face is completely obscured so as to render her not quite human. It reminds me of some of the more degrading bondage gear available, and I fail to see how tights& high heels (which are frequently the default style of dress for a superheroine, no matter how silly) are on the same level.

     
  • At January 18, 2007 2:00 PM, Anonymous davelevine said…

    [/lurk]

    I can't believe I read the whole thing. It read more like an opinion column than a blog entry.

    I'm surprised because I've never read Batgirl, but I've got Pretty, Fizzy Paradise bookmarked and I do read it occasionally.

    Good read. Well written. Thank you. :)

    [lurk]

     
  • At January 18, 2007 3:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I understand your point. There actually should've been more of a gray area with Cassie. She was trained to kill, one would think that Cain would've inured her to that. Batman and Babs should've had a tougher time of shaping her.
    I didn't see her as an Asian Batgirl either. Ethnicity didn't seem to play in this.
    WM

     
  • At January 18, 2007 4:19 PM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    I liked the issue of X-23 where she enrolls in school, but is unable to talk about anything that doesn't relate to killing people.

    Cassie having killed just one person is hardly new in comics: Elektra spent her first twenty issues around trying to kill an old reporter and failing.

     
  • At January 18, 2007 5:01 PM, Blogger CalvinPitt said…

    I don't have lots of experience with Cassie, only the Gabrych run (from 58 until the end), but I've never really thought of her as "Asian Batgirl", she's just Batgirl, or Cassie Cain.

    That being said, I get the complaints about the costume. It's creepy, I know, but I try to put my concerns out of mind, and focus on the buttkicking. I think if they left the covered eyes, but uncovered mouth, it might be less troubling.

    As to her killing and being traumitzied/ pushed totally against killing: Given that it was her first kill, we can assume that Cain had her practice lethal attacks on nonlethal objects, like training dummies. I've shot a lot of guns in my life, always at targets, clay pigeons, milk bottles, soda cans, etc. I'm halfway not sucky, and if you told me to shoot a person, there's a chance I possess the skill to actually do that.

    The actual shooting of another person is a different matter entirely I think. Heck, I don't even go deer hunting with my Dad because the idea of actually killing something makes me uneasy. It's still just point and shoot, but the stakes are a bit different. I would argue that Cassie went in following her training, but when her attack was applied to a living being, it was a whole other story.

    All that being said, I could see an angle where she would have gone the other way, been a person who enjoyed "seeing" (in that way of reading their body) a person die, and got hooked on it. I wouldn't prefer it, but I could see it. I think that might have been a tangent.

    As to your point about a bunch of cool traits being lumped together, I can see what you mean. Of course, I've always liked Shadowcat, so it's a characterization style that I suppose is up my alley, but not going to be for everyone. I do think Gabrych did a good job expanding on Batgirl's stubborness, going beyond not killing, to trying to handle everything herself. She wanted to find Shiva, Bats couldn't help, she struck out on her own. Having reached an impasse, she called up Oracle herself, and then dove into the proverbial lion's den by herself. Could have had help (beyond what Babs and Canary did provide), but she was determined to handle it herself, and it got her killed (briefly).

    And I, would agree with David, JLA Elite does a good job on the "Batgirl undercover" idea.

     
  • At January 18, 2007 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is why we love her!

     
  • At January 18, 2007 5:46 PM, Anonymous Dan Coyle said…

    I liked what Andersen Gabrych did with Batgirl, but it always got under my skin that she could not speak, could not read, but was the perfect weapon, and debuted in the tail end of Denny O'Neil's editorial reign on Batman. I'm willing to concede, as Alan Grant has suggested, that O'Neil was less in control than his assistants were, but there was something classically O'Neil about the way at the end of the day, she was just another of Bruce's little soldiers. Unlike that Helena woman.

     
  • At January 18, 2007 5:49 PM, Anonymous Dan Coyle said…

    Speaking of JLElite, I wonder why if they wanted a new Batgirl, they couldn't have Cassandra adopt that Cool costume? Having her turn evil seems so... "Well, of course she flipped out. She's a GIRL!"

    I don't think that was the conscious sentiment, but still.

     
  • At January 18, 2007 5:55 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    marionette: I wasn't trying to convert anyone else to my point of view actually. I felt the need to explain why a character that seems to be very popular to others didn't work for me.

    It became a rant because the reason where the character fails for me is where it all comes together. So naturally that means every piece requires examination.

    I'm not sure what you mean when you say I came to the comic with an agenda. What agenda is that?

    I never intended to tell you why you shouldn't like her. But I'm curious. How would you have worded my entry differently if you were me? Explaining why she didn't work for you without trying to convince others?

    david: I actually haven't read it. But it sounds pretty interesting. A lot of my problems with the character might be lessened a bit in a group scenario anyway. (There are quite a few characters that I find eye-rolly alone but in a group are quite tolerable.)

    And the conflict sounds interesting. :-)

    mela: To be fair, Helena as Batgirl started the costume trend. (Though I personally think what works on a grown woman doesn't necessarily work on a young girl).

    I agree about the costume. It's visually striking, but not necessarily appealing to me. I just left it off because in the end it's rather just tacked on to what bothers me about the character

    Though I do think Bruce might accept her after it becomes obvious that she was truly repentent. Which she was. Helena was more trouble, I think, because she wouldn't bow down and say he's right.

    davelevine: Thanks! I do rant occasionally. :-) And thanks for reading!

    anonymous: I suppose I should clarify that I don't really think any *fans* see her as just "the Asian Batgirl", but it did, to me, seem like the ethnicity was just tacked on because people like it.

    It's more of a critique of my perception of the creative team than the fans.

    I think maybe if Cass HAD killed a bit more and then decided, relatively recently, that what she was doing was wrong and that she had to stop. And then was genuinely repentent but really had something to atone for in this case. I might like her more.

    zaratustra: You know, that does sound interesting. :-)

    calvin: I thought the Gabrych issues were well written, and the stubbornness was a plus. Though honestly not enough for me.

    I suppose my problem with her instantly realizing it was wrong may have to do with the fact that she was eight.

    In my (admittedly limited) experience, children don't really have the moral capacity to truly understand their actions. They're completely self absorbed and borderline sociopathic, they learn empathy and consequences as they grow.

    I have a hard time with the notion of a child of eight, one with no moral education what so ever prior to that point, immediately understanding "Oh my god! I killed someone!" and running away.

    (And part of the cliche to me is that she feels all this guilt for something that totally isn't her fault. I'd prefer the atoner have something genuine to atone for)

    Actually, it might have made a big difference to me if she'd killed a few times under Cain's guidance. Then at, say, age fifteen or sixteen, actually been forced to face what she's doing. Then leave and join up with the Batclan right away for No Man's Land. Then she'd really have something to atone for.

    anonymous: :-) That's cool. I really wasn't trying to say no one should like her. Just that I don't really.

    dan: I thought Gabrych was a fantastic writer. But honestly, there was just too much about the character that I just couldn't wrap myself around by that point.

    I actually found the "could not speak/read" living weapon aspect kind of interesting though. It gave her a real inhuman perspective that I thought was lost when she started to talk.

     
  • At January 18, 2007 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The in-canon explanation for why Cass was so traumatised by killing that guy was, apparently, because her body-reading ability made her see what it was like to die from point of view of the victim,"Pain. Fear. And then nothing." I think that quote was.

    So it wasn't so much a moral decision that triggered Cass' anti-killing stance, after all she was shown happily crippling people in the pre-murder flashbacks, it was more due to the shock of seeing what dying was actually like.

    She later attempted to recreate this experience in an assassin that shot his team-mate by stopping his heart and then restarting it again so that he'd know what it felt like to have someone kill you. Although admittedly, my description wasn't as good as it appeared in the acutal comic.

     
  • At January 18, 2007 6:40 PM, Blogger The Dane said…

    I departed the series before it hit 50, but I remember reading it and enjoying it for the first thirty or so issues. I liked her character, but mostly because it worked well with the art style.

    I don't think I ever thought of her as Asian until reading your post. It was kind of an, "Oh yeah. I guess she did sometimes have almond eyes and her skin was more yellow on occasion. Hm, was it?" kind of recognition. I'm more just trusting you that she was somewhat Asian. Granted, it's been a number of years since I read her book.

    What I liked was the fact that this kick-ass character who could, essentially, go toe-to-toe with Batman was really just kind of lost inside. I think I empathized with the character for that. At least until her brain was rewired and she could talk. That was probably about when I felt like they were trying to turn her into just another character.

    Another thing that her silence contributed to was a highly visual sense of storytelling. I mentioned the art before, but one of the things I really dug about early Batgirl was how fantastically kinetic it was. That sort of went away after awhile, but at the time, it was great.

    Was the only killing one person a later revelation? I don't remember that. I knew she was a reformed assassin trying to recompense for past wrongs, but I didn't know it was only a single job early in her childhood.

     
  • At January 19, 2007 4:31 AM, Blogger Fortress Keeper said…

    I'm coming in wayyy late here.

    I first encountered Cassie Cain in No Man's Land and kinda wrote her off as a plot device with a way creepy costume.

    My sentiment at the time: Does even Batgirl have to be super dark now?

    As her comic wound down, I picked up the Daughter of Destruction arc and found Cassie had developed into a likable character who - at the end of the day - found Batman's way just didn't work for her.

    After I went back a bit and read the "Deathstroke" arc, I saw how heartbreaking the loss of Bludhaven was to Cassie.

    I've gone on and on how DC could have created an interesting anti-hero from that point, but that's all water under the bridge.

    My main complaint about Batgirl now is the wasted opportunity for future development.

    (Sadly, given the fact that WWIII is supposed to contain reasons why Cassie turned, I'm afraid the undercover theory will turn out to be wrong.)

    Another great post!

     
  • At January 19, 2007 7:26 AM, Blogger Avi Green said…

    I only own a small portion of Cassie's Batgirl title, but I always thought that it was supposed to be about taking the road to redemption, and on those grounds, I'd say it worked (until they botched it by turning her bad). The problem, I figure, was the very one that dogged the Batbooks for at least a decade - Batman's arrogant, controlling attitude, that seemed to have become a blockade for any real development for Cass.

    That aside, you do realize that she's only a fictional character, and it's hardly her fault if she's not compelling enough? How is anyone forgetting the difference between there being a writer and a character these days?

     
  • At January 19, 2007 7:47 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    anon: And it's a fair in character explanation really. But in the end...I still can't help but respond with "Of course"

    Sorry. :-)

    the dane: I do understand some of her appeal. She does nothing for me, but I can definitely understand why others like her.

    And I've always thought the series very well written. Those early issues in particular were striking!

    keeper: Well, as long as the reason makes some sense...and her characterization fits a little better than in Robin...

    I'll have to refrain judgement for now. :-)

    avi: There is a difference between writers and characters. But what this comes down to is that my problem is with the initial conception of the character herself. There is no way even a fantastic writer can really make her work for me.

    And actually, I can't think of a writer on Batgirl that I dislike. That series had some tremendous talent. The problem was, no matter who was at her helm, I couldn't like her. My problem is with the character.

    (And to be honest, I find writer vs. character arguments ridiculous anyway. The character is fictional, but within the rules of the universe, she exists as a "real" entity. Which means I have every right, as a reader, to comment on the change and growth of her character from that perspective. Besides, a critique of the creative staff is implicit in any critique of a character. She wouldn't exist without them.)

     
  • At January 19, 2007 9:45 AM, Blogger GiantKillerMantis said…

    You make some good points. I never thought of most of that, but I can see where you're coming from. The 'hot asian fighting chick' thing is cliche by now, but I think I was just ignoring that when I read her book.
    I always wanted her to get her own identity and M.O. The Batgirl identity didn't seem to serve her well, IMO. Sure, Batman was a big help to her, but that doesn't mean she has to be his disciple and ape his image.
    At the end of her series, I was hopeful that they were moving her into her own "space" so to speak, but from what I've heard about her appearances in Titans lately, that hasn't happened.

     
  • At January 19, 2007 2:22 PM, Anonymous Pank said…

    The part that lost me was the fact that Batman - who vetoes lethal force even in training - would let someone who killed while still a child become one of his inner circle, even as a one-time incident. He is not forgiving enough of a guy to find this plausible, or else Huntress would've been back on his good side long ago.

    This comment was exactly what I was thinking. Cass just seems so thrown in there. Like you said, a collection of traits the creators thought were extremely hot or something. It doesn't really make sense for her to be Batman's homegirl, especially since his disagreements with Dick and refusal to forgive/apologize are constantly brought up.

     
  • At January 19, 2007 8:59 PM, Blogger Tyler said…

    I remember reading that thing about leaving her brain's speech centers undeveloped. It's idiotic. The phrase "use it or lose it" would apply here. It's not like the human brain will adapt the unused areas like a factory assembly line. And this whole "I use 90% of my brain!" is idiocy too. The fact of the matter is that humans use all their brain, they simply don't use all of it at once. When you're trying to sleep, you don't want your brain to be working your legs like a marathon run. If you're trying to eat, you don't want your brain activating the body parts for singing. If you're trying to find a bathroom, you don't want your brain sending orders to release your bladder. If your brain is telling your body to run and walk and sit down and stand still and sing and eat and be quiet and breath and hold your breath, all at once, that's just ridiculous.

    And martial artists just piss me off. They're simply too wanked out in comics. I'd like to see Batman dodge a shotgun blast, or a machine gun firing. Both those can fling huge amounts of lead into the air, far faster then humans are capable of reacting.

     
  • At January 20, 2007 5:29 AM, Anonymous elias A said…

    You have some interesting points. Maybe, as a huge Batgirl fan, I am biased, but I will still try to explain why I disagree.

    If I understand you correctly you claim that Cassandra was created as a lonely fanboy's dream:
    "She can protect me because she is such a great fighter, she willnever betray me because she is so loyal, and she will never have any other friends besides me because she has such poor social skills herself."

    That would make her similar to "I dream of Jeannie" or a magical girlfriend from Manga/Anime.
    However, such magical girlfriends are, as far as I know, either demure and obedient or perky and provocative. Also, to emphasize this aspect, Cassandra would indeed have a nerdy friend in the series, like Xander from Buffy.

    So I disagree and claim that the Batgirl series did not try to comfort lonely fanboys - it EXPRESSES lonelyness.
    That is something different.
    Cassandra is a very lonely person who feels like a stranger in a world she does not understand. And there is nothing comforting her - the reader realises she has to grow as a person and become more mature.

    You claim she has no "flaws". For example, Enya in Buffy is certainly a "magical girlfriend", but is not one-dimensional because she is arrogant and greedy. But Cassandra has also flaws - rather big ones, I would say:
    Her low self-esteem, her death wish, her inclination to "drown" her problems in almost addictive training sessions. Remember, she made a secret deal with Shiva, a villain, for a fight to the death one year later if Shiva gave her back her powers - hardly what a "flawless" person would do.

    Even her idolisation of batman and his mission is portrayed as something not completely healthy. Myself, I did not like the issue where she rescues a convictive from execution very much, but, whatever your opinion on death-sentence is, I think this was not portrayed as something to be applauded, but rather as a misunderstanding, a obsession. It shows, I would say, that being batgirl gives Cassandra a mission and a source of pride, but like a soldier, she can lose herself in that and exaggerate her ideals into something unhealthy.

    To summarise, my opinion is that Batgirl is not about making the reader forget his unhappiness - it is about having to live with unhappiness, with unhappiness that has no easy solution.
    Especially Cassandra's main emotional contact with the world is still violence, her "mother tongue". It is shown that this is, although heroic, an emotionally unhealthy life.
    But there is no easy way out - all she can do is try to grow as a person slowly over the years.
    And that made the Batgirl series, in my opinion, a dark but intelligent and poetic comic.

     
  • At January 20, 2007 11:27 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I can't comment really about Cassandra because I'm not particularly familiar with the character, not being much of a bat fan (except for Alfred). However, I did like the commentary on Kyle Rayner, which as usual, was spot on.

     
  • At January 20, 2007 12:56 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    giantkillermantis: I'm waiting to judge on the Titans stuff. I was very intrigued by the end of Batgirl though. And Cassandra taking her own (or a Shiva-based) identity...

    pank: I don't mind that part so much honestly. Because I do think the redemption/atonement element is very important. (Bruce entrusted the city to Harvey Dent after all...considering his past as Two Face...) But it wasn't dealt with to the extent I liked. And I was annoyed that Bruce's initial lack of acceptance was portrayed so one-sidedly. (Though to be fair. The comic is called "Batgirl")

    tyler: Heh. Comic book science. To be fair, she was portrayed as having lost it permanently. It was only after an altercation with a psychic metahuman that she found herself "rewired" to be able to speak. I can buy that if only because I've no real idea about what psychics can do in the DCU. :-)

    elias: I'm glad to hear from a Cass fan.

    I have to say though. The flaws that you list...they still qualify for me as "cheap flaws". Having no self-esteem only really counts as a relatable flaw for me if it's coupled with traits truly ugly. Like if she were prone to trying to prove herself better than others. (Actually. Hank Pym is a good example of a character for whom "no self-esteem" is an actual flaw. Because it is the root of more unpleasant traits.)

    Without the unpleasant aspect, the character's "flaw" is merely another way to make her tragic. She doesn't appreciate her own worth.

    Her death wish is more tragedy. And her addiction to training sessions was tied to that. The thing is, these are flaws that only affect her. They don't really affect those around her (except that Barbara would be sad if she died) and they're not really mockable.

    Basically for me. "Cheap flaws" are flaws that are designed to make a character more sympathetic. They can be used to make actual flaws. But usually the writers think they're enough...

    A good example of "too nice" being an actual flaw instead of a cheap flaw would be Vince from the British version of Queer as Folk. He's not flawed because he's nice, he's flawed because he resorts to lies very quickly to avoid hurting people's feelings. And he can be unintentionally two-faced. He's also incredibly passive/doormat-ish which is very frustrating and self-sabotaging for anyone who watches. Vince is a likeable guy. You root for him when you watch the show. But you also get frustrated and irritated when he lies himself into a circle or ends up letting his friend use him and everyone else with unfortunate consequences.

    I don't see any of that aspect in Cass. As I see her, there isn't anything truly unsympathetic/unpleasant about her. Nothing mock-able. And that's a big deal for me, I hate to say.

    And I don't think, honestly, that Cass is a "lonely fan's dream". I think that she was created with the particular intention to have a "cool" "edgy" character though. There are very formulaic elements of her creation that don't bother some, but they get to me. Sorry.

     
  • At January 20, 2007 1:37 PM, Anonymous Bystander #3 said…

    "I remember reading that thing about leaving her brain's speech centers undeveloped. It's idiotic. The phrase "use it or lose it" would apply here. It's not like the human brain will adapt the unused areas like a factory assembly line. And this whole "I use 90% of my brain!" is idiocy too. The fact of the matter is that humans use all their brain, they simply don't use all of it at once."

    I agree that the idea of a human being developing amazing skills by utilizing 90% of the brain at once is largely nonsense and doesn't hold up under real-world scientific scrutiny. However, I believe Cassandra Caine's poorly developed language skills do reflect a real-world psychological phenomenon.

    There is a popular theory in psycho-linguistics that if a child is isolated and not exposed to language during a crucial period of childhood development, the individual will never be able to develop a full grasp of grammar and syntax as an adult. In some ways, Cassandra's situation is analogous to the well-known case of "Genie," a girl discovered as part of an abusive household in California in 1970 who had been locked in a dark room and never spoken to for the first 13 years of her life.

    The conclusions that can be drawn from the "Genie" case and the overall validity of the "critical period hypothesis" are still debated, but I think it is realistic for Cassandra to have great difficulty developing verbal and written English language skills, not because the language portions of her brain have been over-written with fighting knowledge, but because she was not exposed to spoken language during the key period of childhoold when the human brain has the greatest ability to learn language.

    See also:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Period_Hypothesis
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genie_%28feral_child%29
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Language_acquisition#Critical_Period_Hypothesis

     
  • At January 20, 2007 2:42 PM, Anonymous elias A said…

    Kalinara, I now understand better what you meant. If you think a character needs flaws that hurt other people sometimes, that's an opinion I can respect.
    But then you could critisize Tim Drake or Barbara Gordon as well...

    For me, an interesting character story is about facing hard decisions, making wrong choices, avoiding one's problems because of fear.

     
  • At January 20, 2007 8:04 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    elias: Tim is cold, calculating and a control freak. It caused a lot of problems interacting with Young Justice and the Teen Titans. He neglects personal relationships and even uses his friends and family for his own (admittedly well-meaning purposes).

    The dark future Tim in Titans of Tomorrow is not actually that much of a stretch the way things are heading.

    Barbara is self-centered and insensitive. She is distant and domineering. Her issues as much as Dick's were what began to interfere with that relationship. Her calculation still keeps many people at a distance. (The animosity with Power Girl is a direct consequence of her particular lack in social interaction.)

    I'm not saying Cassandra's social flaws can't become real flaws. Or even that real flaws need to hurt other people. The thing is, there is nothing about Cassandra's flaws that could really be used to lower one's esteem of her. There's nothing that really portrays her in even remotely a negative light.

    And anytime someone does react badly to Cass, it's because of a fault in them. (For example, Tim's uneasiness around Cass when they met. It wasn't portrayed as a natural/understandable reaction to someone incredibly skilled but not yet trust-worthy. It was portrayed as Tim prejudging Cass because of what he knew about her past.)

    Flaws can be serious or comic, they can hurt others or they can be a joke. But they have to actually be flaws. Not more reason to feel bad for her.

     
  • At January 20, 2007 8:05 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    bystander: Thanks! Nice links! :-)

     
  • At January 21, 2007 3:13 AM, Anonymous elias A said…

    Well, I guess it is a question of point of view.
    I don't have read all of Tim's or Barbaras comics, especially not Young Justice, but that seem rather minor flaws in basically totally nice persons to me, but I admit I am no expert on them.

    If you look at Cass' relationship to Spoiler, she treated her not so well (Knocking her unconscious, agreeing with Batman she should quit, being friendly but condescending) - a minor topic in the series, I admit, but Spoiler was almost the only friend she had anyway.

    As I said, aspects like Cass low self esteem seem to me not so much to make her tragic, but to use her as a window for a unique way to look at the world.

    Sure, she is extremely naive and good-hearted, but this makes her an almost mythical figure, like a baby just waiting to be born, or maybe not totally unlike the classical fool Parcival looking for the holy grail. And in fact her whole story could be interpreted about the pains of being born, and if you really want that.
    She has few interactions with other people, but that's the point: Her story portrays a neurotic, hostile world, where even finding the will to live or to reach out and communicate with other people become monumental problems. And when Cass makes wrong decisions there, like refusing to tell Oracle about the deal with Shiva or her secret intention to die, this makes her not so much look tragic or endearing to me, but failing, even being cowardly on a very basic level.

    But I guess it is a question of taste if something like that impresses you.

     
  • At January 21, 2007 4:17 AM, Anonymous Rani said…

    I'll preface this with saying that I'm a lurker here, and I generally really like your writing. But this:

    I suppose I should clarify that I don't really think any *fans* see her as just "the Asian Batgirl", but it did, to me, seem like the ethnicity was just tacked on because people like it.

    is making me wince a bit.

    It seems like you're saying that, in order to introduce a character of color, the writers must have some specific reason. But her being half-Asian doesn't have to service some future plot. Plus, there are a lot of martial artists in the DCU, and I'm not exactly seeing an overwhelming number of them being Asian "just because people like it." It would have been so easy to make Cass yet another blonde and/or blue-eyed martial arts expert (like Tim, Dick, Dinah, and Richard Dragon), but the writers chose to make her mixed race. I'm grateful that they didn't default to white.

    And I'm also grateful that there was no big Terry Burg-style afterschool special thing about it. It totally fits for the character; Cass was raised entirely by her father, so it's not like she got any lessons in Asian culture growing up. When she asks herself "Who am I?" I really doubt she's gonna follow that with "Am I WHITE? Am I ASIAN? Woe, for within my blood two continents do battle!" She's got much more troubling issues to work out. And I like that there's no dragon lady stuff. Cass is very American; she wasn't trained by ninja-monks, she doesn't randomly wear pseudo-Asian garb, and her name isn't fucking Kim or Jade or anything that screams "stereotype!" She does nothing that is more "Asiany" than any of the other DCU martial artists. It just so happens that the mother she's never met (until the end of the series) is Asian.

    I hate being that person that's overly sensitive to race stuff, but since you blog so much about the gender imbalance in comics, the race imbalance seemed worth mentioning. I'm hapa (part Asian), like Cass. When I was trying to entice my sister into reading the Bat-family stuff, you bet your ass I mentioned that the new batgirl was hapa. There weren't hapa heroes when we were kids, let alone female ones. We all want visiblity, whether for women or gays or people of color; especially in superhero comics, you want to know that there are people like you fighting the good fight along with all the straight white guys. The attitude that whiteness is the default, that breaking from that default is somehow suspicious, is something that needs to be overcome.

    (Ack, sorry for being so long-winded on your blog.)

     
  • At January 21, 2007 5:36 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    elias: I hate to say it. But honestly. It's not enough for me. Sorry.

    rani: Thanks for replying

    I should clarify. If Cass was originally introduced as Shiva's daughter. I wouldn't bring up her race at all. If she was introduced as a random character with no ties to anyone Batman previously knew, I wouldn't question her being Asian.

    The fact that puts doubt in my head about this is that they specifically wanted her tied to a particular villain: David Cain. They wanted her as his daughter (yes, the assumption was she was adopted. But the assumption was at least partially there because of her race.)

    David Cain is white.

    For me, when you're creating the character to be the offspring of another character, the parent character is the "default" you're working from.

    Cain didn't have a pre-established wife of another ethnicity. So that means that the choice to make Cassandra a different race from her father was deliberate and specific.

    If they were going to make her a different race from David, why not go black? Latina? Why make the "strongest martial artist" in the DCU, who is also "silent, deadly weapon" specifically Asian?

    That said, I meant it when I said that this reason alone would barely register on my radar. It's *good* to have more representation of every races. It's just what it seems to indicate when combined with the other factors that starts to get at me.

     
  • At January 21, 2007 6:14 AM, Blogger Joel Bryan said…

    Some of those are excellent points, but most of them are more the result of bad writing, which was endemic with the "Batgirl" title than flaws with the character.

    So some of what you've written seems based more your reaction to the rabidly "Cass should never ever/could never ever do wrong!" posts on the "Save Cass" message board than events in her actual series.

    I've played with that fire and been mightily burned when I suggested she might have personal reasons for aligning herself with Deathstroke. I ended up in one of those lamer-than-lame message board battles where the other person started making personal assumptions about my real-life morality because I suggested Cass might not be as simple or kind-hearted as the poster thought.

    I disagree that her appeal is based on "innocent girlfriend" syndrome. The Cass Batgirl is one of the few female characters in the DC universe who weren't defined by their sexuality or sexual appearance, or sexual appeal to fans.

    Even her costume, which some people have construed as some kind of "fetish" wear is much more functional and less sexually overt than the original Batgirl's, and miles better than Supergirl's current togs. And it's fetishy quality depends mainly on who's drawing her... some artists played up the shiny PVC look, others made it leatherish (honestly not anymore fetishy than the Batman costumes from the movies) and others gave it a flat, cloth-like "ninja" outfit appearance.

    The debutante argument is pretty leftfield. Most of the time she was shown NOT knowing what clothes to wear to get that kind of result, and the few times she received the male gaze (when Barbara made her wear a swimsuit, or when she wore the old Batgirl outfit), she was seriously unnerved by it. Her daily wear was pretty androgynous, except for the one time she ripped the sleeves off her blouse to look "punky" for a dance party near the end of her series... by which time the whole thing had pretty much devolved into go-nowhere/do-nothing storytelling.

    I never considered "sexiness" or "innocence" as being defining traits of Cass as a character.

    And I don't think she left Cain specifically because she was so "pure of heart" or so good. Rather it was the ability to read body language and the shock to her system that the games she'd been playing with her father... violent as they were... were specifically created in order to kill.

    When you're doing things you're not fully aware of (she was 8, after all), and suddenly learn the consequences it's a shock to the system. Especially if you're as alien and messed up as she was.

    I mean, I thought it'd be fun to shoot a squirrel with a bb gun when I was that age, but when I did it it curdled something inside. Was it fun watching the squirrel fall from a pine tree and smack into a fence?

    No. I can only surmise how much worse it might be to extrapolate that onto a full-grown human being.

    Hence she was created to be a human fighting machine who was discovering what it meant to be human, fighting to either obliviate herself or find some sort of redemption. Evidently, that wasn't really possible for her.

    But "too kind" was never one of her flaws. I don't think stopping that guy's heart in #6 was particularly kind. Or any of the various ass-whuppin's she dealt out.

    I think a total lack of self is her most inherent flaw.

    After all that... I completely agree that a little bit of tarnish makes the silver shine brighter. I wish they'd done that with her more. But again, that's more indemic with poor writing than the character's conception.

    Which I've been hammering nonstop even before the OYL debacle. Anyway, you're right on there. And also that they could've done more to integrate her bicultural essence too.

     
  • At January 21, 2007 9:36 AM, Blogger Ami Angelwings said…

    Your criticisms of Kitty and Cass make them sound like Mary Sues! :O Which, I've heard Kitty referred to a lot, but when you look at Cass that way I think you have a point! :)

    Keep in mind I dunno that much about Cass. My sister's the big Cass fan XD I just like Supergirl (but not the current one!! GRRRRR) But yah.. Batgirl sounds like the type of character somebody would try to apply to a Superhero RPG with and get their app rejected b/c they clearly want a perfect character who is unbeatable yet completely sympathetic and unique and has traits up the wazoo to differentiate herself from everybody else AND has "flaws" that are just adding to her perfection. :|

    I personally liked your analysis and criticisms :)

     
  • At January 21, 2007 9:53 AM, Anonymous violetfishy said…

    Well, I can see what you are saying, but I think you are missing some aspects of the character because you haven't read too much of her.
    When it comes to the fact that despite being a trained assassin she knows that murder is wrong, her rejection of her fathers teachings has nothing to do with her heart but with how she sees things. Body language is her first language. She reads people by what they do...and when she killed she literally, saw him die in front of her with an intensity that no one else would. I can understand this frightening a young girl, recieving the thorough knowledge of what she has done makes it understandable that she would run away. I also think this goes towards explaining why she adopts Batman's code so rigorously.

     
  • At January 21, 2007 10:11 AM, Anonymous Sockich said…

    I really don't agree with what you said but, you're entitled to your opinion and obviously have no desire to change your mind, so I'm not gonna try and persuade you. I would just like to point out one thing...

    So that means that the choice to make Cassandra a different race from her father was deliberate and specific.

    Uh, her mother is Shiva. Of course the choice to make Cass a different race from her father was deliberate, her mother is a different race.

     
  • At January 21, 2007 2:04 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    joel: I actually thought Batgirl had some very good writing. And there have been enough of a variety of writers behind the character for her to do nothing for me.

    ami: I don't know if I'd go so far to call her a Mary Sue. She doesn't do anything for me though.

    violet: I've actually read almost every issue she's been in. (My friend is a major fan and lent me issues.)

    I understand the counterarguments. And really a lot of them make sense. But they do nothing for me

    sockich: You have a point of course. For me, there is a difference though:

    Shiva being her mother was not a core aspect of Cassandra's identity. In fact, the search for her mother became a core plotline for her and the idea that her mother could be one of quite a few women came up.

    As I recall, this was when the comic started floating around the idea that she was adopted by Cain. To make it possible for her to be the non-Asian Nyssa al-Ghul's daughter.

    It's only at the end of the series that Shiva being Cass's mother became as important to the character as David being Cass's father.

    I do think pretty early on they did decide on Shiva as her mother. But considering it took six years to confirm that for the character, do we really know that Shiva was always planned as Cassandra's mother? Or was she Cassandra's mother as an explanation for Cassandra being Asian?

    I admit. If they never tried to introduce the "who is Cassandra's mother" mystery though, her race would never seem so arbitrarily assigned. If we knew her mother was Shiva from the getgo. This whole argument would be moot. She's the daughter of Cain and Shiva. Of course she'd be half-Asian.

    The fact that it went unconfirmed for so long is probably why her race seems tacked on (in the "hot asian martial artist chicks are kewl" vein.) to me. Especially since they had to jump through such hoops (She's adopted! No she's not!) to introduce the possibility of other mothers.

    Which is a problem in and of itself. That Shiva really was the only viable mother possibility because she was the only Asian possibility is utterly ridiculous. Despite my complaints about the seeming arbitrariness of the choice of Cass's race, I really do think the DCU, and Gotham in particular, needs more color.

     
  • At January 21, 2007 8:45 PM, Anonymous Justin said…

    Even though you probably won't read this because I'm coming in so late, I just had to chime in as a huge Cassandra fan. She is one of my favorite heroes in all of comicdom. I also enjoy your blog, so I am torn. I think your post was for the most part fair and well-argued. It's more than I can say for other bloggers who seem to have come out of the woodwork all of a sudden to pile on Cass. Almost all arguements I would make have been made very well already, and judging by your equally well-presented answers it's just one of those agree/disagree things. All I can say is hopefully she pulls a Nightwing with you. :-)

     
  • At January 21, 2007 8:49 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    justin: I won't say it's impossible. :-) After all I out right HATED Nightwing. Cass I'm just indifferent toward. :-)

    And my opinions are mutable. :-) So we'll see what happens.

     
  • At January 22, 2007 7:18 PM, Blogger Andrew said…

    > Not like Bruce or Barbara couldn't
    > possibly have figured out a way or
    > called specialists to help her
    > learn.

    Geeeeeeez! The way you talk, you'd think Barbara Gordon had a highschool/elementary teacher on her payroll.

    Oh, wait...

     
  • At January 24, 2007 11:06 AM, Anonymous riptide said…

    okay I've been reading the comic for a very long time I don't have the last of her comics but I have seen all the other ones. I have no idea why people would not think that sandra may have not been her mother. Most of the people who can't understand it muct have not read the earlier comics. I could tell from the way cain acted he was her dad.....him does any one remember a sean where batman was thinking about shiva and jason.

    any how I find it kinda strange that she went evil. I was hoping teen tittans east were out to go after the teen titans west because some one has seen how they could have become a problem in the future, but I guess that is not how it's going to go.

     
  • At January 24, 2007 11:57 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    riptide: *shrug* She was the obvious answer. But "Who is Batgirl's mother?" was an actual plot of the comic. So clearly not everyone felt the same way.

     
  • At January 26, 2007 9:47 AM, Anonymous riptide said…

    I always thought it was...anyhow I can see that she in teen titans east is going to be the good guy in the end. still I seem to be confused when it comes to the teen titans east now and the teen titans east in the future.

     
  • At February 27, 2007 3:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm posting this anonymously because I'm too lazy to get a Google/Blogger account and I also like to give people the option of not believing I am who I say I am.

    A couple of points:

    Making Batgirl Asian was an idea given to me by DC editorial, to take or to leave. I made her half-Asian and never focused on her ethnicity because my daughter is half-Asian and her ethnicity isn't much of a focus for us, either (if we didn't live in California that might not be the case).

    As for Batgirl realizing that killing's wrong at such a young age, you have a good point. Notwithstanding the "super-empathetic so she experienced it from the dead guy's POV" angle, which I still think is valid given her special abilities, I've often wished I could've rewritten her No Man's Land intro. I would've had her drop in with Cain at 17 on her first mission, kill her first person right in front of Batman and freak out. Then go from there. 20/20 hindsight.

    As for Shiva, I never intended for her to be Batgirl's mother, and that's why it was never teased until after I'd left the book.

    -Kelley Puckett

     
  • At February 28, 2007 2:28 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Thank you very much for your reply! It's really interesting to hear about the creation of a character from an inside point of view.

    (And even if I'm not a fan, I have to admit, Cassandra's a really popular and well-loved character so I think you probably did a pretty good job with her. :-))

    And I think I'd have liked the revised origin quite a bit better. :-) Hindsight and all.

     
  • At March 28, 2007 4:36 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    The problem here is that you don't really know the character that well. You seem to have just gone on the DC Comic boards and read what all the Barbara fans had to say.

    At the end of the day, most of the DC characters are boring, especially the Bat Family. Plus, it's fiction, so "of course" every single damn one of them is a cliche. Look at Tim Drake. He's the biggest Mary Sue going and no one appears to notice. How about in Teen Titans #44 where he has single handedly made a anti-serum to Deathstroke's crazy-serum?

     
  • At March 28, 2007 4:44 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Em: I see you missed the part where I mentioned having read the entire Batgirl series. It might be wise to actually read the post before replying, thank you.

    As to the rest, this post isn't a critique of Tim Drake, it's a critique of Cassandra Cain. When I feel like addressing the strengths and flaws of Robin (III), I'll be sure to post the entry.

    As it happens however, recently I came to a new appreciation of Cassandra which I posted here.

     
  • At March 28, 2007 4:11 PM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    Wow. You have a new appreciation. Well done.

    Had you actually looked at the whole series and not just at the points you didn't like, you might have found that appreciation without someone coming along and having to point it out to you.

    I wasn't just talking about Tim either. I was making the point that all comic book characters are cliche. It's not supposed to be a realistic representation of life. I can't remember the last time I shot someone in the spine, that's for sure.

     
  • At March 28, 2007 9:47 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Like I said, I read the series. It's not my responsibility to like everything I read.

    And to be honest, I don't particularly have to answer to people who don't actually read what I've written. Thanks and bye now!

     
  • At March 29, 2007 12:21 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Now, Kali, some people aren't blessed with enough imagination to realize that people's opinions and reactions might differ even with access to the same artistic works. Others, as we've seen before, need multiple readings to understand the post. Perhaps you shouldn't be so curt with your less fortunate readers.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 2:11 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 2:30 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Okay, per that deleted post, thanks for the laugh. I really needed one. :-)

     
  • At March 29, 2007 2:57 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    Well, it said that you read *most* of the issues. See, I read it back when I first commented it. That's not *all* of the issues, which you appear to claiming now. So which one is it? This is why I'm having an issue with your arguments.

    Plus, the Asian argument? To me that's kind of like saying of a homosexual character "Well, this character is a waste because he/she is only gay for the benefit of the plot". I don't see how that works. It's just that the character would date their own sex instead of another, what's the big deal. I agree that Cassandra didn't need to be Asian, but then you get in a zone where people will go "when is it okay for a character not to be white without people going nuts on their blogs because they think it's a plot ploy?"

    I also agree with marionette - no one I know refers to Cassandra as "the asian Batgirl", which just borders on racist really. I personally can't stand it when people go on about a friend they have and, oh, did they mention that friend was black?, even when the ethnicity of that person has absolutely no relevance to the story they are telling. Did any of the comic characters make a big deal about Cassandra? No, not that I remember, so if they did it wasn't a constant thing or it would have stuck, plus I actually did read the whole series.

    People constantly go on about Bruce's sucky reaction to Cass' change of sides. To me, having read the past stuff, it's not all that surprising. He didn't just "let" Cass be Batgirl after she had killed. I think he recognised that it would be better to have her on their side than not, and with her skills was pretty valuable. So his reaction now is kind of "Well, I knew it".

    What I found appealing was that Cass desperately wanted to do good, but at the same time is this lethal force and she can't help that. Like the time (and I don't have the comic in front of me, so can't quote the issue or the villians name) she accidently made the guy's heart stop and desperately tried to revive him, an ended up needing Steph's help. To me, that isn't a perfect little Mary Sue "of course" type. Wouldn't that mean she could save him and all would be well and they'd have some cake and tea? Cass definitely had a dark side, that was part pf her appeal.

    But as you said, I'm probably wasting my time. You're welcome to your own opinion (which appears to be changing as far as Cass goes, but whatever). You seem to jump down the throats of those who differ though, and I expect you will again now that I've pointed out the whole "I read the whole thing/I read most of it" thing.

    Oh, and I deleted the other post because I had a much better argument to make. You might want to follow example once your a Cass fan.

    ragnell: I'm not a visitor to this blog, nor will I be in future, I just got linked here. The argument just didn't seem that well informed to me. Some things were right, some weren't.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 3:20 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Em -- Sorry Em, but you just strike me as someone who can't believe that other people have different tastes than you.

    Kali listed a number of reasons why the character fell flat, from an ethnicity that could easily be read as chosen for stereotyping and for fetishization to the white-washed perfect personality. These aren't knee-jerk silly responses like "She's not BARBARA" but parts of the story which fell flat in the reading. Other people love those same exact points. There are a number of reasons why fan-favorites differ among fans. Some characters remind you of people you know and other characters you like. Some live out your personal fantasies. Some seem too much like other characters and are cliche, but some people like that cliche so much they don't mind. Not everyone's impressions are the same. Most reasonable people would acknowledge that she's not coming from an uninformed opinion, she just has different tastes than they do and leave it at that.

    But you keep coming back, and now you're splitting hairs between reading most and reading all of a series. Is that honestly such a HUGE distinction? Surely if Kali read 60-70 of a 73 issue series she has a good idea what the character is like. Do you really need for EVERYONE to adore this character so much that someone who dislikes them has to be discredited and attacked endlessly?

    Yeesh, if Kyle and Hal fans can share a message board why can't you accept that someone might be able to read Cassandra and not instantly see complete and utter awesomness?

     
  • At March 29, 2007 3:22 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I can see where the most/all confused you, I was imprecise in my terminology.

    I've read the Batgirl series. 1-73. (I think the last issue was 73 anyway, the walking off into the sunset with Shiva's coat. Which I thought was pretty neat.)

    I haven't read every issue in which Batgirl appears. I haven't read all of her origin in No Man's Land. I haven't read Justice League Elite. I haven't read every crossover.

    Thus I've read "most" of the issues in which Batgirl appears and "all" of her own series. I do apologize for the miscommunication.

    As for the "Asian Batgirl" thing, I've mentioned that on its own, the fact that Cass is Asian would not have been remarkable at all. It's more that all the other "cool" traits that seem/ed to me to have been piled upon her gives even the innocent qualities a bad aftertaste.

    As to the rest of your argument, I'm perfectly fine with agreeing to disagree. Your points, while valid, don't really change the reasons I am not (was not) fond of the character.

    Finally, I'm not trying to cast judgements on anyone else here, but I've always personally thought the idea of deleting anything I've posted to be, well, cowardly and irresponsible. It's a way of avoid the consequences of expressing my opinions in a semi-public forum.

    My opinions may have changed, but at the time of each entry on this blog, these were my thoughts/beliefs/opinions and I own my words. I'm not afraid to be called on them, after the fact. I stand by what I've said.

    Besides, if I deleted this post, I'd lose all of the interesting discussion in the comments, both pro and anti-Cassandra. I'd regret that.

    You are perfectly welcome to stick around and comment on this blog, I always appreciate discussion

     
  • At March 29, 2007 3:27 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    (Em -- Oh, and I can't resist remarking on the irony of you accusing Kali of jumping down your throat after the obnoxious nature of your second comment.)

     
  • At March 29, 2007 4:18 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    Ragnell: I'm not having this discussion with you. And if I appear to jump down anyone's throat, it's because I've read the comments of people here and seen them have the same treatment. I really have nothing more to say to you since you have to descend into insults and that's pretty immature.

    Kalinara: The reason I get pissed is because when I read opinions, a lot of the time they are based on what people have read on Wikipedia. Clearly that's not the case here, so I apologise, but in saying you had read the majority could easily have meant, say, 40 out of 73.

    For the record, the comment was deleted because there is no edit button. I was going to copy and paste, but then the argument evolved into something else. I didn't do it because I'm "cowardly". If I was, I wouldn't be on my own blog tearing a new one for a classic game like Theme Park (which I'm sure has a bigger and a more rabid following than Cass).

    The Asian thing - well, if DC think that any race is cooler than the other, they have serious issues. But then we already know that.

    I can agree to disagree (I don't always agree with Angry Video Game Nerd but he's fantastic - the whole thing is satire anyway which no one seems to get), as for "sticking around" I don't see much point, especially when people go around calling each other obnoxious when it's a so-called discussion. Plus comic blogs don't interest me. If people don't enjoy a character or a book, I don't really get the point in reading that book anymore. I mostly blog video games, so if I play a bad one I don't waste time on it (unless I made the silly mistake of buying it).

     
  • At March 29, 2007 4:28 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Em -- Well, you were the one who came here and insulted my friend without reading her post first. And then when she corrected you, you copped an absurd attitude about it. You have no ground to stand on based on how the other commenters are behaving, because so far the only repeatedly rude people on the thread are the two of us. Everyone else who made a second comment was well-mannered.

    I'm really only being a bitch because your rudeness annoyed me. You obviously didn't read the post and wrote a knee-jerk response. You got called on it and responded like an ass. I see no reason to be polite to you, and your refusing to respond to me just shows that you hold others to a higher standard than you hold yourself.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 4:37 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Em: Apology accepted. I was probably touchy too. :-)

    I was considering getting Theme Park for the DS. Or Zoo Express. I've not played a good game of that sort in a while. Money's a bit tight though, so I should probably finish occupying myself by clumsily lassoing Pokemon with my stylus. Slippery bastards.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 4:51 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    I did read the post. I didn't agree with it.

    As for my second comment; that's called sarcasm. "Well done for...". Okay, so sorry if you find sarcasm rude, but that's how I deal with people who write a whole long essay and then go "now I'm changing my mind", especially when that change of mind comes from a discussion with someone else, which she implies in her other post that it did. I'm not saying people can't change their mind. I just find the situation strange.

    I did read the post, thank you. I just didn't agree. I don't have 5 hours to write a detailed response however, based on every part of the argument. As I said, some was right, some I thought was not right.

    This is exactly why I don't usually read comic blogs. Just read the comic. Enjoy. If you don't, stop reading that particular comic.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 4:55 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    Theme Park DS is okay if you liked the Playstation version. I didn't particularly, but if you play in "sim" mode it's not too bad. If money is tight I wouldn't rush out for it before a lot of other games that are out though.

    Oh, and in my last comment, when I say about the situation being weird, I mean changes of mind in general and not just this one. Sorry, I can't help it, criminal law student that I am. :)

    PS. I've also changed my mind about Nightwing. Loved him, now don't as much. I find that very weird too.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 5:01 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Em -- You're funny. I mean, if you had seriously read the post you wouldn't have suggested she got her opinion of message boards.

    And suggesting sarcasm isn't rude is a nice touch. Quite unexpected.

    And tracing your ire back to her changing her mind to agree with you is an usual idea.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 5:09 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    For the record, the conversation that lead to my turnaround in opinion wasn't related to Cass at all.

    Diamondrock IS a Cass fan, but we were actually talking about our dream Brave and the Bold partnerships. That's when I realized that Guy and Cassandra partnered would be interesting. And then the similarities to the character.

    So it was pretty much all me there. Boy, did he ever gloat though. Jerk. :-)

    I'll add that it's not like I wrote this big long essay and then turned around and changed my mind. I wrote this essay in January. (And it's not as much as it sounds, I type these entries stream-of-consciousness.) I came to my realization in March.

    I just like things to be accurate here.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 5:17 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    Ragnell: If you read any of *my* comments, you would see that I was lead to the conclusion that the opinion was like one from message boards because I thought she hadn't read... wait, didn't I say this?

    Also, generally when people make an argument, they refer to specific issues to bring the point across. To be fair, you can grab any handful of Batgirl comics and quote them as getting these points across, but when I see arguments I prefer them to be backed up by something.

    It's irrelevant if she now agrees with me on Cass or not. January to March isn't a long time to change an opinion. It usually takes a few years for most people I know, but each to their own.

    If people are sarcastic towards me, I laugh. I find it hilarious, probably because it's something I do myself. Oh well, each to their own (uh... again).

    kalinara: Well, if it was your own change, then good. It was a quick one... took me a few years to start disliking Nightwing. Then again I remember seeing promos of Final Fantasy 10 and going "Wow, Tidus looks cool", then playing the game and going "Tidus is clearly not cool", so that was a pretty fast change too.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 5:24 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I actually have an extreme irrational hatred of Nightwing that defies all reason or sensibility. I can't explain it, it's inexpressible. I just find such amazing glee in spewing venom about the character. I will never change my mind about this and will never be able to be reasoned with...

    Until I find another character I love hating more. It used to be Hawkman. But Carter's actually kind of hot. :-)

    Though I actually liked Tidus a lot in FFX, he was a total dork but actually pretty observant and even intelligent sometimes.

    (Also, it's funny that you're studying criminal law, I'm heading toward law school myself to do the same thing. I'd imagine it's a bit different in the UK than here though...)

     
  • At March 29, 2007 5:35 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    Actually I think as far as the syllabus goes, we do the same topics the same years. I'm fairly sure we both do Contract the same year.

    I liked Tidus for a while. It's actually his voice I don't like. In FF X-2 it wasn't too bad. That said he only had one line, and you had to get the good ending.

    Nightwing is... ugh... (I will now be killed by his fans for not having a good argument!)

     
  • At March 29, 2007 5:36 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Emo -- I read your comment to see that you're trying to hang everything on the word "seem" when you went ahead and postulated that she didn't know the character very well and had gotten her opinion secondhand through Barbara-fans. She responded that she's read all of the series. You responded with sarcasm constructed to make the other person look stupid, not friendly sarcasm at all, and implied through sarcasm that she hadn't read the series. Either you didn't read her post or you implied she was lying. Either way was rude, and you caught me on a night I wasn't willing to give it a pass, so you got a rude me in return.

    That doesn't change the fact that you were being rude earlier, and still are being rude. This is all there for anyone to read, and may I point out you've said some insulting things about Kalinara when you answer me while at the same time you're trying to make peace with her in your comments directed at her.

    I expect you will make a very poor lawyer if your standard debate style is this sloppy.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 5:53 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    Ragnell: "Emo?" Oh very clever, well done to you. Gold stars and a clap from the whole class (yep, more sarcasm).

    Well, I'm not going to be a lawyer, it's just that I study law, so that's where you're making assumptions. Just like I made assumptions, which is always a stupid thing to do.

    Anything I have said of Kalinara in replies to you that may come across as still being rude to her are things that I assumed before, so if it looks like I still have that opinion then I don't, and if she thinks I'm still being rude then I'm sorry.

    The only person who still has a problem here is you. I've said sorry to the person I may or may not have offended. As for you, I don't care if you're not usually rude or not, it's not going to keep me awake at night, so you really don't need to justify yourself to me by giving it all the "you caught me on a bad night". The fact is, the argument is now over. Stop clinging to it like a child who wants attention.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 6:00 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Actually, that was a typo.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 6:06 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    So was mine, but you feel the need to bitch about me on your blog. Where have I bitched about you on mine? It's a petty thing to do.

    *sigh*

    Like I said, bitch away. I don't care. It doesn't make you look clever. You could have easily made your blog point without it. I feel sorry for anyone who can't make their point without taking the piss out of other specific bloggers.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 6:18 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Em -- Don't flatter yourself. I was amused at your statement about Cass Fans and used it as a jumping off point to discuss fan hierarchy. You're arrogant about your comics knowledge, you're arrogant about your debate skills, you're arrogant about your fandom, and you're arrogant about your importance in that post. That makes you fun to be rude to.

    Now I'm going to bed, but I do look forward to continuing this tomorrow.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 6:26 AM, Blogger Em the Retro Geek said…

    Yes, please do look forward to talking to yourself, because I certainly won't be visiting here again.

    You have single-handedly provided everything I dislike about comic bloggers. I'd rather forget you exist to be honest, so I won't continue what has become an immature barrage of insulting dog turds. Maybe you're happy to continue it, but I have better things to do with my time.

    Have a nice life.

     
  • At March 29, 2007 6:28 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Oh you'll be back. You're clearly obsessed with having the final word in an argument. That's why you haven't left yet.

     
  • At October 12, 2007 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Umm, you seem not to have done your research carefully. In her backstory, she ran away after killing for the first time not because she was pure. She had the ability to read body language. When she killed, she could feel the death from the dying person's point of view. It horrified her so much she ran away

     
  • At October 12, 2007 7:30 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    If you'll read the comments, that was brought up repeatedly. And answered, repeatedly.

    Thank you.

     
  • At November 17, 2009 9:21 AM, Blogger 珊珊李 said…

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