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Review – Shadow of the Batgirl (DC Comics)

Shadow of the Batgirl (DC Comics) cover (detail) by Nicole Goux
Overall
10/10
10/10
  • Writing - 10/10
    10/10
  • Art - 10/10
    10/10
  • Overall - 10/10
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Shadow of the Batgirl

Writer: Sarah Kuhn
Penciler: Nicole Goux
Colorist: Cris Peter
Letterer: Janice Chiang and Saida Temofonte
Publisher: DC Comics
Maturity Rating: Teen
Release Date: January 29th, 2020

Cassandra Cain ventures into the role of a hero through her connection to new friends that she makes on the street and in the library. She discovers some of herself and of others as she takes on the role of Batgirl. 

It Is a New Beginning in Shadow of the Batgirl

Cassandra Cain is a relatively new character by comic book standards. She first appeared in the late 1990s as a part of the “No Man’s Land” crossover in Batman titles. Her solo title was one of the major additions to the Bat titles as Gotham was reborn. At the time there were few Asian characters in comics and even fewer leading their own title. Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl thus became a touchstone for an increasing diversity in the medium, and especially at the Big Two. DC later retconned Cassandra Cain a question mark following the events of “Flashpoint”. Barbara Gordon was back as Batgirl for the New 52, and Cassandra Cain showed up in a different role from previous. As the lead writer of Shadow of the Batgirl writes in the introduction, the place that Cassandra maintained as the lead character in her own series for 73 issues left a lasting impression on many. This graphic novel, Shadow of the Batgirl, is thus both a love letter to this character and also a reimagining of the character’s core. 

Story

Shadow of the Batgirl (DC Comics) cover by Nicole Goux
Shadow of the Batgirl (DC Comics) cover by Nicole Goux

Sarah Kuhn has the writing duties here and it is evident that she has a deep appreciation for the Cassandra Cain version of the character. The character is presented here in a very sympathetic manner. Her history is reimagined, though left intact. Gone is the association to “No Man’s Land” (presumably not really canon for Batman). Instead, the focus is on the character. The aspect of her training robbing her of her ability to speak was never well addressed in the comics. In the original run in her own series, writers hand-waved this fairly quickly to allow her to talk. In so doing, it didn’t add much to her character’s depth. Here, though, this forms an integral part of the story, which gives it much more meaning. In fact, as she learns to speak here, it is as important a part of her character as her becoming Batgirl.

This is a presentation of the character which goes beyond that of an action star. It instead explores her as a human first, generally the best way to win points for approachability to the reader. There is really little here that is wrong with the writing. Sarah Kuhn deserves top marks for her work here.  

Art  

The art for Shadow of the Batgirl is handled by Nicole Goux on pencils and Cris Peter on colors. One might think at first that the art is not a good fit for a martial arts character, but this is not an action-based story. With the focus on character, it makes the artwork into a perfect fit.  

Conclusion

It might not be clear where this fits into the present continuity. Readers of comics who find that this is an important element might be disappointed with this story. For fans of great superhero stories though, there is practically nothing wrong with Shadow of the Batgirl. Kuhn presents Cassandra Cain as far more sympathetic than ever, without contradicting her lethal nature. The creative team showed their love for the character here in a way that few other creators do. 


 

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