Batgirl #15 / Cassandra Cain WHO?

Holy cow, is this book awesome.  There has not been a single issue of this title that’s come out yet where I haven’t laughed out loud during at least one scene, and this issue was no exception.  But before I get into what’s going on in the title, I need to make a statement:  Stephanie Brown is no Cassandra Cain.

That’s precisely why this book is so great.

Whenever I bring up Batgirl in a conversation at the comic shop, read about Batgirl online, what-have-you, someone always inevitably conjures the opinion that “Stephanie Brown sucks, Cassandra Cain was a way better Batgirl, waah wah waaah.”

Er, okay.  I don’t have anything against Cassandra Cain, but that’s comparing apples and oranges.

I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating:  Stephanie Brown is a totally different type of Batgirl.  She’s not a hard-trained, hyper-violent, kick-Batman’s-ass-in-a-fight type of Batgirl, like Cassandra.  Stephanie is a clumsy, self-deprecating, save-the-day-while-narrowly-avoiding-destroying-Gotham-a-second-time type of Batgirl.  She’s not the daughter of Lady Shiva–she’s a college kid.  That makes her relatable.  It’s also what makes her absolutely adorable and hilarious.  And in a comics world full of darkness and angst (despite how “Bright” the Day), Stephanie is happy-go-lucky in the face of whatever’s thrown her way.  It’s kind of a nice breather.

If you’ve given this book a chance and it still hasn’t whet your appetite, then fair enough—although I do want to argue that with the bureaucracy of its first year done and gone, the book can certainly only get even better as it has less boundaries and more freedom to play around.  You might want to consider giving it another round, particularly with this issue.  If you’re reading Supergirl, Red Robin, Teen Titans, etc.—you should be reading Batgirl.  If only for this:

(Click to enlarge.)

There, in a few quick pages, you have the essence of what makes this title such an entertaining read.  I was originally somewhat worried about Dustin Nguyen taking over art duties on this book, but after those few recap pages, any fear I had flew rather swiftly out the window.  As much as I will miss Lee Garbett’s awesome stuff, I can rest easy that Batgirl is in very capable hands.

There’s not much more to add.  Bryan Q. Miller is a gem writing Stephanie—one that I would hate to see go away due to low readership.  To address the script in specific terms would take away something, I think.  I don’t want to give you a plot summary of this book/issue, suffice it to say that anything can and often does happen.  We’ve seen everything so far from heartfelt stories to general hilarity; Barbara saving Batgirl’s skin and vice versa; teamups with Dick, Damien, and Kara, and quite possibly my favorite moment in Stephanie’s short history as Batgirl where she accidentally slaps Bruce in the face.  What more can you really ask for?

A number of interesting questions are up in the air right now as far as the Batgirl mythos, and it involves all three ladies who’ve donned the Batgirl name.  Last week’s Batman: The Return one-shot saw Stephanie questioning and loudly disapproving her new assignment under Bruce to apparently relocate to an English boarding school.  The original Batgirl herself, Barbara Gordon, is surprised when Bruce introduces her to “Internet 3.0” (whatever that is), instructs her to customize her “avatar” as she sees fit, and the accompanying image shows Barbara in her own Batgirl uniform.  Cassandra Cain, meanwhile, made a brief reappearance in the last issue of Red Robin, wherein Tim Drake offers her her former uniform and invites her back into the Bat family—which Cassandra is seen to consider before fleeing.  Is there room for three Batgirls?  Given the shift toward “Batmen” around the globe, I have to wonder what’s next for these ladies, and for Stephanie in particular.  But until the day that we see Steph, Cass, and Barbara fighting side-by-side in uniform, I will continue to cheer on the current Batgirl as Cassandra Cain’s successor.

Publisher:  DC Comics
Written by Bryan Q. Miller
Art by Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs
Colors by Guy Major
Letters by Sal Cipriano
Price:  $2.99

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