Batgirl’s Sister?

May 20, 2008 at 10:09 am (Comics Issue #427) (, )

May I just say that the development of Batgirl (Cassandra Cain version) having a sister (Annalea, was it?) is sort of…crap?

Perhaps I should explain myself. Cass was the first version of Batgirl I really followed–I like Barbara Gordon just fine, but I like her as Oracle. Let’s face it, the heroes of DC could use an information hub like her. Anyway, I’ve always liked Cass, because one of my two character type weaknesses is the “raised to be inhuman but struggling to be human anyway” type. And Cass fit that one perfectly–raised to be a weapon and tool, escaping through her own empathy for human life and embarking on a journey to becoming a hero.

But her story has the added dimension of the fact that David Cain may be justifiably said to have had some kind of genuine paternal affection for her. At the time, Cass was his only (biological) child; his failures he had already disowned. So that adds an uneasy familial element to their relationship: yeah, his treatment of her was horrific and abusive and he deserves punishment for it. But they he is still her father, she is still his daughter; they are bound to each other by their solitude, by years of harsh training in the middle of nowhere, by stargazing on the roof, by hesitant and uncertain gifts. It’s a strange relationship, awkward for both and difficult to define, it interferes with what both had chosen as their life’s calling (heroism for Cass, hitman for Cain) and yet neither can quite make themselves ignore the bond completely.

And then you have Annalea? Why? Why is she necessary to Cass’ life? Cass has already faced and overcome an ex-child of Cain, when she killed Mad Dog during her solo series. Having an extra daughter for Cain to hang around with dilutes the complexity of their family bond because it takes away the element of it being an anomaly in both of their solitudes; how can Cain claim uneasy genuine bond to his only daughter when he has Annalea to train on the side? Plus, it’s already been established that Cass was Cain’s single and greatest success, that she fulfilled all the expectations Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins had for the One Who is All. Why do they need another girl who’s just like her?

I mean I guess I can see some justification for it–covering all bases (as Cain is famous for) just in case Cass is a failure…but if the concept of Cain having another daughter is going to work I’d have thought he’d train another kid because Cass left him. I mean, Annalea does look an awful lot like Cass, and maybe Cain wanted a replacement–maybe he wanted to make up for his failure to keep Cass in line. Except Annalea’s too old to have be Cain’s biological kid like Cass, so then I guess I’d have to say he just picked up some kid and trained them from there, like Shiva’s going to with the Crime Doctor’s daughter. But that doesn’t work because Cain’s modus operandi is to train the kids from birth.  Even so, that’s irrelevant if he tried training her as a replacement-Cass. No matter what you’d have to throw in some fighting over who is Cain’s “true” daughter (likely, it’s a pretty obvious storyline).

Possibility aside (and just ’cause it’s possible doesn’t mean you have to do it), I just don’t like Annalea because I’d rather see Cass embark on a campaign to make up for what she did under the influence of Slade’s serum than see her duke it out with her “sister” when she’s already defeated a “brother.” If she needs a nemesis I’d rather it be Shiva (and Bethany) than some random new girl made up while Cass was (literally) off her head on drugs. Annalea could work, but I don’t have to like it.


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