Adam Beechen (“Countdown to Adventure,” “Countdown to Final Crisis”) has a history with Cassandra Cain, and in the upcoming six-issue DC Comics miniseries “Batgirl,” illustrated by Jim Calafiore (“Gotham Underground”) with inks by Jonathon Glapion, the writer plans to resolve every question left outstanding about the character’s appearances in “Teen Titans,” “Batman and the Outsiders” and Beechen’s own controversial run on “Robin.”
“I only knew Batgirl peripherally before I received the ’Robin’ assignment and got the directive to use her for my first storyline,” Beechen told CBR News. “Researching the character for that, I quickly became a fan. Cassandra’s great. There’s so much conflict in her basic character because of how she was raised. She’s a classic case of 'nature versus nurture,’ and that battle plays out in everything she does -- everything. The only thing that comes easy to her is kicking butt and she even wrestles internally with that.”
Cassandra, introduced in “Batman” #567 in 1999, is the daughter of villains David Cain and Lady Shiva -- both affiliated with the League of Assassins. In “Robin” arc "Wanted" written by Beechen in 2006, Cassandra became the leader of the League of Assassins after being drugged by Deathstroke, and eventually killed her own father.
Cassandra’s fall from grace was not popular with some fans of the character, but Beechen stands by the chapter in Cassandra’s life that he wrote. “I have to. It’s in print, it’s out there, part of the DC continuity,” he offered. “Just like Cassandra, I accept responsibility for what’s happened in the past. Her story made sense to me at the time, but if it didn’t to some readers, that’s on me. What I want to do now is untangle everything that’s gone before, and lay it out in such a way that readers who’ve been following Batgirl these last few years say, 'Okay, that tracks now. I get it,’ while new readers are able to follow it immediately.
“All, of course, while telling a new, kick-ass story that gives Batgirl purpose and direction for the future. Will the result make everyone happy? If I’ve learned anything from my experience writing comics, so far, probably not but no one likes every story no matter how hard you try, and I’m sure some fans will find fault with what we’re trying to do. Or be unable to forgive what went before.
“But my main goal is to tell as strong and exciting a story as possible in a way that really lets the character shine, and leaves her in a place different from where she started. Cassandra and I have come a long way together. I want to do right by her.”
To set up the new miniseries, Beechen said, “After years of turmoil and confusion, after murders committed and allegiances betrayed, Batgirl is back on the side of good with a clean slate, although some members of the Bat-Family are skeptical of her stability. And maybe they’ve got good reason, because Batgirl has a secret agenda. For her, the slate’s not clean, and it won’t be until she extracts a very personal revenge from the two men who turned her into an outlaw: Deathstroke and David Cain, her father. She’s out to foil their plan to create a murder agency to rival the League of Assassins -- and to end their villainy forever.”
Once Beechen landed the writing assignment, his first step was actually charting the aforementioned 'turmoil and confusion’ and developing a method to its madness.“The first thing I did was make a list of everything, from Cassandra’s improved speech to her joining [Deathstroke’s] 'Titans East,’ that seemed to puzzle readers,” Beechen explained. “Then I took that list to my editor, Mike Marts, along with an idea of a realistic context that ties everything together and makes sense. It was a giant game of connect-the-dots. And we were able to do it in such a way that doesn’t dismiss anything readers have seen. Cassandra killed. Cassandra teamed with [Deathstroke]. It wasn’t a dream or an imaginary story. We’re not washing anything away.
“In this miniseries, Cassandra’s taking responsibility for everything she did, even though she wasn’t in full control of her actions, and she’s seeking vengeance on the men who made her do what she did. She doesn’t pretend that’ll free her from the guilt she feels now that she’s 'herself’ again, but it’s a start. That’s what this miniseries is for her, a new start. It’s her first steps down her personal Redemption Road.”
Beechen added, “And in some ways, this is my 'Redemption Road,’ too.”
Despite the fine-tuning of Cassandra’s history, Beechen said new readers can easily jump onto the series without knowing her past, but added her past is certainly worth exploring too. “We’re setting the character up pretty efficiently in the first issue of the miniseries, hopefully in such a way that new readers will be able to jump right in. And be interested enough to go back and learn the details of Cassandra’s past.”
“Batgirl” does not crossover with any of the other Bat-books, although, said Beechen, “The writers of the other Bat-titles and 'Outsiders’ know what we’re doing, so we’ve been pretty careful not to conflict.”
And that includes “Batman R.I.P.” Beechen wouldn’t rule out that Cassandra is a candidate to replace Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight. “You never know where the 'Redemption Road’ will lead,” he quipped.
“Batgirl” readers can expect lots of cameos and guest appearances from the extended Batman family. “They start about eight pages into the first issue.”
While no plans are in place, Beechen hopes this miniseries is viewed as a test run for a monthly ongoing. “Batgirl’s an important part of the fabric of the DC Universe, and she deserves her own title,” he said. “And I’d love to write it. The end of the series opens up tons of story opportunities for the character that I’d love to pursue.”
The “Batgirl” miniseries, with a tentative subtitle of “Redemption Road,” features art by Jim Calafiore with inks by Jonathon Glapion. “I’ve seen the first few pages, and the cover to the first issue by Andy Clarke, and it all looks unbelievable,” the writer remarked.
Beechen is keeping busy with not only comic writing but television work too. “I’m cranking through a creator-owned miniseries for Wildstorm right now. I’ve got a new graphic novel coming out in July from AiT/PlanetLar, the same folks who published 'Hench’ for me a few years ago. I’ve got a bunch of pitches with DC right now that I’m waiting on pins and needles to hear back about. And I’m story-editing a new 'Pink Panther’ animated series, which is a gas,” said Beechen.
“Batgirl” #1 is scheduled for release July 16.
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