Warning: Contains spoilers for Birds of Prey #1!
All versions of Batgirl have been fantastic support to others, but Cassandra Cain’s complicated past leaves her with a unique drive to help — especially when someone else’s family is on the line. Her willingness to join forces with Black Canary, no questions asked, shines a spotlight on a complex aspect of her life and drive to be a hero.
In Birds of Prey #1 by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles, Black Canary assembles a team to help her sister, Sin. As she contemplates who has the skills to assist her, Cassandra Cain is her first stop. Canary seems ready to make her case, but Cass agrees to join her right away. Her reasoning is simple. “What’s more important than a sister?” The concept runs like a vein through her history, and it’s at the very root of who she is as Batgirl and what she does as a hero.
Sisterhood is the Heart of Batgirl’s History
When Cassandra Cain was first introduced, she had no spoken language. The body was her language, and she could read its slightest movements to aid her in a fight and understand people’s intentions. While the skill enables Batgirl to be one of DC’s most skilled fighters, she didn’t create it herself: her mother, Lady Shiva, developed it with her own twin sister, Carolyn. The two sisters taught themselves to communicate without speaking as they tirelessly practiced martial arts. That same skill eventually caught the attention of David Cain, Cassandra’s father, who killed Carolyn in order to recruit Lady Shiva for his cause. Love, grief, and anguish for her sister drove Shiva to become a true villain, and the language the two developed was passed onto her daughter, Cassandra. Batgirl would not be who she is without the sisterhood her mother once knew.
But David Cain’s machinations didn’t end with Cassandra and her mother. In 2008’s Batgirl #1byAdam Beechen, Jim Calafiore, Jonathan Glapion, Mark McKenna, Nathan Eyring, and Travis Lanham, Cass meets one of her surviving sisters, Marque, who was targeted by David Cain and Deathstroke and raised similarly to Cass. Upon finding her, Cassandra immediately begins to insist that they’re on the same side, going so far as to beat her in their fight just to spare her life and prove it. Unfortunately, their relationship was ill-fated from the start, as Marque wanted to kill David Cain and Cass was determined to handle their father her own merciful way. She later cuts Marque’s Achilles tendon to keep her from getting to their father. Cass knows it means she’s lost her sister, and as Marque confirms they’re enemies, Cassandra laments, “Can’t we just be family?”
Batgirl Always Wanted a Family of Her Own
Though Batgirl isn’t able to retain her sister, she still yearns for the connection and understands how important it camily can be. Luckily for Cassandra, she eventually finds her place among the Bat-Family. In particular, Barbara Gordon has been a mentor, sister, and mother-like figure to her over the years, and Stephanie Brown has turned into a best friend and close confidant. Together, the Batgirls have forged an unbreakable bond with each other, in addition to the close ties that Cassandra has with Batman and the others. It was a long road to get there, and the sacrifices along the way have helped to shape Batgirl into the earnest, steadfast hero she is today — one even Black Canary and the Birds of Prey can rely on.
Birds of Prey #1is available now from DC Comics!
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