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Why You Should Read BATGIRL: A KNIGHT ALONE

Look no further for the definitive Cassandra Cain story.

Although Cassandra Cain may not be a part of the current DC universe, for many Batgirl fans her character has certainly left an impression that will make her very hard to forget -- and it's no wonder why. Of all the female heroines in the DC Universe Cassie's origin story is one of the hardest, grittiest and most grounded of all of Batman's supporting characters. So if you've never read a Cassandra Cain story before, where should you start as a new reader? Her ongoing series, of course.

Cassandra Cain was born from the 'No Man's Land' story line and given her first series in April, 2000. The character's ongoing series went on to span over five years with the conclusion of her series published in April of 2006 with issue #73 -- something of a big achievement, especially these days. In 2001 DC comics collected the first two volumes of Cassandra Cain's ongoing series, and both volumes are absolutely worth getting if you are able to find them (as they happen to be out of print). And while her entire run was pretty fantastic, the second volume BATGIRL: A KNIGHT ALONE which collects issues 7 to 11, 13 and 14 of her ongoing may be one of the highlights of the entire run, and certainly worth picking up if you have ever been curious about her character. If you have ever wanted a solid grasp of Cassandra Cain, BATGIRL: A KNIGHT ALONE is the perfect place to start.

One of the unique things about Cassie's character is the fact that when she was originally introduced to readers she could not verbally communicate. Although the reason for Cassie's inability to speak is revealed in the first six issues of her ongoing series, it is not until the second volume that this aspect of her character is really fleshed out and explored, and readers discover that the reason she cannot speak is actually a deeply psychological one. Although I personally really enjoyed the first volume of the character's series, I think that many people may have a problem with the lack of dialogue from Batgirl. Puckett relies heavily on other characters and on the series' artists to depict Cassandra's thoughts and emotions, and while I think this was done well, I think that as the character began to adapt to verbal communication (starting with the second volume and onward), that's when she became more interesting.

BATGIRL writer Kelley Puckett explores Cassandra's psyche as well as her relationship with both Batman and the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. It is evident, especially in this second volume, that Cassie is a trained killer. Her abilities as a fighter and a hero are phenomenal because she has been trained from birth to be a warrior, but these qualities gradually erode away as she begins to learn how to speak normally. Basically, she can't have it all, a really fantastic quality added to this series. As a result, BATGIRL: A KNIGHT ALONE is predominantly a story about overcoming obstacles. In this volume we see Cassie struggle to learn how to fight defensively, something she never had to do before because she was given the ability to read the moves of her opponents and act preemptively. The series writer, Kelley Puckett, does an incredible job depicting her difficulties both physically and emotionally, and one of the most admirable qualities in Cassie's character really comes to the surface in this volume: and that is her unwillingness to give up. On the surface, volume two is about Cassandra's struggle to be the fighter that she used to be.

While BATGIRL: A KNIGHT ALONE is certainly a story about Cassandra as a fighter and a character struggling to re-learn her abilities, it's also a story about relationships. The second volume of BATGIRL is where the identity of Cass begins to be explored. Where did she come from? Why was she trained to be a killer? What is her relationship to David Cain? And what about Lady Shiva? Beyond that, there is also her relationship to Batman. Although Batman takes a relatively hands off approach with Batgirl (unlike we've seen him do with his Robin's), Puckett draws a connection between Batman and Cassandra Cain. It's evident he feels for her and he is angry at the thought that she has been abused by Cain from a very young age. He is also protective of Cass and for good reason, and he sees a lot of himself in her. In this story there is one particular moment where he is speaking to Barbara and he asks her, "who does she remind you of?" That pain that exists in Batman's dark, brooding stubbornness exists in Cassandra as well and Puckett draws a relationship between these two characters. They very clearly have similarities and it is interesting to see them so out in the open like it is here.

Reading this series again reminded me of why I fell in love with comics in the first place. On the surface, this is a great comic book. It has fantastic dialogue, action, adventure and of course, the Batman family characters. Beyond that though, this is a great look at the psychology of these characters. This story is so much deeper than what we see on the surface: it explores a character's insecurities and how relationships can influence and affect an individual. With Cassie, she is a character of very few words, but it is always clear that there is something much darker and deeper brooding beneath the surface of who she is, and Puckett successfully captures this dynamic incredibly well.

Have you read BATGIRL: A KNIGHT ALONE? What did you think of the volume?

41 Comments
Posted by Arkhamc1tizen

Looks cool

And first

Edited by JCT45

YES ! YES ! YES!

Posted by bsmith1190

I certainly found it well written and it definitely convinced me that Cassandra was not only a legitimate Batgirl but the best since Barbara (maybe even better). Wasn't too crazy about the art, but that's just me.

Edited by Mercy_

Sara, why would you do this to me and give me all my Cass feels T__T

I miss her so damn much.

goes to read the whole run

Moderator
Edited by Mild_Karl

Alright I'm convinced.

EDIT: OK, I tried to find this volume online & failed. Is this up on Comixology or something? I'm legitimately eager to read this now.

Posted by yfnjman

i always thought that Cassandra was a cool character. at least in the beginning. i fell off Batgirl for awhile. but, you've convinced me to pick up this book. i'mma track it down!

Posted by Urban_Ronin

F DC man. They took her body reading and gave it to Nightwing. #Swagjackin

Posted by Mild_Karl

@mercy_: Mercy, hook a brother up with this volume or something.

Edited by Trevel8182

I would give anything to get the old Batfamily back!

Posted by Billy Batson
Edited by QuantomMan

i HAVE to read this

Posted by akbogert

Ugh. On the one hand, it's always good to be pointed in the direction of great stuff, but it kind of sucks to have something recommended to you that's out of print >_>

Posted by Mild_Karl
Posted by kilomac29

The only Batgirl I've read were the DotF tie ins. I really enjoyed the issues (seems like most people didn't) and the character in general. Sounds like this is one of the definitive Batgirl stories, so I'll definitely check it out. Though it does seem to be pretty pricey on Amazon.

Posted by FoxxFireArt

I would certainly say look no further, because it seems there is no where else to look. At least for a good long while. It will probably be a long time before we get any more new Cassandra stories.

It's rather irritating that they took Cassie's ability to read body language, and just pasted it onto Dick's character, post New 52.

Posted by danhimself

man I miss Cass....she was by far my favorite Batgirl and one of my all time favorite characters

@babs it feels really weird referring to her as "Cassie" for some reason

Posted by The Mast

Phenomenal story, great article, amazing character.

Cassie is my heart. It's why I made this group.

http://www.facebook.com/BringBackCassandraCain

GO JOIN!

Posted by feedonatreefrog

I feel like she would have done well in the Nolan films, raised by the League of Shadows, etc, etc.

Posted by hyenascar

This is the last full volume i owned every single issue, from beginning to end. Great.

This is a great hypothetical look for comics of nature vs nurture. Of course I am sucker for this. It even goes futher into the gender as a social role and gender identity. For Cassie, David Cain never treated her like a little girl. (Granted he obviously stunted other psychological growth, but mentally and physically prepared her for any battle.) Her expectations of her abilities. were never limited by what she was anatomically born with.

It was later while with the "Bat family" that they pushed their gender ideals onto her, which is not necessarily good, or not necessarily bad. (Barbara and Spoiler)

This was an incredible tale that I was immersed in. I loved watching her potential growths. I have also always been fascinated with mute people, and how they see and interact with the world.

Posted by Grimoire

The only story I ever read with Cassandra Cain was the one where Batman wanted to legally adopt her. I will definitely try to find and read this one.

Posted by Supermanwithatan01
Posted by Urban_Ronin
Edited by Urban_Ronin
Posted by JediXMan

This story is awesome, just like Cassandra.

... and then DC decided to write her out of existence in the New 52.

Posted by _Black

These "Why You Should Read..." articles are my favorite. Keep them coming.

Posted by mcbean

I have not read it yet but now I will thx

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Couldn't agree more why this should be read. A true classic and must-read for any Cassie fan. And with that, I think I need to make another trip to my library to find this now.

Edited by charlieboy

Now I am more of a Barbara fan but I read Cassandra's series when it came out and it was pretty good. Cassandra is definitely different than the other Batgirls.

Posted by drgnx

F DC man. They took her body reading and gave it to Nightwing. #Swagjackin

And her basic Mask design to Batwing XD

Damn those Wings ...

Posted by feargalr

I will add it to the list!

Posted by SupBatz

I would give anything to get the old Batfamily back!

</3

Posted by lykopis

Really showing my DC ignorance here but I didn't know about Cassandra's origins. Looks like I missed out on a character who I am normally very drawn towards and that sucks!

I will get my hands on this (somehow) and place it high on my list of must-reads.

Posted by Billy Batson

@jedixman said:

This story is awesome, just like Cassandra.

... and then DC decided to write her out of existence in the New 52.

Meh, she appeared every blue moon before New 52.

BB

Posted by Sakurafire

I was lucky enough to find this TPB a few years ago. One of my favorite Batgirl stories! Man, I miss Cass. She was too cool...

Posted by akbogert

Reading back over this, it seems like Cass was an inspiration in X-23's creation. Some definite similarities.

Posted by fragmentmind

@trevel8182: :-( I miss the pre- New 52. It was getting so good. There were tons of development going on, and the family was extending....sigh.

Posted by notarandomguy

@mercy_ said:

Sara, why would you do this to me and give me all my Cass feels T__T

I miss her so damn much.

goes to read the whole run

I would give anything to get the old Batfamily back!

All this feels...

Posted by queenfrost_

I remember reading this when it first came out and my friends laughed at me :(

Posted by Queso6p4

Another great recommendation. Good job!

Posted by HereComesTheBoom_Headshot

I am a Batgirl fan, but I've not read anything about her since the reboot. Now I feel the need to give her justice by picking her new stuff up.