One of the most fertile creative grounds in the comics industry right now is the limitless arena of Middle-Grade and Young Adult offerings from all the major and indie publishers, and 2020 will see a whole new wave of colorful youth-based superhero series and graphic novels.
DC Comics is leading the charge into the new year with the Cassandra Cain-centric OGN Shadow of the Batgirl, a teen-targeted release that takes the mute assassin and whisks her on a dynamic journey of self-discovery in the streets of Gotham City to solve the mysterious disappearance of Batgirl — and SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview of its enticing tale, which arrives Feb. 4.
Written by Asian-American author Sarah Kuhn (Heroine Complex) and inflected with inspired artwork from Nicole Goux (Jem and the Holograms), Shadow of the Batgirl is an entertaining entry into the fateful life of Cassandra Cain, the assassin daughter of supervillains David Cain and Lady Shiva. Her early life as a living weapon takes a sharp detour when one of her intended victims shatters her psyche to send her spinning off into an exploration of identity and purpose after encountering Barbara Gordon in the local library.
Here she learns all she can about her favorite superhero, young love, and the nature of her future before deciding to take up the cape and cowl with her own floral-print Batgirl costume, to confront her evil father, who's threatening her world and keeping her from fulfilling her ultimate destiny.
Created by Kelley Puckett and Damion Scott, Cassandra Cain first appeared in Batman #567 back in July of 1999, and is one of the many ambitious females who've taken up the Batgirl mantle. She's more commonly known in the current canon as Orphan, and will be portrayed by Ella Jay Basco in next month's Birds of Prey feature film.
“I have loved Cassandra Cain for years," Kuhn tells SYFY WIRE. "Being Asian-American, I of course loved that she’s the Asian Batgirl—seeing her take on such an iconic mantle still gives me chills. I was also drawn to her quest to be a hero. She’s someone who has all the tools and training to be a supervillain, and decides to take the harder path to do good in the world.
"There’s something really powerful about her making that choice, about her realizing she gets to decide who she wants to be. I wanted to explore that, and to show her finding real familial love, friendship, and connection with other humans for the first time — I love seeing Cass in those softer moments, when she’s finally let down her walls a bit."
Goux was ecstatic when approached by DC to work on this project, and was excited to put her own spin on Gotham City.
"There is a long legacy of Batgirl comics, and being able to update the visual language for a new audience is super exciting to me," she tells SYFY WIRE. "There have been many Cassandras before us, and there will be many after, but after a year of working closely with Sarah on this book, our version has really become dear to me. Our Cass has so many more sides to herself than even she knew before our story starts, and she finds the emotional strength to stand up for them and for what she believes in.
"I'm thrilled to be able to bring Batgirl to the YA market where we'll have a lot of new readers discovering her for the first time, and I'm hoping Cass' inner strength will send a message to our young readers that no one can decide who they are except themselves.”
Now enter the conflicted realm of Cassandra Cain in our 10-page peek at DC Comics' Shadow of the Batgirl in the gallery below, with its sweeping tale of budding heroism in the face of severe adversity.