Ever since the Batman family expanded into multiple ongoing titles with Robin and Catwoman in 1993, the line was anchored by massive crossovers, a trend that continues today, with the upcoming Joker War promising to affect the entire line. However, the most notable was 1999’s ‘No Man’s Land’, not just for its sweeping epic scope but the introduction of one of the most beloved members of the Bat-family.
Early in the crossover, readers met a mute girl who was also an exceptionally skilled martial artist. Batman eventually took her in, despite the danger she presented, and with the help of others she became the new Batgirl. For readers she was an instant hit, with an ongoing series launching immediately after by Kelley Puckett, Scott Peterson, Damian Scott, Robert Campanella, Jason Wright, and John Costanza.
Batgirl is the story of Cassandra Cain, a girl assassin, who is trying to over the sins of her past while forging her future. That means training with her predecessor, Barbara Gordon, overcoming her killer instinct, and becoming a hero. It’s not a journey that will be without its struggles, with her father right in the middle of it.
Puckett and Peterson (plotted by both, scripted by the former) take their blank slate protagonist and weave a multi-layered story around her. At the surface, it’s an energetic action tale about a lost young woman becoming a hero. However you see under the surface that it’s a story about redemption, recovering from trauma, and the horror of violence. It’s a great example of what superhero comics can truly do beyond beat-em-ups.
Scott and Campanella’s art is full of energy. There’s always movement happening on the page, which embodies a character whose main mode of communication is body language perfectly. The fight scenes are extremely kinetic, and Scott paces the build up extremely well, so the bursts of violence are shocking and visceral. It always helps push the point of script, while telling an entertaining addiction story.
If you’ve never read this series, it’s worth the pickup. It made Cass a massive fan favorite, and is one of the best Bat-family titles of the early 2000s.
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