Cassandra Cain is a fictional comic book character in the DC Universe. The daughter of master assassin David Cain and martial art master Lady Shiva she first appeared in Batman #567 (1999) and was created by Kelley Puckett and Damion Scott. A few issues after her appearance she was given the mantle of Batgirl, becoming the third canon Batgirl of the DC Universe.
Comic book script writer Kelley Puckett originally wrote for the original Barbara Gordon Batgirl in the early 1990s when he wrote for a series of monthly "one-shots" called Batman Adventures (Gotham Adventures).
Unfortunately he never favoured the character. "I always hated the character," he recalls. "Because the basic idea is that this girl with no training other than a few judo lessons at the local YMCA could put on a costume and do the exact thing that Batman does every night without getting her head blown off. Which obviously doesn't reflect too well on Batman."
In 1998 the editors at DC called on Puckett to create a new, up-to-date Batgirl to be featured in the mainstream DC canon. The character would also be starring in her own series for adults.
Puckett took the opportunity to fix the problem he'd had with the original Batgirl. He imagined a complex backstory for his new heroine, drawing on his own experience in martial arts.
Batgirl's assassin-trainer raised her in a bunker in China and deprived her of speech, teaching her to read body language as others would a sentence. By age 7 she'd become a martial arts prodigy, picking up on postural nuances to anticipate her opponents' moves. Batgirl couldn't speak, but she was near-invincible in a fight.
Joseph P. Illidge notes that, at the time, it was an "uphill climb" to get the editorial staff to agree to make an asian girl the new Batgirl.
The character received varying degrees of acceptence from the comic fans as the Batgirl series launched. By July/August 2001, Batgirl was the sixth most popular comic series in DC Comics. The series began in April 2000 and ended with 73 issues in April 2006.
Appearing on the cover of issue #97 September 1999 of Wizard Magazine Cassandra Cain was voted 2002 Superheroine fan award winner in later issues. Resulting in a special celebratory issue in Batgirl #45 where she temporarily donned the original Barbara Gordon Batgirl suit. Due to her career in her own books as well as guest appearances in others such as Birds of Prey, Robin, Young Justice, Justice League Elite, Wonder Woman and numerous Batman titles, Cassandra Cain has become a popular icon in the asian superhero nitch.
In July 2006, beginning with Robin #150, critical reception of the One Year Later storyline came where Cassandra's depiction "rings false even given the One Year Later".
Upon being asked if Cassandra's characterization was editorially mandated, writer Adam Beechen stated that "When I came to the book, I was told that the first arc would deal with presenting Cassandra as a major new enemy for Robin. From there, I worked out the details of just how that would come about with our initial editor, Eddie Berganza, and then his successor, Peter Tomasi." In a followup interview, he clarified further, stating "They didn't present me with a rationale as to why Cassandra was going to change, or a motivating factor. That was left for me to come up with and them to approve. And we did that. But as far as to why the editors and writers and whoever else made the decision decided that was a good direction, I honestly couldn't answer."
In protest, some fans created websites or wrote webcomic satires to organize and express their dissatisfaction. These actions did not go unnoticed by the DC Comics editorial leadership. According to Wizard Magazine #182, the storyline was "one of the most controversial changes to come out of DC's 'One Year Later' event", and "fans rose up in arms, organizing websites and letter-writing campaigns to protest the change." Dan Didio commented "I'm glad to see there was a reaction created, it shows that people care about the character and want to see something happen with her".
In interviews and press conferences, Dan DiDio and others stated that Cass would "be going back to basics," like in her early adventures before she was able to talk. Later, Geoff Johns was quoted saying: "We will be addressing in Teen Titans exactly what the deal is with her. Is she a bad guy? How? Why? She was a completely different character before “One Year Later,” so let’s find out what happened."
In October 2007, DC announced that Cassandra would be taking up the Batgirl identity as a member of the Outsiders in the upcoming Batman and the Outsiders ongoing series to be written by Chuck Dixon, which is intended to further resolve the controversy.
In February 2008, Dan DiDio revealed during a convention panel that writer Adam Beechen will be writing a new Batgirl mini-series. Beechen himself states that the story will answer all the questions from the last few years, and will address all of the questions of why Batgirl has been acting the way she's been acting, and set the stage for new Batgirl adventures to come, however, largely due to Beechen's less-than-favoured regard within the fandom and the mini-series' own sub-quality, the mini-series was poorly recieved.
With the approach of the Final Crisis event, DC felt that they needed a new Batgirl. Considering the idea of having Barbara Gordon getting out of the chair or that Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe (aka Misfit) would be the new Batgirl, they approached Gail Simone, then current writer for both characters in the Birds of Prey comic book series. Simone rejected both ideas, citing that Charlotte's magic superpowers and origins were not appropriate for the bat-family.
Eventually they would settle for Stephanie Brown to take the role.
After Cassandra having a series of guest or cameo appearances in Final Crisis, Battle for the Cowl and Batman RIP, a series of promotional posters for a new Batgirl series appears, however, it is unknown who the new Batgirl would be. The three posters featured three batgirl suits (Cassandra Cain, Barbara Gordon, Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe) worn by an unknown girl. The new Batgirl was later revealed to be Stephanie Brown, in her own new Batgirl suit, with the new Batgirl series featuring Cassandra Cain relinquishing the role to her.
Following concern amongst the fanbase that Cassandra would dissappear, Cassandra was eventually given a new persona and role, though minor, as the Black Bat; Batman's Hong Kong emissary in Batman Incorporated, before being recategorized as a "Benched Character" (alongside other characters like Stephanie Brown and Wally West) and no longer appeared in comics following the Flashpoint event in 2011.
In spite of some clandestine attempts by artists to have the character make background cameos in comics like Little Gotham, the DC Comics management ensured that Cassandra would not return to comics until 2014, when Cassandra made a surprise appearance as a support character in 2014's out-of-continuity Batgirl: Future's End #1 one-shot before appearing in 2015's Convergence crossover event alongside other "long forgotten" characters (such as Wally West, Jean-Paul Valley, Stephanie Brown and Ted Kord).
Following the completion of the Batman Eternal storyline which reintroduced Stephanie Brown into comic book continuity, a sequel storyline, titled "Batman and Robin Eternal", was announced which would return Cassandra Cain into the canon timeline after support for the character's return was backed by several Batman editors; headed by Denny O'Neil, who introduced her into his Detective Comics storylines immediately following the completion of Batman and Robin Eternal.