Cassandra Cain is one crazy kid and she's so damned hard on people. I've lost count of how many times she's beaten up her biological father and her best friend, and the fights she's had with both her mentors plus their various proteges. Well, I suppose being raised as an engine of violence tends to do that to a young woman. Or anyone, for that matter. Here are my 10 favorite Cass Cain moments from the first 50 issues of Batgirl (there have been precious few since). Oh, and I altered a couple of "controversial" jokes from my original posting of this. No point in antagonizing people this early in the game:
1) The Impulsive Kiss (Batgirl #2). This is the moment that hooked me. Batgirl puts a major ass-whuppin' on some stereotypical comic book tough guys to save this bald guy and his pet paper bag, then plants a kiss on his cheek. It startles him the same way it startled me; here's Little Miss Kung Fu, silent and damaged, showing tenderness. Something soft and human resides in her, despite the abuse she's suffered.
2) Take That, Spoiler (Batgirl #27). Early Cassandra Cain had little use for social niceties like-- you know-- greetings, farewells, the stuff in between. It made it difficult for her to make friends, and she barely seemed interested. Somehow, she ends up making friends with the largely incompetent Spoiler. Cass starts training her, but rarely takes her seriously as a partner, an attitude she makes quite clear when she simply cold-cocks poor Spoiler to keep her out of a fight rather than take the time to explain to her she's only going to get herself killed. It's easier this way, plus it illustrates on how much higher a plane Cass operates.
3) Up Yours, Barbara (Batgirl #45). Cass also takes on Barbara Gordon's legacy as the first Batgirl by putting on her clothes and fighting crime. She has to endure a lot of sexist "compliments" from Tim Drake. Nice going, fella. High heeled boots prove Cass's undoing, but she redeems herself by once again beating the snot out of every sucker she meets.
4) Celebrating Her Birthday on the Wrong Day With Batman (Batgirl #33). I forget how many times writers had Cass work through her father issues with both her biological father Cain and her father-figure Batman. This is one of the sweeter moments, coming just after Cass has visited Cain in prison and knocked him out for being a jerk. The kind of jerk who thinks shooting his daughter is a good way to train her to be tough. After learning her true birthdate, she immediately rejects it in favor of Batman's choice. Choose your father, choose your birthday, Cass.
5) Lying to Batman (Batgirl #36). But while she may have substituted Batman for Cain as her dad-of-record, both men have to deal with the force of nature that is Cassandra Cain. And it's about as easy as taming a taifun. She constantly disobeys DC's scariest asshole: from putting her Batgirl identity ahead of her relationship with her caped mentor to going against his wishes and letting a criminal go free, then blatantly lying to his face about it (and do you think Batman doesn't know? Who's being naive, Kay?), Cass shows everyone she's going to do things her way or no way.
6) She's Also a Teacher (Batgirl #6). I always imagine Batman's relationship to Cass has been something of a hand's relationship to a handle-less knife-- one wrong move and you will get cut. Cass is dangerous and she has her own ideas about how to do things. Never is this more apparent than when she horrifies the uptight Batman with this literally heart-stopping lesson in empathy for a bad guy.
7) Normal Life? Who Needs It? (Batgirl #14). Especially when you can be Batgirl full-time. Here Cass freaks out the traditionalist Barbara Gordon by beating up a team of government agents without bothering to wear a mask. Cass couldn't care less about living a "normal" life. And when your family consists of imprisoned murderers or overly rigid assholes who hide behind masks, who are you trying to protect by doing the whole "secret identity/double life" gag? No one, according to our little iconoclast.
8) Not a Quitter (Batgirl #7). Batgirl's greatest skill is her ability to read her opponent's body language, which enables her to predict any move or counter. But it comes at the cost of language. When a psychic rewrites her brain, Cass gains words and their meanings but loses her fighting edge. While she's still deadly on offense, she completely lacks defense-- but she will stop at nothing to learn, as Batman finds out here. Wow, how many times did she manage to freak out the ever-intense Dark Knight Detective with her own ultra-high levels of intensity? Like Arnold as the Terminator, this girl never gives up, DC. Never.
9) Beating the World's Deadliest Martial Artist (Batgirl #25). To regain her body language reading abilities, Cass makes a heavy bargain with Lady Shiva, the deadliest fighter alive (next to Cass). Lady Shiva grants Batgirl one year of perfection, but they must fight to the death. This plays into Cass's guilt at having killed a man when she was a child. It also feeds her death wish. On the chosen day, Cass accepts her fate, then manages to do the nearly impossible, further cementing her spot as one of the DC universe's most dangerous martial artists.
10) This is Your Batgirl. This is Your Batgirl on Drugs (Batgirl #50). Being a child of abuse and generally unable to express her more torturous emotions, Batgirl frequently acts out. The whole death wish/Lady Shiva/lying/disobeying Batman thing gets her fired as Batgirl but she keeps on keepin' on. One more time, DC: she will not quit. Because he knows she's so damaged, Batman shrewdly decides the best way for the two of them to settle their father-daughter differences is with a fun shopping trip to the Gotham Mall and a long talk over a shared sundae... Actually, they get drugged up on some crazy anger concoction and throw down. The result is an epic fight during which they bond while beating up Nightwing. Batgirl doesn't always know the difference between a hug and a roundhouse kick to the face. And with her, they both sometimes have the same meaning: "I love you, Daddy."