We mentioned a few weeks ago that Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown were getting new looks and/or new identities from DC Comics in 2021. As with Poison Ivy, it seems like it will be happening sooner than that. In a certain Joker War Zone published next week. Hence why there are one or two leaks right now, courtesy of DC shipping books early.
We have already seen what appear to be Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown in their new identities in the background in preview artwork for Batman #100.
But in The Joker War Zone #1 out this week, in a story by Josh Williamson and David LaFuente, we get to see the pair as Orphan and Spoiler respectively fight new Batman villain Henchmaster, named in the James Tynion IV new naming tradition of "noun-occupation", before they put on some very familiar-looking costumes and wearing a familiar chest symbol.
Cassandra Cain now looks just like the Stephanie Brown Batgirl of yesteryear. Full mask costume, batcape and yellow-outline batsymbol, the lot. And that while Stephanie Brown keeps the Spoiler look, the purple, the facemask and cape – that's the Bat symbol on her chest too. With that look can Cassandra be called anything other than Batgirl going forward? Will it have to be Black Bat if Barbara Gordon is still Batgirl?
There is history here.
During the No Man's Land storyline in the 1999 Batbooks, Cassandra Cain, the trained daughter of assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva was given the role of Batgirl under the guidance of Batman and Oracle. In 2000, she became the first Batgirl to star in her own comic book series. The series ran until 2006 and Cassandra Cain abandoned the role of Batgirl shortly thereafter. She rejoined the Batman family as Blackbat, but was basically removed from continuity, aside from in New 52: Future's End where she is seen as a future member of the League Of Batgirls.
Stephanie Brown took over the Batgirl role after Cassandra Cain. Daughter of Cluemaster, she first appeared as Spoiler in 1992, later becoming Robin and then Batgirl. She starred in her own Batgirl series, the second to do so, from 2009 to 2011. Her continuity was then wiped out by the New 52 as Barbara Gordon became the only Batgirl and, despite many fan campaigns, she was kept off the board, and indeed DC executives believed the character was 'toxic'.
Cassandra Cain returned to regular continuity in Batman And Robin Eternal in 2015 as Orphan and as part of the DC Rebirth relaunch, became part of a team of Gotham vigilantes led by Batman and Batwoman in Detective Comics. But no Batgirl for her, Barbara Gordon has filled that role since the New 52.
The character returned as Spoiler in Batman Eternal, removing any time she had spent as Robin or Batgirl, and also joined the team of Gotham vigilantes in Detective Comics for the DC Rebirth. However, it has been established that, yes, Stephanie Brown was Robin for a short time – but not Batgirl.
Previously in Detective Comics, the pair had a glimpse of what continuity had stolen from them both.
As well as the importance of a certain symbol to them both.
Now its time for both of them to wear it on their chests again, whatever they end up being called…