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Cassandra Cain as Batgirl in her classic all black costume with a yellow bat outline on her chest and a mask that fully covers her entire face, on the cover of Batgirl #1, DC Comics (2000). Image: Damion Scott, Robert Campanella/DC Comics

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After 10 years, the best costume in Batman history is back

Can I get a ‘yass’ for Cass

Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Cassandra Cain is the second Batgirl, the first Batgirl to headline her own ongoing series, and the greatest Batgirl ever.

She’s also one of two Batgirls who were erased by the New 52, which is a shame, because she’s got one of the best costumes in the history of Gotham City. I’m serious. I don’t know if I’d rank it higher than New Look Batman, and it might be a tie with Batwoman, but I think I’d put it higher than Blue Finger Stripes Nightwing just for sheer iconography.

Cass’ all-black outfit, essentially just Batman’s costume worn by a woman, gives nod to her world-class combat abilities and the fact that she could fight him to a standstill. The full face mask is an instant visual shorthand for a character who struggles with speech. And the bat symbol outlined in yellow is a reflection of her own somewhat innocent obsession with Batman as a symbol, and how his mission became a light for her to follow, a new identity to cover her own guilt and self-hatred.

And now, it’s back.

What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. If you missed the last one, read this.

Batman: The Joker War Zone

Spoiler and Orphan dash out over Gotham’s skies in their new costumes, now with bat symbols over their chests, in Batman: The Joker War Zone, DC Comics (2020). Image: Joshua Williamson, David Lafuente/DC Comics

Spoiler (left) and Cassandra Cain (right, as Orphan) were the third and second women, respectively, to embody the name Batgirl, but that history was erased when DC editorial put Barbara Gordon back in the suit for the New 52. Writer James Tynion IV has been chipping away at that retcon for years now, starting with Spoiler and Cass’ reintroductions in Batman miniseries he worked on, continuing with his run on Detective Comics, and now with tie-ins for his run Batman, Cass is even back in her old costume — although she still goes by her new superhero name, Orphan.

And I don’t care if the reason for the costume change was kinda cheesy. My girl is back.

Shang-Chi #1

Shang-Chi grumbles about Leiko’s subpar Chinese, and asks if they can speak in English. She points out that his English “sounds like a fortune cookie” and asks him why he still talks like that after so long. He thinks to himself about how “if I slow my cadence and use ‘wise’ words, Westerners look AT me, rather than PAST me, when I speak,” in Shang-Chi #1, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Gene Luen Yang, Dike Ruan/Marvel Comics

You can read our review of Shang-Chi #1 here, but my favorite part was Gene Luen Yang and Dike Ruan revealing that Shang-Chi code switches.

The Department of Truth #1

A tiny private plane soars through a vast abstract painted landscape, ringed with latitude and longitude spirals, in The Department of Truth #1, Image Comics (2020). Image: James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds/Image Comics

I was not sure I was ready for a comic about conspiracy theories in 2020, but The Department of Truth surprised me.

X-Factor #4

“Let’s get rady to show these Arakkii our finest Krakoan diplomacy,” Magik says as she rests the tip of her soul sword on the sword-bearers’ pedastal in X-Factor #4, Marvel Comics (2020). “Pound the war drums.” Image: Leah Williams, Carlos Gomez/Marvel Comics

Just when I thought that it would be interesting to see comics creators do a high-stakes crossover where no one can die, the X-Men found a new, really weird, way to die. I would be disappointed, but this new death state is so weird that I’m just curious about the possibilities.

John Constantine: Hellblazer #10

A huge monster, shapeless, dark, and staring, breaks through the walls of John Constantine’s dream in John Constantine: Hellblazer #10, DC Comics (2020). Image: Simon Spurrier, Matías Bergara/DC Comics

At this point I don’t think there will ever be a Simon Spurrier/Matías Bergara comic I won’t put in the roundup. I couldn’t find a single panel that does the work they did in Hellblazer #10, an issue-long dream sequence, justice.

Immortal Hulk: The Threshing Place

Bruce Banner transforms into the Hulk in a bizarre tangle of organs, viscera, and misshapen and contorted limbs of all sizes and colors in Immortal Hulk: The Threshing Place, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Jeff Lemire, Mike del Mundo/Marvel Comics

Immortal Hulk: The Threshing Place has a nice (if predictable) story to it, but holy CATS look at how Mike del Mundo draws banner’s transformation, HOLY CATS.

Dark Nights: Death Metal Metaverse’s End

Owlman of Earth-3 delights to realize that he is the original dark mirror of Batman, as he blows up a real jerk of an Evil Chibi Batman, who pitifully and hilariously protests “Please... I’m just a widdle...” before he is cut off, in Dark Nights: Death Metal Metaverse’s End, DC Comics (2020). Image: James Tynion IV, Juan Gedeon/DC Comics

Don’t take this as an endorsement of the approximately one million tie-in one-shots for Dark Nights: Death Metal, but I did enjoy this moment where there’s a really annoying Evil Batman Baby “with the brain of a fully grown evil Batman” who keeps talking about how he’s gonna skin everyone alive to make a new blanky, etc. etc. etc. until Owlman finally corners him and he reverts to terrified baby talk.

Giant-Size X-Men: Tribute to Wein & Cockrum

“Now it is time for Krakoa to feed!” the sentient island roars as it attacks the X-Men with vibrant pink eye beams that go ZZKKAAK in Giant-Size X-Men: Tribute to Wein & Cockrum, Marvel Comics (2020). Image: Len Wein, Javier Rodríguez, Álvaro López/Marvel Comics

But I can endorse Giant Size X-Men: Tribute to Wein & Cockrum, if you’re into comics history and cool art. This jam issue takes the original 36 pages of Giant-Size X-Men #1, the comic that put the X-Men on the map for the first time, kept all of Len Wein’s original dialogue (with a few edits to update the comic’s depiction of Native Americans), and most of Dave Cockrum’s original page layouts, and then let a different artistic team go ham on each page.

It is a very cool-looking book.


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