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