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David Hines [userpic]

More fun with Bruce and Cass

May 31st, 2004 (02:20 am)

So a while back some folks (yours truly included) were talking about Cassandra "Batgirl" Cain, and her relationship with Batman.

(For those not up on their Batfolks: she's the illiterate offspring of a ruthless assassin who taught her how to kill but not to speak; he's a billionaire philanthropist and businessman who prowls the rooftops because his parents were murdered by a mugger. Together, they fight crime.)

Batman is domineering and controlling with Cass, but Batman's like that with everybody. So when he broke up her budding relationship with Superboy, no alarms went off.

Then came Batgirl #50, and people said, "Um, what the hell was that?"

Things got a little more puzzling after that, with Bruce Wayne being seen in public with Cass (the girl who didn't want a secret identity) at an art show opening in the latest issue of Batgirl. And whisking her away from the artist hitting on her.

Oh, and very expensive dresses are mysteriously showing up in Cass's closet.

Which is causing some of us to scratch our heads and wonder just what the writers are getting at.

My take was that Bruce Wayne could be looking at Cass as the solution to a long-standing personal problem: Batman comes between him and every personal relationship, particularly where women are concerned. But that's not a problem for Cass, because the Bat comes first for her, too. And she doesn't talk much, so if he were to spend three days in the Batcave without saying a word to her, she'd be fine with that. On a purely logical basis, Cassandra Cain could well be Bruce Wayne's ideal woman. Maybe that's why he's being so territorial: he's grooming her for something seriously long-term, and doesn't want anybody else horning in in the meantime.

So. This weekend, reading back issues of Gotham Knights, I came across this (in #35):

(They're talking about a picture of Thomas Wayne in the first panel, and the "big goon" referred to in the last is Bane, not Batman. Although it could just as easily go the other way.)

Now to issue #42. Background: Alfred is terribly ill, and the Family has rallied around his bedside at the manor. They take turns patrolling and sitting watch, and Bruce attempts to make chicken soup, with disastrous results. Then, one morning, a knock on the door announces the storyline for the next couple of issues. The first time I read this, I didn't even notice who brought Bruce his coffee. Or what she was wearing.

Yup. That's Cass.

Um... *what the hell?!?!*


Posted by: Dammit, Clark's penis is going in *something*. (thete1)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 12:26 am (UTC)
Cass = Geek Girl Of DEATH.

Oh, crap. Oh CRAP. I *read* all those issues, and I just... skipped past that stuff in my brain? I mean, Beatty's Cass characterization was, imho, terrible *anyway* and *augh*.


Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 12:35 am (UTC)

Oh CRAP. I *read* all those issues, and I just... skipped past that stuff in my brain?

I *know.* I did the same thing. Hadn't read #35 before, but I *had* read 42. Cass in those panels didn't even register. This time I almost got whiplash from my double-take.

(I liked Beatty's run on GK. He could have done much better on Cass's voice -- but that's the toughest thing about writing her; there aren't many folks at DC who can get it.)

Posted by: Dammit, Clark's penis is going in *something*. (thete1)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 02:02 am (UTC)
Tim is thinking thoughts.

(I liked Beatty's run on GK. He could have done much better on Cass's voice -- but that's the toughest thing about writing her; there aren't many folks at DC who can get it.)

I plan on rereading it soon. It's... different. *flails* It *felt* like something that should've worked for me better than it did -- it's not like I'm insanely attached to the voices of *any* of these characters, so long as their *essentially* correct -- and many of the individual issues ruled (though I'd really like to know what that 'I told you' was all about in #44), but... yeah.

I think what it's going to boil down to is that I was pouting over the loss of Devin. For my money, her run on GK is some of the best stuff *out* there.

Meanwhile, this is me wondering... I mean. Are we *supposed* to be reading them as lovers pre-Batgirl 50? Or...? I mean, I'd been working on the theory that Batgirl 50 is the big catharsis, that we'd find out in a future issue that they'd started having sex right after that issue, and there'd be some degree of operatic angst, blah blah.

And I still think it's *most* plausible that, if Bruce and Cass start an affair, it would begin there. On the other hand, there's a lot of interesting fic in the idea that a sexual relationship has been going on for some time, and that the big fight was their equivalent of a... lover's spat.

Excuse, I have to wrap my brain in something soothing, as I do believe I've sprained the damned thing.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 12:20 pm (UTC)
cass groovy

Another possibility that just occurred to me is that he's using Cass to keep up the playboy image: they're largely quarantined in the issue, and they're keeping Alfred's illness secret. So the appearance of antics acts as camouflage when a stranger knocks on the door.

Bruce: "Cass, bring me my coffee while I answer the door. Oh, and wear this."
Cass: *shrugs* *puts teeny robe on*
Tim: *eyebulge* "Okay, so maybe you wouldn't have grounded her if you'd seen her in Babs's old costume."
Bruce: "Cass? You were wearing *what?!*"
Tim: "Um, I'll just be over here."

Posted by: Dammit, Clark's penis is going in *something*. (thete1)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 09:14 pm (UTC)
Batgirl in dreams.


And, well, I could go with that. But then she really *would* need to have -- and be willing to *keep* -- a secret identity.

And also, man. Tim's reaction to Cass in Babs' old suit was the cutest thing EVER. Yellow boots are clearly the way to a Robin's heart.

Posted by: Mara (marag)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 03:01 am (UTC)
Bruce by Te

Oh yeah, the bit at the front door gave me serious whiplash when I first read it. I mean, eeeek!

I've tried to come up with an explanation involving Bruce not caring what anybody thinks, because he's so worried about Alfred. It didn't really fly, though. I have no idea why she'd be wandering around dressed like that and the touching and...

Just...yikes. Because it's true, she'd make a scarily good partner for the Bat. ::shudders:: Probably the only relationship that qualfies as *less* healthy would be Bruce/Dick. I mean, even Bruce/Tim is healthier!

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 12:51 am (UTC)

I suspect being with Cass would raise new and disturbing issues for him, too -- if anything, she's more devoted to the Cave than he is, and I can see him being completely ill-equipped to drag her out of it. What makes it not utterly disturbing is that Cass isn't devoted to Bruce Wayne, but to the Mission -- she'd never come first for him, but he'd never come first for her, either. And I can see him finding comfort in that.

This take only makes sense, though, if he's giving her time and space to get her equilibrium and become a more functioning person before he even thinks about broaching the subject of a relationship. Her bringing him coffee while wearing what appears to be his shirt and damn near nothing else throws a big monkeywrench into that idea.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 01:16 am (UTC)

Is it bad that I still think Bruce looks pretty hot in the second panel?

Yes. You are going to hell.

Um, more so.

Posted by: the Jack (buggery)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 03:09 am (UTC)
Cass/Steph [blank by Te]

Well, my reaction to #51 was, "Oh my bob, they're fucking." Bruce's (or rather Batman's) declaration in #52 that she's not his "girlfriend" did nothing whatsoever to disabuse me of this impression -- more like made me say, "Uh huh, because she's not a girl, and just because you're fucking doesn't mean you're dating. Sure, Bruce."

As far as GK #42... I, too, skipped over the WHOA, WRONG that is that "black, no sugar" panel on first read. I mean, sure, it makes sense for her to be there... kinda... maybe. In clothes.

What she's wearing looks to me like another robe -- there's the lapels, and also the W monogram that matches the one on Bruce's robe -- but it's clearly the sort of robe that's in the Manor for the use of women playboy Bruce Wayne might bed. There's no reason for that sort of robe to be found anywhere but Bruce's master bedroom suite.

Sure, Cass would swim in a Bruce-sized robe, but there have to be teenaged-boy-sized ones around, and that's what Cass ought to be wearing, if she can't be in actual clothes. Though Cass in one of Dick's (or Tim's or Jay's) robes isn't much less wrong, just wrong in a subtler way.

::stares at panels some more:: Man.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 12:27 pm (UTC)

You and Sarah are right on the robe. I guess that makes me feel a little better.

(Cass: "Stay here?"
Bruce: "Yes. Under quarantine. I don't know where anything is. There are some women's robes in my closet. I think. Though maybe you shouldn't -- "
Cass: "Comfy."
Tim: *eyebulge*
Dick: *coughing fit*
Bruce: *grim*
Cass: "What?")

Posted by: Lucy (cereta)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 10:02 am (UTC)

At the time, I put that whole thing down to giving the social worker a reason to be disgusted with Bruce. I mean, in the context of the issue, various people are hanging around the manor to help care for Alfred, and you've got this weirdly socialized girl who probably doesn't have a lot in the way of modesty or body issues. It looked odd, but from a meta-perspective, I assumed the panel was there to ratchet up the tension about a social services investigation, not convey that they were involved.

OTOH, the argument that he's seeing her as a solution to his relationship problem...I mean, part of the reason I never saw their relationship as sexual (besides the various places in which he himself defined his place in her life as a substitute for her father) is that Bruce so rarely develops spontaneous romantic attachments. But the idea that he could be clinically analyzing the situation and systematically defining their relationship...yeah, that's Bruce.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 12:41 pm (UTC)

I think I'm going to stick with the original. Because the whole point of BG #51 is that Cass was starved for touch, which doesn't make any sense if she and Bruce have something going on at that point.

Okay. Relieved now.

Posted by: Lucy (cereta)
Posted at: May 31st, 2004 01:08 pm (UTC)

Heh. If there's one thing I've learned about comics, it's never to underestimate the lack of awareness on the part of the writers/artists of the ways in which some of what they're doing can be read. I'm still pretty sure that the panel in question was really just meant to give readers more reason to worry about the social services investigation. Still...yeah.

Posted by: Vvalkyri (vvalkyri)
Posted at: June 1st, 2004 12:24 pm (UTC)

This...is a whole new world to me. Wow.
Yes, Bruce does look hot in the panel in the main post.
Superman simply looks weird in the linked strip.

And I've never heard of Cass or Tim or whomever.

How much time do you spend on writing these things? They're fascinating...

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: June 1st, 2004 03:40 pm (UTC)

How much time do you spend on writing these things? They're fascinating...

It varies. The first part of this was just a recap of all the discussion at thete1's, so this didn't take too long.

Be warned that the Batfamily is bizarre and highly addictive. I lurked in it for over a year and have now wound up writing fanfic for it. (See the link to my website for that.) Briefly: Cass is Cassandra Cain, the current Batgirl. Babs is Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl, now paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by the Joker; she is now Oracle, an information clearinghouse for superheros (and a member of the Justice League in her own right). Tim is Tim Drake, the third Robin. Dick Grayson, the first Robin, fights crime as Nightwing. Jason Todd, the second Robin, was murdered by the Joker, and Batman keeps his costume in a display case in the Batcave in memory and in self-mortification. (See icon.)

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