Shadow of the Batgirl (OGN) - DC Comics
Written by Sarah Kuhn
Illustrated by Nicole Goux
Colors by Cris Peter
Letters by Janice Chiang & Saida Temofonte
Cassandra Cain is about to become very popular. Her first live action appearance in Birds of Prey (And The Fabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn) will introduce the world to a character that most of them probably didn't know before. While this might be a very different take on the character, people of all ages will likely seek our her stories after the fact. DC Comics clearly understand that, and has given fans that opportunity with Shadow of the Batgirl.
Since this graphic novel boasts nearly 200 pages, and I'm trying to be spoiler free, I won't go too deep into the actual story of the book. This being a young adult graphic novel, you have to expect this to be a bit of a coming of age story. As you keep reading, you find out it is so much more than that. This is a story about discovering who you are, who you want to be and the path you take to get there. It's about the decisions that we make, at any age every day. It's about family in every sense of the word. This book does not shy away from the good parts about family and the bad parts as well. We get to see Cassandra struggle, triumph, struggle again and navigate so many different parts of her own identity. Not to mention, there is not a single moment in this book that you're not rooting for this girl. That's one of the things that kept me reading through this so much, that I finished this story in one sitting.
The art in this book really shines in it's playful moments, and also it's most heartfelt. Sure, action sequences are cool, but Goux manages to capture everything from excitement to emotion so well that you could feel every bit of it. Anyone who knows Cassandra Cain knows, she can be a girl of few words. So those emotions that I mentioned in the art were especially important in the early stages of this story.
Things are also mapped out beautifully by Kuhn and the editing team. Each chapter is a natural progression and made sense. It would have been easy to do your classic case of, "here is your hero, here is your villain, this is what happens when they face off." This book did not feel that way at all. Not only does it focus on Cassandra more than anything else, it allows itself to earn the moments that it reaches in a natural way. Nothing is thrown in to get your attention, or bring you back to the story, because you are already immersed in it.
Look, I certainly can't sit here and pretend I have the first clue what it's like to be a teenage girl (nevermind one that is struggling with the complex issues that Cassandra is.) One thing that I think that almost anyone can relate to is that feeling of not knowing who you are and how you can get there. Not to mention, there is another familiar face in this story that is struggling with her own issues, too. I won't give it away, but I'm sure you can figure out who I mean.
My point is, this is a young adult graphic novel, not a young girls graphic novel. There are great lessons to be learned, and a wonderful story to be told. Don't pass that up because of an assumption that this is being directed to a certain audience. This isn't just about being a fan of a character, it's about knowing that it's ok to be who you want to be. So get ready for some wonderful moment, some tough moments and to understand who Cassandra Cain really is. This creative team captures that in a wonderful way with their take on this character. Do not let this story pass you by, or any young adult that is looking for a hero that they can identify with. This is that story that you're looking for.