The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Cassandra Cain is better known as "Batgirl," a costumed crime fighter and sometime assassin. She is regarded as one of the most gifted martial artists in the DC Universe.
Cassandra had an extremely unusual upbringing, even by comic book standards. She was raised from infancy to become a bodyguard for Ra's al Ghul, one of Batman's arch enemies. To this end, Cassandra was given intensive and abusive training in the martial arts at the hands of her biological father, the assassin David Cain. Cassandra was not even taught to speak, and her brain developed differently, lacking many pathways and capabilities present in normally developing humans, but possessing other abilities that enhance her ability to fight and kill.
When Cassandra was eight years old, David Cain decided to test the abilities of Cassandra, who he regarded as an experiment. He assigned her to kill a businessman, which she did. At the time she completely lacked any normal moral, ethical and/or religious training and thought this murder was a game. However, after killing this victim, she used her supremely honed ability to read body language to "read" her target. She understood his terror at being killed. This event scarred Cassandra emotionally. She realized that murder was wrong and that being an assassin was wrong, and she ran away from David Cain.
Cassandra spent ten years on the streets, fending for herself and essentially homeless before encountering Batman and his allies and becoming a crimefighter like them. Her new-found "family" eventually helped her develop the ability to speak.
In normal human development, a person's early childhood is a key period for developing religious identity, morality, beliefs, ethical values, etc. The most important formative years are up through the age of eight, during which time most people's core personality and identity is formed. Cassandra's first eight years were spent being forged into a living human weapon. By all accounts, she was given no religious or philosophical training, whether from an traditional, organized religious perspective, from an atheistic perspective, or anything else. She knew nothing but the life of an assassin. She was not even allowed to form the ability to speak or develop normal human family relationships.
Perhaps the only accurate label that can be used to describe Cassandra's religious affiliation and beliefs (other than "assassin") would be "religiously untrained." It is not even be accurate to describe her as "religious/spiritual" or "agnostic" or "atheist," because to do so would imply that she has thought about theological positions enough to identify with such a position. She does appear, however, to be "non-religious" in the sense that she was not raised in nor appears to have adopted any affiliation with a traditionally recognized organized religion.
On the other hand, Cassandra lived for ten years away from the assassins she knew during childhood before coming into Batman's fold. It is unrealistic to assume that during that time, despite her inability to speak, that she was unaware of organized religion - the very segment of society most likely to be involved in providing outreach, medical care, feeding, housing, etc. for homeless people.
DC Comics writer Gail Simone, a self-described atheist, has revealed a detailed story arc she pitched for the Batgirl character. In her pitch, Cassandra became a devout Christian after encountering a Protestant minister. Gail's pitch was never picked up by DC Comics, however, who decided to go a different, more traditional (although less realistic) direction with the character. Because Gail's story idea was never written, it has no bearing on the canonical character of Batgirl. One could say, however, that at least one DC writer (along with many Batgirl fans) regard Cassandra Cain as a "potential" sincere Christian convert.
But "potential" is not the same thing as "realized" or "printed." The eventual development of Cassandra Cain's spiritual side, beliefs, and religious identity on her path to becoming fully human has yet to be written.
A faction of the League of Assassins that splintered after the death of their original leader, Ra's al Ghul, worshipped Cassandra Cain as the perfect assassin. They regarded Cassandra as "The One Who Is All," but after she left them they felt they had been abandoned by their "false idol." This faction of the League of Assassins then kidnapped Black Canary's adoptive daughter Sin, who had received training similar to Cain's, as a replacement. See: Black Canary #2 (September 2007), page 10.
From: "Gail's idea for Cass -- What could have been" discussion forum started on 29 May 2006, on DC Comics official message board website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000077543; viewed 2 June 2006):
Posted: May 29, 2006 7:18 AM
Gail's idea for Cass -- What could have been
I came across this a little while ago. Apparently it was on CBR [Comic Book Resources website], and was Gail Simone idea for Batgirl when she was asked:
There have been a ton of posts lately about what I would have done if I'd taken over Batgirl or Nightwing. I WAS asked by dc what I would do in each case, and had strong feelings about both (although I never actually turned in a Nightwing pitch, I had what I thought was a very hot idea).
Now, I'm not 100% up on what's going on with either character (I'm a bit behind) but knowing the writers, I know it's going to be entertaining. This isn't "Oh, this is how I would have done it," so much as, "here's something interesting that never happened," okay?
Reposted from Chuck Dixon's board:
I was asked to come up with a direction for Batgirl, something new that would give her a fresh platform. I gave it a ton of thought, and the direction I came up with was this (obviously this is the abridged version):
Batgirl saves this minister, a guy who preaches to the homeless of Gotham City, a real get-down-into-it guy, from a vicious robbery. He's beaten badly, and Batgirl lashes out at the gang viciously, until he begs her to stop. He's forgiven them, let the police handle it, he says.
Batgirl is utterly baffled. She doesn't get it. Forgiveness for those who kill and injure innocents isn't part of the batcode. She starts visiting the minister in the hospital. He talks to her, not to convert her, but the belief he has in God is so moving and unshakable, that she comes to think of him as incredibly strong. Everything about him is the opposite of Batman--he's at peace, he doesn't believe in violence, and above all, he's got the joy of God in him, in every part of him. He tells her he used to be a bad, violent man, and the book changed him. The idea appeals to and terrifies her.
So, even though she can barely, barely read, she buys a bible, and at first, she's afraid to even open it. It must be a dangerous and powerful book to change men's hearts so. Each sentence is a struggle at first, and she has to call Oracle and Robin and Alfred to have words explained to her. But one day, bam, she gets it.
From then on, she is truly devout, truly converted. She wears a white bat outfit and starts looking out for the most vulnerable of Gotham's residents, runaways, immigrants, homeless people, mentally ill people, etc, because that's what she understands the minister would do. She still issues righteous beatings because she's a little bit old testament, but she talks scripture with both the minister and the gang members. She believes.
And after a while, she gets a new nickname...many people don't call her Batgirl anymore, she becomes to them, the Angel of the Bat. And for the first time, she's genuinely happy.
Okay, here's the thing. I am not religious. In fact, I am an atheist, and you guys know I'm liberal as all hell. But I too believe Conservatives and religious people have been represented cheaply and unfairly (sometimes stupidly) in comics. When I turned in my pitch/outline (and I wasn't pitching for the book, just being asked what direction I might see for it), the editor instantly thought I meant it in a condescending way...like she would be religious, but would be shown to be naive, or that it would be just a fad, from an intellectual standpoint.
But that's not what I meant at all. I meant that she REALLY believes, and isn't stupid OR ashamed. Is in fact proud of it. Quotes the bible. Asks questions about matters of faith and scripture. And that she would be using her very dark knowledge in a redemptive way. I felt, and feel, that religious readers are often spoken down to in comics, and this would be a character change that would be fascinating for non-believers as well. But no cheating. No smirking. No trying to put in a knowing wink to the parts of the audience who aren't themselves religious.
The weird thing is, the idea actually seemed sort of radical, apparently, as I don't believe they thought it could be carried off sincerely. I don't see why not...it's a character. Her belief system doesn't have to match the writer's, or I couldn't write Dr. Psycho and Chuck couldn't write, say, anyone who isn't a gun nut (I'm kidding!!! Love ya, Chuck!).
Anyway, that was my idea, Angel of the Bat. For whatever reason, that idea seems a thousand times more controversial than having her be the head of the League of Assassins.
I'm not bitter about it, and hopefully I can revisit the idea somewhere, but with all the grim, hopeless characters in the bat-verse, I thought it would be delightful and seditious to do the exact opposite and present a sincere, hopeful and positive version of the character. Batman's reaction alone would be priceless.
So, I did try, anyway!
So what do you think? I would have loved the concept myself. Cassandra has been looking for one thing ever since she killed a man-- redemption. Why wouldn't religion be covered in such a concept? She wouldn't be a blow-hard extremist like a lot of so-called Christians, but she would actually believe that a person can be saved, that she could be saved.
Oh well. Thanks for trying Gail.
Posted: May 29, 2006 7:43 AM
It's an interesting concept. I'd prefer her become a Personal Christian instead of a Devout Christian... So that part is a bit unsettling. Angel of the Bat is sorta interesting. I don't think she should need to change her suit to white, just the symbol. Make the symbol white. That would look a lot better [grin]
Posted: May 29, 2006 7:50 AM
True, the concept would need a bit of work, but I like the idea of Cass getting over her personal demons like that.
At any rate, it's better than the way they're using her now, what with the "MWAHAHAHAHA! I'M EVIL AND KILLED A SISTER THAT HAS NEVER BEEN MENTIONED UP UNTIL NOW!!!!! ALSO, I AM YOUR FATHER TIM!"
Posted: May 29, 2006 7:59 AM
I think the fact that such is happening now is what's making me accept that Cass would even explore religion In comparison it's one of the most brilliant ideas I've ever heard. Though, I wouldn't be able to deal with her becoming Dogmatic, just spiritual..
Heh, my girlfriend's reaction was "Any religion but Christianity."
Course, no other religion really has forgiveness like that...
Maybe if she explored Christianity first, then explored hundreds of others, maybe utilizing the Holodeck program... Over the course of a year, every time the comic has a couple pages of her learning... And from that, she merely comes out with a sense, not of God, but of relationship-based forgiveness. Of course, that's dipping into Buber. And if she drew from Buber, well damn, I'd be happy. An actually Jewish reference in comics?! Gasp! That'd be simply stunning. (Ever feel like Jews don't exist in the DC universe? I mean, except for Ragman... We don't even get to be villains!)
That, to me, would work well.
Posted: May 29, 2006 8:27 AM
They wouldn't even really have to make it as prominant as Gail intended either.
They could have for example, admist the regular superheroing, Cass decides to go to Church one Sunday. She listens to the Minister, and realises that even though she might not forgive herself for what she's done, someone will.
Another concept; She comes across some petty pickpocket or something. She begins to shake him down and he says that he'll never steal again. Normally she wouldn't listen, but this time she actually sees in his body movements that he really means it. So she lets him go. Later, she sees him again, this time with a real job of some sort. Then she'll think about what would have been the case if she didn't forgive him and let him go. Could he have become the next Joker?
That would have been a real interesting concept if done right, and certainly unique to the Bat-Family.
Posted: May 29, 2006 9:42 AM
I think we know what happens to religious characters... See a certain previous Supergirl... I like the idea of Cassandra finding faith because I think it's an obvious continuity from where she left off in her book. However, the same way writers make up things in comics, why not some fictive religion based on martial arts and enlightenment? There are such things... It would make perfect sense for her to change her perspective on her abilities... Use her talent to find inner peace instead of being a killing machine... It didn't have to be Christianity at all...
Posted: May 29, 2006 9:58 AM
I think it's a good idea, and I think it makes sense for the character. Heck, I'm not Christian either, but y'know, Gail didn't let her religious ideals get in the way, and I don't think we should either. I think it's a shame that religion is always viewed through such a liberal lense in the media. Not everyone who is Chritsian is confused, or a bad person, or a complete idiot. Some are, yes. But certainly not all. It'd be nice to see a character like that around.
Posted: May 29, 2006 10:04 AM
I have to confess, when I initally read the pitch I didn't care for it. But the more I think about, the more it's growing on me. It certainly seems to make more sense to me than, well, what DC has done with the character.
Posted: May 29, 2006 10:19 AM
I think the pitch is very interesting, too. But I'd prefer that she be spiritual/faithful rather than dogmatic. A "cafeteria Christian" if you will. Rather than reading and internalizing the Bible, I think it'd be better if she went to visit the minister in the hospital, and later in his church, frequently... Listened to his stories and parables... And from him, got the distilled, "good" aspects of Christianity: forgiveness, redemption, unshakeable faith and determination.
There's plenty of room for a dogmatic religious hero who isn't portrayed in a negative light, but I don't think Cass should be that hero, because her whole character is essentially based so much on anti-dogma.
I suppose this is all academic though...
Posted: May 29, 2006 10:34 AM
As I said, Gail maybe went a bit overboard with the concept.
Still, it would be an interesting concept to see her get some form of spiritual awakening, and have it alter her crimefighting methods a little bit. They wouldn't have to make it her singular purpose, but it wouldhave been a nice recurring side-plot.
Posted: May 29, 2006 12:51 PM
I see "Angel of the Bat" as much more interesting than Cass as leader of the League of Assassins, and much more in character than her becoming a total nut-job, as she seemingly has. Unless there is a surprise wrinkle left to be revealed, I don't like her current direction at all.
Posted: May 30, 2006 12:41 AM
... better than what they actually did in that Gail Simone's version doesn't obliviate the entire 73-issue run of Batgirl.
That's what they've done - made all those back issues totally unreadable because every moment is now a lie. All of them are now entirely moot.
Which is the stupidest, most irresponsible kind of character revamp.
But I still don't think it's the proper way to go with the character. They need to strip her down to basics again... focus on her as the most awesome martial artist in the DC universe, albeit one with a tender side at odds with her creation.
The death wish gave her an edgy quality, but once that was dealt with there still remained a damaged, fragile soul inside a tiny, deadly but all-too-human fighting shell. The kind of girl who wants to create, but is much better at destroying... and that eats her up inside and drives her to attempt perfection at all odds.
And they should've played up a kind of Kill Bill aspect... the violent side of the Batworld, like the anime segment about O-Ren Ishii's origin, or anything about GoGo Yubari, but played out on the good guy's side as a reaction against that kind of urban darkness and squalor.
I also see in her a little bit of Jen Yu from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - a life rage at being denied the fullness of her life, but channelled by Oracle and Batman in a more positive way. She should do things, dare things that would make even Batman nervous for her.
Because for one thing, where I think GS [Gail Simone] is right on is that Batgirl should represent hope in the shadows. Just not wearing white. Keep her in black and make the motivation internal. Focus on Cass as a person, or as the person she desperately wants to be...
Maybe not by blood inside, but by blood shared, Batman is her one, true father. Who she would always seek out, turn to. Hope to impress.
Posted: May 30, 2006 3:19 AM
I think the idea is great and well-thought. I could see how the chain of events could logically transpire, yielding the angel of the bat in the end; I honestly can. However, if that did happen, and it did get written, I would drop the book. I just don't enjoy reading about religion. I could better spend my money on an X-book.
Posted: May 30, 2006 7:51 AM
I really like that idea.
I have issues with organised religion, but I really think this could have worked as the religion is not there to convert or dictate, but lead to personal growth, which is exactly what it was supposed to be about.
I also really like the idea of a Bat that actually tries to reach the criminals as opposed to just pummelling them, and it's something we have seen with Cass before so it'd be perfectly in character, just an evolution.
That said, I really do think it'd only work taking off from the end of Batgirl.
That Cass wasn't just driven by her own guilt, she gneuinely seemed to believe in the good of people, she actually had things in common with the bible's views and preachings that would make it all so much more believeable.
Unlike the new Cass (if legit) who would likely be bogged down by so much guilt it would be all self serving, acting solely out of fear of what would happen to her, changing the whole way in which the story would go over, especially with religious groups who don't like their religion being seen as a conscience easer.
Posted: May 30, 2006 12:39 PM
This idea both motivates me and unnerves me. Why? First off, its a good story idea that's never going to be used. Second, it just plays out religion too hard, the story revolves around it instead of it just being an element of the story, an influence. Third, it gives me what was missing from my own Cass stories, a missing piece that grants them depth instead of just leaving them as superficial urban events. Fourthly, Gail came up with it, and not me, so I'll never be able to use those stories with a clear conscience. ****.
In any case, the way religion is portrayed in the original pitch *does* make it seem a little condescending and makes Cass a bit "holier than thou". What needs to be shown, instead of a full religious mad on, is Cass's struggle with faith, learning from it as time passes. That way the reader can still relate to her, emphathize with her, and root for her each time her faith is tested. Cass should be one of the people next to you in church who is just as confused as you, not somebody out there yelling scriptures because they think they know better than anyone else. It's a slow progression of learning, and its also a perfect way for her to cope with not being batgirl anymore after her final fight with Shiva. Cass could learn about who *Cass* is, instead of more about what people want her to be.
What's great about the idea though is that it has so much room to generate stories, give previous stories different directions and tone, and provides lots of symbolism. I, like many here, am not the biggest fan of an all white costume, but I can see some symbolic white being used. For example...
(closeup frame of Cass's hands in the foreground, she's putting on white gloves/wrappings while [cynical char] is watching with an confused look)
(shot from an above angle of Cass and [cynical char] in an alley or an abandoned church)
[cynical char]: White gloves? You know, they're only going to get dirty...
(shot of Cass's face with a serene expression)
Cass: Then... I'll wash them clean again...
(Cass walks out, [cynical char] looks on, contemplating the meaning of those words)
In this case the white gloves represent Cass's soul. Her soul is constantly soiled and tainted by fighting, by other people's blood. Yet she still strives to keep it pure, keep it clean. She works very hard every day to do so, yet blood can never completely wash away. Its a struggle of faith, and symbolism of who she is.
Anyway, I have a ton more examples of how this could be a good thing or a bad thing. Its a balance that could go either way... hmm... kind of like faith...
Posted: May 30, 2006 1:43 PM
I'd prefer this version of Cass [over] the evil puppy-eating one they have in Robin at the moment. It might be good to show a version of religion that doesn't stifle other people like it's shown to do in media a lot of the time.
Posted: May 30, 2006 2:28 PM
As a Christian I have to say this is both a good and a bad idea.
I like the idea of having a character discovering religion and having it portrayed in a good way. But I think Gails idea goes a little overboard.
As many pointed out. The white bat-suit is a bit much. I also think quoting Bible verses are a bit much. Christians are supposed to be defined by what they do not by what they know.
Plus with that direction it would be too easy for another writer to tear it to shreds or even make Cass completely unlikeable by having her constantly trying to evangelize the other Bats.
Still I like the core of the idea. And I think it's way better than the direction they took Cass. This would have definetly solified her quest for redemption and opened up new areas of exploration for her. I just hope that the next issue of Robin will show that she's still good. Be a shame to see a good character go down the tubes like that.
Posted: May 30, 2006 2:34 PM
Heck, I'll say it. DC says yes to Lipstick Lesbian Batwoman and no to Christian Batgirl. So much for DC and diversity.
Posted: May 30, 2006 4:06 PM
I'm sure that was only Gail's initial pitch, and that she would have made alterations to it afterwards. I doubt that the Angel of the Bat would only quote the Bible and stuff, you know? Only when the situation warranted it. Wasn't there a cover with Cass in a white batsuit and a halo? Maybe that's where Gail got the initial idea of it from.
Posted: May 30, 2006 11:01 PM
I find Christianity fascinating but I don't think the mythology of it would interest Cass, so much as the basic message of forgiveness and redemption. I'd figure her even wary of Sin, as Sin is something inherent, and again, I don't think real-Cass woulda believed in an inherent wrongness about anyone or any thing, I think she'd believe in choice.
Posted: May 31, 2006 12:56 AM
I'm actually a conservative (theologically, not politically) Christian, so it's easy for me to say I like this idea. I'd be worried about it becoming, well, preachy, so having an atheist such as Gail Simone write lovingly a Christian angle might be the only way to pull it off -- i.e. don't give it to a devout Christian, they might either be judged by the fanbase as writing propaganda, or just as likely, write propaganda.
I do like the idea of a white costume, which is highly impractical - unless you're one of the top of the game in the DCU. This would be a ray of light in the Batverse that could stay.
Damn, I really like this idea. Buddhism or Nietzsche seems pretty easy for comic book characters to pick up on without anyone blowing a gasket. Why not a Christian (who's more Wesley or Spurgeon than Dobson) character who isn't a freaking literal angel (Zauriel, what on earth)
Posted: May 31, 2006 8:05 AM
Heh. The Angel of the Bat storyline might have made an interesting way for the return of Azrael, (who went by Agent of the Bat for awhile I think), and even the fomer Supergirl Linda Danvers, who was once an angel herself.
Posted: May 31, 2006 12:30 PM
re: "I kinda agree with black alice in that this has been done with Azreal, and Supergirl."
Okay, I think I've been misunderstood here... I didn't mean to say that this had already been done with Azrael and Supergirl, what I meant was more that those two characters would have built up an awesome supporting cast for Cass if this storyline had actually taken place...
Posted: May 31, 2006 7:09 PM
My bad, I guess I thought you were refering to Supergirl being an Earth angle.
Posted: May 31, 2006 11:14 AM
re: "...circumstance exists with Cass where she never had a notion of God, and then all of a sudden she finds a preacher to introduce it to her. I find it hard to believe she could accept such a far-out idea like God (in her point in life)."
Which would all make complete sense if not for the fact that she talked to the spirit of Stephanie on several occasions.
Even if she was an atheist and believed she was usually hallucinating, the fact that Steph actually told her about events elsewhere would give her reason to believe in the afterlife at least.
And if you believe in souls that inhabit another dimension or plane of existence, god is not that absurd a concept.
I think you are right, Cass is an atheist in as much as she's thought about it, but the right words causing her to question what Stephanie is, where she's from, and if people live on so to speak, what the fear of the man who's eyes she looked into was, then I think she could very easily buy religion as real.
Posted: May 31, 2006 11:24 AM
I don't know if Cass could be considered Atheist.
She certainly doesn't practice any type of religion, but I think that she hasn't really given it much thought. Most of her time is put into training and all that, which makes sense, as that is her life. But as she grew more human as her series progressed, she started to do things that were new to her, like have crushes, friends, and mourning the loss of them. And something like meeting Spoiler in the afterlife would certainly at the very least make her wonder.
At most, I'd call her an agnostic. She wouldn't really know or understand it all prior to a spiritual awakening like Gail had for a pitch.
Posted: May 31, 2006 12:47 PM
I've been re-reading the Batgirl run piece by piece for a little bit now, and read issue #26 again last night. In it, Stephanie went off to fight while Cass was unconcious recovering from her post-Shiva wounds. Much like Cass saw visions of Stephanie later, in #26 she saw Cass as a spirit, more or less. And Cass was killed by Shiva, so...
From: Michael, "No Sunday School In Smallville", posted 12 June 2006 on "Tales to Mildly Astonish" blog website (http://talestomildlyastonish.blogspot.com/2006/06/no-sunday-school-in-smallville.html; viewed 15 June 2006):
I was raised Lutheran, due to my grandfather having been a Lutheran pastor. By the time I reached the age of confirmation, though, I'd begun to have serious doubts about what I was being told by the church... Over time I... eventually settled into the life of what I like to call a "practicing agnostic." The events of my life have convinced me that there is something to the universe, a power and wisdom greater than humanity and beyond mortal understanding...
So, that's where I'm coming from. Where this entry comes from is a post Gail Simone made a couple weeks ago [link to: http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=126705], detailing her unused idea for DC's Batgirl. For those of you too lazy to click the link, she essentially would have had Cassandra Cain undergo a serious and deeply personal conversion experience and become a devout Christian. It's an idea rife with story potential; reconciling the dichotomy between vigilantism and the commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself alone would provide reams of material. DC passed on the idea, as is their right, but when Gail posted it, I nonetheless got to thinking (those of you who know me know this is rarely a good thing).
I think DC's decision here was a waste. There are precious few heroes of faith in comics, mainstream or alternative, and the more I think about that, the less I like it. Most heroes' religion is used as a type of shorthand characterization, something to fill space in the Handbook.
...I think that's doing the art a disservice, to say nothing of the audience and the cultural conversation. Art is about the human condition, and faith is an inexorable part of that condition. Even atheists believe in something. Stories about faith illuminate what it means to us, and there is certainly room, and I think a need, in superhero comics for the portrayal of faith as a virtue. Superheroes are about virtue, after all. Superman is self-confidence, Spider-Man is responsibility, Wonder Woman is trust, the Fantastic Four are family. Batgirl could have been faith...
Very interesting and nicely done, Michael. I agree, I'd love to see how the Batgirl storyline would play out...
This poster to an online forum clearly did not read the page that was linked to Batgirls' religious affiliation. From: "Religions of super heroes" forum discussion page started 14 August 2006 on "Wizard Universe" website (http://wizarduniverse.invisionzone.com/lofiversion/index.php/t1595.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
Aug 14 2006, 06:17 PM
How did they figure this out!?!?
I can't remember an issue of Batman where he says "I'm a Episcopalian, but I've lapsed."
Why does Batgirl's entry give me the creeps. "religiously untrained; potential Christian" She was raised to be a perfect killing machine therefore potential Christian? blink.gif My killing skills are lasped, I guess. Is "religiously untrained" like potty untrained. She is a "potential" anything she wants to be.
From: comments to "Comic Book Heroes Faith-by-Faith" post on "Give Me a Pony" blog website, 21 June 2006 (http://givemeapony.blogspot.com/2006/06/comic-book-heroes-faith-by-faith.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
It's an interesting undertaking, but when you really start digging into the complete list (at http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html) and are a supercollossal dork with an entire room devoted to comics, you see lots of flaws... and a few are flat-out wrong or bizarre:
Cassandra Cain, the former Batgirl, is listed as "religiously untrained, potential Christian". I think not...
From: "Religious Beliefs of DC Heroes" forum discussion, started 4 July 2006 on ComixFan website (http://x-mencomics.com/xfan/forums/showthread.php?p=1357699; viewed 6 July 2007):
Jul 4, 2006
I am a Christian (Baptist) in real life and I was wondering if anyone knows any DC characters that have been labled to a certain religion. I think DC has tried to stay away from religion, but I am pretty sure Superman is Methodist and I know they are fixing to explore some religious beliefs on Batgirl. I thought this would cool topic. So please list anything you might know on this subject.
From: "Religion in Comics" forum discussion, started 3 August 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000125054&tstart=0; viewed 6 August 2007):
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 3:39 PM
Oh, of course I mean, I agree that there shouldn't be anything that presses people's own views. And I definitely think that issues should never be included that people find uncomfortable.
But I think (in my own opinion, of course, and should not be considered an insult to people in any way) that comics are a more adult form of entertainment. I could easily be wrong, but when I pick up an issue of Teen Titans, say #41 (I think anyway), where Batgirl slits Bombshell's throat, next to Teen Titans GO!, a comic aimed more at children that has no blood or cursing or anything else, there''s a diference in the target audience.
I feel that if you have comic books with blood, cursing and moral values and arguments, e.g. Infinite Crisis, why can't you simply open up to more intelligent debates over religion?
From: "The Official Unofficial Gail Simone Q&A (Until She Gets Tired of Us)" forum discussion, started 13 August 2007 on "Something Awful" forum website (http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=2590858&pagenumber=2; viewed 20 August 2007):
Aug 14, 2007 03:10
Usually, when somebody notable happens across here, and they're up to talking to us, I can never think of anything to say. I mean, Chris Onstad is here, who I consider to be a brilliant cartoonist, but I got nothing to say.
But I actually have something to ask - or say - to Gail. I'm not sure what, yet.
Gail, in one of our threads we've been talking about Grant's Batman run, and about how he seems to be playing with religious themes. Because of this, I found this website that had a [massive amount] of discussion about superheroes' religion. Batman's page must've been like, 200 pages long.
While I was there, I checked on Batgirl, because Cassandra Cain is my favorite funnybook character. There's not much there, but what was there was something you wrote explaining a pitch you had written for what I would assume would be her OYL [One Year Later] reboot.
Here's the page in question:
So you wanted to make Cass a devout Christian, and change her name to "Angel of the Bat"?
Eh, in the end, it's better than what DC decided to do with the character. (Please thank Geoff or whoever is responsible for trying to repair the damage.) The pitch started off real strong, but you lost me eventually. I think everyone here agreed you just took it too far.
I like the idea of her finding religion. It seems perfect. Cass is a fascinating character because she seeks redemption for what she's done in the past. Turning to religion makes complete sense. She seems like a very gullible and impressionable person, to where something like this would be very appealing to her.
(Not that you have to be gullible and impressionable to believe in it. I'm not a religious guy, but I do believe in a Christian God.)
You lose me (and probably others) at the name and suit change. You can do better than Angel of the Bat, I think. And while a full-white suit sounds cool, that simply doesn't work in the Batman mythos. I mean, you can explain away why Robin has bright colors, but a pure-white figure just can't work in the Gotham night.
I think the main problem was that it came of like she'd become dogmatic. It would work best if it was just a personal, spiritual thing for her. You say the idea came off as "radical", and I think it's because you went too far with the suit and name. It became too much, and you're right, it came to a point where it couldn't have been done sincere. Only way it would work would be by an author of faith, and then, it'd be too preachy.
The first half is good. Up until her "getting it". The second half, it should be Cass going on some sort of quest to seek her redemption. Not that she should ever completely find it, as it should be a life-long battle...
re: "...do you think you could have pulled off the religious conversion of Batgirl without breaking characterization or making her character unreadable?"
Well, yeah, of course I do. I think it wouldn't be at all as hard as it sounds, people understand the spiritual quest format, and this would have been looking at Christianity almost as a complete outsider. I myself am an atheist, but I wanted to play the religious angle straight up, without mockery of any kind. I think it would've flown. Or maybe been a spectacular failure. Either thing is fine.
Aug 16, 2007
re: "...I think the main problem was that it came of like she'd become dogmatic..."
Okay, I appreciate what you're saying, but... why would you assume it would be dogmatic? I always get a bit confused when people make an assumption about a future storyline with no evidence whatsoever and then condemn the whole thing based on a mistaken assumption.
I understand it might be a little bit tricky, but done with sincerity and heart, I think it could fly. Again, I was asked about it when the book was in danger of being canceled, and at worst, it could make for a year of powerful stories.
If done well. If it sucked, sure, all your worries would be confirmed. But that's certainly not the approach I had in mind. And I disagree completely about the white costume, which would have served several important story points--that she's faithful, that she's divorcing herself from Batman's approach, that she no longer wants to live in the dark, but mostly, that she's so drat good she could wear neon and survive, even in Gotham.
Aug 16, 2007 23:02
Gail Simone posted:
"Okay, I appreciate what you're saying, but... why would you assume it would be dogmatic? I always get a bit confused when people make an assumption about a future storyline with no evidence whatsoever and then condemn the whole thing based on a mistaken assumption."
Not so much an assumption, but that was simply the feeling I got from it. IF that's not the case, then I must not have connected with your idea correctly.
You are right about her being "good enough." After I made that point, I started thinking "but she can nearly dodge bullets, what would it matter?"
It would just come down to the fact that it would be... too un-Bat like. And if your plan was to try to divorce her from Batman approach, I'm all for that, but I simply find it hard to think of a Bat-family character in all white.
Was there ever talk of having her team up permanently with Robin? It seemed like they were gearing up to do that anyways, but then the crisis put a halt to those plans. That route seemed to make the most sense to me. They make a good pair: add Robin's detective mind with Batgirl's physical power, and you've got the Batman.
The idea I had for her OYL ["One Year Later" story] would have been to simply make her Robin's sidekick in his title.
From: "Batman's Serious Shoptalk" forum discussion, started 26 July 2007 on "Something Awful" forum website (http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=2571078&goto=newpost; viewed 20 August 2007):
I came across this article about Batman and his religion.
It's... very, very... VERY long and in-depth.
Alright, this is a little off the current topic, but we're doing serious Batman discussion and Morrison's run seems to be talking religion, so...
DC Comics writer Gail Simone, a self-described atheist, has revealed a detailed story arc she pitched for the Batgirl character. In her pitch, Cassandra became a devout Christian after encountering a Protestant minister.
"From then on, she is truly devout, truly converted. She wears a white bat outfit and starts looking out for the most vulnerable of Gotham's residents, runaways, immigrants, homeless people, mentally ill people, etc, because that's what she understands the minister would do. She still issues righteous beatings because she's a little bit old testament, but she talks scripture with both the minister and the gang members. She believes.
And after a while, she gets a new nickname...many people don't call her Batgirl anymore, she becomes to them, the Angel of the Bat. And for the first time, she's genuinely happy.
Well, it's better than what DC went with.
Aug 07, 2007 05:22
That is in no way a good idea.
Aug 07, 2007 05:27
Wow, it starts out interesting and then just becomes completely ridiculous, and it just keeps piling on.
Aug 07, 2007 05:41
Thank God Adam Beechen just turned her evil instead. I'm 100% serious.
Aug 07, 2007 05:52
Devout Christian Batgirl? Interesting new direction, might be reminiscent of PAD [Peter David] Supergirl, but it could work.
Angel of the Bat? What the heck, Gail? Just... go think up some scripture-based one-liners or something. No more nicknames.
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