Detective Comics #952
Cover Price: $2.99
Page Count: 20
Release Date: March 8, 2017
Collected in: Detective Comics v3: League of Shadows
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Batgirl has been one of my favorite characters in the DC Universe for a long time, and interestingly I am fond of all three of the women most commonly associated with the role. When the New 52 started back in 2011 DC decided that two of those three women were too problematic, and thus Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain were wiped from continuity. Although I do like Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, the loss of those two characters was a sad day for Batgirl fans.
As we approached the Rebirth relaunch Stephanie Brown was brought back as Spoiler, her original identity, and Cassandra Cain as Orphan. Neither woman has officially been Batgirl in canon any longer, but we do at least have them back in circulation. When both of them were announced as cast members of Detective Comics that book shot to the top of my “read pile”, and has stayed there through the months since Rebirth. Spoiler has exited the cast for the time being, but Cassandra is in the spotlight thanks to the current story arc.
I have previously expressed my disdain for the idea of the League of Shadows on the basis that it is yet another super-secret organization bent on world domination. There are so many already, and in general I find the idea rather played out. The corpse of the Court of Owls isn’t even cold yet, and still we have another shadow group popping up. That said, I have decided to give the League of Shadows a little leeway since their story has focused on Cassandra Cain and her nemesis, Shiva. The best Cassandra Cain Batgirl stories revolved around her rivalry with Shiva, and this currently has early indicators that this will rank highly on that list.
The majority of this issue is given over to establishing just how much of a badass Shiva is, and this is another one of those situations where I wouldn’t have much tolerance for it if her martial arts prowess hadn’t be a matter of record for decades before now. In this particular issue the League of Assassin’s (Ra’s Al Ghul’s organization) gets destroyed by Shiva single-handily in seconds, and Batman is taken down without much effort. The latter does have a rather forced explanation of why Batman has been able to beat Shiva in the past, which does take it down a few notches. All told, though, Shiva comes across as intimidating as she should, and it will make any fights with her in this arc be that much more epic.
The interactions between Shiva and Orphan are what make this issue, and they are sadly truncated. With the focus on both of these characters still developing I am interested to see where things are going to do in this arc. The standards for these two are set high due to their (no longer canon) history, and that could either make or break this arc. One of the revelations of this issue escalates the matter even further, and I’ll be interested to see where they are going with this.
Ultimately I have to admit that I am biased about any story featuring Cassandra Cain, and doubly so for any which includes Shiva going up against Cassandra. That said, this issue is mostly about establishing Shiva as a threat and building the action for future payoffs. There are a couple different ways this story can go yet, and I am interested in seeing where the creative team intends to go. I just hope that Cassandra doesn’t end up leaving the team like Spoiler and Robin have (especially not the same way Robin did). This arc has the potential to be the best of the Detective Comics stories since Rebirth, but it also has the potential to be the most disappointing, too. We will have to wait and find out which it is.