Batgirl’s death duel against Lady Shiva

What makes a good comic book assassin?  Raised from birth by a killer sociopath and deprived of speech and human contact, trained to read body language and intentions instead?  Well, that’s a good start.  Also the origin story of Cassandra Cain, the third Batgirl.  Why should you care about her?  Cassandra became the first Batgirl to get her own solo series and is also one of the most beloved Asian superheroes in the DC universe.  C’mon, those are big deals.

The opening arc of her series decided that having a mute lead might hurt story potential, so her brain was rewritten telepathically to gain the ability to speak.  Unfortunately, that also messed up her ability to read opponents’ body language, losing all those defense skills such as avoiding punches and dodging bullets.  Our story takes place in select scenes from Batgirl #7-9, 23, 25, written by Kelley Puckett and drawn by Damion Scott.

With her martial arts now terrible, Batman tries his normal method to get Batgirl’s special ability back.

Wait, that’s not his normal method.

There we go, that’s the Batman training course.  Have a grown man punch a seventeen year-old girl in the face repeatedly.  Dojos better not try to steal that idea.

Cassandra has a serious problem.  It’s like you waking up one day and you’re suddenly illiterate (which Batgirl also is).  Luckily, she has the Dark Knight backing her up, inspiring her with realistic and disheartening facts about her recovery.

Since making a deal with the devil seems to be the theme for this week, I’d hate to disappoint. Oracle, the first Batgirl and now paralyzed information and technology whiz, casually goes through Batman’s rogue gallery in a flashback.

Meet Lady Shiva.  The world’s greatest martial artist.  Not an exaggeration.  As in Batman’s never defeated her, probably because Lady Shiva isn’t seventeen year-old girl.  But this gives Batgirl an idea.

Okay, so I skipped their first fight and this isn’t the first time they’ve met.  You can read it in Batgirl #8.  Spoiler alert: Cassandra gets her butt handed to her.

Awesome plot idea, right?  Lady Shiva can’t be beaten, and a death duel happens to totally be just that. So she either gets back all her previous skills for a single year, or she’ll be decent within the decade.  As you’ve figured, she totally takes the deal, because I wouldn’t have titled the article as I did if she hadn’t.

Of course, she tries to keep this deal secret, but Oracle knows everything.  That’s kinda Oracle’s thing.  But I do want to build suspense, so let’s read Batman and Oracle’s conversation about this whole problem.

Batman’s theory hinges on Batgirl sacrificing herself as punishment for killing a man when she was eight.  Oracle refuses, mainly because she looks at Cassandra not just as her successor, but as a daughter.  Luckily, Batman doesn’t deal with such stuff like emotional attachments.

Here we go!  The death duel!  A half dozen pages of kung fu I’m not going to show you!  But trust me, the fight goes pretty much as you expect.

Batman may be many things, but a liar isn’t one of them.  Batgirl’s dead.  The end.  I mean, not really, because that would be a super terrible way to end the series.  Though, she did die.

How did Lady Shiva revive Cassandra?  I don’t know; it’s not really touched upon.  What matters is that she did, and for some reason Lady Shiva dressed the young lady in her Batgirl costume.  But why did she revive Cassandra?  That I can answer.

Please understand, Lady Shiva and Batgirl are not friends.  Actually, Lady Shiva may or may not be Batgirl’s mother, but that’s a story for another time and 50 issues later.  So why the inquisitive nature from our unbeatable supervillain?  Duh, jealousy.

You like kung fu fights?  Another half dozen pages I’m not going to show, unfortunately.

Oh, the true intention for resurrecting Batgirl?

Victory!  For the praise and congratulations that follow beating the world’s finest martial artist, you’ll have to read the next couple issues yourself.  A few years after this, Cassandra hands over the Batgirl mantle to Stephanie Brown (her sorta sidekick during the series) and heads to Hong Kong as part of Batman Incorporated.  She hasn’t shown up since DC rebooted their universe, but it’s only a matter of time.  I really, really hope.

One Comment on “Batgirl’s death duel against Lady Shiva”

  1. What book is this from ??

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