Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown are both Batgirl again.
Did that feel good to read? Because, I’m not going to lie, it felt really good to write! This development has been a long time coming, but it was solidified last week in Batman: Urban Legends #5. Hopefully, you’re reading Urban Legends because this under-the-radar Bat-book has been consistently excellent since it debuted last spring. Issue #5 features the latest chapters in an ongoing Jason Todd story that really gets to the heart of his relationship with Batman, a Tim Drake story where the Boy Wonder finds himself at a personal crossroads and a Grifter tale that sets up…well, we don’t want to spoil it. All of those comics have been great, but the cherry on top this month was “Wildcard,” a fun adventure starring Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Barbara Gordon and a surprise guest. (We’ll get to her later.)
“Wildcard” is written by Marguerite Bennett, illustrated by Sweeney Boo, and features some great banter between Steph and Cass. Stephanie teases Cassandra about her aloof nature, while Cassandra makes fun of Stephanie’s habit of “spoiling” things. I love seeing the Bat-Family kick butt, but sometimes it’s fun to just watch them ribbing each other the way typical families do. I would read an entire graphic novel with nothing but Batman and his allies passing time during a road trip.
Cass and Steph’s fun is interrupted when Barbara contacts them about a case. When she does, Babs addresses the heroes as “Batgirls,” which is huge. To recap, ever since Rebirth in 2016, Stephanie Brown has been operating as Spoiler, while Cassandra Cain has been calling herself Orphan, but I fondly remembered each of their days as Batgirl. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Not only have fans been campaigning for it, but the characters themselves were also championing the cause!
In Detective Comics #980, an OMAC reminded Stephanie and Cassandra of their forgotten Batgirl careers, hoping it would break the two heroes, but instead it helped them realize just how high they could fly. Then in Batman: Joker War Zone #1, Steph and Cass realized that a city in crisis needed a symbol of hope, so they redesigned their costumes to include the Bat symbol. “We didn’t exactly get permission. Should we wait,” Stephanie wondered. “No one gave Batman permission,” she concluded.
By Batman #104, Stephanie began campaigning for Barbara to acknowledge her and Cassandra as Batgirls. “I don’t think we’ve had this conversation Spoiler,” Barbara said. “Hey, if there can be a billion Robins, I don’t see why there can’t be three Batgirls,” Stephanie replied.
Finally, in Infinite Frontier #0, Stephanie got a bit more aggressive. “Please, you’ll make Cass so happy if you say it,” Stephanie pleaded. The guilt was enough to get Barbara to reply, “Batgirls, on my signal…go!”
These previous moments could’ve been written off as fun banter, but Batman: Urban Legends #5 put the issue to bed. Not only does Barbara address Cass and Steph as Batgirl multiple times, but the table of contents and the cover blurb label them the same way. Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain are both Batgirls again and it’s officially canon.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a knock against Barbara. It’s just nice to have Cass and Steph’s place in the Batgirl legacy be acknowledged. I have fond memories of reading Cassandra Cain’s 2000 series, and I loved Stephanie’s 2009 Batgirl title. This feels right.
So, can Gotham handle multiple Batgirls? I think so, and it’s not like we don’t have precedent. Tim Drake and Damian Wayne are both currently sharing the Robin identity, and Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson both operated as the Dark Knight during the Batman Inc. era. Don’t forget, Jay Garrick, Barry Allen and Wally West all share the Flash mantle, and we have an entire Green Lantern Corps. When you lay it out that way, having three Batgirls in Gotham doesn’t seem all that unusual.
The story also had another exciting development—the reintroduction of Ryan Wilder! Ryan made her first comic book appearance in last year’s Batgirl #50, and she makes a jaw dropping return by successfully holding her own in a sparring match against Stephanie and Cassandra. There are some cool references to the Batwoman TV show in this story as well, including Ryan’s van and the Desert Rose. (Fun fact: Writer Marguerite Bennett co-created both Safiyah and Coryana, so it’s only appropriate that she would nod to them here.) There’s so much to speculate on. I wasn’t kidding when I said you shouldn’t be sleeping on Batman: Urban Legends!
Ryan’s comic counterpart is definitely a new player that we should all be watching with great interest. Could she become Batwoman? What would that mean for Kate? Heck, if we could have multiple Batgirls, then why not multiple Batwomen? After all, Gotham is a dangerous place. The more powerful female heroes we have, the better it is for everyone.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, ”Gotham Gazette.” Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.