Thursday, 7 July 2011

Gail Simone On Cass Cain and Steph

By Marcus To


Well, I have never talked about this specifically, but...I feel like I owe Cass. First, I didn't warm up to her character immediately. I'd been asked to write her in a Bop issue but hadn't read her series, and the reference they sent me wasn't great (it was not an issue of her regular book, and she was written out of character). So I used her and I did not write her well. Later, I picked up her own series and HOLY SHIT IT WAS SO GOOD that I felt TERRIBLE that I didn't write THIS Cass.

I still think those earlier Cass issues were just fantastic comics. I feel, and I think editorial does as well, that even though it was a cool evolution as she became a bit more mainstream, that something kind of awesome was lost, as well. I thought those first issues just kicked ass. I loved the later stuff as well and I was happy for her triumphs, but that outsider Batgirl just really spoke to me.

Later, when the book was losing sales they asked me to think of ideas for it, and I tried to come up with something that kept her history and made her an outsider again, for a while. That was the ANGEL OF THE BAT pitch a lot of people have seen.

Anyway, it's always grinded me that I didn't get her right. I take this shit seriously, I respect characters' history and the hard work of other writers and I'd gotten it wrong and it's always bugged me even this many years later.

Anyway, I became SUCH a Cass fan that it was ridiculous. I wasn't a fan of Steph because I just didn't care for her costume or name, I didn't really give her a chance (I'm talking about when she was Spoiler). Then I read the story where she was killed (I'd missed her as Robin), so I didn't really see the good stuff and the killing story was horrible, I hated it. So I wasn't really giving Steph a fair shot.

Later, when she became Batgirl, I was a little ticked off as both a reader AND a writer. People were asking, why is this incredibly cool Asian Batgirl whose book still sold well being replaced by a white blonde girl? I didn't get that, and it bothered me. Enough so that when the book was offered to me, I turned it down. I didn't think Steph had enough juice as a character to be Batgirl, AND I thought it was a betrayal of Cass and Cass fans.

I'm not saying any of this is right, mind you, it's just the stuff that was in my head.

But then Bryan Q. Miller took the book, and he totally overcame my grumpy stubbornness about Steph. He made me a Steph fan almost single-handedly, and now I love her. That is the power of a great writer. I've said it a million times, but me turning down Batgirl at the time was the best thing that could ever have happened to Steph, because Bryan ran with that ball so beautifully. It is NUTS that he's not writing one of the relaunch books yet. I just don't get that at all. He should be doing a high profile gig immediately.

Anyway, Bryan on Batgirl is both a reason why I SHOULD and why I SHOULDN'T take the book. One, big shoes to fill, and I loved his book, and I felt really bad he wasn't going to be doing the relaunch. We've talked about it, he's been incredibly gracious, but it definitely stung.

The other factor was, he also proved that someone new could be in the suit and write it so people would love her. I mean, his run is as pure an example of making a tough situation into a polished gem as you are likely to find.

By the way, I still think it's a fair question, why DID they replace Cass with Steph? The fact that the book is great doesn't change the fact that it was a successful Asian female lead, replaced by a white blonde girl with no proven sales record.

Anyway, I feel I owe both characters, really. I tried to use Cass many times, my editor of BOP and I had an evil sneaky plan to get her in as a BOP, make her visible and viable again, and then get her her own series back. We had approval, and then we DIDN'T have approval. It happens, it sucks, but it happens.

Like I say, it's not a Cass/Steph team-up book. But it relates heavily to this thread and will make a lot of people very happy, if it happens. It's always dangerous to talk about this stuff so early but I should know for sure by SDCC and hopefully will have something to announce very soon after. "
From here,

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