By BatWatch 11 Comments
A month or two ago, I saw someone mention the idea that Strix, a recent addition to Birds of Prey, is essentially the new Cassandra Cain, and I thought, “Yeah, okay, so they are both female, Asian martial arts experts, but that hardly makes them the same character,” and I basically dismissed the idea, but after mulling it over for the next several weeks, I slowly began to put the pieces together, and you know what? Strix is the new Cassandra Cain.
Let's observe the similarities, shall we? I'll start with the most obvious and benign and work towards the more suspicious and peculiar.
I assume I do not need to elaborate on this point.
Cassandra Cain is the daughter of David Cain, a Caucasian, and Sandra Woosan (Lady Shiva) an Asian woman who grew up in Detroit. Mary's (Strix's) family consisted of United States immigrants from Japan who lived in Oregon.
3. Martial Arts Master
Cassandra was taught martial arts from her birth by her father, David Cain. Mary learned gymnastics at Haly's Circus where she was recruited to be an assassin for the Court of Owls and taught martial arts by undisclosed masters.
4. Tragic Past
Cassandra's life was a tragedy from the moment she was born. Lady Shiva had no interest in raising her daughter, and David Cain viewed Cass as his ultimate experiment and weapon. Strix, on the other hand, lived a mostly peaceful life until her family was killed by a Japanese firebomb during WWII. The firebomb disfigured Mary badly.
5. Flying Nocturnal Animal as Totem
Cassandra's, of course, was the second character to be called Batgirl. Mary, on the other hand, has taken the codename Strix which is a specific kind of owl without ear tufts.
6. Worked as an Assassin
After honing her for eight years, David Cain finally deployed Cass in the field where she, unaware of what she was truly doing, killed a target and completed an assassination. Though she immediately sensed the wrongness of her actions, Cass never lost her sense of guilt over the murder. It is not clear how many Mary killed in the name of the Court of Owls, but given what we have seen from other talons, it can be fair to assume she murdered dozens during her tenure as the Court's assassin.
7. Tied with Shadowy World Dominating Organizations
Cass was on the straight and narrow for a long time after running away from David Cain, but after being mind controlled by Deathstroke, she did run the League of Assassins for over a year, an organization often tied to Ra's Al Ghul's schemes to save the world's ecosystem by destroying ninety percent of all life on the planet. Mary worked for the Court of Owls, a quasi shadow government whose goals include being evil, plotting and scheming.
8. Became Heroine because of Barbara Gordon
Cassandra Cain was recruited by Barbara as an street level informant during No Man's Land. Over time, Babs, Batman, and other members of the family saw her potential and heart and offered her the position of Batgirl. Strix, on the other hand, tried to kill Batgirl (Barbara) during the Night of the Owls before arbitrarily deciding to spare Babs' life because all villainous assassins are just misunderstood. By talking through their feelings, (well, Mary writing down her feelings) Batgirl's feminism saved the day.
9. Essentially Mute
Cassandra Cain was never taught how to speak. Instead, David Cain taught her only fighting stances, and when she needed to talk to David, she communicated through motion. As such, Cassandra developed a nearly supernatural ability to read people through body language, but she never had much ability to carry on a conversation until a psychic rearranged her brain. Mary is mute though it is not clear why. She seems to have been able to talk at a younger age, so perhaps it was psychological trauma or physical damage from the firebomb.
10. Only Communicates with Barbara Gordon
Cassandra used her very small repertoire of words to pass information on to Oracle in her early days, and she rarely breathed a word to anyone else. Now, Mary pulls the same shtick staring menacingly at her teammates and only occasionally “says” something to Barbara by drawing words in the dirt.
What are we to make of this? Gail Simone (former writer of Birds of Prey and current writer of Batgirl) invented the character. Was she intentionally trying to reinvent Cassandra Cain for the DCNU, or is this merely a long list of coincidences? Regardless, Strix has thus far been a poor substitute for Cass unless you enjoy watching a mute character start pointless fights with allies on a regular basis.