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Ask Chris #210: The Strange Saga Of Batgirl Cassandra Cain

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Cassandra Cain: WTF happened? -- @IamMedellin

A: Here's the least shocking thing you're going to read this week: I love Cassandra Cain. That probably goes without saying, given that she's a relatively obscure member of the Batman family that made her debut when I was a teenager, but really, it goes deeper than that. She came out of the gate with a compelling edge, some phenomenally solid storytelling, and a hook for drama that put her in contrast to the rest of Gotham's assorted heroes and hangers-on, while still feeling like a natural compliment to the other characters. And then, less than a decade later, she'd gone from being a new character with an incredible amount of potential to an also-ran who only really shows up to fill space in crossovers -- something that almost never happens to characters in the Batman family, especially when they've got 70+ solo issues under their utility belts.

So what happened? Man, I can't even tell you, I just read the darn things. But folks, it got really weird there at the end.

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Revival, Reinvention, Resurrection: The Power Of Great Superhero Costume Design

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We live in a time of awesome superhero costumes in comics. The rise and rise of cosplay culture, the emergence of comic artists with a savvy understanding of fashion, and the slow diversification that's making heroes palatable to a broader audience, have all contributed to a costuming culture with more to offer than capes and pants.

Superhero costumes have always been an asset to the industry, because iconography helps establish character and create a brand. But the value of costumes in reaching audiences and reinventing characters seems to be recognized now as never before, leading to the rise of artist-designers like Jamie McKelvie and Kris Anka, who don't even need to be on a particular book in order to be called in to make-over the characters. This is a great leap forward in understanding just what a good costume can do -- and the special skills required to do it.

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Jack Kirby: A ‘King-Sized’ 97th Birthday Tribute Spectacular, Part One!

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Jack Kirby is very arguably the single most influential figure in the history of American comics. He produced countless stories in a career that spanned seven decades, inventing and re-inventing genres and styles every step of the way. He inspired generations of artists and writers; created and co-created thousands of characters; defined the visual vocabulary of superheroes; and believed in the potential of comics to be both entertainment and art, long before most people imagined these stories would be remembered past the four weeks that they sat on newsstands.

Today would have been Kirby’s 97th birthday, and to mark the occasion we’ve assembled a series of posts commemorating the life and work of the man known to American comics fans as “The King.” For this piece, we asked some of our favorite creators and other comics pros to celebrate Jack Kirby with their impressions of his characters, life, and legacy – and we got so many responses, we'll have another installment of all-star tributes tomorrow!

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Why So Serious: Warner Bros. Reportedly Orders ‘No Jokes’ In New DC Comics Movies

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Comics fans have become well acquainted with the notion that sometimes, creative people learn the wrong things from successes. It's why certain comics have been dominated for going on 30 years by a "dark" and "mature" sensibility that often comes off as grim, self-serious and overcooked.

Well, get ready for that way of thinking to make its way to movie theaters very soon. According to a report at Hitfix, Warner Bros. has a strict rule for its upcoming DC Comics movies: "No jokes."

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Batgirl Takes The A.L.S. Ice Bucket Challenge (With A Very Special Guest)

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Since you are reading this on the Internet, I'm going to go ahead and assume that you're already familiar with the Ice Bucket Challenge, wherein folks are being nominated by friends, fans and colleagues to dump buckets of freezing cold water on their heads on camera to raise awareness of (and money to combat) ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord -- or Lou Gehrig's Disease, as it is popularly known. Over the past few weeks, we've seen plenty of famous folks taking the challenge, but now, it has busted right through the Fourth Wal, and all the way to Gotham City's Burnside neighborhood.

This particular challenge was issued by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, the creative team for the revamp of Batgirl, and the challengee is Barbara Gordon herself, who seems set on finding out just how helpful that new jacket is going to be in fighting off the cold.

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Gotham Academy: Becky Cloonan’s Super Cool Hero Portraits, Character Breakdowns and Guerrilla Marketing

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I don't think it's possible for the staff of ComicsAlliance to get more excited for Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl's Gotham Academy than we already are, but if there's one thing that could do it, it's seeing the characters for the new book in a set of brand-new promo images drawn by Cloonan. Today, that's exactly what we've got, so prepare yourself, because they are fantastic.

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Lois Lane Will Star In A New Young Adult Novel By Gwenda Bond

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Lois Lane hasn't been able to rate an ongoing series in DC Comics' The New 52, but the character is taking on a starring role in a different medium: young adult novels.

Next January, publisher Switch Press will release Lois Lane: Fallout, which will feature a young Lois starting her life in Metropolis after her military family moves there. Gwenda Bond, the author of the upcoming Girl on a Wire and The Woken Gods, and clearly a huge Lois Lane fan, has confirmed that she's writing the novel.

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The Arkham Sessions: How Psychologically Similar Are Batman And Robin?

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The Arkham Sessions, hosted by clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is a weekly podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of Batman: The Animated Series. Nostalgic, humorous, and even a little educational, each episode promises to lend some insight into the heroes, villains, and classic stories of the Dark Knight.

As a special exclusive for ComicsAlliance visitors, new episodes of The Arkham Sessions will stream on CA several days in advance of their syndication to iTunes.

This week, we discuss the highly acclaimed, Emmy-winning episode of Batman: The Animated Series, "Robin's Reckoning." We cover Part 1, in which we're shown Robin's origin story. We discover who killed Robin's family and how he joined forces with Batman.

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Oh Good: The Dark Knight’s Batpod Spotted On Japan’s Roadways

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A Twitter user by the name of Ryuuchan spotted something you don't see every day on the roadways of Japan's Chiba Prefecture last weekend: Batman, in broad daylight, riding around on a Batpod similar to the one from The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

The Batman costume looks spot-on, and while the Batpod isn't quite the design from the movies (it's got three wheels instead of two), it does look pretty doggone cool.

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Palmiotti & Gray Conclude 100+ Issues Of Jonah Hex In ‘All Star Western’ #34 With Darwyn Cooke [Preview]

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When the New 52 launched back in 2011, one of the interesting things about the lineup of titles was the presence of a lot of books that attempted to break out of the standard superhero genre, at least a little. There were horror, fantasy and war comics, but the most creatively and commercially successful by far was DC Comics' All Star Western, featuring Jonah Hex. Now, however, All Star Western is coming to an end after three years with a story where Jonah Hex is faced with what may be his toughest foe yet: Jonah Hex.

This issue marks a pretty notable conclusion for a few reasons, most notably being that, if you count the Jonah Hex series that launched back in 2006 before rebooting as All Star Western, writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are two of DC's longest tenured creators, having written over a hundred issues about Jonah Hex, the disfigured old west era bounty hunter originally created by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga in the early 1970s.

The second is that the issue marks the auspicious return of award-winning artist Darwyn Cooke to the character for his final adventure.

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