After the end of The Victim Syndicate, I found the volume to be something of a missed opportunity – like the volume was deciding to take on one of the most cliched criticisms of Batman, a dead horse that was beaten into glue, and decided to address it by – not addressing it. By saying that Batman didn’t have an answer to a question that people who are a moderately serious superhero fan would have been able to answer immediately while reading the book.
Consequently, I was a little concerned about where the next volume of this series would go, and the answer is that the next series does, indirectly, provide that answer, and possibly even in a way that Stephanie Brown would either have to find satisfying, or would make her so irredeemably cruel as to make this volume a straight-up character assassination. It’s a shame she’s not in this volume in order to force the writer to commit.
This volume moves the focus onto Cassandra Cain/Orphan (formerly Batgirl III), the daughter of mercenary David Cain and Lady Shiva, while getting into Jacob Kane’s dire warnings about the League of Shadows back in volume 1. Specifically, the League of Shadows turns out actually exist and be lead by Lady Shiva, who has come to Gotham to get her daughter to come back – even if it takes murdering everyone in Gotham to do it – with Ra’s Al Ghul having a sort of uneasy alliance with Batman in the process, as the League of Shadows was his creation, which has gone out of control.
The story of this volume gets into chosen family vs. biological family in a way that works well, and also makes it clear that Lady Shiva would have done this to any city that Cassandra Cain had fled to, whether Batman or any other super was there or not. Coast City, Metropolis, Peoria, it doesn’t matter to her. On the one hand, this is the perfect rebuke to the Victim Syndicate – Batman has nothing to do with this, one way or the other. On the other hand, if the writers wanted to utterly assassinate Stephanie Brown’s character, she could have outright rejected Cassandra here. As it is, Stephanie isn’t returning Cassie’s calls at the start of this volume, so she still doesn’t have a great look.
Ultimately though, as someone who is part of what I consider to be a good family who has, in turn, become something of a semi-adoptive family to other people, I like the way the volume presents the idea that family is what you make of it, instead of what is pressed upon you.
The fact that this volume is also accompanied by some spectacular ninja fights, on par with some of the best work of Frank Miller’s best work on Daredevil makes for a tremendous bonus.
If you enjoyed this review and would like to read future reviews up to a week early, please consider backing my Patreon. Backers get reviews up to a week early.
Or you can just toss a few bucks in my Ko-Fi Jar if you want to help out but the Patreon isn’t a viable option.