Batgirl: Fists of Fury - Various
This is another victory for my local comic book shop. I've been interested in reading some Cassandra Cain as Batgirl stories for quite some time - she's always seemed like a character I'd appreciate - but until now I've not really had the opportunity. Fists of Fury is a collection of miscellaneous Batgirl stories: some stand-alone vignettes, others detailing Cassie's part in larger stories (apparently as opaque to her as to me).
Damion Scott takes the pencil for four of the chapters, drawing in a highly stylish, deformed style that turns Batgirl into a graffiti-esque silhouette flowing around her opponents like liquid shadow. The chapter pencilled by Phil Noto is a lot less interesting by comparison, but he does draw an extremely cute Oracle, which you should know is more than enough to curry my favour. And another chapter is pencilled by an artist who seems to be trying to emulate Scott's style, but in a way that feels like the collision of two artists' weaknesses.
As for Cassandra Cain, well, my instinct was pretty accurate if this book is any indication. It was a bold move to come up with a Batgirl who, in contrast to Barbara Gordon's lighter, fun-loving vigilante, is actually even darker and more serious than Mr No-Fun himself, Batman. The almost mute daughter of an assassin who brutally indoctrinated her into his line of work, Cassandra is frightened of her own capacity to kill and possesses a strangely innocent callousness. On reflection, it's no surprise that the strongest story in this collection is about Cassandra's interactions with the child of a bank robber. You can feel that this Batgirl is desperate to use her skills to help people, but not entirely sure just how to do that.
And then there's her costume, which is inspired in its simplicity, so inescapably bad-ass that even Ed Benes struggled to sexualise her during her brief appearances in Birds of Prey.
So, yes, I did really enjoy Fists of Fury for its star character. But even without that, this book is worth picking up for Damion Scott's art alone, and the chance to see such an atypically kick-ass superheroine rendered in such a confident, equally kick-ass style.