DC’s Cassandra Cain just got a major power upgrade in the latest issue of DCeased, now having become the newest iteration of Shazam!
Warning: This article contains spoilers for DCeased: Dead Planet Issue #5
Throughout the years, Cassandra Cain has donned more than a few different costumed identities. She’s been Batgirl, the Black Bat, and her current status as Orphan may end with a transition back to Batgirl. But this legendary martial artist saw one of her biggest changes recently in the pages of DCeased, in which the former Batgirl has been chosen for an unexpected new role in this grim DC universe. During a fight at the Rock of Eternity, Cassandra touches the Wizard’s staff and, upon saying his name, she becomes the latest Shazam!
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This iteration of Batgirl, first introduced in DCeased: Unkillables, joined Jason Todd and former Commissioner Jim Gordon in surviving the early days of the Anti-Living infection of Earth. As their group gained and lost new members, Cassandra would not only help train the survivors but also reconciled with her mother, the world class assassin Lady Shiva. In the end of the series, Cassandra and few of the survivors made it to Poison Ivy’s sanctuary in Gotham City. Five years later, in DCeased: Dead Planet, Cassandra is still alive when the heroes from Earth-2 return to the original Earth, reuniting with those they had long believed dead or one of the millions of Anti-Living still roaming the planet.
In the issue by Tom Taylor and Trevor Hairsine, Batgirl is recruited by John Constantine to join him and other heroes in a search throughout the world for powerful magical artifacts. Aware of the impending arrival of the demon Trigon, Constantine has the group travel to Nanda Parbat to retrieve the Spear of Destiny, battling the Anti-Living as well as the Spear’s protectors along the way. Their trip to the Rock of Eternity isn’t easy as their search for the Wizard’s staff was interrupted by an infected Billy Freeman, aka Captain Marvel Junior. With the Red Hood fatally wounded, the group struggles to contain the infected Marvel family member. Searching for the staff as a possible means to help them fight, Cassandra locates it and upon touching it, she says the magic word and is struck by that iconic lightning bolt, turning her into the latest Shazam.
Out of all the candidates present, Cassandra is the only person worthy, considering she’s spent her entire life resisting the manipulation of others and trying to better herself. Both her parents separately tried to mold her into being a perfect weapon, but she never took to murder like they did, instead seeking atonement and redemption for her crimes by channeling her abilities toward justice. Her stories and inclusion in the Bat Family made her a fan favorite whose direction occasionally brought her in conflict with the other Bat-themed superheroes, but she was always a dependable and not-to-be underestimated ally. Her DCeased counterpart is no different; never afraid to put her neck out for others, whether they deserve it or not.
Considering that the previous Shazam, Billy Batson, had been infected while in his human form, nature or fate took its time filling that void with this new Shazam. Considering that Mary Marvel, who remains alive for the time being, and other Marvel family share the same powers, it’ll be interesting to see if Cassandra’s ascension will affect her powers in any way. Although these powers make Batgirl even more formidable, she proves she’s just as lethal without them as she puts Jason Todd’s killer in the ground permanently. Writer Tom Taylor and his collaborators continue to creatively take these characters in new and different directions and hopefully Batgirl‘s power upgrade proves useful as DCeased’s bigger threats continue to draw closer and closer to this story’s finale.
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