January 24, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #216: Sasha Bordeaux

Batman once had a bodyguard.

Sometimes a superhero type character disappears for the simple reason that a particular creator put more effort into that character’s growth and creation more than anyone else.  A character may be fairly prominent even, but then a creator will leave and the character more or less disappears.  A part of me suspects this is done at least a little out of respect to the creator’s work, but there may be other reasons for that.

To that end, let’s look at Sasha Bordeaux.

Sasha Bordeaux never really had a codename.  She went by her real one.  Why wouldn’t she?  She began as basically a professional bodyguard assigned by some worried executives who feared the feckless young man who basically owned a large corporation would do some things that could get him killed.  Who was Sasha assigned to?

Bruce Wayne.

But, see, Sasha wasn’t evil or incompetent or anything.  She maybe wasn’t quite a superhero, but she was good at her basic job of keeping a guy she assumed was a clumsy billionaire alive and safe.  And from her first appearance in Detective Comics #751, I was personally intrigued by the idea that a well-meaning outsider would be constantly trying to protect the one man in Gotham City who didn’t actually need it.

In retrospect, Sasha shouldn’t have been that big a surprise addition to the cast.  Her creator was writer Greg Rucka, and Greg Rucka, when put onto mainstream superhero books, had a habit of adding new female characters, particularly to male-led books.  Most of them were highly competent tall blondes who just had to figure out what was going on.  Rucka’s Detective Comics run wasn’t unique.  They weren’t always blondes, but they often were, and he put them into runs he had on other series like The Punisher and even a brief stint on Wolverine.  Sometimes Rucka would just put a lot of work into an established female character like he did with Renee Montoya, making a background character much more prominent than she used to be (yes, Rucka was the one who wrote the story that outed Montoya as a lesbian and was key in turning her into the second Question).  Heck, Rucka even did it during a run on Wonder Woman, giving the Amazing Amazon a new antagonist in the form of the blonde Veronica Cale.

You know, I sometimes wonder what Rucka’s wife looks like.

I also will admit that, while I don’t know the exact timeline of events, it seems likely that many of these blonde women are just variations on the lead character from Rucka’s Queen & Country series Tara Chace.  He may also create a female character who tends to be shorter with dark hair, generally curvier, and maybe less sure of herself than the blonde characters he prefers, meaning he had both of his reoccurring female characters in his Antarctic murder mystery Whiteout.

By the by, hypothetical reader, you should check those last two works out if you haven’t already.

But getting back to Sasha…she was good at her job, and during a hostage crisis (it is Gotham, after all), she managed to push Bruce to safety at one point and noticed something…he was nothing but muscle underneath his suit.  It didn’t take her long to figure out he was Batman, and since “knowing your employer is Batman” isn’t a good reason to fire anybody, she insisted on protecting him in all of his identities.  Bruce agreed, trained her, and even gave her a costume.  What she never got was a codename.  She was just the woman in the purple suit that swung in to help out Batman.

Sasha’s life got a bit rough after that.  She went to jail when she and Bruce were framed for murder.  She appeared to die in prison, but instead her death was faked so she could “join” Checkmate, DC’s version of S.H.I.E.L.D.  She rose through the ranks, had her appearance changed, shared a kiss with Batman when he finally found her, was transformed into an OMAC who kept her own free will, retained some nifty cyborg powers, dated Mr. Terrific, and during most of that period, she pretty much was always written by Greg Rucka.

Then the New 52 happened, and she disappeared.

So, imagine my surprise when I got one of the DC Rebirth Wonder Woman trades, written again by Rucka, only to see Sasha in a small supporting role within the government agency that basically keeps an eye on Wonder Woman.

I guess no one was going to use her until Rucka got back.  Was that due to no one else wanting to use her, or was it out of respect to Rucka?

I don’t know the answer, but I am inclined to think the latter.  See, there was a period when Superman’s adventures were more or less weekly.  There were four Superman titles, each with a different creative team, and while each book did more or less advance the life of the Man of Steel, there were some themes that appeared more in some books than in others.  And if there was something big involving Lex Luthor, it happened in Action Comics as written by Roger Stern.  Sure, Luthor as Superman’s archenemy appeared in the other books fairly frequently, but the more Luthor character-driven stories, like how he faked his own death and came back as his own cloned son, were from Stern.  Stern had such a good grip on the character that when he left the book, the final storyline involved Luthor going into a coma thanks to deadly disease that was killing clones.  And Luthor stayed that way…until Stern came back for a special quarterly book to cover those rare months when there were five shipping weeks.  This was done largely out of respect to Stern.  I don’t think they intended to keep Luthor away forever, but the implication certainly was that the Superman crew were at least going to retire the Luthor character for a while out of respect to all that Stern had done with the character.  It just so happened that Stern came back later and helped revive the character.

Is that what happened with Rucka and Sasha?  I don’t know, but I like that theory.  How often in mainstream corporate comics are characters put aside out of respect to the creator?

I may have to say something along those lines next week.

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