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Fanfic / Angel of the Bat

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"My faith means nothing if I believe you cannot be redeemed."
— Cassandra Cain, the Angel of the Bat

Angel of the Bat is a Batman fanfiction written by MJTR in an attempt to breathe life into a case of What Could Have Been.

As the story goes, Gail Simone was approached to inject some new life into then-Batgirl Cassandra Cain. The idea Simone returned with was for Cassandra to rescue a Christian minister while in uniform, to discover Christianity through him, convert, begin wearing a white uniform, identify as "The Angel of the Bat" and, for the first time in her life, feel truly happy. Ultimately, the idea was scrapped and only briefly mentioned in an interview Simone gave at one point.

MJTR, a religious fan of Cassandra and Simone, wanted to take the idea and run with it. The story was revamped to tell of Cassandra rescuing a Catholic priest and subsequently becoming curious about Christianity as a new threat to Gotham called the Church of the Voice of God, along with its leader, a zealot called the Seraphim, seek to destroy Gotham for its sinful history of crime and decadence. It's a story of dueling ideologies sandwiched between many fight scenes and lots of dialogue. The story can be read here.


The story would later see a sequel, subtitled, Times of Heresy, introducing new antagonists Lipov and the Odmience, an enigmatic pair with an intense hatred of David Cain and Cassandra’s struggle to hold onto her newly found faith. It can be read here.

Eventually, this led to a third story, Da Pacem Dominenote . This plot promises a battle between Cassandra and a modern incarnation of the Knights Templar and an alliance with The Question (Renee Montoya) and John Constantine. It can be read here.

Late Arrival Spoilers for the original story will not be tagged for the sequels. You have been warned


Angel of the Bat fic provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    Introduced in the original 
  • Artistic License – Biology: No, no matter what kinds of drugs are used, you would probably never be able to create a Pavlovian reaction to a hallucinogen to force the mind to react as if the subject had just inhaled simply by playing a whistle sound, as is done with The Mist.
  • Artistic License – Religion:
    • In-universe. The things that Cassandra learns about God and Catholicism are correct, but the Seraphim's own perception of the Bible ranges from accurate knowledge of the obscure to batshit insanity — even his name is noted to be incorrect, as "Seraphim" is plural; "Seraph" is the singular term.
    • There is one straight example. Enoch is described as being Noah's grandfather. He wasn't — he was his great-grandfather; Noah's grandfather was Methuselah, Enoch's son.
  • The Atoner: Cassandra at one point admits part of the reason she wants to believe in God is the hope she can forgive herself for the kind of person her father raised her to be and the one life she took. Upon hearing this, Tim assures her she is better than she thinks she is, whether she accepts God or not.
  • Author Appeal: MJTR is Catholic, it says so right in his profile. Though he refers to himself as "sometimes irreverent", which probably explains Cassie's lesbian subplot. Towards the end there's also a long speech about how Rousseau Was Right. MJTR identifies as a "struggling idealist".
  • Becoming the Mask: The Seraphim began life as an agnostic Jew named Daniel Lebowitz. According to his brother, he made up a lot of stories about his ancestry to gain favor in the church. Despite this, he appears to believe every word he says.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid:
    • Or rather, extremist belief makes you stupid. The Seraphim is presented as a dangerous foe precisely because he's so misinformed that he is unpredictable. Cassie, of course, is immune to this.
    • Damian states this is his opinion of religion in Heresy, having personally witnessed Ra's al Ghul deceive people into believing he was a god. His presentation is careful, since Cassandra is the only member of the immediate Bat-family he actually respects besides his father.
  • Berserk Button: Spoiler can take a lot of abuse in battle and is mocked repeatedly, but bringing up the fallout of War Games is a way to really unleash her inner rage. For the uninformed, Stephanie was tortured, raped and had to fake her death as a result of this disaster.
  • Better as Friends: Sort of. Cassie admits she has romantic feelings for Stephanie, but doesn't want to separate her and Tim or hurt their friendship. Judging by their interactions later, the two are still very close, to the point Stephanie openly states she loves Cassie back, albeit platonically.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Much more sweet than bitter, but the story does acknowledge that Cassandra's desire to pursue same-sex relationships may prove very problematic for her later in her religious life.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: The Gotham Cathedral, identified as Saint Michael's, is the location of the finale. The windows themselves are even used as Improvised Weapons by Angel.
  • Body Horror: What it ultimately take down The Seraphim. Thanks to his healing factor and immortality, it takes stabbing his pressure points with stained glass to finally take him down.
  • Boomerang Bigot: The Seraphim hates all religions except for his own and has a particular disdain for Jews. Fittingly enough, he is ethnically Jewish.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity:
    • The Seraphim has numerous chances to kill members of the Bat Family and even has them at his mercy at one point, but doesn't manage to kill any of them, insisting he will only kill Batman after he has broken and converted the rest of the family to his cult. Justified to a degree because he never wanted to kill Batman at all- he wanted to infuriate him to such a point that he'd find a way to kill him in spite of his immortality, like he believes he did Blackfire.
    • Victor Lipov, former member of the League of Assassins the Big Bad of the sequel, is sadistic to the point of working against his own interests. Lady Shiva claims David Cain was ordered to kill him after one too many of his targets survived his torture and escaped.
  • Bonus Boss: The epilogue includes a showdown between Angel and her mother Lady Shiva.
  • Break the Cutie: The Seraphim wishes to capture Batman's allies and force them to join his cult. He captures Cassandra and brutally tortures her, but ultimately fails.
  • Broken Bird:
    • Cassandra, after learning homosexuality is sinful to the Catholic church and questioning if God hates her for loving Stephanie, temporarily backtracks on all the progress she made on getting her life together. Thankfully, she gets better.
    • Although she's The Pollyanna in most situations, the fic makes it clear Stephanie has some serious unresolved issues in her life, particularly regarding her pregnancy (nearly every time she mentions it she calls herself a "stupid teenager"), her failures as Robin, the events leading up to War Games and resentment that Bruce never tried to find her after her death was faked.
  • Buffy Speak: Stephanie does a decent amount, since some Catholic concepts are lost on her.
  • Cain and Abel: The Seraphim is Cain to Joshua's Abel.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Stephanie delivers a speech that brutally deconstructs Batman's claim that he "thought she was alive" in the One Shot Jael.
  • Canine Companion: Monsignor Ryan's pet dog Snowball is all but stated to be a substitute for the fact that priests cannot have wives or children. Considering he has severed all contact with his relatives, it is likely Snowball is the only family he has.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The story tries very hard to acknowledge most every continuity piece out of DC history that could be considered relevant, but refuses to acknowledge that Cassandra still loved her father in canon. MJTR also directly stated that Countdown to Final Crisis never happened (or rather, is not happening) in this continuity.
  • The Cape: Cassie was this to begin with, but becomes even more so after her conversion.
  • Caught Up in the Rapture: The Seraphim's endgame is actually an inversion. He essentially views every sect of Christianity but his own as being just as corrupt as everyone else, and chooses to attack them specifically on Christmas Eve by destroying every church in Gotham and any attendants of midnight services with them. Since only the members of his own church will survive, he is of the belief everyone will come to see they have earned God's favor while all others earned his scorn, leading to mass conversions. Cassandra notes this plan is totally insane and would never work... But The Seraphim is still willing to kill thousands of people because he thinks it will work.
  • Circumcision Angst: When referencing his mixed religious background, Tim mentions he has attended Communion and also had a bris. When Cassandra says she doesn't know what either of those are, Tim describes the latter as, "Horrifying to sit here and describe."
  • The Chosen One: The Seraphim claims to be this, sent by God to destroy Gotham for its sin and vice.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: This is basically how The Seraphim recruits his "converts", a combination of starvation, sleep deprivation and madness inducing drugs.
  • Combat Clairvoyance: One of Cassandra's most iconic abilities in battle. It is noted, however, that Cassie needs to be concentrating in order to properly do it. Having religious faith gives her one more attachment that keeps her from keeping totally focused, as the Cherubim and The Seraphim eventually manage to take advantage of.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The Seraphim is one to a crazed extreme, claiming to be a direct descender of Enochian occultist Edward Kelley and of Enoch himself, and that the Catholic church censored his writings claiming that blood descendants of Enoch would inherit the earth from sinners. The most notable holes in this theory are that Edward Kelley had no blood children, while, as Enoch was the great-grandfather of Noah, a literal interpretation of the Bible requires every living human to be descended from him.
  • Crisis of Faith:
    • A major part towards the end of the story is Cassandra's struggle to keep her newly discovered faith.
    • The sequel notably inverts this, compared to the original story. While in the original story Cassie’s sexuality and suffering shook her faith, her breakup with Sadie and nearly killing the Odmience only have her swearing she will never question God’s will again.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Despite its premise, the story manages to avert this by making Stephanie a Methodist and Dick as a spiritual though not very knowledgeable Romani Christian.
  • Continuity Nod: Deacon Blackfire used to be the leader of The Church of the Voice of God, and The Seraphim was one of his pupils.
  • Converting for Love: Tim mentions that his mother was raised Jewish, but converted to Catholicism to win the approval of her in-laws. He even says that she was much more devoted to her faith than his father.
  • Council of Angels: This is the villains' main motif. The main antagonist is called The Seraphim, and his elite mooks come in groups of four, identified as "The Four Faces of the Cherubim".
  • Curiosity Causes Conversion: As suggested in Simone's original pitch, Cassandra becomes interested in Christianity simply by meeting and interacting with a priest (though he was a minister in Simone's story).
  • A Day in the Limelight: A few, mostly in the one shots. The Seraphim is unquestionably the main character of "The Burning One". Stephanie and Red Hood are the main characters of both "The Prodigal Son" and "Jael". Commissioner Gordon and Barbara are probably meant to be the main characters of "Malachi".
  • Dedication: In an author's note that was removed (but with assurance it will be touched on in the epilogue), the writer's beloved dog passed away towards the end of the story, and he said the rest would be written in her memory. It was ultimately revealed her name was Sadie.
  • Deuteragonist: Stephanie Brown/Spoiler gets second billing in the character department, and both has the most scenes and most development next to Cassie.
  • Double Knockout: Or at least double defeat. In amidst a fierce battle, Red Hood slashes Spoiler's ACL in an attempt to cripple her. After a distraction by Nightwing, she manages to return the favor.
  • Drop the Hammer: The Seraphim wields a rusty old bell-ringing hammer after Angel disarms him of his sword.
  • Dueling Messiahs: Both Cassandra and The Seraphim seek to do God's will. Cassie by protecting Gotham and giving it hope, The Seraphim by destroying the sinners he holds responsible for its evils.
  • Easy Evangelism:
    • Averted with Cassandra herself. Although she's always seeking to learn more, it takes a lot to actually convince her God exists.
    • Played straight with the Church of the Voice of God, who almost instantly surrender when Stephanie tricks them into believing she is a herald of Mary and that she has been sent to stop their actions... Though Word of God says it was partially thanks to the fact the congregation was sick of being killed off by the Seraphim for minor failures.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • Stephanie struggles to bring Red Hood to her cause of saving Cassie because it will mean they will be closer to bringing down their mutual enemy The Seraphim. It doesn't work at first. Batman eventually breaks Jason's resistance personally.
    • In the sequel When Lipov and the Odmience interrupt a fight between David and Cassie, the usually opposed father and daughter fight the Odmience together.
  • The Evils of Free Will: Played with. According to Jesus (or possibly just a hallucination of him Cassandra saw), evil exists because people have the ability to choose to commit evil acts. While that does happen, he also claims that it is mankind's capacity and preference of doing good that makes him so proud.
  • Female Angel, Male Demon: Cassandra designs herself off the more gentle, modern design of angels. The Seraphim borrows from their more classical, monstrous appearances. For what its worth, Satan is often depicted as a Seraph.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • The chapters titled "One Shots" usually deviate from the main plot and feature Cassandra minimally.
    • The sequel features similar chapters spent apart from Cassandra, but drop the originals religious theme naming and are permitted to go beyond one chapter.
  • Gayngst: Cassandra suffers from some as a result of her religion conflicting with her feelings towards Stephanie and later Sadie. She decides to put faith in God Before Dogma, but it's one of the few points that the story doesn't resolve totally or happily.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Deacon Blackfire groomed Daniel Lebowitz to believe he was a messiah. The success created The Seraphim, whose ego was so great that he betrayed the deacon and stole all of his followers.
  • Genre Shift: The first half of the story is much more focused on the Bat family in their personal, non-costumed lives, Cassandra's being the most significant. The second half becomes more a more traditional action story. In a sense, the first half is more of a Cassandra story, while the second half is moreso a Batgirl/Angel story.
  • God Before Dogma: A major theme of the second half of the story.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: The Seraphim as a scar of a cross cut into the side of his mouth courtesy of The Joker. The fact that its only mentioned in a flashback either means his helmet covers it or it's a sign of sloppy writing.
  • Healing Factor: The Seraphim has one, and it's impressively quick.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Bruce is a pretty strong aversion. Though he is very much shown to be a Naytheist, he is depicted as very encouraging towards Cassandra's religious journey, openly acknowledging it is important that she make her own decisions and that her faith seems to make her happy.
    • Barbara Gordon is a straighter example, stating that she hasn't been to church since she could walk.
    • Joshua Lebowitz is an interesting example. He goes through horrific things in his life and doesn't believe in God... But never believed in God to begin with. He only behaves in a stubborn way to piss off The Seraphim.
  • Humans Are Special: In spite of their flaws, Jesus makes it very clear he has an undying love and admiration for humanity thanks to its inclination towards doing good.
  • Improvised Weapon: Angel uses pieces of stained glass to attach The Seraphim in the end of their battle.
  • Irish Priest: Monsignor George Ryan is one, though his family has been in America long enough he doesn't display many of the stereotypes.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: Even before making the decision to convert and being horrified by the implications of the Old Testament, Cassandra readily admits she really likes Jesus.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: The Seraphim is more or less described as this before he takes on his villainous identity.
  • Jews Love to Argue: Although he is religiously an atheist, Joshua is highly argumentative against The Seraphim. The both of them are ethnically Jewish.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The Seraphim really jerks back and forth on this. He is capable to quoting and is an active reference to obscure and unusual aspects of Christian history and mythology, but as Batman points out, he wasn't even smart enough to use the singular aspect of his title, making it grammatically incorrect. (His title should be "The Seraph", "The Seraphim" is plural).
  • Light Is Good: After her (unofficial) conversion, Cassandra wants to begin wearing a bright white uniform. Not because dark is inherently evil, but she believes others will find hope in her new outfit. But in contrast...
  • Light Is Not Good: The Seraphim dresses all in white, has wings etc. in intentional contrast to Batman and to hold up his motif as an angel. He is also a psychotic murderer.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Monsignor Ryan only has one scene (a baptism late at night for a potentially dying Cassandra where he is not accompanied by his small, white dog Snowball. Despite its small size, it barks and attempts to attack some thugs who try to mug him at the story's beginning.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Nothing literally miraculous takes place over the course of the story, so it's up to personal interpretation if God was literally an active player or if Cassandra's mind made it real. Cassie herself acknowledges that it all might just be a beautiful dream, but chooses to believe it isn't.
  • Mushroom Samba: The Mist is a potent hallucinogen that leaves those inhaling it in a state vulnerable to absolute horror. The Seraphim combines this with inkblots and violent imagery to try and break his captives. All that's known about the drug for sure is it is very hard to detect and contains Scarecrow's fear toxin.
  • Mythology Gag: At one point after becoming Angel, Stephanie mentions to Cassie that she wants to take over as Batgirl with her blessing, and that the suit could use a little purple. In the epilogue, she has successfully made the transition.
    • Early on in Heresy, preacher Cameron Gram accuses Batman of, among other things, "Seduction of the innocent," referencing an early anti-comics book that accused Batman and Robin of homosexual tendencies.
    • In Heresy, when several gattling guns rain hell down on the Reapers during their attack on Stephanie and Tim’s bunker, Stephanie assures Cassandra, “Rubber bullets. Honest.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: This is part of Monsignor Ryan's backstory. His parents were part of a particularly superstitious sect of The Irish Mob who agreed to forgive his father's debts if they raised him exclusively so they would have a priest and could be officially forgiven of their sins. When Ryan was in seminary, he renounced his family's ways and moved to Gotham.
  • Nightmare Face: The Seraphim has a particularly disturbing one when seen under the effects of The Mist. Not that his actual one is much better.
  • Officially Shortened Title: The name of Cassandra's new hero identity is "Angel of the Bat", but is mostly referred to simply as "Angel".
  • Original Character: The Seraphim (real name Daniel Lebowitz), Joshua Lebowitz, Monsignor George Ryan and Sadie Leach are all original characters. The sequel introduces Lipov and the Odmience, who have no equivalents in canon but have ties back to Cassandra’s father.
  • Our Angels Are Different: The Seraphim and his servants may zigzag on how true to any Christian interpretation they appear, but the idea of Cherubim having four faces (an eagle, a lion, an ox and a man) and most of The Seraphim's features (six wings, their placement, a flaming sword and a general association with fire) come right out of The Bible.
  • Pals with Jesus: Be they genuine epiphanies or just hallucinations, Cassandra manages a great friendship with the Jesus she sees in her dreams.
  • Playing with Fire: The Seraphim has a taste for fire-based weaponry. Appropriate, considering his title means "Burning One".
  • The Pollyanna: Stephanie, like her canon self, is usually this... Though when she thinks about her past too much, she does slip into Broken Bird territory.
  • The Quiet One:
    • Zig zagged with Cassie. Her sentences are usually kept short and to the point, but she's considerably better at speaking and understanding things than she ever was in her 2000's series.
    • In the sequel, the Odmience fills this role as his slashed vocal chords leave him physically unable to speak.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: After suffering violently at the hands of The Seraphim, the first thing Cassandra does when she sees Jesus in a dream is demand to know why she was forced to endure the pain, and why he has any right to claim he loves her when he could have taken it all away.
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Often averted, particularly with Cassie. The story tries to make up for the inability to see facial expressions with a lot of pauses and an occasional mispronunciation.
  • Religion of Evil: The Church of the Voice of God, an extremist sect of Christianity, are the main antagonists.
  • Religious Bruiser: It is Cassandra Cain, one of DC's biggest asskickers, and her story of finding God. She gives The Seraphim's cult a hell of a beatdown, though The Seraphim is no slouch himself.
  • Roguish Romani: As in canon, Dick Grayson/Nightwing is of Roma descent. He considers himself a Christian, but mentions traveling with the circus never permitted him much time to study his faith. His first scene also shows him to be a trickster, playing off the stereotypes of Roma being superstitious to grill an enemy which ironically is a Double Subversion, considering Roma are also stereotypically connected to deceit.
  • Second Love: Cassie at one point owns that she loves Stephanie the same way that her boyfriend Tim does, but it never goes anywhere because Stephanie is still with Tim and she's, well, straight. Cassie's second shot with the openly lesbian Sadie goes better, though Word of God is it's just puppy love... For now.
  • Secret Identity Identity: Downplayed for most of the Batman family. Bruce at one point acknowledges he genuinely wants to be a father to his adopted children instead of just using their papers to cover up their vigilante activities, and that sometimes they need Bruce Wayne as much as they need Batman. The Seraphim, on the other hand, has totally abandoned his human identity by the time of the story.
  • Secret-Keeper: After the final battle, Monsignor Ryan sees Angel without her mask on. As he sees her in a confessionary, he cannot tell anyone else what he now knows... Not that Ryan appears to be the sort to do so anyway.
  • Set Swords to "Stun": Cassandra's updated Angel costume includes a dulled katana. She notes herself that the weapon is still deadly, but she is careful enough to keep it from dealing any killing blows.
  • Shadow Archetype: It is acknowledged that The Seraphim and Cassandra have a few things in common, including that they were raised without religion and came to embrace it as they grew older and that both were groomed to be Tyke Bombs. Naturally the difference is Cassandra's healthy association with her faith and The Seraphim's murderous obsession.
  • Sinister Minister: Deacon Blackfire whenever he's referenced and Lester, The Seraphim's second in command.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: Ultimately unusual. While most of the rest of the DC universe is represented as fantastic (Superman is openly acknowledged and Batman mentions he's met The Spectre before), Gotham is pretty low-key. Zatanna appears and is using actual magic, but she too is outside of the city itself. The Seraphim is ultimately the straw that breaks the bat's back, as it is revealed in the final battle that he is immortal and has a hell of a healing factor.
  • Spell My Name with a "The":
    • The villain of the story is almost universally referred as "The Seraphim" rather than "Seraphim".
    • The Odmience in the sequel does this as well, though his, “the” isn’t capitalized.
  • Theme Naming: The one shots are all, naturally, named after biblical concepts and people: "The Burning One" is the English translation of "Seraph (IE Seraphim), "The Prodigal Son" is a parable told by Jesus, "Jael" was a woman who helped lead the Israelites to military victory and "Malachi" was a prophet who foretold the coming of John the Baptist, and is also the last book of the Old Testament in Christian canon.
    • Odmience in the sequel is named after young demons in Slavic myth, those parents kidnap young children and leave them in their place.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: The Seraphim's real name is Daniel Lebowitz.
  • Tuckerization: In an edit given to the first chapter, the reader learns the character Sadie is named after MJTR's beloved beagle, who passed away mere days before the character was introduced to the story.
  • Unknown Rival: The way Stephanie feels about Red Hood. To her, defeating him symbolizes she has overcome her failures as Robin. He, on the other hand, doesn't even know who she is.
  • Wham Episode: Chapter 29, which reveals that Cassandra is, at the very least, LGBT. Later confirmed pansexual per Word of God.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Combined with a dash of Calling the Old Man Out, Stephanie at one point delivers a brutal speech challenging how Batman handled her faking her own death and how if he believed she was alive, he could have looked for her or at least told her loved ones. For the first time in the story, a critique leaves Batman speechless.
  • You're Not My Father: Cassandra states she has two fathers, but that her biological parent David isn't either of them.

    Introduced in Times of Heresy 
  • Against My Religion: Cassandra cites this as why she won’t have sex with Sadie. Sadie promptly points out that if she’s so concerned with rules she shouldn’t be in a lesbian relationship.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Downplayed. David Cain and Cassie retain their antagonistic relationship from the comics, but David is clearly not willing to kill her and the two begrudgingly fight the Odmience together. For her part, Cassie says she really does want to forgive David for how he raised her.
  • Butch Lesbian: Downplayed with Sadie. She is consistently characterized by her short hair, taste in leather jackets and does dress up in men’s clothing when being formal, but her interests (indie romance films, painting etc) are more traditionally feminine.
  • Confess in Confidence: Subverted. After an earlier confession in which Cassandra swore off her attraction to women and gave it as one of her sins, she later states feeling homophobic and self-loathing was her true sin, and that she intends to try mending her relationship with her girlfriend. Monsignor Ryan acknowledges, per Canon law, Cassie is not guaranteed privacy if she is not going to repent and, by living a life in knowing sin, he is supposed to forbid her from taking Holy Communion… but he then states he isn’t going to make anything of it publically and whatever decision Cassie makes are on her own conscience.
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: The Seraphim of the first story only ever viewed Cassandra/Angel as a curiosity, was far more interested in Batman and operated to serve his Death Seeker tendencies beyond all else. Victor Lipov, on the other hand, is driven by nothing but revenge and, while Cassandra isn’t his primary target, her death is very personal to him.
  • Covered with Scars: The Odmience, once his body beneath the costume is finally revealed.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Stephanie and Tim defeat the Reapers by decking out their secret, Batcave-like bunker with weaponry to counter the variously-powered Reapers.
  • Cure Your Gays: After her fallout with Sadie, Cassandra develops a critical view of her sexuality, and it's implied she's trying to get over it. It doesn't end up working.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the original story wasn’t lighthearted to begin with, the sequel features a lot more infighting with its main characters and more grisly fight scenes. A death scene is even described in gruesome detail.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: As with the original. Cassie’s desire to be a Chaste Hero plays a role in ending her relationship with her girlfriend and presents Sadie’s desire to have sex with her as perfectly normal, which initially calls the value Cassie places on her virginity into question. Reconstructed later, however, when Sadie acknowledges that she doesn’t have to agree with Cassandra to respect her personal boundaries and the reasons for their split ran deeper.
  • Demonic Possession: Lipov suggests, after David Cain claims he killed him, that he is actually just a corpse possessed by vengeful demons... and then promptly claims that he killed all the demons who possessed him, because his hate was greater than theirs.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The Odmience at one time felt empathy for the people he killed, to the point he risked death to escape Lipov. Lipov punished him by forcing him to kill his Parental Substitute and destroyed his empathy in the process.
  • The Dragon: The Odmience to Lipov.
  • Ego Centrically Religious: Cassie confides in Connor that this is why she is fascinated with and scared of Cameron Gram: he brings out a fear in her that her own brand of God Before Dogma is just her bending God to suit her own devices, when it should be her who is changing for God.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: By his own admission, Tim really does not like going by, “Red Robin” and really hates people referencing the restaurant. He’s sworn he’s going to change it, he just hasn’t gotten around to it yet.
  • Empty Shell: The Odmience feels neither conflict nor pleasure for the people he fights and kills. Only his lingering memories of Sister Katya elicit any emotional reaction from him.
  • Enfant Terrible: Not used directly, but one of the main antagonists is a reference. In Slavic mythology, odmience are demonic infants who are swapped for human babies when the parents aren’t looking. The implication seemingly being that while the Odmience appears to be human, he is a demon.
  • Evil Counterpart: While the Seraphim was an inverted Angel, the Odmience is very much an inversion of Cassandra’s time as Batgirl, with an all-black outfit, stitching around his mouth, complete silence and his fighting style.
  • Foreshadowing: There are several hints throughout the Star City segments that Lupe is transgender. Her voice is described as gruff, she sites feeling confused about herself to breaking off some past relationships and is not married, despite liking the idea and having been with the same man for a decade. Indeed, with the story set in 2010, Lupe's ability to marry a man would vary depending on if she could change her legal gender or the legality of 'same-gender' marriage.
  • Gay Conservative: While not politically conservative, Cassandra is a bit of a traditionalist, stating she wants to save her virginity for marriage with the expectation Sadie will eventually be her wife. Sadie points out that their marriage would never be recognized by a church, they as a couple would never be welcome and Sadie, not even a high school graduate yet, isn't thinking about marriage at that ooint in her life.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Connor Hawke turns up for a few chapters, chasing Green Arrow villain Constantine Drakon after he started taking hit-jobs in Gotham.
  • Happily Adopted: After the first story alluded to Sadie’s mother being an alcoholic, she moved in with a cousin of hers and his wife, both lawyers, who appear to really love her and Cassie. To the point they’re helping her get into a college out of state.
  • Harmless Villain: Deconstructed, though not to the point of Not-So-Harmless Villain. Cameron Gram is as threatening to Cassie as he is precisely because she can’t just write him off as a violent lunatic like the Seraphim. Between the confidence he exudes when tackling his own bigoted and controversial opinions and the fact he’s been a practicing Christian much longer than she has, Gram makes Cassandra question if it is she who is twisting God into something he’s not, and not Gram.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Sadie has a taste for leather jackets, though they’re almost always mentioned to be faux.
  • Her Boyfriend's Jacket: Or girlfriend’s, in this case. Cassandra likes to wear Sadie’s coats because they make her feel closer to her.
  • Holier Than Thou: Cameron Gram, a conservative Christian radio host Cassandra listens to, who generally has a snobbish, self-righteous disposition.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The mounting sexual tension between Cassandra and Sadie leads to a few increasingly intimate scenes ranging from leaving hickeys to fondling that’s implied to be on its way to sex. Though it never makes it there.
  • I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: Cassandra claims she wasn’t trying to kill Zsasz, but considering she broke his neck when she was strangling him, it’s hard to believe she was trying to do anything else.
  • It's Personal: In contrast to the villains of the original, the [1]s Lipov and the Odmience are out for revenge for David Cain attempting to kill the former.
  • Kill It with Fire: Both Lipov and David Cain are killed when the Wellspring of Hope church burns.
  • Lampshaded the Obscure Reference: Batman at one point grumbles that odmience are so rarely acknowledged, even within Slavic Mythology that it’s hard to surmise what the villain using the name’s MO is supposed to be.
  • Mythology Gag: Numerous, like the original.
    • Connor mentions Roy Harper at one point, and asks if Dick Grayson is going to reunite his Titans team anytime soon as Roy is bored with solo work. Tim jokes that he and Jason Todd could go run around and be angry with one another, referencing Red Hood and the Outlaws.
    • In the same conversation, Connor mentions Roy’s daughter, Lian, likes to dress up as “Little Red Hood.” Lian Harper operated under the superhero identity “Red Hood” in Kingdom Come.
  • Neck Snap: Zsasz is killed by one when Cassandra is strangling him. Echoed again later when the Odmience nearly kills Lipov.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Lipov doesn't have much fight in him and prefers to leave the dirty work to the Odmience.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Odmience was called, "Rafal" by a nun during a short time he ran away from Lipov. His birth name remains unknown and there is pretty much no one left to call him by Rafal when the story takes place.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Bruce is supportive of Cassandra in both her religion and her sexuality, though he has shown clear hesitation as to how well she can balance the two. Sadie’s relatives aren’t shown disapproving of her sexuality either and are kind, if somewhat tactless around Cassandra.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: After Cassandra’s descent into fundamentalism, she abandons her refusal to use any more force than is necessary and grows more violent in her battles with criminals. This comes to a head when she fights Victor Zsasz after he murders a suburban family, and she ends up killing him by accident. Maybe.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The bearded man who refers to Cassandra as "Kung Pao Chicken" and Lupe as "fag" due to her being transgender.
  • Point of Divergence: One definitely existed before, considering Jason Todd’s aforementioned involvement in the first story when he should have been off in Countdown to Final Crisis at the time, and the plot seems to suggest Final Crisis hasn’t happened at all, considering Bruce Wayne is still alive and well in modern time and Stephanie and Tim graduated high school to go to college.
  • Preacher's Kid: Lipov claims to be the son of a Russian Orthodox deacon whose family was imprisoned and killed by the KGB. When asked by one of his subordinates if this is the truth, however, he leaves the matter ambiguous.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: Downplayed. The Reapers were antagonists in Batgirl (2009) and Stephanie does still fight them, but they're treated as a threat to the Bat-family as a whole. That said, they have developed a particular grudge against Steph after their first humiliating defeat.
  • Secular Hero: While Batman in the original was a naytheist, Damian confirms in a conversation with Cassie he's either atheist or agnostic. Although Connor Hawke is a Buddhist, his leanings focus far more on inner peace than reincarnation, hinting his Buddhism may be strictly secular.
  • Sins of the Father: The villains are targeting Cassandra specifically because she is David Cain's daughter.
  • Shout-Out: While under attack by Batgirl and Red Robin’s bunker, the Reaper Jabberwocky at one point questions if he’s wandered into a Saw film. Stephanie responds with a Take That! at its Franchise Zombie status and suggests he and his comrades make their break in a one-time thing.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The bearded man is an unnamed character who threatens a minor character after outing them as a transgender. Despite only appearing for a single scene, this action has a huge part in finally snapping Cassandra out of the mental slump she’d been in for half of the story.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: With every encounter against the Odmience, Cassandra sees more and more of herself in him, to the point she wonders if he isn’t actually a scared innocent being pushed to evil like she once was.
  • Time Skip: About six months after the canonical conclusion of the first story. This is used rather liberally to drop Damian Wayne into the narrative with only a passing mention in the first story and put Tim Drake in the Red Robin mantle.
  • Their First Time: Sadie initiates this with Cassandra after an especially good date after several months of dating. It goes very, very wrong.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Granted, Cassandra has killed before, but this is the first time she, at least to an extent, did it on purpose. Upon realizing what she’s done, it takes a hefty toll on her internally.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In his one scene, the imprisoned Daniel Lebowitz (the Seraphim from the previous story) had settled quite significantly. When offered the chance at revenge toward Cassandra, he refuses and states his defeat means God values Cassandra’s belief system over his own.
  • Trans Equals Gay: Though the bearded man refers to Lupe as a “fag,” the rest of the story generally averts the idea. Lupe is treated as a woman by the rest of the cast and the narration.
  • Trauma Button: The Odmience, while almost always emotionless, goes into traumatic fits when he is reminded of his Parental Substitute Sister Katya, including the name she gave him, "Rafal".
  • Twofer Token Minority: Lupe, who is Latina and transgender.
  • Unexplained Recovery: By his own admission, Lipov isn’t sure of how he survived his battle with Cain eighteen years before or how the Odmience, an infant at the time, survived having his throat slashed. He posits a supernatural explanation, but even that is never clear.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Subverted. There scene in which the reader learns that Lupe is transgender is indeed very disturbing. However, it is so as a result of an attack by a third party, not anything the character is doing.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Flashbacks later in the story confirm that, while we always see him serving as Lipov's subordinate, the Odmience used to feel extreme confliction about killing and violence. It was only after Lipov broke his spirit completely that he stopped feeling empathy.
  • Virgin Tension: Cassandra had never had sex prior to her conversion to Catholicism and, in line with the church’s teachings, is saving herself for marriage. This inevitably puts her and her more sexually liberated girlfriend at odds.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Across his suburban killing spree, Zsasz kills a young girl by choking her to death.

    Introduced in Da Pacem Domine 
  • Call-Back: Sadie is said to be mistrustful when she sees an injured man being led into a cathedral, almost certainly because of her kidnapping by the Seraphim back in the first story.
  • Cast Full of Gay: The main ensamble consists of Cassandra (pansexual), Sadie (lesbian), the Renee Montoya incarnation of The Question (lesbian), and John Constantine (bisexual).
  • Character Development: MJTR himself was frustrated by how flakey Sadie sometimes seemed in ‘‘Times of Heresy’’, so she’s shown to have emotionally matured between stories.
  • Fighting with Chucks: The Question's Weapon of Choice.
  • Following in Their Rescuer's Footsteps: Mildly. As someone Cassandra once rescued herself and knowing her girlfriend is always fast to throw herself into harm's way for others, Sadie resolved to try doing the same in her own small way. This is what drew her into the Constantine-Arlington plot.
  • Gayngst: Being struck by an empathic weapon brings a lot of this to the forefront of the Question's mind, mostly in how her sexuality ruined most of her familial relationships and she doesn't even have a worthwhile lover to show for it. She does, however, manage to shake some of this off when she sees Cassandra and Sadie being sweet with one another.
  • Genre Shift: Per the writer, each of the three stories in the trilogy occupies a different places on the Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic. In the original (Unusual), there are a handful of genuine supernatural elements, but most beyond that handful are played up as open to interpretation. The sequel (Unrealistic) limits its fantasy elements to its superheroics and a few coincidences. And the third is promised to be a fantasy.
  • Heroic BSoD: The Question suffers one after being struck by an empathic weapon after her fight with Sandoval. The weapon brings all of her character flaws, sins, and regrets to the forefront of her mind and she struggles to overcome enough self-loathing to escape its clutches afterwards.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: When the Question's fight with Sandoval and his anchimayen unintentionally sets fire to a clothing salon, Cassandra rushes in from where she was sitting nearby to help anyone she possibly can.
  • Holy Ground: Constantine acknowledges its significance, as he and Abraham Arlington can hide from a demon inside of the Clermont Ferrand Cathedral, but Constantine's magical powers are shorted out within. While Arlington's powers are also supernatural, they notably are not.
  • Irish Priest: Father Gallagher, referred to as a Chaplain. Seeing as how he serves the antagonists, this also makes him a Sinister Minister.
  • Ironic Episode Title: "Da Pacem Domine" is Latin for "Give peace, Lord", and was a chant said during the crusades... and is tied in with the violent antagonists.
  • Knight Templar: The villains are literal renditions, as they are a modern-day incarnation of the Crusade-era trope namers.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: John Constantine mumbles to himself about, "That fellow from Chicago" who has a number in the phone book claiming he's a wizard, an allusion to The Dresden Files.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Of a sort. Cassandra and Sadie have been dating for a few years by the time the story begins, but Cassandra agreed she wouldn't try talking marriage until after Sadie graduated... only for Sadie to bring up that she's comfortable with starting the conversation herself.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: The opening is set in Clermont Ferrand, France, where Sadie has been studying abroad for a semester.
  • Shout-Out: As per the usual at this point...
    • Upon seeing the Question's featureless face, a frightened Sadie wonders aloud if she's Slenderman.
  • Undead Child: The character Sandoval has control over an anchimayen, which is an undead creature out of Chilean mythology created from the corpse of a child. The monster initially appeared to just be an oddly proportioned adult, but the Question knocking its mask off reveals its child's face underneath.

Alternative Title(s): Times Of Heresy, Da Pacem Domine