David Cain (Orphan)

The second and last character appearing in No Man’s Land is also the creepiest, and surely one who’ll make his presence felt in Gotham next year. The creepy boy in a mask who’s butchering a corpse under the approving eyes of Mother is in fact Orphan, portrayed by Nico Bustamante. This is a juvenile take on David Cain, a character that the comic readers know quite well… only, this is not the master assassin we all know and love, the one who trained Batman, not exactly at least, but rather his newest incarnation in Prime Earth, the alternate universe created after The New 52 event. Oh, he’s still an assassin, don’t worry, and his daughter is still the same. Let’s take a look.

David Cain was born in Shanghai, from a perfectly normal family. At a certain point during his childhood, he witnessed the brutal murder of his parents right in front of his eyes, an event that clearly traumatized him. To take care of the shocked child appeared as if out of nowhere a woman, who called herself simply Mother, who was also the one who had orchestrated the murder to begin with. Mother took all the boy’s pain, anger and solitude and used them to mold him into a perfectly efficient assassin, deadly loyal to her alone. When the training was over, little remained of David Cain: he had become the Orphan, the first perfectly succeeded child of Mother’s program for building a better, stronger generation. Orphan became Mother’s shadow and her muscle, the one who enacted her plans, killed the people she wanted to be killed, and thus contributed to the creation of many more orphans to be molded to perfection. With time, he became close enough to Mother to share her vision and become her accomplish, and not just her assassin. She confided with him her project to traumatize all the kids in the world to transform them into her version of the perfect generation, and to unleash them against all the adults, irredeemably weak. As much as Cain agreed with Mother’s idea of the necessity of the birth of a new, stronger generation, he didn’t believe that the key was in trauma and in the psychological frailty coming with it: he thought that brainwashing wasn’t the one and only way to achieve the perfect assassin, and he decided to prove it to Mother. In order to do so, he needed a newborn, someone free from any external influence, someone he could shape in his own image and who could inherit his skills. He needed a child.

Obviously, in order to have the perfect child, David Cain needed the perfect mate, and he found her in Sandra Wu-San, the international assassin known as Lady Shiva, whom he had met during his “work” for Mother. Shiva agreed to give birth to Cain’s child in exchange of more power for herself, that arrived in the form of some secret techniques only Orphan could provide her with. Lady Shiva gave birth to a baby girl, and she disappeared immediately after, pursuing her own plans within the League of Assassins. Cain wanted his daughter to be “the vision of a perfect future”, so she named her Cassandra. He hid her in the Nursery, Mother’s headquarters, and for years he personally trained her. He didn’t even teach her to speak, nor to read or write: the only language she was taught was the one of the body, and she became capable of reading her opponent just by his or her movements, understanding of others more than anyone else. Orphan trained Cassandra in all the lethal arts he mastered, and she became just as skilled as he was; he never showed her any affection nor compassion, and was quite the hard teacher. Every time the girl, eager to be with other kids her age, tried to escape, he caught her and locked her in a pitch black, soundproof box, keeping her there for just as much time as he deemed to be necessary for the punishment to be understood (usually days). When the girl was finally ready, molded into the most efficient and skilled assassin ever seen in the Nursery, Orphan offered her to Mother, as a demonstration of his theory. Mother didn’t take well the fact that the Orphan had been acting behind her back for years, and she rejected his gift, albeit she did test her on a mission, when Cassandra was sent to kill a Miranda Row in the Narrows, in Gotham City (her daughter, Harper Row, had been chosen as her next “child”). What Cain hadn’t foreseen was that his daughter, horrified by the murder and hurt by the rejection, finally escaped his care, and while in Gotham she ran to Batman, informing him, despite the lack of language, that the enemy he believed to be dead, Mother, was actually alive and well, and she was coming close to the completion of her master plan. Annoyed by the setback, Mother sent Orphan to do what he did best: to kill all her “lost children”, including his own traitorous daughter…

David Cain is a cold-hearted, highly intelligent and deadly efficient master assassin, a man blindly loyal to Mother, who executes any order she gives him without question. As Orphan, he’s one of the most skilled martial artists in the world, who masters an incredibly wide variety of styles and arts, and who’s highly proficient with any kind of weapon, especially swords. Perfectly capable of taking out even proficient fighters like Red Hood or Agent 37, Orphan is the perfect product of Mother’s monstrous pedagogy, a slave who sees himself as a son and who doesn’t even realize the horror of his and his mistress’ ways… that until his own daughter is threatened, of course.