When it comes to families in the DC Universe, sharing traits and ideals is usually a welcome thing. The Flash Family, for instance, race in the steps of Jay Garrick and Barry Allen as true examples of heroism. The Superman Family—whether it’s Supergirl or Jon Kent (or even sometimes Krypto!)—all wear the House of El’s iconic shield as a symbol for hope. In the Batman Family, Bruce Wayne’s tactical brilliance and preparation for all possible outcomes is something that’s embraced and practiced by his Robins, Batgirls and fellow Bat-vigilantes as a sign of respect and a way of gaining an intellectual edge on their enemies.

These are values that any hero would want to exhibit. But in the case of two highly unique women, the value they have in common works to both bring them together and pull them apart. It makes them enemies and reveals them to be family. That shared value is the capacity for violence—and it’s the reason why these two are DC’s best mother/daughter rivalry. Let’s talk about the relationship between Lady Shiva Woosan and Cassandra Cain.

ROUND 1: First Meeting and the Duel to the Death

Despite being her mother, Shiva never raised Cassandra as she was growing up. Trained to be an assassin by the mercenary David Cain, Cassandra fled him when she was a child and after a decade of walking the streets is found and adopted by Oracle and Batman. Inheriting the mantle of Batgirl, Cassandra is given free reign of Gotham City to protect, but under strict orders not to engage anyone super-powered. This includes Lady Shiva, often known as the deadliest woman in the world.

The first time she encounters Shiva, Cassandra is without her ability to predict her opponents’ blows. Nevertheless, she throws herself into a fight with the assassin, not knowing it to be a trap Shiva has enacted to test her abilities. Battling in a crowded restaurant, Shiva quickly ascertains that Cassandra was not only handicapped of her special abilities, but was specifically holding back from making any killing strikes. She offers to regift Cass’s second sense for fighting in exchange for a battle to the death to be held one year later. Batgirl, still living with guilt from committing her only act of murder when she was eight, finds that the death duel is the ideal penance for trying to be something she could not see herself as—someone of value. Despite surrounding herself with the Bat-Family who have given her some semblance of a normal life, Cassandra can’t shake the feeling that she doesn’t belong in a world of heroes. A deathmatch with the world’s deadliest woman seems to be an ideal way to go out. And unfortunately, no one is able to dissuade her from throwing her life away.

When the fight commences, Shiva nearly kills her, but manages to bring her back from the brink of death using an ancient martial arts technique. Explaining that she and the young Cassandra are a lot alike, Shiva sees in Cass the same death wish she herself has possessed all her life. Recognizing this in Shiva, Cassandra fights to overpower her rival and become the first person on the planet to unequivocally defeat the world’s deadliest woman in hand-to-hand combat. Still alive after the duel, Shiva vows revenge, but Cassandra has sworn to never again take a life and smiles in her moral victory.

ROUND 2: Deadly Revelations

Cassandra would continue her career as Batgirl and eventually move to Blüdhaven, operating as a solo crimefighter. Over time, she begins pondering the identity of her mother, which leads her to embark on a journey across the world. The trip brings her to the League of Assassins, now under the leadership of Nyssa al Ghul after the apparent death of her father, Ra’s al Ghul.

After learning that Shiva has aligned herself with Nyssa, it’s revealed that Cassandra’s entire backstory was a product of both David Cain and Shiva’s in an attempt to sire the ultimate bodyguard for the Demon’s Head known as “One Who is All.” Shiva left the baby Cassandra with Cain, eventually becoming the dangerous Lady Shiva and living alone as one of the deadliest killers in the world.

Determined to stop her and the League of Assassins, Cassandra ends up dying (again!) while protecting one of the League’s assassins who had defected. Shiva quickly restores her with a nearby Lazarus Pit, remarking how she has repeatedly brought Cassandra back into the world. Fueled with conviction at being the only one capable of stopping Shiva, Cassandra engages in another deathmatch that this time sees her come out on top. In a shocking moment, Cass snaps her mother’s neck, paralyzing her, and hooks her to a chain hovering over the bubbling Lazarus Pit. The fight ends with Shiva urging Cassandra to finish her and seemingly passing away pleased that Cass has obliged, but Cass leaves the room smiling as Shiva’s body inches lower towards the pit.

ROUND 3: Shiva Plays for Keeps

Shiva and Cass wouldn’t meet again until several years later, during DC’s Rebirth era, when Cassandra is wearing the mantle of Orphan. By now, Shiva has left the League of Assassins and assumed command of the splinter group known as the League of Shadows. With it, she attacks Gotham City, resulting in the death of the mayor.

Once again, Shiva reprimands Cassandra for using non-lethal techniques and brutally beats both her and Batman in a demonstration of superior strength. Cassandra is distraught that she is the daughter of such a dangerous, deadly woman, and her self-esteem disintegrates. She attacks Batman, who is helpless against her and runs off to battle Shiva’s army on her own. The Bat-Family arrive in time to save her, but Shiva is through playing nice. With Gotham on the brink of annihilation, she continues to fight Cassandra and begins to lose the upper hand. Just as she’s about to reveal her true goals, Ra’s al Ghul shoots her in the back and Shiva dies.

ROUND 4: Happy Family at Last?

Don’t worry, kids! Shiva gets better.

Immediately resurrected by Ra’s al Ghul via a Lazarus Pit, Shiva’s fight against Cassandra and subsequent death gives her a newfound clarity. Now determined to stop Ra’s and the League of Assassins from destroying the world, Shiva joins forces with Batman’s team of allies, the Outsiders, and for the first time, fights with her daughter on the force of good!

Unpredictable as ever, Shiva encourages Cassandra to go beyond anyone’s teachings and forge a new path for herself. She regularly insults the name “Orphan” and points out that there’s no reason for her daughter to not be Batgirl.

During their shared time with the Outsiders, Shiva seeks to lead by example and often challenges Tatsu Yamashiro (a.k.a. Katana) in being the team leader for Cassandra and Duke Thomas. Over time, Cass regains her confidence in herself and is given blessing by Batman, who tells her that her potential and spirit is better than any mantle he could bestow upon her.

Where Are They Now?

At present, Shiva and Cassandra maintain a warily trusting relationship. When Cass recently switched bodies with Stephanie Brown, Shiva knew immediately she was speaking with someone in her daughter’s body. After Cass regains herself, she races after Stephanie to rescue her from the Cluemaster, encountering ninjas and assassins on the Gotham City bridge. In the heat of battle, Cass notices limbs wordlessly falling from the sky and finds her mother watching over her and killing everyone in her path.

Cass grimaces, continuing to be disgusted over Shiva’s propensity for murder. While she races after her friend, her mom waves her on, smiling at the knowledge that her heroic daughter will be just fine.

At least, that is, until Shiva breaks bad again and this remarkable mother and daughter decide to go another round.

Donovan Morgan Grant writes about comics, graphic novels and superhero history for DC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @donoDMG1.