Batgirl Variant Cover Glorifies Sexual Violence | #CancelTheCover

batgirl

You can tell how unplugged I am from the mainstream fandom that the internet broke this week over a variant Batgirl cover, and I had no idea whatsoever.

Earlier in the week, DC Comics received a deluge of critical responses to a variant cover for Batgirl #41 drawn by artist Rafael Albuquerque. As my friend Will West points out in his blog post weighing in on the controversy, variant covers are special versions of a comic featuring unique cover art, and usually offered as an incentive to comic book stores to increase their orders of certain issues, with the idea that the increased order size cost can be recouped when the variant is sold as a specialty or collector’s item. Lately, both DC and Marvel have been issuing month-long variant cover themes, which invite artists to create art across a common focus that can span all issues; June’s theme for DC centers around the Batman villain, Joker.

In this particular case, Batgirl #41‘s variant cover featured cover art depicting the comic’s heroine being terrifyingly brutalized by the Joker in an homage to a classic graphic novel (The Killing Joke) where he violently sexual assaults her and paralyses her with a gunshot wound.

Albuquerque’s variant cover for Batgirl #41 appears after the jump.

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DC Comics Does Diversity: Gene Luen Yang to take the helm of DC’s Superman (and other awesomeness)!

Gene Luen Yang will be writing DC's Superman. Where do I sign up?
Gene Luen Yang will be writing DC’s Superman. Where do I sign up?

Last year, Marvel announced efforts to broaden the diversity of their superhero lineup; only to run their main Marvel universe through the shredder this year and possibly erase all those gains. Meanwhile, both DC and Marvel have been criticized that even when they elevate the profiles of non-White and non-male superheros, previous efforts have stumbled due at least in part to failures to implement behind-the-scenes diversity initiatives; thus, earlier announcements have come across as transient pandering that lacks connection to the actual experiences of women and minorities while failing to produce opportunities for minority creators.

Today, DC announced its own radical shift that would be taking hold of the DC superhero universe in the coming months. No, not another Crisis: DC announced a major roster change in the creative teams behind several ongoing titles as well as the launch of several new books, all with the general goal of “broadening” the focus of the DC universe. In layman’s terms? DC is diversifying their superheros, and it turns out that they’re going to do it the right way: behind-the-scenes as well as in front.

MarySue is all over the news, highlighting the launch of two new titles that feature strong female superhero protagonists –– Black Canary and Starfire. This will be Starfire’s first solo title, and notably, she’s received a costume redesign that (finally) covers her top half (although, of course, she’s still wearing booty shorts).  In addition to a limited run Harley Quinn/ Power Girl (which may feature the new Power Girl, Tanya Spears who is Black and also apparently awesome) miniseries, these newly launched female-led titles will join ongoing series featuring Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Batgirl and Wonder Woman, making DC’s newly announced efforts one of the most inclusive comic lineups with regard to women.

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The Marvel Universe is ending; so, what about all that much-hyped diversity?

marvel-secret-wars

(with intellectual contribution from Snoopy Jenkins)

How long does Cowl Rental last for non-White, non-male superheroes in the Marvel Universe? Apparently, less than a year.

Marvel’s earlier diversity efforts — the introductions of the Ultimate Universe’s Miles Morales (Spiderman) and the 616 Universe’s Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) — have been well-received by fans. Last October, Marvel again made headlines — and even the Colbert Report — for its announcement of new diversity initiatives that would replace many of the Marvel Universe’s classic superheroes with non-White or non-male successors. Filling the void left behind when Steve Rogers was depowered, Sam Wilson would give up his mantle as the Falcon to be the “first” Black Captain America (although he wasn’t the first). Thor Odinson would lose the ability to wield Mjolnir, the source of his power, making way for a new, female Thor whose identity, after three issues, remains a mystery.

But, as I speculated in October of last year, diversity via Cowl Rental is always fraught, particularly for the minority character involved. Not only does it typically end poorly for the minority inheritor of a high-profile cowl, but, as artist Denys Cowan reiterated in an interview with the Washington Post yesterday (wherein the Post reported that he, Reggie Hudlin and Derek Dingle are interested in resurrecting Milestone Media), the entire tactic is also politically troublesome.

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Milestone Comics is being resurrected!

Dwayne McDuffie's character, Static Shock.
Dwayne McDuffie’s character, Static Shock.

More than three years after the untimely death of comics legend Dwayne McDuffie —  the man who can be rightfully pointed to as the pioneer of today’s diversity efforts in mainstream comics — Washington Post is exclusively reporting that McDuffie’s Milestone Media may rise again.

McDuffie, who died suddenly at the height of his career, is credited for co-founding Milestone Media, the parent company of Milestone Comics, in 1993 during a boom in the comic book industry. However, unlike other independent comic book studios started in the era (such as Top Cow and Image), Milestone was started with a very specific and political purpose: to promote a broader racial diversity within the comic book medium.  Recruiting top minority writing and artist talent, launched with a slate of comic titles focused on minority superheroes, including Static and Icon which introduced characters Static Shock, Icon and Rocket; all are now characters in the DC Comics mainstream pantheon.

Although many of Milestone’s earliest characters were Black, Milestone supported efforts to bring all forms of racial and sexual diversity to comics, which included the introduction of several Asian American superheroes. In 1994, Milestone launched Xombi, written by John Rozum and illustrated by Denys Cowan. The title focused on Korean American hero David Kim who becomes a technologically-advanced “xombi” after his body is infused with nanites; it remains one of the only comic book titles to ever focus on an Asian American male superhero protagonist.

That same year, Milestone also launched Shadow Cabinet, an Outsiders-esque team of covert superheroes. The team included several characters within the Middle Eastern, Asian and Asian American diaspora including: Blitzen, a Japanese speedster in a lesbian relationship with fellow Shadow Cabinet member Donner; Iron Butterfly, a Palestinian ferrokinetic; and the powerful and mysterious precog Dharma, leader of the Shadow Cabinet who appears to be of South Asian American descent.

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#GamerGate Supporters Having Trouble Telling Two Asians Apart?

Can you tell these two men apart? I can.
Can you tell these two men apart? I can.

In a story that I’m posting about mostly because I find it effin’ hilarious, Arthur Chu –former Jeopardy champion who tweets at @arthur_affect about geek culture — has a problem. See, for the last several months, Chu has been a stalwart critic of GamerGate, that thing that I planned to write about regarding feminism and gaming culture and never pulled together into something coherent. Chu has written several columns, and his Twitter timeline is prolonged documentation of his Leonidas-style one-man-stand against the Persian hoards of angry misogynists gamer purists anti-racists defenders of ethical journalism I-don’t-know.

Arthur Chu is also the guy on the right in the picture above.

Ian Miles Cheong is a former Reddit moderator, editor-in-chief of Gameranx, progressive, and GamerGate critic who now tweets at @stillgray. He is also the guy on the left of the picture above.

There are apparently some folks who support GamerGate who are having trouble telling these two individuals apart.

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