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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Meme: the Comic Book version

Loren tagged me back to re-do the Influential Books meme in geek-form. He challenged me to unleash my inner geek. Well, I did and it isn’t pretty to let her spill out all over this coffee table like that. 🙂

(Incidentally, unlike Loren, I wasn’t able to find covers for all of these comics on the web. Probably because it’s 2 a.m. and what started out as a brief blogging bout to combat insomnia is quickly functioning to put me to sleep.)

1. One book that changed your life Generation X #1 – I didn’t own this comic, nor did I get a chance to read it more than once. And while it wasn’t the first comic I ever read or owned, it was one of my first exposures to contemporary comics and the wonderful world of superheroes as people I could relate to.

I read this comic when it was purchased by my high-school friend, and in it, I was introduced to a plethora of strong heroines who I could identify with, in some ways on a personal level and in others on a racial level. Here was a superhero team made up of characters not only my age, but my gender and even my physical appearance, with unique superpowers that might render them more monsters than mythos.

I gravitated to Jubilee and Husk, the latter because there was something awe-inspiring about a woman who transcended outward appearance to let the inner person matter (by literally removing her Aryan-looking skin). I never much cared for M or Penance, but Skin, Synch and Chamber were fascinating characters whose powers spoke volumes about their personal conflicts. Although I only got to see this comic briefly, it was enough to spark an interest in not only American comic books as a form of entertainment but as a medium for sociopolitical commentary.

Honourable Mention: The Death and Life of Superman by Roger Stern.

I know it’s not a comic book which is why it’s not the main entry, but I read this novelization multiple times as a child when I first became fascinated with superhero characters (specifically Superman and Batman). My parents would never have let me get away with buying comic books (they would have called it a waste of money) and most of my childhood comics consist of issues cajoled out of the nickel boxes at local garage sales, their covers falling off and out of context since, in most cases, I had a middle issue of an ongoing story arc. But through the Death and Life novelization, I became extremely familiar with superheroes and was able to explore the worlds of these characters, disguising my interest because I was able to borrow the novelization from the library and it looked thick so my parents assumed it had to be worth reading.

2. One book you have read more than once The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

It takes multiple reads to even begin to grasp this magnum opus by Frank Miller. Sure, he’s a sexist, borderline racist/Asiaphilic boob, but he sure could write a good Batman back in the day. (Note: we are ret-conning all stories in which Bats is forced to introduce himself as “the goddammed Batman” out of existence. Thank you for your patience.) Miller re-defined Batman, giving him a level of nuance that insisted we reconsider this character as more than just a nutjob in a cape. Batman has become, because of DKR, an exploration into the human psyche, and you only need to read the book a couple of times to realize that the strength of DKR is how we begin to see Batman as the kind of person we all could become, under the right circumstances.

3. One book you would want on a desert island: Watchmen by Alan Moore.

Talk about a complicated book, Watchmen is the kind of book you finish and immediately open to the first page again and begin reading. It makes DKR look like child’s play. Plus, if you ever feel like you finally get a good grasp of what Moore was trying to communicate in Watchmen (which you never will), you could always use the pages of the graphic novel to start your own signal fire.

4. One book that made you laugh Young Justice: Sins of Youth, because there’s nothing funnier than all the adult superheroes in the world being turned into kids and all the kids being forced to babysit as adults. Impulse is hilarious, young Aquaman is hilarious, Batman as “Batboy” is hilarious — god, it just doesn’t end! Okay, the death of Tana Moon isn’t very funny, but that aside…

5. One book that made you cry The Outsiders #25 in which Indigo died in the arms of Shift. Yes, I know that Indigo was a minor character and she had just gone all villainy and stuff, but that comic just played the heartstrings like a Fender Stratocaster. For some reason, I was practically sobbing by the end.

6. One book you wish had been written Grace Choi: the ongoing serial by anyone other than Judd Winnick. How awesome would that be?

7. One book you wish had never been written There’s so many in this category, it’s hard to pick one. But if I have to pick one, and only one, it would have to be Batgirl #??? (I only have this in graphic novel form) in which Cassandra Cain’s brain is rewired by a telepath so that she can speak.

I was really excited by Cass’ first introduction in comics as a martial artist whose language centres had been rewired to “speak” the language of martial arts. She would have presented a unique challenge to writers as the lead character of a comic book title, and I felt completely cheated that writers destroyed her character by ushering her comic title in by granting her the circumstances under which she would be able to communicate normally. It felt like such a cop out and I would’ve much preferred a title in which we could have explored Cass without her ever being able to communicate her emotions and feelings through conventional means of speech.

8. One book you are currently reading 52 by a bunch of people, Bite Club,Teen Titans, and Outsiders are all on my list of comics to buy on Wednesdays, if I can scrounge up enough money to get them all (usually I just get 52 and hope that I can find the rest as back-issues later, although lately I’ve had to put even 52 on hold). Things that have had to be put on hold until finances are more stable are CheckmateAll-New Atom and JLA.

9. One book you have been meaning to read Seven Soldiers of Victory in part because of Ragnell’s recommendation several months back. Also, From Hell by Alan Moore, which I hear is incredible.

10. Now tag five people! I tag anyone who reads this blog and has seen even a single episode of Justice League: Unlimited. Ha! That’d better be five people.