UPDATE 3/16/15: DC Comics has pulled the BATGIRL #41 cover, at the request of the artist Rafael Albuquerque.
In a statement received by ComicBookResources, Albuquerque relayed the decision.
My intention was never to hurt or upset anyone through my art. For that reason, I have recommended to DC that the variant cover be pulled. I'm incredibly pleased that DC Comics is listening to my concerns and will not be publishing the cover art in June as previously announced.
Sadly, a press person for DC Entertainment had to add that the company had received word of threats of violence in harassment in the wake of the BATGIRL #41 reveal. “[…]Threats of violence and harassment are wrong and have no place in comics or society.” HitFix Harpy agrees with this statement. No matter your opinions on a comic book character's current direction or art style, resorting to threats and harassment is not an acceptable form of retaliation.
You can read the entire statement at CBR.
Addendum: BATGIRL writer Cameron Stewart took to Twitter to clear up confusion on where the threats and harassment were coming from:
Something to clarify, because DCs statement was a little unclear. @rafaalbuquerque did not get threats. People OBJECTING to the cover did.
– Cameron Stewart (@cameronMstewart) March 17, 2015
Original article below:
This June, DC Entertainment is giving Joker the keys to the kingdom. Much like the Harley Quinn takeover in February, or the “Classic Movie Poster” month, Joker will have variant covers for several on-going series.
Including this one for BATGIRL #41, to which I have to say “Are you serious right now?”
Image via Comic Book Resources
For those of you that aren”t familiar, a little backstory. In 1988 Alan Moore wrote a one-off Batman story that would go down in infamy. “The Killing Joke” was an insanely dark take on both the Joker”s origin story and the depths to which he would go to hurt the Dark Knight and Commissioner Gordon. It is in that series that Barbara Gordon – aka Batgirl – is shot and paralyzed by Joker. It is also left ambiguous as to whether or not she was also sexually assaulted. She was definitely stripped naked and photographed so the Joker could brag to her father, Jim Gordon, in an attempt to drive him insane.
Barbara would go on to become Oracle and later, in the New 52, re-emerge once again as Batgirl. To give you an idea of her personality, here”s her cover (featured in my Artist Alley round-up last week) for BATGIRL: ENDGAME #1. Both covers are by Rafael Albuquerque.
So I ask, in all seriousness, what in the world was DC thinking when commissioning the above Joker variant cover? To have Batgirl looking terrorized by a man who abused and crippled her, while the gun is pointing south, is a gross sexualization of trauma. The only way to make it more exploitative would”ve been to rip her costume to expose cleavage.
There were a thousand other ways to work this out. Barbara could”ve been getting some well deserved vengeance on Joker”s face. Or they could”ve been facing off on equal terms. Even if DC was committed to the “Joker has a gun pointed to Barbara”s head” angle, Susana Polo deftly points out there is a way to do that without fetishizing Batgirl”s victimization.
All I'm gonna say re: THAT Batgirl cover is ask you to contrast it with Gotham Central #10. pic.twitter.com/a41GKwVj9o
– Susana Polo (@NerdGerhl) March 16, 2015
DC has been making some great strides with their representation of female characters. Maybe that”s why it”s shocking to see missteps like this and Marvel's Spiderwoman”s Milo Manaras cover. It”s almost as if the department in charge of variants didn”t catch the memo that women are people now.
Maybe DC should send it around again, this time marked URGENT.