DC Pulls JOKER Variant to BATGIRL Cover After Controversy Emerges

DC Comics June 2015 Joker Variant covers
Credit: DC Comics

The internet wins again.

Because of negative online response, DC has pulled its variant cover forBatgirl #41 at the request of the cover's artist, according to a statement from DC Entertainment.

The image, drawn by Brazilian writer/artist Rafael Albuquerque (American Vampire), was one of the 25 variant covers DC is releasing in June as part of the company's celebration of the 75 year anniversary of the Joker. The image depicts the Joke holding a terrified Batgirl hostage.

"For me, it was just a creepy cover that brought up something from the character¹s past that I was able to interpret artistically," Albuquerque explained in a statement, referring to the 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, in which the Joker shot Batgirl. "But it has become clear, that for others, it touched a very important nerve. I respect these opinions and, despite whether the discussion is right or wrong, no opinion should be discredited."

The Batgirl #41 cover was the subject of some negative reaction from online fans when it was released on Friday. Blogs and tweets questioned the image of Batgirl being terrorized by the Joker, given the character was previously paralyzed and sexually assaulted by the Joker in The Killing Joke. "It¹s almost as if the department in charge of variants didn¹t catch the memo that women are people now," HitFix’s Donna Dickens explained.

This online chatter about a variant-drawn female character and the cover's cancellation from the publisher echoes a similar situation at Marvel in 2014. A uproar occured over a Spider-Woman #1 variant cover by Milo Manara that was considered overly sexual by some viewers. Marvel ultimately published that cover, but cancelled two advertised variant covers by Manara over what Marvel stated were "scheduling problems."

It's also not the first time online criticism for treatment of characters has been directed at Batgirl. Batgirl creators publicly apologized in the wake of internet-based complaints about the depiction of a character who was perceived to be transgender.

The following is Albuquerque's full statement:

My Batgirl variant cover artwork was designed to pay homage to a comicthat I really admire, and I know is a favorite of many readers. The Killing Joke is part of Batgirl¹s canon and artistically, I couldn't avoid portraying the traumatic relationship between Barbara Gordon and the Joker.

For me, it was just a creepy cover that brought up something from the character¹s past that I was able to interpret artistically. But it has become clear, that for others, it touched a very important nerve. I respect these opinions and, despite whether the discussion is right or wrong, no opinion should be discredited.

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.

With all due respect,

Rafa


And below is DC's official statement:


We publish comic books about the greatest heroes in the world, and the most evil villains imaginable. The Joker variant covers for June are in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the Joker.

Regardless if fans like Rafael Albuquerque¹s homage to Alan Moore¹s The Killing Joke graphic novel from 25 years ago, or find it
inconsistent with the current tonality of the Batgirl books, threats of violence and harassment are wrong and have no place in comics or society.

We stand by our creative talent, and per Rafael's request, DC Comics will not publish the Batgirl variant. ­

DC Entertainment


Albuquerque also took to Twitter to explain that the "threats" mentioned in DC's statement were in reference toward threats aimed at people
offended by the cover, not Albuquerque nor anyone associated with DC.

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