Online Protests Erupt After Batgirl Is Victimized on a New Comic Cover

by Madison N Nunes

D.C. has the unparalleled job of publishing “comic books about the greatest heroes in the world, and the most evil villains imaginable” so it makes sense that infamous T. Joker is being honored with re-envisioned covers in celebration of his birthday, but—much like in Gotham—chaos has reared its ugly head.

Spurred by one of the variant covers intended for release in June, readers are reacting strongly to an option for Issue #41’s cover art, which depicts the revamped, stronger-than-ever Batgirl as Joker’s teary-eyed victim.

One important note here is that the cover never passed by the Batgirl team’s desk, so it wasn’t officially approved. That said, this is clearly a much bigger issue than a couple errant teardrops: The issue is that we’re seeing a character who has only recently been empowered to stand on her own being pulled back down into the damsel-in-distress waters of her origin story.

The cover was created to pay homage to The Killing Joke:Released 25 years ago, the standalone graphic portrayed Barbara Gordon’s (or Batgirl’s)  gruesome run-in with the Joker, moments before she is shot, sexually assaulted and then confined to a wheelchair for life. You can’t rewrite comic book history to pretend this lightning rod moment never went to print… but through a modern lens, there’s definitely something distasteful about the way artists are hearkening back to the scene. 

Couldn’t the tribute have taken a different form? Batgirl could have been fiercely fighting the Joker, stealthily hiding—or Barbara could have just been sitting in her wheelchair looking defiant and powerful (she will rise again!). This tearful victim is not the super hero we’ve come to believe in; she’s a woman without options at the hands of a very dangerous man.

The cover art was drawn by artist Rafael Albuquerque, and some are making the argument that it should have come with a trigger warning. Fans became furious and took to Twitter, insisting that this cover could re-traumatize potential victims: #ChangetheCover has been trending since the image was released, and indeed DC has officially withdrawn it altogether. And while we recognize the validity of why it was created in the first place, we’re frankly glad this cover has disappeared. 

All images c/o of D.C. artists 

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