Lets talk about the Batgirl of it all, something I know a lot of people are getting very heated about right now a variant cover for Batgirl #41 as sired by Rafaeal Albuquerque. The tableau in question shows a very frightened Batgirl having that familiar rictus grin pained on her face in what appears to be blood while being physically restraining and having a very jokearian revolver pressed to her chest. The imagery is very suggestive and was meant to harken back to Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke in which Joker takes Barbara Gordon hostage for a considerable amount of time physically cripples her by shooting her in the back. Then taunts Batman with the implications of the visuals of the story that not only did he sexually assault Barbra but Jim Gordon the much loved commissioner of Gotham’s police department.
This all being said even by itself the imagery it invokes too the casual or even non-exhistant comics reader is rather sinister. Which being completely fair is the point doing a cover like this and unlike many people what I really find objectionable about it is that it was set to be on the current run of Batgirl which very precisely and with great forethought wrote and pushed for a younger audience hopefully of young girls.
Now with this direction of a youth focused selfie taking female character that has been a staple of the Bat family since the mid 60’s. Why did DC feel it important too evoke The Killing Joke while there trying to capture a much younger audience?. The ideals of the current story and those of The Killing Joke are in direct conflict and I find it hypocritical that there trying too capture both audiences with something like this.
Ultimately I think this should come down to a frank discussion about The Killing Joke itself. Written by the great Alan Moore which ostensibly was intended too be a one off tangent story that focused on The Joker and only ancillary featured Batman. For my friends familiar with the animated series think “Almost got’em” but in another dimension. It was and still salacious in parts and the great Alan Moore himself says about his own creation he probably should have been reigned a bit more by the editors but he wasn’t. The fact that when it was released again as a one off in prestige format it was an instant wall book and was highly sought after because Barbra Gordon was crippled in it. For reasons that I still don’t fully understand this story was made canonical and Batgirl traded her cape and cowl for guile and a computer becoming a shining example of a survivor story. About a woman who still had wrongs too right and stands proudly at the alter of justice and preys evil takes the night off in becoming The Oracle.
But what does this say about the role of women in comics are they so pliable that it’s fine too just cripple them? As some of you would recall the dark knight himself had his back broken by Bane in Knightfall which tells the story of a broken Bruce Wayne rebuilding his broken body and the good name of the bat. Valiantly fighting and reclaiming his cowl and his true name from Jean-Paul Valley so he could bring Bane to justice. The implied double standard being BatMAN can be cripple for 6 maybe 8 months BatGIRL she’s fine we can just leave that for a few decades.
Wondrous reader I leave you with one final thought do I want the creativity and raw power of creators and artists with cross talk and arguments. No I don’t. What I’m also terrified of deep down in my gut where I keep all my secrets if we allow politics and agendas to influence creation of comics won’t we resurrecting the comics code authority and staffing them with the silent majority because they roared.