Batgirl #41 Joker Variant Kicks Up Controversy

Batgirl #41 Joker Variant Kicks Up Controversy

March 16, 2015 4 By EVA

Discourse strikes again for our beloved Batgirl.

Last year DC started a new trend with it’s themed variant months, and while rumors arose that the comic company would be putting an end to these 50/50 variants after the two month event Convergence, the solicitations for all of June’s new releases revealed that this was not the case. We’ve had some wonderful covers throughout the past year. Iconic heroes graced us with their selfies in August, December highlighted the spectacular artist Darwyn Cooke, and now with March underway DC Comics is celebrating some of it’s famous characters as they reenact classic film posters with movie month. It’s going to be a Jokerish June as the Clown Prince of Crime graces us with his presence across the covers of twenty-six titles. But it’s one cover in particular that’s been stirring an uproar throughout the entire comics community.


The Joker Variant for Batgirl #41 done by Rafael Alberquerque depicts the Joker costumed in his all too familiar attire featured in the 1988 stand alone graphic novel, The Killing Joke, with his arm wrapped around a very frightened Barbara Gordon. Given the history between the two characters, many are in outrage at how DC could commission yet alone publish such a cover.

During Alan Moore’s Killing Joke after Barbara is shot through the spine, paralyzing the woman, it is alluded that her attacker then sexually assaulted her, even going so far as to take pictures during these events as a way to torture her father Jim Gordon later in the story. Twenty six years later, this story and all that occurred are still referenced throughout DC lore including the ongoing run of Batgirl.

It wasn’t too long ago with Batman Eternal #39 where we saw Batgirl returning to the same fair ground in which this gruesome scene had been drawn out. Here she shows no hesitation to confront a component of the moment that had made the most impact on her life. She’s ready to take control. So why is it that we have a strong woman being lessened to the role of a victim once again as that same attacker who once made her as such looks on?

While the story in itself was beautifully crafted by both Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, is it time for DC to put the Killing Joke behind them? In recent events it even appears that the new creative team of the current running series is trying to pull the character further and further away from the tragic story. Makes sense seeing as how this new Batgirl of Burnside is reaching out to target a much younger audience.


Which is what brings us upon another question. Is this cover which expresses a completely different tone from its main cover what we want our new generation of readers to see? Why are we once again depicting her as the victim rather then the hero? Couldn’t we instead have a triumphant, much more enlightening cover as Batgirl takes victory over the Joker?

There are some readers who have even gone so far as to create online petitions in an attempt for DC to make a change before the issue hits stores. It’s a tough but not impossible feat; fans have made an impact like this before, as proven with Manara’s recent cover on Spider Woman.

The consensus is clear and people have taken sides. Even a hashtag war has cropped up on Twitter, showing people both for #ChangetheCover or opposing by writing Don’t #ChangetheCover. Where do you stand?

[Image via CBM]