#ChangeTheCover: So, the Artist Withdrew the Batgirl Variant Cover

Some people are saying that DC pulled the cover, but based on what I’ve seen, the artist himself, after the campaign against the cover, asked DC to withdraw the art and DC complied. It’s hard to not look at this as his being bullied into pulling down his art. Because that’s pretty much what happened.

I’m a huge Batman fan. While I’ve had some problems with what’s been done in certain Batman comics either stylistically or storywise (I hate how Catwoman is drawn when she’s in costume and I kind of hate all of the non DCAU portrayals of Harley, and I hate that one artist whose name I forget who makes all of the Robins look like they’re 40 year old Dustin Hoffmans trying to take a rock-hard dump). I have a lot of mixed feelings about the Killing Joke. What the Joker does is disgusting and the story leaves one feeling disgusted. But isn’t such a visceral reaction a sign of a powerful story?

Anyway, this variant cover was supposed to be an homage to the Killing Joke.batgirl-41-cover

The biggest complaint was that it portrayed Batgirl in a state of fearful helplessness and victimhood. Which is interesting, because the usual complaint about comics is when some character is showing off ginormo-tits in an anatomically impossible pose. Or ass in the air (I don’t care what anyone says that Spider-Woman cover was ugly and weird looking for more reasons than just ‘too-much-sexy’).

One thing that a lot of people forget (or just don’t know, because the people complaining don’t read comics) is that Batman is (at least Post-Crisis) a horror comic*. A lot of the stories look into the character’s deepest darkest fears. Serious House on Serious Earth is high-octane nightmare fuel. And that’s the sort of feeling this cover is meant to invoke. The other thing that these people are overlooking is that it is fairly typical of Batman covers to show some scene prior to the heroes’ big table-turn where they are powerless, helpless, about to be killed (often in a gruesome manner) by whichever rogue is featured in that issue. Needless to say, when people threw out the “You don’t see Batman being depowered and violated on HIS covers!”, the response was a flood of classic covers depicting the Dark Knight in all manner of predicament. Talk about Batman being depowered, what about that iconic cover of Bane snapping Batman’s back against his knee?

Bats don't bend that way!

Bats don’t bend that way!

On one hand, when Barbara was paralyzed, she didn’t come back as Batgirl, while Bruce came back as Batman. On the other hand, when Barbara came back as Oracle, she had become a more interesting and dynamic character. When Bruce finally came back, he was still just Batman, just poorly drawn and with 2 foot long bat ears (seriously, Troika had some crap art and was a pretty big let down as far as a comeback arc, especially after how well written Prodigal was).

Anyway, here are just a few examples of Batman in peril at the hands of some rogue.

I don't know what's scarier: what's about to happen to Batman or those goddamn 2 foot ears!

I don’t know what’s scarier: what’s about to happen to Batman or those goddamn 2 foot ears!


See? Even the cover says he’s gripped by fear!

Batman, helpless at the hands of the Joker!

Batman, helpless at the hands of the Joker!

I can't think of anything more disempowering than being flying-kicked by three dudes at the same time.  Except for maybe being flying kicked by more than three dudes at the same time.  Or in combination.

I can’t think of anything more disempowering than being flying-kicked by three dudes at the same time. Except for maybe being flying kicked by more than three dudes at the same time. Or in combination.


Batman is totally about to be cut in two in that one cover!

Batman is totally about to be cut in two in that one cover!

*:This tends to be played with a lot more in the one-off graphic novels and some of the side titles, such as Legends of the Dark Knight and Shadow of the Bat (especially Shadow of the Bat).

Minor Update:
If this guy is representative of the rest of the creative team on Batgirl, it’s probably a shit book that doesn’t deserve a good cover anyway.
Cameron Stewart


6 responses to “#ChangeTheCover: So, the Artist Withdrew the Batgirl Variant Cover

  1. I need calendar reminders that Batman is a horror comic. I keep forgetting and then someone reminds me and I’m all, “oh yeah! That’s why I liked it so much!” Why is it so easy to forget that Batman is a horror comic?


    • Well, consider this your march reminder! 😉

      I think part of it is because it’s not ALWAYS a horror comic. Like the golden or silver age stuff (or spoofs thereof). But the best Batman stuff is always at least a little on the gothic side. Big lonely mansion: check. Lonely unmarried wealthy man with a tortured past: check. Repetitious cycles that underlie the futility of the struggles of man: check.

      Still, I wish I had the talent or resources to pull it off, but I’d love some day to produce an adaptation of Serious House on Serious Earth using Bob Kane’s art style just for laughs.

      • I think all my favorites Batman stories were gothic horror — whether in the comics or the Animated Series.

        I hear you on talents & resources.


      • That’s probably why (to me, anyway) Animated Series has the best canon. With a few bizarre exceptions, it managed to keep a pretty consistent tone in the stories it told. Even when they reimagined the villains from the ground up, they still worked, often better than the original versions (which is why AS canon kept spilling over into the comics), because they were always grounded in their humanity and their tragedy. Except for Joker. Which made him even creepier. There was no underlying tragedy beyond his inexplicable hatred and madness: he could not be understood, so he was to be feared.

    • So, apparently the rational origin of the complaint against this cover is that the Batgirl book was recently rebooted as a less grim-dark version of Batgirl; they kept the numbering, but threw it out into a new/different more light-hearted continuity. So, the complaint was that they used a reference to the Killing Joke for an art piece for a title for which the tone didn’t match. Now, that’s the rational version of the complaint, but considering that it took me several days to hear someone actually say it somewhere (on an interview stream with someone who runs a feminist comics-for-young-women group from a few days ago), it’s not the point that people are hearing.

      The best point, which no one really has talked much about, is that sadly, as much as kids love DC heroes, there are very few mainline titles that age appropriate.

  2. Pingback: End of the Year Roundup | Cirsova

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