In a spineless move on DC’s part, they’ve allowed the complaining masses of the Internet to bully them into artistic censorship. The upcoming Joker variant of Batgirl #41 has been pulled due to Barbara Gordon’s character being paralyzed and sexually assaulted in the iconic Batman story and hallmark of the comic book medium, The Killing Joke, which this cover is a tribute to.
Drawn by Brazilian writer/artist Rafael Albuquerque, the cover was made to celebrate 75 years of Joker with 25 variant covers being released in June.
The artist had this to say about his controversial piece:
My Batgirl variant cover artwork was designed to pay homage to a comic that I really admire, and I know is a favorite of many readers. The Killing Joke is part of Batgirl’s 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,
And DC Comics made the following 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 Moore’s 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.
While sexual abuse should never be taken lightly, it is a topic that has and will always come up in works of fiction. Are we supposed to pretend that The Killing Joke didn’t happen now? Yes, it’s sick and disturbing, but that’s the Joker’s character! Maybe people who don’t approve of such covers could just, you know, not buy them. I’ll allow Cher Horowitz from the 90’s cinematic classic Clueless to elaborate (starts at the 0:40 mark).