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Batgirl “Variant” Cancelled: And this is why we can not have nice things.

Like the headline states, this is why we can not have nice things.

“The “Batgirl” #41 variant quickly received criticism for highlighting a dark period in the character’s history, especially when juxtaposed with the current youthful, more optimistic direction of the series under the creative team of co-writers Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr. Multiple websites ran editorials critical of the image, and the hashtag #changethecover drew dozens of posts on Twitter and Tumblr asking DC to not release the variant.”

Really? There is better things in the world we could worry about. Like World Hunger, Global Warming, Kanye West posting nude photo’s of his wife on twitter and whether or not Pluto is even considered a planet anymore. But no, we waste time on attempting to be diverse and politically correct so we do not offend anyone? Could this be the line that was crossed?

I don’t know. Maybe I am making this a bigger deal than it needs to be. To me, as an avid Joker fanatic and collector, I want this variant. To others, it is traumatic, dark and some of these “people,” read too far between the lines of something as simple as a Comic Book Cover. But these people seem to forget all the other comic’s that have gone a lot further and more graphic than this cover. Like The Walking Dead. Scenes that depict possible child rape scenario’s, murder, sexuality and more. I am not complaining, trust me. I am fully aware that this is an adult oriented comic book. But I do not complain about it.

But, when I look at this “horrible,” and “traumatic,” Variant cover, I am confused how this is apparently worth threatening someone’s life over. A read later that the artist was not threatened and DC Comics exaggerated. Among all the other negative comments made towards the artist, Rafael Albuquerque, this makes me loose hope in the society we live on. C’mon. We spent 24 hours trying to determine what color a dress was for crying out loud! We had people break it down with science! All this energy wasted, where if we spent more time applying towards diseases, I am sure we would be cured from all existing ailments by now.

The Killing Joke loosely suggests that Joker may have raped Batgirl, but it has never been ever discussed in any other comic thereafter. That part I understand, but as a reader, I look at it as Joker just shooting/paralyzing her. If anything I find this cover very relaxed from other comic book covers I have seen printed over the last few years. But provide a person a reason to complain and they will picket. But it is acceptable that Harleyquinn has suggestive story lines and scantily clad costumes.

Great logic there people.

In the end sadly, Rafael asked for the variant cover to be cancelled and said this.

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 character’s 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,


Todd Puhl (76 Posts)

Podcast Host on Droids Canada Podcast. Addicted to Deadpool and Joker collectibles. Chimichanga's and Dark Roast coffee fueled.


  1. trickfred says:

    I’m just gonna leave this here for you to consider.

    I think it’s a nice piece of art regardless of anything else, but I understand why people were upset.

  2. Comicfan says:

    “But, when I look at this “horrible,” and “traumatic,” Variant cover, I am confused how this is apparently worth threatening someone’s life over. A read later that the artist was not threatened and DC Comics exaggerated.”

    DC didn’t ‘exaggerate’ – DC was simply unclear about who was making the threats, and to whom. Threats were made, but not to the artist. The folks getting threatened were the people saying they were uncomfortable with the cover.

    That’s the point here – there is a readership in comics that LOVES seeing female characters humilated, brutalized, shoved in fridges, what-have-you, and when we object, we get death threats. DC didn’t cancel the cover because one group was complaining. DC cancelled the cover because when objections were voiced, a different group started sending death threats to silence them, and DC was making a statement that that wouldn’t stand – you don’t get your way like that.

    There’s a great writeup on this in The Mary Sue: – it explains far better than I can why the objections are legitimate, in the larger context of how female characters are represented in comics.

  3. Ian Ball says:

    Well this is a whole can of bees waiting to happen.

    As an Alan Moore fan, I’m with you…I dug the cover. However, does this variant it fit with the new and improved Batgirl? no, not really. I see both points.

    At the end of the day, it’s Rafael’s cover, and it’s DC’s publishing house. They get to do what they want and still get nice things. The cover is awesome, and all over the internet. Save it and make it a desktop. Start a twitter campaign asking DC to do a variant cover to the Hardcover version of the Killing Joke, etc, etc.

    I put this into perspective with three of my favorite comics right now, Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk (rip)…would I have thought a serious and gritty cover for those titles is a wrong fit? Absolutely. Would I care if it was a variant? Not really. On the flip side, Captain America always has an action-oriented cover for the most part – would I think a scene of him baking cupcakes out of place? Absolutely. Hilarious, but out of place.

    Both sides of this argument are valid. It’s their art however, they can do with it what they will. They don’t owe me anything (other than a good Aquaman movie).

  4. I understand that some things can tread on sensitive areas for people, but for many people, it does not. People enjoy compelling storytelling. I don’t understand why some people find it so hard to get that. I feel for them, I really do, but nobody should try to take away what gives people joy and happiness. It’s just an innocent comic. It’s no worse than 50 Shades of Grey.

    I feel for the people involved with the variant. How their creativity and passion is being choked. It’s such a shame.

    People should accept that other people, good, moral people, want to buy the things that bring them joy. They will be the ones to read it, those with trauma do not have to.

  5. Dylan says:

    On one hand, as some people have pointed out, the cover doesn’t suit the tone that the Batgirl book has. It’s a comic that’s trying to be social conscious with not only its characters but its content as well. Let’s not forget two months ago there was outrage surrounding this very book because of the fact that people felt there was mishandling done in regards to the use of a cross dressing character. I won’t spoil the story if you haven’t read it yet but to put it simply, people were offended because of how the cross dressing character was portrayed and fell into that whole “cross dressers are psychos and bad people!” trope. One of the comic’s writers, Cameron Stewart went on record to say the following after the incident:

    “It really pained us to stay silent for so long but we felt we needed to listen for a bit instead of talking.”

    Now that right there is a level of awareness that several creators truly lack. The immediate human reaction when under fire is to fire back. The creative team on Batgirl have my full support on any project they undertake going forward because they’ve shown that they’re trying to do something special here and aren’t just about making money for themselves. Now I don’t know if you’ve read any of the recent Batgirl issues since the major creative overhaul (if you haven’t you absolutely should because it’s comparable with a level of modern awareness of something like Ms.Marvel, which for our culture is huge in the way it is breaking down barriers) but if you have it’ll be immediately apparent that this cover isn’t really suitable to go with this specific comic.

    Here’s where things get a little bit tricky though. Ask yourself “Is this cover for Batgirl fans or The Joker fans?”. June is a dedicated Joker variant month so it’s the selected variant artist’s responsibility to tie Joker into the cover in some way, shape or form so that it relates to the given title. It’s a simple math equation at that point. Joker + Batgirl = The Killing Joke. There’s no way around that. The Killing Joke isn’t a comic that is socially conscious in comparison to other books that are being published these days. It’s that cut and dry. So it makes sense for Rafael Albuquerque to make a variant that looks like it does because he’s mashing the past and present together. The fact of the matter is nowadays there just can’t be a comic like the Killing Joke published by DC because DC is a different company now. What else could the artist have done for a Joker related Batgirl variant that would be likely to sell well?

    If a cover was made that didn’t homage The Killing Joke than EVERY fan of The Killing Joke would fire off with the line “Well DC really missed a great opportunity here! They could’ve made a great Killing Joke related cover.” Sadly, Rafael also had the chance here to make a statement in that he could’ve done something to distance Batgirl from the stigma of “victim”. Just picture this cover: Joker, in his Killing Joke outfit, sitting in a wheelchair with tweety birds dancing around his head like he’s dazed and Batgirl standing triumphantly behind the chair with a smile of victory. It takes away that image of victim but still pays tribute to The Killing Joke. It’s easy to understand why Rafa did the cover the way he did because The Killing Joke is still a fantastic Joker story and who wouldn’t take the opportunity to pay homage to it when given the chance. Rafa is a great artist and maybe an even greater human being for listening to people and asking DC to pull the cover.

    Ultimately DC chose to back the right horse, going with the story and character that backs up the direction the company is heading in.

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