First let it be known, I’m not a dedicated reader of the latest Bat Girl series, but I’ve obviously read “The Killing Joke”, arguably the greatest Batman story ever. In that classic graphic novel The Joker became one of the most frightening villains in all of comic book history. We saw a Joker that was far more dangerous, insane and sick than anything we ever witnessed before and this all involved what he did to Barbara Gordon (Bat Girl). The Joker kidnaps her, shoots her, strips her naked and then photographs her for her father to later see. This was a chilling sequence in the original comic book, and it left you wondering just what else the Joker may have done to her that was not shown but rather implied by a few of the panels.
Flash forward to present time and we have a newer Bat Girl series, with a lighter tone and delivering a positive message of empowerment to women. Then along comes this very different feeling variant cover by Raphael Albuquerque….
It was meant as a throwback cover to The Killing Joke and has caused loads of controversy. DC has received threats of violence and harassment for the image. People have deemed the cover as too inappropriate because of it’s clearly dark imagery a frightened, crying and bleeding Bat Girl with the Joker’s arm wrapped around her, gun in hand. It’s a variant cover so it really doesn’t need to have anything to do with the story inside the comic and most often these covers are meant for die hard collectors. I’m thinking a few things as I view it, first it’s an incredibly creepy cover, mostly if you know exactly what happened to Barbara Gordon back in The Killing Joke. Second it’s clearly a awesome piece of artwork portraying an excellent clearly insane Clown Prince of Crime. Third it’s maybe one of the most powerful comic book covers I’ve seen in years, it clearly strikes a nerve and leaves you with a feeling of utter dread.
I don’t think the cover is so offensive that it should be cancelled, but it may be tonally wrong for the series at the current moment in time. People in an uproar however also need to realize that this is fiction, not every story is going to an uplifting experience, some of the best stories do at times involve tragedy, in fact that’s what makes The Killing Joke so powerful in the first place. I agree, this cover may just be too disturbing for the current Bat Girl series, it does show a Bat Girl in a state of pure fright, some may view it as a women portrayed as weak, it brings back some those bad vibes of the Alan Moore tale but I also can say as a fan of The Killing Joke, if this was the cover to an actual Bat Girl story that was related to 1988 classic, DC would’ve have me picking up Bat Girl on a regular basis for the first time in my life…