Why DC Comics Canceling the Batgirl #41 Cover Is a Good Thing

batgirl cover

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Entertainment Earth.

DC Comics recently had a big, controversial shake-up. For the 75th anniversary of one of their most notorious villains, The Joker, the company is producing variant covers featuring him for their comics. However, the variant cover for Batgirl #41 was pulled after an outcry from fans and a hashtag campaign of #CHANGETHECOVER.

Warning: This article discusses aspects that might be triggering for some.

joker wonder woman variant There are some great and creative covers to come out of this anniversary. Wonder Woman dances with the Joker as he holds a bomb behind her back, but she’s clearly unhappy about it and plotting her move to take him down.

Wonder Woman maintains a semblance of control in this situation – after all, if the bomb is real and goes off, well, at least the Joker goes down with her, right? Even the Catwoman cover features agency, showing her knocking a gun out of the Joker’s hand.

Herein lies the problem with the Batgirl cover: stripping agency away from someone to make them a victim. Artist Raphael Albuquerque has since asked DC Comics to pull the cover. You can see it below:


In this cover, Barbara Gordon has absolutely no agency nor any sort of balance of power. She is terrified – and for good reason.

The cover is a reference to Alan Moore’s one-shot 1988 story The Killing Joke. Even if you’ve never read it, you probably know about it. In this story, the Joker shoots Barbara’s spine and paralyzes her, dragging her father, Commissioner Jim Gordon, out of the apartment. The Joker then sexually assaults her.

From this event, we got Oracle, a high-profile and completely awesome disabled hero. Barbara, as Oracle, still managed to be a hero and overcome what happened to her, while being an excellent representation of a disabled hero.

Every debate has two sides, and some people support this cover because The Killing Joke is a real event that happened and defines Barbara’s story. She came out stronger from it. However, that doesn’t change the problems with this cover or the problems with the story of The Killing Joke.

Barbara, as a female character, is a victim of a horrific physical and sexual crime as nothing more than a plot device. This is what is known as “fridging” a female character. Now, with this cover, she is put in physical contact with her assaulter with an obvious power imbalance. This is, understandably, causing a lot of fans to decry the cover. It strips away the steps Barbara made and puts her back into a traumatic situation.

You can reference The Killing Joke (regardless of what your opinion is objectively, it does exist in canon) and still allow Barbara to keep her agency and showcase the progress she’s made since the event. Take the cover for Batgirl Endgame #1, also done by Raphael Albuquerque:


This cover, with the blood on her face in the form of a smile, references The Killing Joke but shows Barbara in a position of power. She wipes away the blood, she takes a stand, and she is not portrayed as a victim.

It’s good that Albuquerque asked for DC to cancel this cover. Not only is it triggering to victims of assault, but it’s horrifying for children who might look up to Batgirl and read her comics. The right decision was made for everyone involved, but it’s a problem that this happened in the first place.

I can only hope that DC and their artists learn from this.

Batgirl Endgame #1 comes out tomorrow and Batgirl #41 comes out in June.

What do you think of the cover? Do you think the right decision was made in canceling it?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Entertainment Earth.



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