After days of controversy, this week DC announced it would pull the variant cover of Batgirl #41. Slated for a June release and illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque, the variant cover referenced Alan Moore’s 1988 The Killing Joke as part of a series of Joker-themed variants. This extremely grim series sees Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, shot and paralyzed by Joker. Her implied sexual assault is left ambiguous, but she is stripped naked and photographed by Joker to show to her father, Jim Gordon, in order to torture him. Suffice it to say, the implications of Albuquerque’s cover are troubling, given the lengths that DC has gone to make Barbara Gordon a visible character, beginning with her role as Oracle and later regaining her Batgirl title in the New 52.
After the cover’s release, journalists and fans alike came out against the cover. Critics felt that the cover wasn’t appropriate for the youthful, upbeat tone of the current Batgirl series, helmed by writers Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher and artist Babs Tarr. It seems that the creative team wasn’t made aware of the variant cover until its release, complicating matters further. However, in a statement received by ComicBookResources, Albuquerque announced DC was pulling the plug on the cover after reconsidering its tone:
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.
Writer Cameron Stewart immediately took to Twitter to confirm the decision and back up Albuquerque’s sentiments:
Unfortunately, what seemed like a reasonable, business-oriented decision quickly turned ugly as the news broke online. In DC’s statement to CBR, the publisher took a moment to highlight the “threats of violence and harassment” that were received in the wake of the resulting controversy, which “have no place in comics or society.” What they neglected to clarify was that it was the critics of the cover that received threats, not Albuquerque or DC, causing further debate and confusion. Stewart once again clarified this on Twitter:
All controversy aside, DC and Team Batgirl made the decision they felt was most appropriate for Batgirl and her fans. So what do you think? Did DC make the right call? Should they reconsider proofreading their press statements next time? Let us know in the comments below!