Back in 1988, Alan Moore wrote The Killing Joke, one of comic-dom's darkest graphic novels. In it, the Joker tries to drive Commission Gordon insane, and one of the many ways he torments Gordon is by shooting and paralyzing his daughter Barbara, aka Batgirl. DC Comics has recently paid homage to this brilliant yet brutal comic book with an equally brutal variant cover on the upcoming Batgirl #41. But this particular homage did not last long.
After a few days of an early release, the cover, inked by Rafael Albuquerque, received so much Twitter hate that the artist has asked DC Comics not to publish it.
According to CNN, Albuquerque wrote:
"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."
DC Comics has agreed, and the cover will not hit the newsstands.
You can see for yourself why this particular cover raises the hackles of anyone who looks at it—particularly fans of Barbara.
The 'Batgirl' variant cover that got pulled...which means, of course, this image will live forever, seen by millions. pic.twitter.com/nT3NZwU5hi— Blake Northcott (@ComicBookGrrl) March 17, 2015
Here Barbara isn't the powerful, confident woman we've all known and loved since she re-donned the mantle of Batgirl in 2011, after the New 52 relaunch of all DC Comics titles. (Prior to that, Barbara remained paralyzed yet continued to fight crime as Oracle, thanks to her skills as a hacker). Here she's a victim — in the midst of her victimization. It's torture porn, and it doesn't belong on any cover, variant or not.
This isn't the first variant to get the ax due to public outrage in recent months. Back in August, Marvel Comics pulled a variant cover of Spider-Woman. In that one, Spider-Woman was posed like a sex toy rather than a superhero. (We rectified this with our own version of the Milo Manara cover, which can be found near the bottom of this article).