You've got to be joking!
March 17, 2015 1:34 PM   Subscribe

DC Comics pull cover of Batgirl menaced by Joker after online protests
In celebration of the 75th anniversary of The Joker, DC Comics is releasing variant covers in June, depicting their popular villain. After threats of violence and harassment the artist, Rafael Albuquerque, agreed to pull the cover. Who was being threatened and harassed? Not the artist. Rather, the people objecting. Predictably the backlash #CHANGETHECOVER has generated backlash #SAVETHECOVER in a standoff reminiscent of Gamergate.
posted by cjorgensen (126 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why am I not surprised that Adam Baldwin is involved, yet again?
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:37 PM on March 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


I like this altered version better.
posted by RakDaddy at 1:39 PM on March 17, 2015 [49 favorites]


My favorite two riffs on the original cover.
posted by longdaysjourney at 1:39 PM on March 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


They are selling a product and the one they offered greatly displeased their client-base who let them know. That is not censorship, but completely having no clue what their readers are telling them they want.

There really ought to be a drinking game based on DC's perpetual ignorance of the marketplace: one shot for every massive reboot, one shot for promising a Strong Female Character, but completely blowing it within the first two years with some misogynistic stunt...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:43 PM on March 17, 2015 [27 favorites]


Twitter is no longer for facts, nor opinions... apparently it's for opinions of opinions.
posted by GuyZero at 1:44 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


That cover is a perfect example of why the entire Batman universe has been off-putting to me for years now. Everything about it, including and maybe especially the movies, just oozes with mean-spiritedness and ugliness. None of it is any fun. I'll stick with talking trees and Asgardian warrior queens.
posted by jbickers at 1:45 PM on March 17, 2015 [39 favorites]


The altered version is great. Why didn't that occur to Albuquerque in the first place, especially after "Killing Joke"?

The original, sadly, isn't offensive to me, not in the ridiculous way that Spider-Woman's ass was offensive on that cover in the last issue of Kerfuffle Comics. It's just one more thing that says to me, "superhero comics are not for you. The -girl and -woman characters are knockoffs and McGuffins. Go look at your womany comics with wavy lines and shit."

And I will.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:47 PM on March 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


The sad thing about Albuquerque's involvement is that I'd previously had a good impression of his work thanks to his involvement in the pre-New 52 version of Jaime Reyes, aka the Blue Beetle.

And of course Adam Baldwin is on the stupid side. He's gunning for permanent Guest of Honor status at WhiteHetDudeCon.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:47 PM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've worked in comics off and on for around a decade- and oh my god is everyone having a fit. This is right after (and very much related to) Erik Larsen having a goddamned hissy fit over "vocal minority" ruining everything for the real paying customers by making women superheros wear more clothing. Seriously.
http://www.themarysue.com/vocal-minority-fans-practical-costumes/

There is a very real belief that the womenses are forcing change in order to ruin the boys fun.
posted by Blisterlips at 1:48 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


"None of it is any fun."

One notable exception, up until this cover, was the latest run of Batgirl.

Killing Joke would best be forgotten, or if we must remember it let's see a cover of Batgirl running Joker over with a wheelchair.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:49 PM on March 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


That cover is a perfect example of why the entire Batman universe has been off-putting to me for years now. Everything about it, including and maybe especially the movies, just oozes with mean-spiritedness and ugliness. None of it is any fun. I'll stick with talking trees and Asgardian warrior queens.

Supposedly the actual current run of the comic is nothing like this, and the creators were aghast at the alternate cover. But I wouldn't know, since I haven't read it, because DC has been so garbage for so long that I'm waiting for a bunch of karma to accrue before I even touch one of their books.
posted by selfnoise at 1:50 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


The cover is also super out of touch with the current run of Batgirl, which is a lot more about Batgirl kicking ass and having fun and being on the Gotham version of Tinder.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:50 PM on March 17, 2015


Killing Joke would best be forgotten, or if we must remember it let's see a cover of Batgirl running Joker over with a wheelchair.

Or you do the classic Killing Joke cover with Joker and camera, except that the Joker looks surprised and you can see Batgirl's reflection in the lens as she is about to land a punch.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:52 PM on March 17, 2015 [32 favorites]


I really hope this doesn't sour you guys on BatGirl- DC is doing the right thing here. They had a blind spot, realized there was a problem and pulled the book.

Cameron Stewart has constantly shown himself to be not only a phenomenal writer, but to be a vocal and public feminist and ally.
posted by Blisterlips at 1:52 PM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


I like this altered version better.

Wow! It's remarkable what a huge difference that small change to the eyes makes. The inspired-by version that longdaysjourney linked also really throws the sexism into sharp relief.
posted by dialetheia at 1:52 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


But I wouldn't know, since I haven't read it, because DC has been so garbage for so long that I'm waiting for a bunch of karma to accrue before I even touch one of their books.

I tried it out - it's not for me, but it's pretty cute. It reminds me a lot of the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series. I came back to DC for Batgirl and Gotham Academy, because I figured if they were actually going to try to cater to me, I could at least give them a shot. I'm still buying Gotham Academy.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:53 PM on March 17, 2015


*pullled the cover* not the book
posted by Blisterlips at 1:53 PM on March 17, 2015


As the twitter comment said, it makes an enormous difference in the altered one just by changing her expression. She's no longer a passive, frozen in helpless terror, she's angry and planning how she can fight back. Which is of course, why the neckbeard in the replies is angry even at that idea. They want women helpless and terrified. It's what turns them on.
posted by tavella at 1:53 PM on March 17, 2015 [25 favorites]


After recent discussions here on the blue about young girls and comics, I started buying Batgirl for my 4-year-old. We've read the last two issues. I'm definitely trying other, more age-appropriate comics but Batgirl is her favorite - she's just so intrigued by it. I read beforehand, censor/tailor the verbal content when I read it to her and don't have any issues with the images (so far). We are NOT bringing this one home.
posted by kitcat at 1:54 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Alexandra Kitty: There really ought to be a drinking game based on DC's perpetual ignorance of the marketplace: one shot for every massive reboot, one shot for promising a Strong Female Character, but completely blowing it within the first two years with some misogynistic stunt...

It's worth reposting this epic Tumblr comment on why DC is thoroughly screwing the pooch with their antics, especially those of the New 52 era. tl;dr--in an era in which comics sales are going through the roof elsewhere, DC's are going down.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:56 PM on March 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Surprising no one, Erik Larsen was showing his ass over the weekend as well.
posted by kmz at 1:58 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


The original is well done in a lot of ways, but after looking at it for a bit and then looking at the riffs and the responses, it helped me come to understand that the Male Gaze isn't just about sexuality.

Because that one riff showed that it's still a powerful cover if you change BG's expression to anger and defiance. Which led me to see the helplessness and tears as an appeal to The Conquering Male Hero in me: I'm supposed to get angry and want to swoop in and rescue the woman from the bad man. When I should instead be wanting to read about how she frees herself, same as I would if Joker were holding Batman, Supes, GL, etc.

So yeah, even aside from being out of step with the current approach to BG, that cover strikes me as having been a bad idea. Glad the artist had a change of heart and glad they pulled it.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:58 PM on March 17, 2015 [34 favorites]


You know, I'll just note for the record here that they've never had any of their major male characters raped by their archnemesis.
posted by corb at 2:00 PM on March 17, 2015 [31 favorites]


Reminded me of this thread from a few days ago. Just like Gamergate, the most consistently pandered-to demographic panics any time they feel the publishers moving away from them.
posted by selfnoise at 2:00 PM on March 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


...and if I had read anything before looking at the picture and commenting, I would have noticed that they're pulling it. Still, so early into both my daughter's and my intro to reading comics, this really makes me sad. I mean, yeah, I assumed Batgirl was written for women. I feel pretty stupid now.
posted by kitcat at 2:01 PM on March 17, 2015


> They are selling a product and the one they offered greatly displeased their client-base who let them know.

It's like Old Coke and New Coke, except instead of pop and everyone it's a bunch of rapey bullshit and stupid assholes.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:02 PM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


She's no longer a passive, frozen in helpless terror, she's angry and planning how she can fight back.

Seriously. Why wouldn't DC have a rule that, on variant covers, the character WHOSE NAME IS ON THE FRIGGAN BOOK cannot look like a punk? The cover wasn't a Batgirl cover. It was a Joker Be So Dark! cover of which we already have 5.3 million. Joker is getting his ass handed to him on the Superman and Catwoman alternates, so it's clearly okay for him to lose.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:03 PM on March 17, 2015 [16 favorites]


...and if I had read anything before looking at the picture and commenting, I would have noticed that they're pulling it. Still, so early into both my daughter's and my intro to reading comics, this really makes me sad. I mean, yeah, I assumed Batgirl was written for women. I feel pretty stupid now.

My understanding is they didn't cancel the book - they're just not going with the cover.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:06 PM on March 17, 2015


Y'know, now I'm curious: Was there ever an in-universe explanation of why Batgirl's mask has exposed eyeholes while both Batman and Robin have some white lens material over their's?

Or is it just "drawn" that way?
posted by FJT at 2:07 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought looking at the #changethecover hashtag would be lots of supportive and insightful pro comments. Instead it's angry men and very young women whining about censorship. Noob mistake.

Note to self: Must not read comments ever anywhere. Other than here.
posted by taff at 2:09 PM on March 17, 2015


You know, I'll just note for the record here that they've never had any of their major male characters raped by their archnemesis.

Well, this isn't entirely true.
posted by kafziel at 2:09 PM on March 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Everything about it, including and maybe especially the movies, just oozes with mean-spiritedness and ugliness.

It's funny, during the brief period that I was into comics in the mid-80s, we didn't buy DC because they were considered corny kids' stuff, whereas Marvel was considered gritty and more "real". When did that all change?
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:11 PM on March 17, 2015


Instead it's angry men and very young women whining about censorship.

Given the affiliation of this with GamerGate, it's probably best to take the women with a grain of salt. GamerGate supporters have been notorious for pretending to be women or POC in order to make their movement look more diverse. There are some of both, but not nearly as many as you'd think from Twitter sockpuppets presenting that way.
posted by Sequence at 2:12 PM on March 17, 2015 [15 favorites]


Why wouldn't DC have a rule that, on variant covers, the character WHOSE NAME IS ON THE FRIGGAN BOOK cannot look like a punk?

Because they like their cover artists to make their own decisions?
posted by QuietDesperation at 2:14 PM on March 17, 2015


When did that all change?

When they let this horrible asshole loose on Gotham.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 2:14 PM on March 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


My understanding is they didn't cancel the book - they're just not going with the cover

Yes, I got that.
posted by kitcat at 2:15 PM on March 17, 2015


Ah good to know. It felt pretty demoralising.

But hang on...how farking manipulative! Bloody hell. Smart enough to know they're not diverse but not smart enough to have empathy or read and digest divergent opinions. I can't even.
posted by taff at 2:16 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why wouldn't DC have a rule that, on variant covers, the character WHOSE NAME IS ON THE FRIGGAN BOOK cannot look like a punk?

Because they like their cover artists to make their own decisions?


Except they don't, really. The cover artists can't put whatever they want on the cover without anyone else saying 'no'. They do employ people to approve these things, and whoever's job it was to approve it seems to have never read a single issue of the new run of Batgirl and doesn't seem to respect the character at all.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:17 PM on March 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's not that the artist isn't partially at fault, either. But a lot of people at DC took a look at this cover and thought it was a good idea. Creative control and the big two don't go together.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:21 PM on March 17, 2015


"The cover was not seen or approved by anyone on Team Batgirl and was completely at odds with what we are doing with the comic."

The most fearsome villain of all, Bigwig Know-it-all Micromanager strikes again. People please: Hire good people, then let them do their jobs.
posted by bleep at 2:22 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Master and Margarita Mix: "When they let this horrible asshole loose on Gotham."

" It's also a little known fact that he co-wrote the song "Ninja Rap," with wrapper Vanilla Ice."

huh.
posted by boo_radley at 2:24 PM on March 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's not that the artist isn't partially at fault, either.

No, I don't think he is at fault all. He drew something that's in a completely stock style for DC, combined with his own personal style, and did a very good job of it. I'm sure he knew at least the basic plot of the book and maybe had some direction as well. It's a variant cover, and he was specially invited to do it, which usually means "do something that's particularly representative of your style as an artist, because we'll be marketing it partially based on that", and that's what he did, and by the normal standards of variants and guest artists, he did an awesome job. This is all on the management.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 2:27 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


That cover is a perfect example of why the entire Batman universe has been off-putting to me for years now. Everything about it, including and maybe especially the movies, just oozes with mean-spiritedness and ugliness. None of it is any fun.

Check out Batgirl and Gotham Academy. They're two of the best books that DC is putting out, light-hearted and fun. I'd liken them to the kind of stuff Marvel is doing. Batgirl actually feels a lot like Scott Pilgrim to me.

The main Batman series, however, is the broiest book that ever broed. The Joker cut off Alfred's hand last issue in a truly quease-inducing spray of blood. It's awful. Capullo and Snyder have a lot of fun and zany ideas and a lot of panache, but they drown the book in an aesthetic that can only appeal to boys who are really into MMA. (Exhibit 1: Bruce Wayne's stupid haircut.)
posted by painquale at 2:47 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I ran into this shirt at JC Penny's yesterday, which prompted my "Fuck you, DC" for the week.
posted by skycrashesdown at 2:54 PM on March 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


(Exhibit 1: Bruce Wayne's stupid haircut.)

I... think that's more likely to give me nightmares than the rejected Batgirl cover.
posted by asperity at 2:57 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, I don't think he is at fault all.

Disagree. Being a cover artist means more than drawing a pretty picture, you also need to have some feeling for the characters you're drawing and have some idea of what the comic you're covering is all about and in this he failed.

Especially since he should've known the Batgirl/Joker history where in the Killing Joke she was crippled and implied raped by the Joker, a moment that Moore himself said was not his best.

To take a girl positive, kick ass title like Batgirl and then put this pandering, implicit rape about to come cover on it - "hey kids, remember when the Joker crippled and raped one of our flagship female characters" -- is rubbing your readers in the sexism inherent in DC's superhero comics.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:58 PM on March 17, 2015 [21 favorites]


kmz: Surprising no one, Erik Larsen was showing his ass over the weekend as well.

Who ever thought that Rob Liefeld, out of the Image founders, would look relatively good WRT female characters simply for letting someone make this character look like this?
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:00 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and it really feels like there's some nudge-nudge-wink-wink stuff going on, like "C'mon guys, do you remember when we could really give it to these lady 'heroes', man those were some good times, amirite?
posted by corb at 3:02 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


oh man fuck DC Comics I hope they go bankrupt.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:02 PM on March 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


And of course Adam Baldwin is on the stupid side. He's gunning for permanent Guest of Honor status at WhiteHetDudeCon.

Rather, he's an agent provocateur on wingnut welfare attempting to kickstart the great white hope of nerddom for a new front in the Kulturkampf the Republicans have been waging since at least the late eighties and kicked in overdrive during the Bush regime when they discovered socalled South Park conservatives. That idea that sexism and racism and general bigotry are cool and can be packaged and sold to the youth just to win some more votes in key battle states during the next election: Southern Strategy 2.0 if you wish.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:05 PM on March 17, 2015 [15 favorites]


I can certainly iunderstand the uproar. The Joker was always the perfect Poster Boy for the sociopathic assholes who make up the Over-Privileged Mens Movement. And to have him torturing/symbolically-raping the most positive female role model in the Bat-verse? I can imagine more pathetic boys masturbating to that than the unfortunate ass-in-the-air Spiderwoman cover of last year. Meanwhile, leaked plot info about the upcoming "Suicide Squad" movie seems to be positioning the Joker as the lead hero on a mission against "some sort of big boogeyman that the government REALLY hates"... called Batman. Know your audience.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:06 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


There really ought to be a drinking game based on DC's perpetual ignorance of the marketplace

Not a drinking game, but the folks at theouthousers.com are keeping score.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:07 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


letting someone make this character look like this?

Those somebodies being Joe Keatinge and Sophie (then still going by Ross) Campbell and you should really read the two volumes of Glory they put out.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:08 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Heh. I was going to go see what Baldwin was saying about this on Twitter but was then reminded that he's blocked me.

Yes, I'm bragging. What of it?
posted by brundlefly at 3:24 PM on March 17, 2015 [31 favorites]


I'm sad that they didn't come up with a cleverer cover than this. Why not reference The Killing Joke and the Batgirl selfie cover by having her take a selfie with a beaten-up Joker using his camera? Why isn't that the cover?
posted by sleeping bear at 3:27 PM on March 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


'Save the cover' from what?

It's already all over the internet, and getting way more attention than it ever would if people hadn't objected.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:37 PM on March 17, 2015


Why not reference The Killing Joke and the Batgirl selfie cover by having her take a selfie with a beaten-up Joker using his camera? Why isn't that the cover?

Ask and ye shall receive. (From Gabriel Rodriguez, the superlative artist of Joe Hill's Locke & Key, among other things. And, yes, not actually a cover, and not using Joker's camera, but still...)
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:52 PM on March 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


'Save the cover' from what?

It's already all over the internet, and getting way more attention than it ever would if people hadn't objected.


But it's not the right sort of attention for the neckbeard contingent.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:53 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I like this altered version better

That's a pretty dramatic and great change. They should change the variant cover to that, because the look on her face is fantastic, she is really going to mess him once she gets free. And you know she will, based on that look alone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:56 PM on March 17, 2015


It's a fairly standard thing to have, once in a while, a cover image where your famous super hero looks all helpless, terrified, and/or defeated. Even if he's the Man Without Fear. Even if he's Captain America. Or even Superman. Or Superman with some other weird stuff going on.

Anyway, that few minutes of random browsing through old comic book covers tells me I'm right in thinking it's not that uncommon. It used to be the sort of thing that kids would argue about on school lunch break, but somehow I don't recall any of those arguments making it into major international newspapers.
posted by sfenders at 4:06 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't really have any inside information, so these are just guesses, but with the ditching of the New 52 along with the new lineup coming (with decent diversity, although it could be better) some of their recent editorial hires and the move to Burbank, I think some pretty massive changes are coming to DC Comics.

They'll still continue to do stupid things, but they're a major comic book publisher so of course they will. But I also think they'll wise up.

At least for a bit, anyway. These things go in cycles.
posted by darksong at 4:13 PM on March 17, 2015


Or you do the classic Killing Joke cover with Joker and camera, except that the Joker looks surprised and you can see Batgirl's reflection in the lens as she is about to land a punch.

robocop is bleeding - This is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for when I saw my first headline about Albuquerque's cover. That it was gonna be a reframing image where Babs whips Joker's ass in a Killing Joke context and that's what had the neckbeards up in arms. But nope, more lurid Joker horror. Misogyny in comics, an exciting innovation!

(on preview - Halloween Jack: DC should run with that cover instead.)

I was a nineties kid, I read my buddy's copy of the Killing Joke and thought it was deep in the same way I thought Trent Reznor was deep at the time. Awful stuff? Tell me more! We're in our midthirties now, us nineties kids, some of us raised on a diet of hateful, cynical, violent comics written by dudes who would go on to be tired old reactionaries with embarrassing websites. I'm really glad today's comics are waking up from Alan Moore and Frank Miller. I wish I had woken up from them much sooner in life. I'm amazed to meet dudes older than me who still haven't. I'm depressed to be entirely unsurprised that neckbeards escalated their defense of this cover to threats of violence. A cover that, what, pays fealty to a nearly thirty year old protogorno story with Batman in it? Interesting which moments in art history stir people to such passions.

Superhero comics seem to be abandoning their insulting image of the ideal midthirties straight, white, cishetero male reader and, total coincidence I'm sure, they're more interesting and exciting than they have been in years. I read them at the coffee spot, where an employee brings in back issues. They're more colorful than the dour stuff I used to read. Ms Marvel will make you laugh out loud, it's so great.

Erik Larsen's meltdown is funny too, but not the haha kind. I'm surprised, mostly. I'd expect him to be smarter than to complain about a "vocal minority" of people who have been here all along, dying to read some comics, if only someone would please make them some. I read a hundred plus issues of Savage Dragon and can think of three characters who's costume is a palette swapped bustier off the top of my head. And he's wondering where some of these "new" readers may have been? I'm embarrassed to know that trivia but here's the dude who drew them falling on his sword in public because it bugs him out to see other people doing comics without big bazooms in them? Baffling. Sad.

These angry dudes will forever confuse. Allegedly, these are guys who love comics and stories, right? Then wouldn't the notion of more comics and more stories be exciting and thrilling? They spend so much time complaining about reboots and derivative sequels on forums and social media after all. But that cover they're trying to #save? Apart from everything else problematic about it, it is by far the most tired, busted and old fashioned looking thing in this month's solicits.

And meanwhile - here, chuckleheads: Thor's a lady now. And Mockingbird is on television opposite two versions of the Black Canary. And Batgirl? She kicks ass and has fun and goes on dates and adventures just like you're always saying you wish Spider-Man would. She's bigger than what Joker and Alan Moore did to her for a cheap first act stunt. The story has moved on and it's pretty damn good. These stories and characters have always been bigger than the narrow revenge and power fantasies of these resentful, cynical men. How could they be otherwise when the impossible is their very subject matter? These new stories, from new creators with new priorities, values and backgrounds? They stand a chance of surprising you! C'mon and read some cool new comics, buddies!

"Those aren't REALISTIC! SJWs ruin everything!"

Sigh
*HULK SMASHES*

TL;DR: Death to nerd culture.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:15 PM on March 17, 2015 [20 favorites]


Wait, wait- there was an issue where the Joker raped comissioner gordon's daughter so badly she ended up in a wheelchair? Ugh. I can't get with that.

What's interesting is I always saw Joker as someone who wouldn't be able to get hard and had no interest in that. I've heard of psychos who can only get excited watching dismemberments and things like that, but the excitement is completely channelled into the act itself- not manifesting as physical excitement. And finding any sexual act to be uninteresting. In other words I thought Joker was too f'd up in the head to get hard. I guess this ruins the ideas I had of that character.
posted by rancher at 4:27 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


The Joker shoots Barbara and shows Gordon pictures of her wounded body, implying a sexual assault, but the comic isn't explicit really. It's a textbook "refrigerator" moment, in that the shooting and abuse are intended to hurt Gordon and Barbara is reduced to a plot device.

I never thought about how gross Alan Moore was until now, and thinking about sexual violence in his other famous books.
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:40 PM on March 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Alan Moore is infamous for writing rape into any story he possibly can. The regularity is astonishing. The man's an incredible writer, but this is his biggest and most despicable flaw.
posted by painquale at 4:46 PM on March 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


jbickers: "That cover is a perfect example of why the entire Batman universe has been off-putting to me for years now. Everything about it, including and maybe especially the movies, just oozes with mean-spiritedness and ugliness. None of it is any fun. I'll stick with talking trees and Asgardian warrior queens."

C'mon, man. He lost his parents!
posted by Samizdata at 4:47 PM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


robocop is bleeding: "She's no longer a passive, frozen in helpless terror, she's angry and planning how she can fight back.

Seriously. Why wouldn't DC have a rule that, on variant covers, the character WHOSE NAME IS ON THE FRIGGAN BOOK cannot look like a punk? The cover wasn't a Batgirl cover. It was a Joker Be So Dark! cover of which we already have 5.3 million. Joker is getting his ass handed to him on the Superman and Catwoman alternates, so it's clearly okay for him to lose.
"

That Action Comics #41 cover is teh sexayness to me.
posted by Samizdata at 4:51 PM on March 17, 2015


Adam Baldwin has thoroughly ruined any previous enjoyment I had of Firefly; this was doubled when he came after me and sent me really gross pictures because I merely expressed disappointment in his attitude towards women. I blocked him and I regret nothing (except when I see pics of him and Nathan Fillion still being buddy-buddy. Then I'm like, "FFS, Fillion, talk to your asshole friend").
posted by Kitteh at 5:19 PM on March 17, 2015 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I have a brown coat that I bought pre-Firefly. I never really got into that show and was annoyed at the Hey! Browncoat! connection.

But now I'm gonna toss the damn thing out.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:23 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ebay that coat and donate the proceeds to a feminist-friendly organization.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 5:25 PM on March 17, 2015 [9 favorites]


Anyone still wearing their Jayne hat gets the most furious side-eye.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:25 PM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


EatTheWeek > Thor's a lady now.

Except apparently that's not really Thor in some convoluted hairsplitting neckbeardy way. I just learnt this the other day and am kind of fascinated (and repulsed) at the amount of detail people are willing to passionately commit to about made-up characters.
posted by egypturnash at 5:28 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


In the Firefly comics, Joss Whedon and the writers should write Zoe and Jane getting into a knock-down drag-out fight where she kicks his ass. And she takes the hat as a trophy, wearing it occasionally just to piss Jane off.

Then Firefly fans can still enjoy wearing the hat, and misogynist Adam can scoot farther up his own manhole. Win-win?
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 5:32 PM on March 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


egypturnash - lolwut? Wowsers, I love when they get stuck in that feedback loop where their FURIOUS ANGER can only be taken as proof of their insanely high FAN POWER LEVELS.

You can almost picture monks having the same sort of arguments about which saints had which powers and "nuh-UH, St. Michael doesn't WORK that way, THAD." Probably had something to do with them adding the vow of silence, come to think about it.

It's a story about a magic hammer. One of those four other wielders of that magic hammer they're talking about? A frog. This time Thor's a woman. Is that not allowed? Well, a wizard did it. Loki was a woman for something like sixty issues and no one got upset. And bro, do you even mythology? Gender jumping is the least of it - you're lucky to stay the same species. It's a story about a magic hammer. It's a story about a magic hammer.
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:40 PM on March 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


I just learnt this the other day and am kind of fascinated (and repulsed) at the amount of detail people are willing to passionately commit to about made-up characters.

Best part is that this comment can be used for pretty much all sides of every argument about comics ever.
posted by sideshow at 5:51 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


One of those four other wielders of that magic hammer they're talking about? A frog.

Serious question. How does a frog pick up a hammer?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:05 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's a cute little tiny hammer formed from a sliver of Mjolnir.
posted by painquale at 6:08 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


And it's called Frogjolnir.
posted by painquale at 6:09 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thorribbit?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:34 PM on March 17, 2015


Serious question. How does a frog pick up a hammer?

I've always been fond of this answer to that question, even if I can't make it through without needing tissue.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:42 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Alan Moore is infamous for writing rape into any story he possibly can. The regularity is astonishing. The man's an incredible writer, but this is his biggest and most despicable flaw.

At the risk of playing fanboy apologist, it should be said that Moore has made the point that rape is a far more common crime, in real life, than murder, and yet no one would say "[random comics writer] is infamous for writing [murder] into any story he possibly can." Because, of course, they all do. (See also this old This American Life episode, and in particular the prologue, in which the daughter of a murder victim muses as to what it would be like if someone hosted a "rape mystery dinner" the way they do murder mysteries.) And it's not as if he's writing them in a gratuitous fashion, or falling into the "rape as origin" trope, say. Nevertheless, he's done it often enough that he could probably give it a rest by now. (I'll admit that part of my disenchantment with Moore has to do with his doing an installment of the despicable Crossed franchise, which does feature utterly gratuitous scenes of rape (and murder, and both more or less at the same time). I know that he has to pay the rent and that he no longer wants to work for any of the major comics publishers, but FFS.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:00 PM on March 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Adam Baldwin.

I can't even watch Full Metal Jacket any more without wondering what racist shit he was saying on set, and wishing it was him getting shot by the sniper and not Dorian Harewood.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:18 PM on March 17, 2015


I'd counter that many of the rape scenes in Moore's comics (e.g. V For Vendetta, Smax, Killing Joke, many of the ones in the various League books) are for gratuitous shock or fall into a tired "rape as origin" trope.

Crossed is really horrid --- Ennis at his worst --- but Moore's installments have been fairly timid so far. (And they're very linguistically interesting: the story is narrated in what English could become 100 years from now.) But more likely than not the story will turn grisly soon enough.
posted by painquale at 7:30 PM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait, wait- there was an issue where the Joker raped comissioner gordon's daughter so badly she ended up in a wheelchair?

If I remember correctly both Moore (writer) and Bolland (artist) have both gone on record as saying they regret The Killing Joke. For what it's worth though Joker didn't rape her he just shot her in the spine. Plenty of rape happening all over the place in DC comics though so they'll probably retcon it somehow, maybe Kevin Smith will be involved.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:21 PM on March 17, 2015


I never thought about how gross Alan Moore was until now, and thinking about sexual violence in his other famous books.

Then oh boy do I have the comic for you! It's called Neonomicon and it's one of the worst things that has ever happened!
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:22 PM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


(reading on) Either everybody else is taking crazy pills, or I am. I really don't think there was any rape in The Killing Joke.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:24 PM on March 17, 2015


It's heavily suggested, and the whole scene happens in a very sexualized manner. This part, for example.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:32 PM on March 17, 2015


Also here.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:35 PM on March 17, 2015


Dinty_Moore's second link had an offhand reference to "a shotgun wedding between the Joker and Batgirl".

"In Batgirl #14 the Joker proposed to Batgirl with her mother’s ring and her finger still attached. She reluctantly accepts when he puts a gun to her mom’s head in Batgirl #15 [...] A flashback reveals that he’s been planning this special day for a long time. He explains to an Arkham Asylum psychiatrist that during their honeymoon he will amputate her arms and legs and keep her locked in the basement. The wedding is scheduled for Batgirl #16."

Jesus fucking christ. What the fuck, 2013 DC. What the ever-living fuck. What is wrong with you people.
posted by egypturnash at 8:47 PM on March 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Even Alan Moore does not defend The Killing Joke.
posted by Phersu at 12:44 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


neckbeard
neckbeard
neckbeard
neckbeards
neckbeardy


If you could be grownups and talk about people's beliefs without perpetuating a baseless stereotype premised entirely on physical appearance, that would be nice.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:19 AM on March 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


it would be really nice if we could not relitigate the neckbeard thing in here.

i also think that in this context though, what we're really talking about is gators. samurai sword wielding fedora clad gators. this kind of fucking guy.

Neckbeards would argue over canon or whatever, or quibble over story bits or whether such and such made sense with that characters personality and quote a ton of verbiage from various issues at you.

No, this is an ideological holy war. This is about not letting the evil tumblrite feminismists get one over on us by making them change the cover. It isn't even about the fucking cover, it's about who is taking issue with it and their stated reason.

It's a bit pedantic, but this bugs me in the same way the "modern" usage of troll does because trolling is shitposting image macros until someone screams in to a mic on twitch, not stalking and harassing people or launching a huge hate campaign.

A neckbeard would post "i'd hit it", a gator threatens to come to your house and hit you because you're a woman who objects to bullshit treatment.

Neckbeard just feels cutesy and inaccurate at this point, even ignoring the other issues. This is absolutely gator behavior, and i wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the same people are involved. Is there a kotakuinaction post about this bullshit?
posted by emptythought at 3:56 AM on March 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


> "It's funny, during the brief period that I was into comics in the mid-80s, we didn't buy DC because they were considered corny kids' stuff, whereas Marvel was considered gritty and more 'real'. When did that all change?"

As far as I can tell, DC's business plan for at least the last three decades has been, "Do whatever Marvel was doing 5 years ago."
posted by kyrademon at 3:56 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a serious comics reader and I have been inching towards more DC titles recently (I'm with Jean Grey, more of a Marvel Girl), including this recent Batgirl and my main issue is that it doesn't fit the comic at all. Both Batgirl and Gotham Academy have a way more all ages, less grimdark bent. I actually really like Gotham Academy, Batgirl has been a little more hit or miss. That being said I'm glad they pulled the cover and their response was great. Before they responded I was actually about to drop DC all together cause it's just not worth it to me.
posted by KernalM at 5:45 AM on March 18, 2015


As far as I can tell, DC's business plan for at least the last three decades has been, "Do whatever Marvel was doing 5 years ago."

"To put it bluntly, The Problem is that DC wants to be Marvel, and they have for the past 50 years." One of the best and most informative pieces of comics writing on the net.
posted by painquale at 7:27 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is there a kotakuinaction post about this bullshit?

Of course there is, and it's as predictably horrible as you would expect.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:09 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


"My main issue is that it doesn't fit the comic at all. Both Batgirl and Gotham Academy have a way more all ages, less grimdark bent."

Yeah, that's what's so infuriatingly tone-deaf about this whole affair. DC sent down an edict that EVERY one of its June books would have a variant cover featuring The Joker. But why chose a Batgirl one which is so violently at odds with the book's own prevailing mood? Scroll down to the Gotham Academy "Joker Month" cover here (third one down) for proof that the edict could have been obeyed - even on Batgirl - without producing something so grossly, stupidly, needlessly off-putting for that particular book's target readers.

(The Superman cover shown there manages to avoid grimdark too.)
posted by Paul Slade at 10:10 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I remember correctly both Moore (writer) and Bolland (artist) have both gone on record as saying they regret The Killing Joke. For what it's worth though Joker didn't rape her he just shot her in the spine. Plenty of rape happening all over the place in DC comics though so they'll probably retcon it somehow, maybe Kevin Smith will be involved.

At least TKJ had the courtesy to just suggest it, rather than the more recent caperape.
posted by phearlez at 12:25 PM on March 18, 2015


In other news about women in comics and online harassment, Valerie D'Orazio recounts an online bullying campaign led against her by Chris Sims.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:35 PM on March 18, 2015 [3 favorites]


emptythought: "This is about not letting the evil tumblrite feminismists get one over on us by making them change the cover. It isn't even about the fucking cover, it's about who is taking issue with it and their stated reason. "

Absolutely.

One of the talking points is always, "THOSE people aren't real fans, they're invading OUR space," but I wonder how many "Save The Cover" crowd are reading Batgirl specifically or do they just want to assert their dominance over all D.C. comics.

Like as a point of censorship, a variant comic book cover is a pretty useless thing to fight for. We've all seen the cover. It's on the internet. Whatever important ideas that cover has, they are out there already. What they were really fighting for was proof that D.C. listens to them, not those other people.

(And kind of related, on a video I watched there was a one-second trigger warning and of course the Youtube comments filled up with people complaining about that. One comment asked, "It's one second long, what's the big deal?" and a lot of the responses to that were basically, "THOSE people are for trigger warnings, so I'm against it.")
posted by RobotHero at 12:42 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


sfenders: "It's a fairly standard thing to have, once in a while, a cover image where your famous super hero looks all helpless, terrified, and/or defeated. Even if he's the Man Without Fear. Even if he's Captain America. Or even Superman. Or Superman with some other weird stuff going on."

True, which is why I can see Rafael Albuquerque not initially thinking he was doing anything beyond the pale, and why D.C. hasn't created a "don't look like a punk" rule.

Though I think there's a bit of a gendered element to it. Note two of your four examples, the hero is unconscious, and Superman is actively struggling in that last one. None of them have the terrified look in the hero's face combined with the physical intimacy from the villain. If we searched harder, we could probably find something, but something about this presentation fits "damsel in distress" tropes in a way those other covers don't.
posted by RobotHero at 1:24 PM on March 18, 2015


Her eyebrows and the fact she's looking to the viewer for help. Those other ones are scenes of fights, whereas this Batgirl one is a hostage situation, Batgirl's the deadweight hostage, and the viewer is the presumed person the Joker's negotiating with.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:49 PM on March 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


And in those linked stories, the reader can open them up and see how the hero got out of the situation. In a variant cover, that release does not exist and the hero remains trapped there, pleading for a resolution that will not come.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:56 PM on March 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


At least TKJ had the courtesy to just suggest it, rather than the more recent caperape.

Jesus, Identity Crisis was in 2004? Over a decade ago? Its nasty tiny footprints have barely faded from my brain.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:00 PM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


In other news about women in comics and online harassment, Valerie D'Orazio recounts an online bullying campaign led against her by Chris Sims.

This whole thing is nuts.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:05 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


And in those linked stories, the reader can open them up and see how the hero got out of the situation.

Covers have often diverged from the contents inside. As a kid this used to piss me off to no end. Comics and SF/Fantasy books often had little relation to the interiors.

Daredevil 183.

I remember buying that book when I was 12 and running home to find out how Daredevil lived through being gut shot by the Punisher and having bit of his back blown out.

He survived by it not happening in the story.

Still traumatized.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:05 PM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


"AGAIN ... THE PUNISHER"

Strong candidate for UR-COVER BLURB of eighties Marvel right there.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:56 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


In other news about women in comics and online harassment, Valerie D'Orazio recounts an online bullying campaign led against her by Chris Sims.

I was shocked by this. Chris Sims seemed like a pretty decent guy from his Comics Allilance writing (and we have certainly passed his work around here). Now it turns out he spent years being an asshole misogynist harrassing fuckknuckle.

People are vast and contain multitudes, I guess.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2015


It's a fairly standard thing to have, once in a while, a cover image where your famous super hero looks all helpless, terrified, and/or defeated. Even if he's the Man Without Fear. Even if he's Captain America. Or even Superman. Or Superman with some other weird stuff going on.

I see your point regarding the form and structure of the covers, but the emotional contents of their facial expressions are still so different from what's shown in Batgirl's face. The characters in the examples you linked look like they're in serious trouble, maybe even defeated, but their expressions are more like an impotent "NOOOOO!" than they are, like, abjectly weeping and helpless with fear and terror like Batgirl is.

Even in the Daredevil cover, he looks defeated and hopeless but he isn't breaking down and crying, he isn't actually begging the viewer for help with his facial expression.
posted by dialetheia at 3:27 PM on March 18, 2015


Chris Sims seems pretty apologetic for it now. He was completely in the wrong, he is open about that, and he apologizes.
posted by kafziel at 3:38 PM on March 18, 2015


For me, it doesn't change the fact that he did it. Fuck his apology. Or Comics Alliance's weird: "Someone was targeting Chris not out of a sense of justice, but because they wanted to destroy his success. The campaign may also have been one of several efforts we’re aware of to discredit ComicsAlliance." Fuck you, ComicsAlliance, you don't get to make this about you.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


Boy, that Sims news is surprising and disappointing. Actually, maybe it's not entirely surprising... I've listened to War Rocket Ajax (his podcast) for a while, and I often got the sense that there was some genuine bitterness and loathing underneath the "I'm a playful jerk" guise that he sometimes put on. (That guise was itself always unpleasant, especially when he was jokingly mean to his big sweetie of a cohost.) My sense is that his conscious attitudes and commitments are now genuinely progressive and humane, but he's fighting against some really spiteful implicit biases that were ingrained when he was a lonely comic store employee into professional wrestling. His apology makes sense to me... this is essentially what it looks like when a redditor grows up.

The ComicsAlliance notice is total bullshit.
posted by painquale at 4:09 PM on March 18, 2015


It was completely surprising to me - I always thought he was a good egg, but then again, I haven't been reading him for that long.

I do believe he's apologetic, and I do believe that he's changed. Personally, I think that it's important to let people grow - the manner of his apology still shows that he's still got some growing to do, but he's made progress. But I'm also not the injured party here, and he's done a crap job of actually apologizing to the injured party. It's certainly going to flavor how I read anything from him now.

Comics Alliance should fucking know better.

I feel like it should be a general requirement of humanity to learn how to apologize. Make it a requirement of high school graduation, make it a webinar, I don't care. But it seems more and more obvious to me that people just don't think about their apologies, what they're apologizing for, and how much it makes them sound like an ass. People can be angry about harassment for reasons other than jealousy or wanting to destroy his success.

For me, it's the general feeling of 'Jesus fucking Christ, another one?' This sort of thing can make a person paranoid.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:32 PM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Rrr. I'm really mad at Chris. I think he was jealous of D'Orazio's success and went after her out of envy, like so many other impotent, disaffected men on the internet. He's clearly felt like an outsider who wanted to be a part of the comics industry, and I think it led to a lot of rage and hatred for other bloggers who found writing positions.

And then he found success. On just the last episode of his podcast, he talked how ecstatic he was to get to write the X-Men and share in Kirby's legacy. It was hard not to share in his triumph. And now I feel betrayed for empathizing with him. That triumph was tinged with gross, entitled, misogynistic vindictiveness. I wonder whether Marvel will just wash their hands of him after all of this is said and done. I'm torn between feeling sorry for him and thinking he deserves to have his dream crash down.
posted by painquale at 4:52 PM on March 18, 2015


Eh, people a lot grosser than Chris Sims are still writing for Marvel. I doubt it would affect his career at all.

Though now I'm feeling pretty disgusted at my chosen hobby, so there's that.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:04 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have never really understood the whole ongoing campaign of personal attacks thing.

I must confess I did have a bit of a rabid anticampaign going on against 2K and Liohead Studios (or as I put it, Lyinhead) for a while. But that was due to having lost access to paid for DLC for Bioshock 2 (the ONLY time I had bought Microsoft Points) and Fable III and the companies pretty much shrugging at me (Lionhead being a bit more offensive as they were pitching their new upcoming Fable Heroes game in our communiques, and were still advertising Fable III on their site with no warnings about potential issues). I didn't suggest they use GfWL DRM, and was baffled why, as a legit customer, I had to suffer for that poor decision.

So, yeah, I understand the anger part of it, but my fury was directed towards an entire entity that had, as I think many people would agree, abused their position to directly steal from me and then shrug helplessly at me. At no point did I actually mention a single name of a single employee while raging.

So, yeah, these feuds things baffle me.

(I am also a proud, card carrying member of the "Consent Only Club" so the other bit baffles me too.)
posted by Samizdata at 6:51 PM on March 18, 2015


You know, I'll just note for the record here that they've never had any of their major male characters raped by their archnemesis.

What a baffling claim. In the Batman series of books alone, Talia al Ghul raped Batman to conceive a child. You can decide for yourself if she counts as an "archnemesis", although I think we can agree that Batman is a major DC character. Nightwing (former Robin, Dick Grayson) has been raped on several occasions. Again, you can do an analysis to determine if the aggressor was the "archnemesis" and why that might matter.

More on rape of males in the DC Universe here.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:35 AM on March 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, male DC characters do get raped. It's the difference in how the rape is treated is also notable - with the women, it either is to get back at men or part of a Traumatic Origin Story/giant trauma storyline that defines the character, and with the dudes .... half the time it's treated as a joke. Or brushed aside.

Neither way of writing about rape is better than the other, but there's less casting the male superheroes as victims.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:00 AM on March 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


[Several comments deleted. Graphic descriptions of all the sexual assaults that happen in comics are not a neutral thing to bring to a thread, or to demand someone enumerate to satisfy your pointless pedantry. You are not welcome to have this kind of fight here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:38 PM on March 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


aw man not Brian Wood too. I liked DMZ.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:59 PM on March 19, 2015


aw man not Brian Wood too.

He's recently been working hard to rehabilitate his reputation, i.e. scrubbing his Wikipedia page of any mention of this controversy.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:34 PM on March 19, 2015


Brian Wood is and continues to be an enormous piece of misogynist garbage and that opinion can be backed in in maybe five minutes of conversation with basically any woman who has a) interacted with him professionally and b) can be assured of privacy considering his tactics in dealing with 'defamation.'
posted by a manly man person who is male and masculine at 7:14 AM on March 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eh, people a lot grosser than Chris Sims are still writing for Marvel. I doubt it would affect his career at all.

aw man not Brian Wood too. I liked DMZ.


Fuck, I had no idea. What an asshole.
posted by homunculus at 2:55 PM on March 20, 2015


With the Sims thing, it occurred to em just now (after days of white-knuckling against my desire to add yet another hot take on the mess) that if I were Tom Batuik, I'd be rushing out a Funky Winkerbean story where an old web feud of Les Moore's comes back to light, and then going out to buy a box of victory cigars to smoke when Sims sits down to write the next Funkywatch.
posted by the phlegmatic king at 11:46 AM on March 21, 2015


I have a hard time thinking of anything FW-related being rushed.
posted by phearlez at 1:08 PM on March 21, 2015 [1 favorite]




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