25 years ago Alan Moore pushed the boundaries of storytelling.
Today, Rafael Albuquerque opted to give in to political pressure rather than test our ability to see Barbara Gordon conquer her personal demons.
For the last generation, the Joker's brutal assault on the Gordon family has not only been one of the greatest defining moments of the Bat canon, it created one of the most engaging comics in the Modern Age.
I'm talking Birds of Prey, people. One of the few comic book series that not only starred supporting characters, it established a rotating cast of almost entirely female protagonists.
They supported each other, they fought each other, and they didn't kowtow to anyone.
Instead, DC folded under "threats of violence and harassment".
Recently there's been some posting about whether DC should have killed the Batgirl 41 variant cover (I said "Nay") and comparisons to the Batman 39 cover.
There is a difference between the Joker and Batman vs the Joker and Batgirl.
The Joker means two different things to two different characters.
To the Joker, Batman is his ironic mirror image. The Ying to his Yang. He loves him in his sick twisted way.
Death of the Family was about Joker trying to free Batman from the shackles of domecstitude.
Whereas, to the Joker, Barbara Gordon was a handy tool to try to break Commissioner Gordon. He doesn't care about Batgirl, as far as he's concerned she's trying to impress Papa Bat.
Whereas, pre-New 52, the Joker was scared (as scared as he is capable of feeling) of Barbara Gordon.
She, a handicapped nobody (as far as he knows), beat him twice. Seemingly without trying.
She offends his "sensibilities".
To sum up: Joker hates the Gordons, but doesn't care about Batgirl.
"The team is a group of individuals, quite unlike the friendship between Dinah, Helena and Babs. And any team with Barda on it automatically has a certain bull in a China shop tremble, and I love that... The characters don't apologize for being asskickers, nor for being smart, nor for being sexy, nor for being sexual, for that matter. There are always going to be some people who find that not to their taste, but at the same time, Birds of Prey regularly brings in people who don't otherwise read mainstream comics, a whole audience that may not pick up any other superhero titles, and I love that niche, that little area between good taste and utter shamelessness."
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.
With all due respect,
Rafa [Rafael Albuquerque]
"We publish comic books about the greatest heroes in the world, and the most evil villains imaginable. The Joker variant covers for June are in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the Joker.
Regardless if fans like Rafael Albuquerque’s homage to Alan Moore’s THE KILLING JOKE graphic novel from 25 years ago, or find it inconsistent with the current tonality of the Batgirl books - threats of violence and harassment are wrong and have no place in comics or society.
We stand by our creative talent, and per Rafael’s request, DC Comics will not publish the Batgirl variant."
– DC Entertainment