11:55am PT by Graeme McMillan
DC Entertainment Pulls Controversial 'Batgirl' Cover Following Online Outcry
In response to fan and creator concern, DC Entertainment has confirmed that an already-announced variant cover to June's Batgirl No. 41, which featured the hero crying while standing next to the Joker in reference to the 1980s graphic novel The Killing Joke, will not be published after all.
The announcement came late Monday, following artist Rafael Albuquerque releasing a statement to Comic Book Resources in which he apologized for creating the image.
"For me, it was just a creepy cover that brought up something from the character's past that I was able to interpret artistically," Albuquerque wrote. "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."
Explaining that his intent "was never to hurt or upset anyone through my art," Albuquerque's statement revealed that he had asked DC to pull the cover, and that he was "incredibly pleased" that the company had agreed.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the canceled cover will not be replaced, and that Batgirl will no longer be part of the Joker variant cover collection in June.
DC's accompanying statement noted that the company "stand[s] by our creative talent," and added, "Regardless if fans like [the] 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."
Current Batgirl co-writer Cameron Stewart later tweeted clarification about the reference to threats of violence and harassment:
Something to clarify, because DCs statement was a little unclear. @rafaalbuquerque did not get threats. People OBJECTING to the cover did.— Cameron Stewart (@cameronMstewart) March 17, 2015
The variant cover, one of a number of alternate covers on DC titles in June to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Joker's first appearance, first appeared online last week. It quickly drew criticism from those who felt that the implicit reference to The Killing Joke — a story in which the Joker crippled Batgirl, before stripping her naked and taking photographs of her abuse to torture her father, Comissioner Gordon — was not only unnecessary, but not in keeping with the more positive tone of the current Batgirl series. (There was even a hashtag promoting the response on Twitter, #CHANGETHECOVER.)
Following the cancelation of the cover, Stewart again took to Twitter to respond to comic book fans decrying the decision as "censorship":
I stand behind Rafael as an artist and a friend, and think he made the right decision.— Cameron Stewart (@cameronMstewart) 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.— Cameron Stewart (@cameronMstewart) March 17, 2015
So, we have the creators of the book and the artist himself all agreeing that the cover was inappropriate. There’s no “censorship” here.— Cameron Stewart (@cameronMstewart) March 17, 2015
If you’re concerned about artistic integrity and creative vision - that’s what we’re doing. Keeping the integrity of our book intact.— Cameron Stewart (@cameronMstewart) March 17, 2015