Saturday, March 14, 2015

So, How Over Reactive Is This?

Recently variant covers have been coming under fire for their treatment of the women on them. This really exploded last year when Marvel released the solicitations for Spider-Woman #1 which featured the now infamous "Spider-Butt" cover by Italian artist Milo Manara. That was followed recently by Bleeding Cool calling out IDW for the Dheeraj Verma variant to G.I. Joe #6 that featured the Baroness' booty. Which brings us to this article, where Bleeding Cool once again calls out a publisher for featuring a variant cover with "a very disturbing sexual overtone."

The VARIANT Cover Bleeding Cool is calling out this time is the Joker 75th Anniversary Variant (DC's Variant Theme for June 2015) to Batgirl #41. The cover as seen below shows Barbara Gordon as Batgirl being held by the Joker in an image meant to invoke what is probably the biggest Joker story ever The Killing Joke, which is also one of if not the biggest Batgirl/Barbara Gordon story ever as well.

"It reflects the Killing Joke story in which Barbara Gordon was shot in the spine by the Joker, but in a far more lurid fashion. It does seem diametrically opposed to the current Batgirl comic book in terms of style, and also seems rather in contrast with the female empowerment theme that the book has embraced as well. Indeed, the comic has been totemic for this approach in the industry right now, alongside Ms. Marvel, so giving this new mini-relaunched Batgirl a cover in which she is visibly upset and abused by the man who once crippled her, does seem to be a little counter-intuitive. And the direction of the gun does give the whole thing a very disturbing sexual overtone."
- Rich Johnston

Since when does a cover have to reflect the mood, or story in a book? How many times have we seen covers that had zero to do with the actual content? Scottie Young "cutsie" covers for Marvel spring to mind. Not to remind you that this is the VARIANT cover. No one complained about how Harley or The Flash variant covers didn't reflect the tones of the books, but this is controversial? Tell me how? Harley had her legs wrapped around Superman's neck (Action Comics #39), and straddling the handle of her over-sized hammer like a pole dance (Supergirl #39), but this is sexual? For that matter why call this cover out to begin with? Why not the variant for The Flash #41 that has the Joker straddling the Flash? Could it because Batgirl has been under the spotlight and watchful eye ever since Batgirl #37's Transphobic Controversy? I personally think that is why this cover is being called out. It is the nature of the beast media jumping on a hot topic and exploiting every angle that they can no matter how far of a stretch it is.

As for the sexual overtones to the cover all I have to ask is: How? How is that cover in any way shape or form sexual? What I see when I see this cover is a clear homage to The Killing Joke by playing up the psychological scars that event and by extension the Joker left on Babs' psyche. I do not see how you see anything "sexual" let alone "disturbing sexual" with this cover. Maddox did a great video on the subject of sexual during the Spider-Butt Gate.

How is this cover sexual, but the fact that in The Killing Joke Commissioner Gordon is stripped naked, collared, and walked on a leash not? Should they have instead thrown Commissioner Gordon in the leash again? Perhaps since this Babs is so different from the one just a few issues ago the image should have Babs squirting the Joker in the face with water from a flower? I know some people would suggest the more obvious homage of Joker with a camera, which has been done before and if this is "disturbing sexual", that cover was a sign of him taking nude pictures of a bloody Barbara Gordon to show her father who was crawling around naked on a leash, so yeah, that isn't disturbing at all. 

I admit that a lot of covers are designed to attract the eye to a women's body, as well as some are designed for other reasons, and this one is designed to remind us on the major impact that The Killing Joke, and the Joker has left on Babs psychologically, and how demented the Joker is. 

So stop trying to make the internet explode in controversy over something like a VARIANT COVER I.E: Optional, meaning you do not have to buy this cover you can instead buy the standard direct market "Bat'mon" cover instead. 

I think sometimes we need to take a step back and remember the famous quote credited to Freud himself "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." 

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