Holy Bad Press, Batman! This has not been a good week for DC Comics. First, Jason Momoa–Aquaman in the upcoming Batman Vs Superman movie–had a “joking” message for all the DC haters: he scrawled “F*ck Marvel” above his autograph on a fan’s poster. More seriously, DC had to pull the cover of a forthcoming issue of Batgirl after an online campaign against its dark, misogynistic tone. The artwork, by the magnificently named Rafael Albuquerque (it’s no wonder he works in comics; with a name like that, he should be a character in one), is a “variant” cover depicting Batgirl “with tears in her eyes and with Batman villain The Joker dangling a gun over her shoulder and drawing a blood-red grin across her face with his finger,” reports the Guardian. It was intended as a tribute to a 1988 Batman standalone story written by Alan Moore, “in which the Joker attacked – and probably sexually assaulted or raped – Batgirl aka Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Gordon, leaving her in a wheelchair.”
The recently revived and updated Batgirl has been a popular title for DC Comics because of its fun tone. Teresa Justino of The Mary Sue wrote that while the cover is drawn well, “it’s disturbing … the fact is, it’s not what many of Batgirl readers of any gender want to see for one of DC’s few female heroes currently with her own title.” Things got more complicated when there were reports that the ensuing online debate included death threats and harassment. And then a rival social media campaign–#SaveTheCover–was started, calling the ban on the artwork censorship. Well, perhaps not–after all, the cover was pulled at Albuquerque’s request. “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,” he said.