Editorial: Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Leather Jackets
Let’s preface all of the following with something super simple, even if it gets completely ignored: this editorial does not necessarily reflect All-Comic.com or its staff. These are opinions and observations on various things in the comic industry right now. If that sounds too heavy, by all means stop reading right now.
So, holy crap right? We have people going off about that proposed DC Comics variant to Batgirl #41 that depicted the classic Killing Joke version of the Joker posing with the current Batgirl, all menacing and holding a revolver. It’s, really, a great cover when you think about all the little things that it reminds you of… or, at least, what it reminds me of. It’s a key moment in Batgirl’s history that DC Comics essentially did away with when the New 52 hit the shelves. Now, I completely understand that this is not the direction that the current creative team are going or want to go, so it’s completely understandable that they wanted this cover not to be used as a variant to celebrate Joker month (or whatever these covers are for). Props to them for sticking to their guns, props to the artist for seeing their side of the story and it ends up being props to DC for actually listening to the parties involved. That’s, actually, great, but frankly, it shouldn’t matter what DC Comics decides, or what the creator decides because as a reader you should just read what you like and forget all the drama and all the bullshit that might come along with it. Because that’s not why any of us got into comics in the first place.
I can see both sides; The Killing Joke was a brutal story and it’s certainly one that would have an effect on a character all these years later, regardless if they’ve had miracle surgery to fix the paralysis. It’s more of a physiological effect, I think, than anything and certainly it was a traumatic experience for the character and anybody who may have had or known people who have gone through similar situations. On the other side of the coin, it’s a variant cover. One cover that, in my eyes, only plays up the role the Joker has had over the years and celebrates one of the most celebrates comics featuring The Joker, possibly, ever. For me personally, it only brought up the scene where Babs is shot, nothing else. That, “Holy shit!” moment in The Killing Joke that made everybody stop reading for a moment or two and really take in what they just saw. That’s what came to mind when I saw the variant for Batgirl #41.
Sure, this new, sharp change in Batgirl doesn’t reflect that past—and it seemingly skims over all the great work that Gail Simone and company had done, but I haven’t read it so I can’t say that for sure, for this new direction and take on the character—but the variant cover is about celebrating seventy-five years of The Joker and this was a key moment in his past that tied into the book that they were added a variant too. To me, and Odin save me for being this honest, it seems like an overreaction from the fans for something that, of course, was not meant to be taken any other way then to celebrate one of the sickest, creepiest characters that was ever created.
But, again, the creators stood up for what they wanted and it was changed. At least that system works. If nothing else, it’s a shame that the cover wasn’t shown to them first so that we could have completely avoided all of this insanity and back and forth fighting from fans, creators and pundits alike. It strikes me as silly and just a waste of time for everybody. Shouldn’t we be celebrating comics and all the great ones that are releases each week instead of focusing so fiercely on negatives? Well, apparently the answer to that is a big, resounding, “No!”
Why, you ask? Well, shortly after weeding through some of the Babs debacle, I stumbled into the great Wonder Woman debate of 2015! That’s right folks, a fictional character’s clothing choice is suddenly turning friend against friend, creator against creator and god against god! Okay, maybe not that last bit, but still the point remains. With all honestly: who the fuck cares what a fictional character is wearing?! I say this with an asterisk, because if they’re a scantily clad character, male or female or crazy fish monster, just for the sake of being scantily clad, I find it hard to take. There are certain publishers who cater to that, and I personally avoid that because it’s unnecessary and just pandering to, shall we say, a certain chunk of the comic reading crowd.
Wonder Woman is a timeless character, though she might not be my favorite, there’s always going to be people who hear the name and think of a certain look. Jim Lee’s redesign for the New 52 was good, sure, it looked like how someone might expect Wonder Woman to look and yet had a bit of an updated flair to it. The work that Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, among others, put into the initial Wonder Woman series was stellar and, to my own surprise, I really enjoyed it, but never once was I concerned or driven to mindless rage because of her outfit. It was about how the character acted and how she was written that truly matter to me. Sure, it was visually a very well put together book and will undoubtedly go down as one of my favorite versions of Wonder Woman, but the story is what really pulled me in. If they had this new leather-clad Wonder Woman in the story, I would feel the exact same way about it because it doesn’t matter what she wears. She could put on a pair of comfortable sweats and an old hoodie for all I care; she’s still a badass who will knock your damn head off.
But there’s certainly a sharp, almost knee-jerk trend that seems to be happening. Batgirl got a new look, an interesting design, to be sure, then Spider-Woman—likely after that variant cover where her behind was very… pronounced and everybody lost their minds—and actually I didn’t mind it. So now Wonder Woman gets to join in on the leather jacket-esque/motorcycle gear trend that is starting to creep its way across prominent female characters and I can’t help but think that it’s not a coincidence. I don’t get the reason to suddenly completely flip the script on things like that, especially after DC apparently gave up the new Power Girl suit designed for her during the early days of the New 52. It seems, well, hypocritical and unnecessary. I don’t think that Batgirl needed to be “Batgirled”, as the kids say, nor do I think that Spider-Woman required a “Batgirling” but it happened anyway.
It’s likely going to happen to other female characters as well because there appears to be a change in the air. For better or for worse, characters are going to change and they’re going to get updated and adjusted depending on creative teams and the world around them—that’s just part of comics. As long as the characters and stories are good, and compelling and different from the stuff that has come before it, then make them look however you want. If you’re one of those people who has a problem with it stop reading it. It’s clearly not for you. If you don’t like it because you miss the tight leather curves or cleavage, you might be reading comics for the wrong reason. If you think that it’s somehow censorship to retract a variant cover at the behest of the freaking creators, you probably need to reconsider some things.
If you’re sick and tired of all the bullshit that comes along with stuff like this, and things like story and characters seem to be pushed back for other, more gimmicky things then maybe the Big Two aren’t for you. For me, personally, the stories from DC have lost me. I don’t care if Green Lantern is gay or straight or likes to date fish monsters; I don’t care if we get dark and gritty Batgirl or cool purple jacket but maybe a bit more fun with a younger direction Batgirl; I don’t care if Wonder Woman wears pants or shoulder pads or a skirt and a ridiculous golden brassiere; hell, I don’t even care that Batman is going to become Robo-Bunny or whatever the hell is going on with that because the stories and the direction of the books just aren’t working for me as a whole. I liked a few of them, but they’ve ended in favor of whatever this mini-reboot thing is—which is another thing I am so god damn sick and tired of it hurts.
But I’m not sitting here and deciding not to read these books because Wonder Woman’s fashion sense changed. I’m not tired of DC or mad at them because they listened to their creators and took down a potentially offense variant that, more to the point, didn’t work with the current direction. DC lost me, and Marvel is on the verge of doing so, because it simply doesn’t interest me any longer. The characters are multi-million dollar intellectual properties so there’s only so much that can happen, and it’s just a dull, repetitive cycle. I don’t want to hear about all these people bitching about this choice or that choice; I’d rather just tune it out for something better, but that’s another story for another time.
If you don’t like something that the billion dollar companies are doing, stop paying attention. Stop reading the book or books and try something else. Look to the companies like Image, BOOM!, Valiant, Dark Horse, 2000 AD and many, many others. It’s not censorship, it’s not “ruining your childhood”, and it’s not the end of the fucking world. Status quo will return, as it always does. Let’s celebrate comics instead of fighting, sometimes viciously, about stupid shit like costumes or variant covers. Costumes will change and variant covers will happen, or not happen, regardless. If you like a book, great, if you don’t that’s great too. There’s more than enough floating around the industry for you to enjoy.