I wanted to do a FLASH FRIDAY or SUPERMAN SUNDAY post since there have been some things that I wanted to address about their origins but at the moment another big crisis is happening in the comic industry, namely the big companies bowing to the peer pressure by SJWs and Comic Geek Chique to replace their normal heroes with gay / black / female versions.
It´s all a big conspiracy to further their own sick agenda by brainwashing people, censor artists, writers and companies to ruin comics forever.
Now you might think that´s overreacting and that there is no such thing happening. Then my dear friend I have to say you are wrong. The reason why you don´t think this is happening is that these people clothe their brainwashing and censorship in righteous causes and legitimate outrage over important issues. The problem with that is that when you take a closer look you see that all of these things that get blown totally out of proportion by social networks like twitter that there is not much ground to the accusations. Why ? Because in most cases the persons who start these crusades ( I´m using that word on purpose ) are misinformed, ignorant and . . . . I can´t even call them afficionados because they don´t even have that basic knowledge about the characters they complain about.
Case 1 : ChangeTheCover forces DC to pull rape promotion cover
This sounds like good news because rape is wrong and a big company like DC should not promote it or show it in a positive light . Sadly that´s not what REALLY happened here. What really happened is that a bunch of misinformed women who are probably not even regular comic readers but rather bandwagonhopping comic geek chique who started reading comics because it´s trendy now since they saw it on BIG BANG THEORY who have no idea of who Batgirl really is got the artist Rafael Albuquerque and DC to pull a cover because they know better than the guys who have written or read about her for a few decades what is right or wrong for Batgirl.
Now I could go into detail about the whole thing but thankfully I found this video on YouTube that explains it really comprehensive. Just watch this :
So let´s dissect the thing here. First of the cover in question was NOT the real cover BUT a variant cover. One of 25 variant covers for this issue.
For people who are not familiar with variant covers - and I guess a lot of them who have come here via a link on an outraged post aren´t - those are special covers done by comic companies to get comic buyers to buy more comics. I have always said that this practice of artificially inflating sales by doing these variant cover months that often have nothing to do with the series they appear on will one day bite the comic companies in the behind and now it finally has. But back to the explanation of variant covers : the thing is that for every 500 issues that a comic shop buys it gets 1 ( in words ONE ) variant cover. So you might say that there must be comic shops that buy more or at least around 500 issues of BATGIRL so they have this special cover in question. That WOULD be true if this was the only variant cover OR comic shops could pick which variant cover they get. Which they obviously can´t since then it would have been enough to ask comic retailers not to buy or sell this particular variant cover instead of making all this brouhaha and going to the top people at DC. But this is only 1 of 25 variant covers so that according to Murphy´s Law a comic shop may have to order 500 issues time 25 which brings us to 12,500 issues just to get this BATGIRL variant cover - by accident or on purpose.
Now according to the internet sales figures of BATGIRL are somewhere between 40,000 and 65,000 issues depending on the month. And let´s be generous here and say that 70,000 issues of BATGIRL would have been sold that month. If you apply the 12,500 issues to get this particular variant hypothesis you have 5.6 copies, let´s say 6 copies. If you apply the 500 issues to get the variant we still have only 140 copies. So the whole s - word - storm broke loose over 140 copies of a comic. Tops.
The second thing is the history of Batgirl which I obviously have to explain since nobody apart from some " hardcore comic fans " know about this.
And with " hardcore comic fans " we mean comic readers / creators who have not just recently jumped the comic bandwagon because it´s trendy now to be a comic geek and who remember the Batgirl BEFORE the NEW 52 and even the PRE - CRISIS Batgirl ( oy, don´t ask me what a crisis is ).
What most people ignore in all of this back and forth is that Batgirl is not a character that originated in the comics but much rather was invented for the campy Batman tv show portrayed by the fabulous Yvonne Craig.
Batgirl proved so popular that she was later introduced in the comic books where she played the role of sidekick to Batman and Robin suffering from all the ridiculous cliches about women that were the norm at that time.
She later on was written more realistically or let´s say emancipated but she never was her own character still playing the sidekick to Batman or at least always being in his shadow as a kind of female version of Batman.
She never became her own persona until the aftermath of The Killing Joke which - big surprise - the woman who instigated this whole campaign to change the cover of BATGIRL 41 ( and when I say change I mean cancel since Rafael has not done a new cover yet ) admits to not having read.
What´s more she says that she only had a loose understanding that The Killing Joke was A Thing - if you want to go and call one of the most popular Batman stories in the entire history of that character just A Thing - and that even without knowing the proper context she was disturbed. Furthermore she writes that there are a lot of readers like her, perhaps a lot of younger and female readers who have come to comics recently - maybe even because of the BATGIRL relaunch. Which I find legitimate.
I know that there are new readers who don´t have the huge knowledge about all the comic characters at DC. And it may surprise some people out there but even such an old geezer like me was new to the DC universe once. I didn´t start reading comics in the Silver Age ( oy, don´t ask me what the Silver Age is ) and I had to get back issues to find out more about the characters. But that´s the thing. Back in the day we didn´t get off halfcocked without knowing things. I don´t know if it has to do with Today´s comic reader´s lack of initiative ( aside from starting senseless s - word - storms on twitter ) or if it´s purely a female thing or something only feminists do but if such a cover had been released when I started reading comics the first thing for a person unfamiliar with the work it refers to - The Killing Joke - to do would have been to read the thing. It´s not such a big book, it´s only 64 pages. That doesn´t take too long now.
First off, The Killing Joke was never intended to be part of the official Bat canon. It was an ELSEWHERE story, which is an imaginary story that happens, might happen or might never had happened in some far away alternate reality that also told a POSSIBLE origin story for the Joker.
It became part of the official Bat lore retroactive because the story was beloved by so many readers and especially comic writers who referenced it a lot. If you don´t know what the story is about go out and read it. And I´m not saying this because I want to piss you off but because it´s really a very good story and I don´t want to spoil your reading experience. What I will mention is that in the story the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon in the spine which will cripple her later on, strips her naked and shoots pictures of this to show to her father, Police Comissioner Gordon, in an attempt to break him and make him loose his sanity just to prove a point to Batman.
Because that´s what the Joker does - he is a twisted sicko who does effed up sick s - word because he´s like a psychopath and crazy and all that.
To wrap up my comments on The Killing Joke there are two things that may have been changed retroactively : Joker raping Barbara Gordon after shooting her and Batman killing the Joker on the final page of the story.
Again, back when I first read it these things were left for the reader to decide. On the last page Batman has his hands on the Joker which could be him leaning on the Joker or attacking the Joker. The last thing we see is a sound that could be a police siren or the final scream of the Joker as Batman breaks his neck. For years that has been up for readers to decide but in recent interviews many comic creators have said that Batman kills the Joker in the end. Something he hasn´t done in the regular comics.
The same goes for the rape. It is not shown in the comic although being shot at, stripped naked and then being photographed is bad enough and surely falls under sexual assault. Some people argue that the rape is not shown on the photos you see in the comic but there might be some photos the readers does not get to see. There also is the argument that it would not be necessary for the Joker since the pictures of Gordon´s daughter bleeding and naked would be enough to achieve his goal. On the other side it would not be beneath the Joker to do it just for kicks or because there are no lines he won´t cross. Again, for years this was left for the individual reader to decide but recently the official canon is that the rape happened. There also are comic readers who ask why the fact that Jim Gordon also was stripped naked and forced to wear some kind of bondage outfit never made the kind of impact that what happened to Batgirl did.
Which I think has to do with the fact that he wasn´t shot at before that. As someone who just had a knee surgery and went through rehab I know that these kind of injuries are a bitch you do not easily recover from.
Anyway, it may be common consensus that Barbara Gordon was raped in The Killing Joke but it also was the common consensus that Dinah Lance was raped in The Longbow Hunters. Until writer Mike Grell carified that she was attacked and tortured but not raped. What you think happened is not always what happened. But back to what happened after that.
Barbara Gordon ended up in a wheelchair but this became a big turning point in her life as she refused to be a victim and instead played a new role in the superhero community taking up the name of Oracle.
Barbara became THE über computer whiz that provided the Batman family with everything a computer could do like gather intel. Subsequently she turned into this urban legend in the costumed society that first assisted the Justice League on missions making the impossible possible and later on provided her services to the entire superhero community. If you were really connected you had a direct link to Oracle. Barbara even recruited her own team, the Birds of Prey, to go on missions of her choosing.
She even had a second encounter with the Joker - although he didn´t recognize her - where she more than held her own and even got her payback by smashing his teeth in and ruining his smile. You go, girl.
Barbara Gordon went from female Batman knock off to standard damsel in distress who got crippled to antagonize the hero to becoming her own persona who wins against impossible odds. As Oracle she was a much more accomplished and a much more interesting character than Batgirl ever was. And it´s not like she was the first or even the last Batgirl.
There was the Golden Age Batgirl, Betty Kane, the niece and sidekick of the original Golden Age Batwoman Kathy Kane ( who was not a lesbian ).
After Barbara Gordon there was Cassandra Cain a.k.a. Latex / Bondage Batgirl who couldn´t speak but had the ability to read body language which she used in her fighting style. Of course DC changed that in the first issue of her ongoing solo title by giving her back the ability to speak which made her loose her fighting skills. Thus turning an once interesting character into a shallow shadow of herself no one wanted to read about.
But the most stupid Batgirl of them all was Stephanie Brown a.k.a. Spoiler or like I call her the Failer. Because she has failed at every superhero identity that for some unknown reason comic writers keep putting on her. To put things into perspective : she sucked so much at being Robin that she ended up getting killed in a gang war SHE started to impress Batman. The only flaw in her plan was that one of the key figures to this plan was Matches Malone - which apparently everybody BUT Stephanie Brown knew was a disguise for Batman. I mean Jason Todd was an a - hole that didn´t have any friends but he didn´t start a gang war and he ended up being killed by the Joker ( or the readers depending on your take on the thing ).
So what was Stephanie´s reward for being the worst Robin ever ? She was resurrected and became the worst Batgirl ever. Okay, time to wrap it up.
I wanted to mention the new attacks on Frank Cho´s SPIDERGWEN cover, the female Thor and black Captain America but this whole Batgirl thing has just gotten too long so we will have to discuss this in another post. I really thought my next Bat - related post would be about Bat - artist Norm Breyfogle´s work beyond Batman but that´s not always how things work.
So Barbara Gordon became Oracle and went through a trial by fire which made her a better character and a positive example for handicapped people - at least until the NEW 52 hit. Which played Tabula Rasa with all Bat characters. Catwoman got stupid ( How else do you call a catburglar who not only steals from the mob and thinks they can get away with it but then brings the loot to their fence who is her only friend not realizing the gangster have to make an example by killing whoever they find with their stuff ? Yes, gangsters can´t report to the police if they get robbed. But they don´t need to because they find whoever did it and fit them for a pair of cement shoes, capische ? ) and sexed up beyond recognition.
NEW 52 Selina Kyle had a past as a prostitute and frequent on panel sex with Batman while still in costume. I guess they did have sex before this but we didn´t see it - at least the artists didn´t insult our intelligence by telling us that they do have sex but they still keep their costumes on.
The NEW 52 Batgirl still went through the things Barbara Gordon had to endure in The Killing Joke but instead of it being the big trauma that ended her Batgirl career she just got better. Which kind of downplayed the whole impact of it a little bit which is one of the reasons why I find this whole thing blown out of proportion. To pander to a possible female demographic DC made her even younger in her new incarnation which makes the whole thing with the Joker even creepier - which is totally DC´s fault. They have to decide if they want to have totally oversexed Catwoman with the über grim and gritty Joker who cuts off his own face and tuckers it back on because he´s just craaazy ( more like stupid because that must hurt like the Dickens ) and girly Batgirl in the same universe. I have nothing against a funny take on the Batuniverse since I´m a big fan of the TINY TITANS books ( the best TEEN TITAN related comic during a few decades ) but DC has to make up their mind.
As for the variant cover I wouldn´t have pulled it because even if it might upset some female comic readers who are not familiar with the concept of variant covers, the comic it refers to or even the history of Batgirl ( but they know it´s offensive because they are women ) it´s just a variant cover and there is such a thing people call freedom of expression.
Maybe I´m twice as sensitive to censorship because I grew up in Spain and Germany. In Germany the Nazis had a thing called " Gleichschaltung " which was a process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and coordination over all aspects of society including what people were thinking and what kind of art was acceptable and which was labeled " degenerate art ". Now you may think that this is a thing of the past but the aftereffects of this indoctrination are still there in Today´s german culture. I have mentioned in a few posts that there is a different rating system in Germany for films which does not explain WHY a movie gets a certain rating. Because it is none of your business.
The people from the FSK know better than you what is appropriate for you to see and what is not and they don´t have to explain themselves. There was a movement by parents to get ratings like the ratings in the US that explain why a certain movie has a certain rating ( like language, nudity, violence or adult situations ) so the parents had a better understanding if the movie was appropiate to watch for their child but all the government did was make the rating stickers much bigger. The politicians just don´t understand what the people want and the FSK ( which is a joke because it means voluntary self control but it is not voluntary if you can´t get your movies into theater without it ) doesn´t need your approval. They also don´t need any special qualification and don´t have to know anything about movies, the movie industry, art, culture or what´s harmful to children. Which is a big thing in Germany because there is no censorship.
There exists only the legal protection for children and young persons. It even says so in the german constitution : Censorship does not take place.
Only youth protection. The strange thing about german youth protection is that apparently even adult citizens still fall under this kind of protection because there are some movies which you can´t get in an uncut version even if you are an adult and there are no children or young persons living in your house who could be harmed. That´s a concept that was very hard to explain to my spanish relatives. You may ask yourself what all this has to do with comics but there is also the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons and the Federal Department for Writings Harmful to Young Persons. They put comics on the index, order police raids of comic book stores although there often are no legal grounds for that and even put one of the biggest publishers out of business - mainly because one local politician wanted to make a name for himself and the other publishers turned a blind eye to this because they wanted to get their licenses. There have been many discussions how to avert this it´s almost impossible to organize any kind of union for comic creators. Some of them even WANT this kind of censorship because it is still ingrained in the german populace that somebody HAS to control movies and books and art - that´s a quote from basically every discussion I had on german messageboards which in turn is one of the reasons why I started this blog.
Now the people of Spain are of a different mindset because they also experienced censorship during Francoist Spain but while this was also performed by a fascist regime ( or authoritarian depending on which theory you prefer ) the general populace did not willingly take part in this. So in Spain things like censorship are not taken lightly and a really serious thing while here in Germany you most often have problems making people understand WHEN censorship of art or creativity is even happening.
Now I want to quote Sam Roberts´ post on REAXION which tells us that the Comics Code Authority has indeed returned but under a new disguise :
Comic book fans are familiar with the “ Comics Code Authority ,”
a long running censor for the comics industry. For decades, the CCA
controlled what you could and could not say in comics. For example,
comics about vampires, werewolves, and zombies were banned, as was the
use of the word “ crime. ” Sexual depictions were outright forbidden. The CCA began in 1954, and by the 90’s was considered an obsolete
relic of a more censorious age. By 2011, the only publishers that still
adhered to it were DC and Archie, and both of them abandoned it shortly
afterwards. Today, it’s viewed the same way we view the Spanish
Inquisition or Jim Crow laws: something barbarous that our ancestors
did, but that we, with our advanced and progressive culture, would never
With #ChangeTheCover, feminists have brought the Comics Code into the modern era. If you need any further evidence that modern - day feminists are just
latter - day Puritans, here are four items from the Comics Code:
- Rape scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
- Nudity with meretricious purpose and salacious postures shall not be permitted in the advertising of any product; clothed figures shall never be presented in such a way as to be offensive or contrary to good taste or morals.
- Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.
- Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.
The issue here is not rape in comics although that has been long a thorn with feminists. But then The Killing Joke was not attacked directly.
Probably because that would never have worked. And if you did this where would you draw the line ? IDENTITY CRISIS is another fantastic comic but there is also a rape scene in it. And even if you somehow managed to change that this event had so many repercussions that you could not change them all. Plus there are plenty comics out there where women are raped, assaulted and murdered. Well, men too but we like to ignore that. Instead you just go for the easy target because you know there will be a big media hype around it which helps you get into the news. And of course DC used this to get into the news as the comic publisher who listens to their female readers ( or the feminists ) and pulls an offensive cover.
The really dangerous thing is that like political correctness this is just another way to control what you think or what you read. It should be really alarming to which extremes the whole farce went and how many people jumped on the bandwagon without feeling a need to inform themselves of the facts about this. Remember, it always starts with the small things.
Usually I provide a lot of links for the post but since there are too
many for this whole Batgirl thing - and you have no trouble finding them
- I´m just including this one ( well, apart from the links I have already included in the text ) by Cathy Young at TIME who elaborates that Comics like Batgirl shouldn´t require a " Good Feminist " seal of approval and that the answer to get more positive female protagonists is more creativity and less policing, proving there are women with a different viewpoint.
One of the things I already tackled in a post is the casting of black Johnny Storm ( why is the black dude the one who gets set on fire again ? ) and while I have no intention of addressing that again I want to include some links to J.Lambs blog SNOOPY JENKINS. Being a nerd of color he has some interesting arguments to make why black Johnny Storm is not a good idea - since you basically also would have to change a lot of his personality and his relationship with Ben Grimm. There is also a must read post on why putting token black guys in superhero movies is not progress . Yes, a lot of the posts are grounded on his particular point of view BUT a.) I don´t think a lot of the points he makes would be as believable coming from a white guy and b.) while that is a factor in posts about how unrealistic Xavier´s dream is in the X - Men , why he reads comics or that comics need to evolve to really be more diverse there are others about why we should wait for the Wonder Woman movie ( or Gal Gadot´s appearance in the Superman vs Batman movie ) before criticizing the casting or that the new Robocop movie can hold his own against the classic one in a detailed analysis of both . What I´m saying is that it´s a blog worthy to read.
Speaking about worthy reads I want to include two more links, one about THE FRANCO YEARS in Spain and one about BATMAN AND FASCISM .
There are a few things I could only mention shortly in this post and since one of them was the Comics Code I wanted to post this excellent video by Amy Dallen about the Code´s history. I don´t think I posted this before.
Another thing I did not get to elaborate is the new female Thor. I´m still hoping to address this in a future post but in the meantime here is a really good explanation why female Thor ( at least this version since there have been female versions of Thor before ) was received so negatively while the new black Captain America was not. I like to compare it to Green Arrow : when Oliver Queen died Connor Hawke took up the mantle of Green Arrow. But he did not call himself Oliver Queen which is basically what this new Thorgirl does. Anyway, just go and watch the video already.
One of the few good things about the Batgirl controversy is that during the making of this post I stumbled upon the videos of KRISTI THINKS. It has been a while since there has been anything Power Girl related on this blog so I hope this helps. I´d tell you not to get distracted by her chest but that´s really impossible and one of the reasons why I´m posting this.
Speaking about women with Power Girl like qualities I have mentioned Tatjana Ohm - the news anchor with the biggest breasts on german tv - once or twice before as well as the on point parody of her by Martina Hill on the sixth season of SWITCH RELOADED. Back then I didn´t find any good videos about that but now there are finally some on YouTube.
New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest / best of the best