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Batgirl #35: Making Out, Dressing Up, And Defeating The Forces Of Misogyny [Review]

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Barbara Gordon is for girls. This truth has been obscured over the years, most notably in the Batman: The Killing Joke, in which the classic Batgirl was shot, sexually abused and paralyzed by the Joker and taken out of costume for decades. But just as Superman stands for unimpeachable hope and Batman for rigid justice, Batgirl stands for girls doing what the hell they want. From the moment she debuted as part of the classic Batman TV show of the 1960s, this was clear: she was a librarian, she rode a motorcycle decorated with chiffon ruffles, and she did not give a damn that Batman wanted her to hang up the glittery puple cape and cowl. She was no sweet-tempered Kyptonian cousin, no kid sister, and no swooning girlfriend. As Mike Madrid detailed in The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, “Batgirl is a female Batman can actually regard as a brilliant peer and a partner in the war on crime, the same way he would a male.”

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Ask Chris #214: DC’s Dracula Comics

Ask Chris #214, art by Erica Henderson

Q: Aside from the amazing cover for Superman #180, what's the best DC Comics story featuring Dracula? -- @brendan42

A: October is the month where I always find myself thinking about Dracula even more than I usually do, and just the other day I was thinking about how weird it is that there's never been a really good story about Batman fighting Dracula. They've tried it a couple of times, sure -- including a direct-to-video movie that takes a premise like Batman vs. Dracula and ends up committing the cardinal sin of being boring -- but it never really takes. Once I got your question, though, I started thinking about it, and I realized that there aren't many good stories about any DC Comics character fighting Dracula.

It turns out that dude just doesn't show up a whole lot in the DC Universe. And that's pretty weird.

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Filed Under: , , , , Category: Ask Chris, DC, Opinion

Where Are Superhero Comics’ Big Name Bisexual Characters?

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It's Celebrate Bisexuality Day today, also called Bisexual Visibility Day -- a day to celebrate and promote recognition of those who are sexually attracted to people of more than one gender. The day exists because people with non-monosexual queer identities face unusual challenges in being recognized by both mainstream and queer cultures, yet visibility helps break down barriers and encourage acceptance.

In superhero comics, the problem of bisexual invisibility is as ingrained as anywhere; the medium struggles to acknowledge the existence of anything that didn't exist in The Honeymooners or The Andy Griffith Show, unless it's a space god, a shapeshifter, or a parasitic psychic monster. Having a character say, "I'm bisexual" is apparently more implausible than any of those things. There are signs that the industry is changing in this regard -- but slowly, and rather half-heartedly.

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Batgirl Gets Bedazzled On Cameron Stewart’s Fabulous Cover To ‘Batgirl’ #37

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By this point, you've probably noticed that we here at ComicsAlliance are already huge fans of the new Batgirl of Burnside costume making its debut next month in Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr's Batgirl #35, but there are some out there who don't like it. For a few eaders, the stylish leather jacket and snapped cape just seems so much less practical and realistic than the heavily seamed skintight spandex, leading them to express genuine concern about Batgirl's effectiveness as a crimefighter.

Fortunately for those compassionate souls, Cameron Stewart has made a concession in the form of a variant cover for December's Batgirl #37, featuring a new variant of Batgirl's costume that is more practical.

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Filed Under: , , Category: Art, DC, News

Ask Chris #209: The Strange Saga Of Batgirl Cassandra Cain

Ask Chris art by Erica Henderson

Q: Cassandra Cain: WTF happened? -- @IamMedellin

A: Here's the least shocking thing you're going to read this week: I love Cassandra Cain. That probably goes without saying, given that she's a relatively obscure member of the Batman family that made her debut when I was a teenager, but really, it goes deeper than that. She came out of the gate with a compelling edge, some phenomenally solid storytelling, and a hook for drama that put her in contrast to the rest of Gotham's assorted heroes and hangers-on, while still feeling like a natural compliment to the other characters. And then, less than a decade later, she'd gone from being a new character with an incredible amount of potential to an also-ran who only really shows up to fill space in crossovers -- something that almost never happens to characters in the Batman family, especially when they've got 70+ solo issues under their utility belts.

So what happened? Man, I can't even tell you, I just read the darn things. But folks, it got really weird there at the end.

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Batgirl Takes The A.L.S. Ice Bucket Challenge (With A Very Special Guest)

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Since you are reading this on the Internet, I'm going to go ahead and assume that you're already familiar with the Ice Bucket Challenge, wherein folks are being nominated by friends, fans and colleagues to dump buckets of freezing cold water on their heads on camera to raise awareness of (and money to combat) ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord -- or Lou Gehrig's Disease, as it is popularly known. Over the past few weeks, we've seen plenty of famous folks taking the challenge, but now, it has busted right through the Fourth Wal, and all the way to Gotham City's Burnside neighborhood.

This particular challenge was issued by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr, the creative team for the revamp of Batgirl, and the challengee is Barbara Gordon herself, who seems set on finding out just how helpful that new jacket is going to be in fighting off the cold.

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Girl Fight: The Marvel/DC Rivalry Finally Extends To Winning The Female Audience

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Marvel launches the eighth of its nine solo titles with a female lead in November with Spider-Woman #1, and the book sadly already has a cloud over it. A variant cover by master erotic artist Milo Manara stirred enough controversy last week to garner mainstream attention. The cover featured Spider-Woman with her apple-shaped butt raised high in decidedly unheroic manner. It was exactly what one would expect from Manara, who has created a number of superheroine illustrations for Marvel, but the image suggested a particularly overt tone of sexual objectification that could alienate the sort of readers who attended the Women In Marvel panel at San Diego where the series was announced.

As far as I can recall, Marvel has more female solo titles now than ever before, with a ninth title, Angela: Asgard's Assassin, launching in December. On paper, that suggests a laudable effort to reach out to superhero comics' growing and under-served audience of female readers. Yet the Manara incident serves to remind us that books about women can very easily be targeted to a male audience.

There's currently an unspoken contest between Marvel and DC to see who can produce more comics aimed at a female audience. It's possible the contest only exists in my head, as I've been keeping a tally of solo titles with female leads for the past several months -- but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that editors at the two publishers have also been keeping track.

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CALLED IT: Joe Quinones Draws First Blood In Robin ’66 and Batgirl’s Multiversal Selfie War

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If you've been paying attention to our deep and abiding love for both the concept of superhero selfies and the new Batgirl costume from the upcoming team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr, then you may have already seen our fully official pitch stupid tweet about Batgirl and Robin engaging in an Interdimensional Selfie War. Inspired by Joe Quinones's amazing cover for an upcoming issue of Batman '66, our own editor Andy Khouri suggested that this could be the start of the 1966 version of Dick Grayson sending pix to 2014's Batgirl, with each trying to one-up the other.

Now, it is happening -- at least in the world of fan art. Today, Quinones posted another great piece, this time of the Batgirl of Burnside receiving the picture from Robin -- which, in case you forgot, he actually took with A ROTARY TELEPHONE -- kicking off the Crisis On Infinite Selfies for real. And not only that, but it seems like the Joker from Batman '89 -- or at least his satin-jacketed henchmen -- are getting involved too.

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Risen From Darkness: Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher And Babs Tarr Talk ‘Batgirl’ [Interview]

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Despite all the big publishing news to come out around or during last month's San Diego Comic-Con, the new comic book that remains most anticipated by many superhero fans -- and by others who don't yet know they're waiting for it -- is Batgirl. Perhaps the one DC or Marvel comic that really does deserve a new #1 issue, Batgirl's youthful and stylish revamp at the hands of Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr and Brenden Fletcher was met with massive electronic response when it was announced just ahead of the San Diego show, generating all but countless pieces of fan-art as well as some criticism from current readers for seemingly abandoning the darker aesthetic values of the three-year-old New 52 title.

There's a lot to unpack about the new Batgirl and we only had a few minutes with her new creative team in which to do it at SDCC. Read on for remarks by series co-writer and layout artist Cameron Stewart, co-writer Brenden Fletcher, and finishing artist (and, perhaps, spiritual guide) Babs Tarr.

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Fashionista Supergirl Finally Gives Batgirl The Thumbs-Up In Mike Maihack’s Latest Fan Comic

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Ever since it first started, Mike Maihack's Batgirl/Supergirl has been ComicsAlliance's favorite take on those two characters, probably ever. The strips are unfailingly charming and delightful, and the clash between Batgirl's understandable grumpiness and Supergirl's relentless cheer makes for some classic comedy. Now, though, we're all getting pretty excited about the official version of Batgirl, with the announcement of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr's impending takeover of the book with an amazing new costume, it looks like there might be a rival for our Batgirl-related affections coming up soon.

But, as Maihack has proven in his latest strip, there's nobody more excited about Batgirl's new costume than her best friend Kara.

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