Created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff, Poison Ivy first graced the comic page back in the historic year of 1966, when The Sound of Music won Best Picture and England somehow won the World Cup. Her first appearance was in Detective Comics #181, and since then the character has remained a constant thorn in the Dark Knight's side.
Today the 2015 Eisner nominations were announced for the awards ceremony that will take place on July 10th during San Diego Comic-Con International. There aren't a ton of surprises in this year's list --- books like Ms. Marvel, Saga, Multiversity, and Bandette led in terms of total nominations --- but as always it's good to see quality books get their due, and it was a year of positive movement in terms of gender diversity, with multiple women nominated in most major categories. We still have a ways to go, but seeing progress is a good sign.
We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, and some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it is awesome.
Things got interesting over the past few days for comics folks who keep their ear to online skirmishes over how welcoming comics is or isn't --- and how welcoming comics should be in the first place. Between the new Killing Joke-inspired and tonally jarring cover to Batgirl #41 (which was just pulled at artist Rafael Albuquerque's request, and in line with the creative team's wishes) and Erik Larsen going on a Twitter rant about comics pandering to a "vocal minority" that in his mind wanted superheroines covered up, it would be easy for readers interested in the new world order of "comics for everyone" to feel discouraged. After all, if some of the decision-makers at DC and one of the owners of Image Comics don't get it, how can we expect everyone else to get it? The answer is easy: we move on without them.
At this point, I'm not sure how Gotham Academy could get better. I mean, it's already exactly what I have always wanted in my life but never knew I could get, a teen drama with mysteries and secret passages, where Batman occasionally shows up and obscure villains from the TV show are running the library. That's a level of perfection that I could've only dreamt of a year ago.
But if I had to make a suggestion for how it might be better, I'd probably suggest getting Babs Tarr, the ComicsAlliance-favorite artist of Batgirl, to do a cover, or maybe getting Adventure Time designer Joy Ang to take a crack at the characters, or maybe have everyone spend an issue talking about how terrifying the Joker is. These are all things that are happening. We are living in a magical time.
We make a regular practice at ComicsAlliance of spotlighting particular artists or specific bodies of work, as well as the special qualities of comic book storytelling, but because cartoonists, illustrators and their fans share countless numbers of great pinups, fan art and other illustrations on sites like Flickr, Tumblr, DeviantArt and seemingly infinite art blogs that we’ve created Best Art Ever (This Week), a weekly depository for just some of the pieces of especially compelling artwork that we come across in our regular travels across the Web. Some of it’s new, some of it’s old, some of it’s created by working professionals, some of it’s created by future stars, some of it’s created by talented fans, awnd some of it’s endearingly silly. All of it is awesome.
On Monday I reported on the controversy surrounding the most recent issue of Batgirl, issue #37, and the hurt it caused readers with the presentation of a character who played into transphobic tropes. On Tuesday we ran a piece by activist J. Skyler that further placed the story in the broader cultural context of transphobic media. In both cases, our hope was to showcase and respect the opinions of the critics and put their voices ahead of those of the authors or any defensive fans. These are critics who are often marginalized and shouted down; what they had to say about this controversy is important and must be recognized and listened to.
As I also mentioned on Monday, Batgirl is a book at the vanguard of a movement towards genre stories for young, progressive, predominantly female readers -- a more modern and diverse readership than the one traditionally associated with the superhero genre. Because of this, and because the creators apologized for their mistakes, I think Batgirl still deserves support. Issue #37 damaged the book's image and reputation, but it remains one of the best and most important superhero books being published today.
In my online discussions of transgender representation in media, I’ve mentioned that I expect a degree of transphobia is every medium I read, watch or listen to. That’s simply how pervasive the problem is -- and it may take the form of a joke, an off-the-cuff remark, or a non-essential character created intentionally or unintentionally to perpetuate stereotypes about gender variance or utilizing gender variance to underline said character’s psychosis.
It’s with a heavy heart I’m forced to discuss this long-standing media trope within the context of Batgirl, the one area of geek life I considered to be a safe-zone. Within the pages of Batgirl #37 we come across an impostor posing as Batgirl who ultimately plans to kill her in order to assume her identity. As you might imagine, my eyes nearly rolled into the back of my head, accompanied by an aggravated sigh, when the would-be murderer was revealed to be an individual assigned male at birth.
DC's new take on Batgirl has been one of the pioneers of a new movement towards mainstream comics for a progressive young female audience -- a movement whose other flagbearers have become a mantra of sorts in 2014; Lumberjanes, Ms. Marvel, Gotham Academy, etc. In the hands of creators Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr, Batgirl offered a satisfyingly contemporary and feminist take on Gotham superheroics.
So it came as a particular disappointment when last week's Batgirl #37 contained themes and imagery that were transphobic and transmisogynistic, leading several critics to call out the creative team for their insensitivity. This weekend the creators offered a statement of apology, saying, "we want to acknowledge the hurt and offense we've caused."
We've been pretty stoked about the cover to Batgirl #37 ever since we saw it way back in September, but here's something that might surprise you about the glittering, rhinestone-studded costume for our favorite Gotham City heroine: It's not just for the cover. It actually appears in this week's issue, as Batgirl takes a break from crimefighting and decides to try her hand at the other side of the fence, starting with a daring diamond heist with a quartet of thrill-happy crooks.
If that doesn't sound like Barbara Gordon to you, well, there's a reason for that. It seems Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr have decided that Barbara's life just isn't complicated enough right now, and are giving her a criminal-minded impostor Batgirl to deal with on top of everything else! Check out preview pages below!