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.
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!
I've always been a pretty big fan of DC Collectibles' line of Batman: Black and White statues. Like the comic series of the same name, they put the spotlight onto visionary artists' distinctive interpretations of the character, and the results have been pretty awesome. Over the years, being invited to design a statue for the line has become a prestigious achievement and recognition of creating a memorable vision of the Dark Knight.
Now, though, after offering up stylish Black and White versions of characters like the Joker, Harley Quinn and even the Penguin, the line is expanding with its first ever Batgirl statue -- and it's based on Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr's new Batgirl of Burnside design.
Years after her rebooted New 52 series debuted, the Bat Signal illuminates the iconic hero Batgirl more brightly than ever before in a retooled title written by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, drawn by Babs Tarr (from layouts by Stewart) and colored by Maris Wicks. A stark, dramatic departure from the decidedly dour tone of previous issue, the new book introduced Barbara Gordon's new life in the newly created and decidedly hip Burnside neighborhood of Gotham, where she makes time for crime fighting in between her graduate studies and hanging out with her new supporting cast. Vividly youthful, funny, cute, action-packed and even sexy, the new Batgirl of Burnside sparked interest amongst existing fans, lapsed Batgirl readers and curious newbies (and inspired criticism from people who just hate fun). Crucially, cosplayers immediately started replicating Barbara's new self-designed Bat-digs while the Batgirl of Burnside Tumblr debuted with daily boosts of fan art inspired by the hero's new look.
With the new run's inaugural issue, Batgirl #35, flying off the shelves and Batgirl of Burnside cosplayers running, jumping and otherwise posing all around the Javitz Convention Center, Barbara Gordon was the It Girl of last month's New York Comic Con, where we sat down with the series creators to talk about fashion, boys, and Batgirl's new villains, the Jawbreakers -- a gang of cosplaying bikers making their debut in this week's issue #36.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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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