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!
A great comic book cover is an advertisement, a work of art, a statement, and an invitation. A great comic book cover is a glimpse of another world through a canvas no bigger than a window pane. In Best Comic Book Covers Ever (This Month), we look back over some of the most eye-catching, original and exceptional covers of the past month
November's covers include some superb compositions, some new twists on familiar iconography, a Catwoman, a Batgirl, and an enormous killer whale. Check out some excellent comic covers from familiar names like Michael Del Mundo and David Nakayama, and some new names for this column, like Butch Guice and David Rapoza.
Gail Simone, longtime comic book writer for DC Comics (and snarky Twitterer), is in the midst of a career evolution at the moment. Simone's comics work started with the Women in Refrigerators website, which was a commentary on how female characters are all-too-often mistreated in comics (named after the 1990s story in which Green Lantern Kyle Rayner discovers his girlfriend's body stuffed in his refrigerator). WIR became an important part of the discussion of how female characters are treated in superhero comics - a discussion that continues today. Simone's work on WIR led to a column at Comic Book Resources titled "You'll All Be Sorry" and the humor in that column in turn led to Simone working on Simpsons comics.
It was her entry into superhero comics, however, that permanently shifted Simeone's career. Although she worked for Marvel a bit, including a run on Deadpool and then Agent X, Simone has primarily made her home at DC over the last decade. Popular books like Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and others solidified Simone as super hero writer with an outspoken fan base.
Now Simone is in a brand new position: that of a non-exclusive freelancer. For many creators, this can be a difficult hustle, as the shift from guaranteed work minimums to having to look for gigs can be a struggle. Simone seems to be thriving, however. Between working on various Red Sonja projects at Dynamite and writing a Tomb Raider series at Dark Horse, Simone is also still working at DC, with a Vertigo series called Clean Room on the way and preparing to relaunch of fan-favorite Secret Six, which is in stores on December 3.
In part one of this in-depth two-part interview, Simone spoke with ComicsAlliance about Women in Refrigerators, women in comics, and her occasionally tense time at DC.
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.
That sound you just heard is the sound of one million Tumblrs updating.
On Tuesday morning DC announced titles, teams, and plot outlines for ten of its forty planned two-issue Convergence mini-series, which will coincide with the publisher's big event comic next spring and take the place of its regular monthly output. From the looks of it, there's plenty of fan-service involved for people who loved pre-New 52 DC continuity.
Not only is Renee Montoya getting her own two issues as The Question, written by Greg Rucka -- who initially put Montoya in that role -- and drawn by Cully Hamner; but there's a Stephanie Brown Batgirl series, a Nightwing/Oracle wedding story, a Wally West story, a Superman/Lois Lane marriage series, a Bruce/Damian Batman & Robin series, and so on.
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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