Reading Black Canary wasn't just reading another comic book --- the character comes with a lot of baggage for me, so I felt bound to be more critical of it than I am of any other book. But by the time I finished issue #2, I felt like a character I'd loved for a long time had been given a new life. This is what we should want for our heroes.
Not everyone can make it to San Diego Comic-Con to see what's happening in person, but ComicsAlliance has you covered! We know that it's not just about the news that comes out of the biggest con of the year --- it's also about seeing the booths, checking out new collectibles, and putting faces to names of your favorite creators. Thankfully talented photographer Pat Loika is on hand to document as much as he can for your enjoyment.
Earlier this month, DC released the first paperback collection of Gotham Academy, Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl's fan-favorite series about Olive Silverlock, Maps Mizoguchi, and their fellow students at Gotham City's most prestigious prep school. We recently got the chance to chat with the entire creative team, and what ensued was a fast-paced and giggle-filled conversation, evidencing the same careful planning and casual camaraderie that has made the series itself such an immediate hit – audiences tend to sense when creators enjoy working on a project, and and it's clear that with Gotham Academy, this trio are having the time of their lives.
Like pretty much everyone else who read it, my reaction to Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr's Batgirl relaunch was something along the lines of, "Yes, please, I would like more of this." That said, there was a pretty pessimistic part of me that didn't think we were actually going to get it. I just assumed that Batgirl was going to exist in isolation as one of those rare reboots that took things in an entirely different direction and breathed new life into a great character, yet didn't have an impact anywhere else.
Fortunately, I was wrong. This week saw the release of the new Black Canary series from Fletcher and Annie Wu, and for all intents and purposes, it's a spinoff of Batgirl that takes the same approach to rebuilding a great character for a new audience. This time, it's Black Canary recast as a mysterious lead singer who can't stop getting into fights, and y'all, it's pretty awesome.
The return of the Joker and his latest rein of crazy over Gotham comes to an end in April with the concluding chapter of Endgame in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman #40. The effects of the Joker's assault on sanity won't only be felt in the pages of that book, but in a series of one-shots spinning out of Batgirl, Arkham Manor, Detective Comics, and Gotham Academy.
In the case of Gotham's finest/spookiest/strangest private school, the endgame plays out on the dark and sinister night of a city-wide blackout, with Joker-infected crazies at large on the streets. Holed up at the academy, students Olive Silverlock, Maps Mizoguchi and their... "friends"... tell each other scary Joker stories --- and those stories come from a team of exceptional guest artists. Series writers Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan are joined by Six Gun Gorilla artist Jeff Stokely, Adventure Time character designer Joy Ang, illustrator Clio Chiang, and Anya's Ghost author Vera Brosgol. Check out our exclusive preview... if you dare.
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.
Aside from the obvious, I don't usually like to refer to things as being my "favorites." I talk about so much stuff that I love all the time that every time I settle on a favorite, I almost immediately end up contradicting myself when I remember something else that I love, like when I went on and on about how Impulse #3 is my favorite single issue of all time right before I re-read G.I. Joe #21. There's just so much out there that's great that nine times out of ten, settling on a single thing as my favorite ends up being pretty limiting, and if there's one thing I hate, it's having to go back and admit that I might've been wrong about something. For me to actually settle on something as a favorite, it has to be so obvious that it's above and beyond everything else out there that it's self-evident.
So with that in mind, believe me when I say this: Gotham Academy is, without question, my favorite comic on the stands right now, and it just keeps getting better.
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."