How The Killing Joke ruined Batgirl

Alan Moore’s iconic graphic novel The Killing Joke is probably his most controversial work to date, and that’s saying something. It’s a great read, with some fantastic artwork that continues to influence and inspire the Batman franchise to this day. But along with the praise, over the years it’s attracted quite a bit of criticism from many sources (including its own author) for its callous maiming of the character of Barbara Gordon. The Killing Joke is one of comics’ most famous examples of “women in refrigerators”, a decade before the term was even coined.

The article continues after these advertisements...

The subject of The Killing Joke has again been raised recently by a controversial variant cover for Batgirl #41, which features the Joker menacing a petrified looking Batgirl while smearing a smile of what is presumably blood on her face. It was created, without the input or consent of the actual comic’s creative team, mind you, to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Joker’s first published appearance in 1940’s Batman #1.

How The Killing Joke ruined Batgirl

The cover drew immediate criticism, spawning the twitter hashtag #CHANGETHECOVER, and as of now, DC has officially pulled it, and will not be including it as one of the final published covers of the comic. Beyond the misogynistic undertones it conveys, the cover just plain doesn’t fit with the tone of the comic itself, which has been leaning in a much more fun, lighthearted direction under its new creative team, who all protested the cover immediately. Unfortunately, this wasn’t in time to stop a small army of angry readers online from making the cover’s cancellation their new pet cause, raising it up as a martyr to “self-censorship”.

I shouldn’t even have to explain this, but “self-censorship” is an oxymoron and doesn’t exist. You cannot, by definition, censor yourself, as censorship is something imposed on you by an outside party (such as, but not always, the government). A privately-owned company commissioning a work of art and then choosing not to sell it is called self-control.

On its own, the cover may seem relatively harmless. There’s certainly nothing wrong with celebrating the character of the Joker. He’s arguably the most popular character DC has right now, even more so than Batman. And the fact that they chose to reference The Killing Joke isn’t surprising—it’s probably the most famous Joker story ever written. However, while it may seem harmless out of context, in context, it comes across as rather disturbing.

When Alan Moore first made the decision to have the Joker cripple and sexually humiliate Barbara Gordon, DC was rather alarmingly unconcerned about it. You’d think they would be hesitant to take a character who was mainly known for being the colorful, fun sidekick created for the ‘60s TV show and do something that dark and mean-spirited to her. Instead, Moore’s editor Len Wein famously responded, “Yeah, okay, cripple the bitch.” Moore has made no secret of his regret over ever writing the scene and wishing in retrospect that they had said no.

How The Killing Joke ruined Batgirl

Fortunately, the character of Barbara Gordon did not end with The Killing Joke. Despite being paralyzed from the waist down, she returned to crime-fighting under the identity of “Oracle”, a secretive master hacker who provides tech support and intel to other heroes in the DC universe. In this capacity, she became a popular and important hero in her own right, free from Batman’s shadow, and even formed and led her own superhero team, the Birds of Prey.

How The Killing Joke ruined Batgirl

Barbara continued on as Oracle for a few decades. Then came the New 52. When DC decided to reboot their entire universe of characters, they decided to make Barbara Gordon into Batgirl once more, bringing her back to her more iconic roots. That’s not a bad idea in theory. I enjoy the young, spunky, purple-suited Batgirl just as much as I like her as mysterious, badass Oracle.

However, they made a horrible miscalculation when they elected to keep The Killing Joke as part of her new continuity. She still got shot, molested, and possibly raped by the Joker; she just wasn’t crippled afterwards, and continued being Batgirl.

It’s understandable that DC wouldn’t want to write one of their most popular stories out of continuity (even though they had no problem writing out Alan Moore’s actual best DC story, “For the Man Who Has Everything”, thirty years ago during Crisis on Infinite Earths). However, keeping Killing Joke in continuity while removing Barbara’s rebirth as Oracle* trivializes the entire event as a part of her character. The idea that she could just bounce back like it never happened, without being profoundly changed by the experience, is at best childish and simpleminded.

[*By the way, I read somewhere that her history as Oracle is still supposed to be in continuity, but since she’s essentially back to square one regardless of what came in between, it hardly matters.]

That’s not to say Barbara isn’t still affected by The Killing Joke; quite the opposite. I only read the first few issues, but in those stories, New 52 Batgirl couldn’t stop talking about how not-over-it she was. Barbara was constantly suffering from PTSD, cowering at anything that even reminded her of the Joker. It’s a rather infantilizing step back from the Barbara who remade herself stronger than ever as Oracle.

How The Killing Joke ruined Batgirl

Plus, on a personal note, the major appeal of Barbara as Batgirl, to me, was that she was the only Batman sidekick that wasn’t defined or motivated by some past tragedy. She became Batgirl because she wanted to, not because some random criminal killed her parents. Now she’s just as messed up as the rest of them.

By continually focusing on the lowest point in Barbara’s history, DC is refusing to let her move on, forever keeping her the scared little victim. They’re defining her by The Killing Joke, and The Killing Joke isn’t even her story. She has almost no dialogue in that comic, and her only role is to be maimed and degraded in order to traumatize her father, Commissioner Gordon.

Likewise, this cover is also not about Batgirl, not really, despite being a cover for her comic. It’s intended to be a celebration of the Joker. And choosing such a horrifying image as a celebration is in incredibly poor taste. It comes across as a glorification of Batgirl’s humiliation and degradation. It’s not like they couldn’t have given her a more empowering or even fun Joker-themed cover: The variant cover for Action Comics features Superman threatening the Clown Prince of Crime with heat vision. The Catwoman cover shows a Catwoman-branded giant boxing glove punching the Joker out. Even the covers that do show the Joker seemingly triumphant don’t show the heroes in such a infantilized, compromising position.

Defenders of the Batgirl variant cover are quick to point out that Batgirl is far from the Joker’s only famous victim, and there are plenty of times comics show male heroes in moments of defeat or weakness. This is true, but it’s almost never done this way. Male heroes, even in defeat, are almost always drawn to still look defiant and “cool”, keeping their dignity intact. You’d never see the same image with Batman in Batgirl’s place, with that same teary-eyed look of childlike horror. Case in point: the image below, with the Joker and Batgirl replaced by Doomsday and Superman:

How The Killing Joke ruined Batgirl

This parody drawing by comic artist Ray Dillon perfectly illustrates the comics industry’s double standard. Male heroes are never allowed to seem this weak. The same image with a male hero instead of a female hero becomes laughably comical. Even if it weren’t, it still wouldn’t have the same impact, because The Death of Superman was nothing like The Killing Joke. Superman wasn’t fridged in one scene halfway through to further some other character’s story, and he wasn’t humiliated or violated. He was the central character, and he went out it a bloody blaze of glory, and took his assailant with him to the grave.

For a better example, let’s look at the Joker’s other most famous victim: Jason Todd, the second Robin. Famously beaten to death with a crowbar by the Joker in the storyline A Death in the Family, Jason eventually returned from the dead. Despite having arguably more reason than Barbara to fear the Joker and experience PTSD over his encounter, there mysteriously seems to be little in the way of art or storylines to that effect. Nothing comparable to this variant cover featuring Jason Todd with the Joker exists, that I’ve seen.

Jason Todd’s post-resurrection stories haven’t been about fear: they’ve been about anger. Jason’s been out for revenge ever since he rose from the dead. His stories are all about how badass and vengeful he is now. He doesn’t cower in fear every time someone pulls out a crowbar—he turned around and beat the Joker half to death with a crowbar. (Not that I want to see Batgirl shoot the Joker through the spine, but at least it’d be better than having her live in constant fear.)

And even putting that aside, Jason didn’t get nearly the short end of the stick in A Death in the Family that Barbara did in The Killing Joke. Once again, Death in the Family was Jason’s story. He had agency, and his actions drove the plot. Even in his final moments, he had more control than Barbara did, with his last act being throwing his body in the way of an explosion in a futile attempt to save his mom.

Showing a female character as scared or victimized doesn’t have to be a bad thing. For example, there’s one comic book all about a woman being brutalized by the Joker that I absolutely love and would have no problem with DC revisiting: Paul Dini’s Mad Love. Why? Because Mad Love is 100% Harley Quinn’s story. She drives the plot, she has the arc. And her victimization isn’t just there for its own sake, or for the sake of Batman or the Joker; it informs her character and the story and it teaches something. That’s the difference between the Joker defenestrating Harley and crippling Barbara. One is all about the victim, while the other is all about the victimizer.

You may also like...

  • Jonathan Campbell

    It’s not The Killing Joke that ruined Batgirl; it’s the writers and the company. It honestly seems like DC is MORE sexist than it was 10 or even 20 years ago- Oracle was awesome, but her replacement Cassandra Cain was equally awesome, and Spoiler was great etc. And crippling Barbara would be far less of a problem if that sort of thing was rarer in stories to begin with.

    I’d also say the Women in Refrigerators trope is less a consequence of direct sexism and more a consequence of the majority of heroes being heterosexual men. Killing or crippling or otherwise going after the person the hero loves is dramatic, is the sort of thing you’d expect their worst enemies to logically do, and it can be done well (TKJ and Oracle is a pretty good example, all things considered), but if most of your heroes are straight guys that means most of your refrigeration will be done to women. There ARE cases of men in refrigerators (eg. Carol Danvers’ boyfriend, chopped to pieces by Mystique), but if the superheroines aren’t getting the same attention or development as the superheroes, it’s going to be unbalanced (not discounting that “kill the lover” can be overused and be done cheaply, of course).

    Anyway, with regards to the Joker raping Barbara, Alan Moore said categorically that he did not. Unless DC comics is stating otherwise and rewriting that, I think we can at least put that one out of our minds. Joker shot her and took pictures, but that was all.

    • Skylar Zenas Mullins

      of coarse Barbara isn’t somebodies token love interest, she is a hero in her own right. so doing this to her would be like killing off or at least permanently benching Bruce Wayne in a virtually cameo appearance in someone else’s book. or like if they killed kirk by having him suddenly show up near the end of Picard’s movie and fall off a bridge in the middle of nowhere while fighting a two bit villa… oh wait. yeah I see what you where saying about the men in the fridge, or I suppose in this case men on the bridge.

      • Toby Clark

        Kirk saved millions of lives because he knowingly put his on the line in that moment. I will never understand why people seemed determined to downplay that.

        • Skylar Zenas Mullins

          well for one there is the show don’t tell problem. he supposedly saves the lives of millions, shame we never actually see these people he is saving. all we see is a barren planet with nobody on it. then there is the fact that he died by falling with a bridge, rather anticlimactic wouldn’t you say? aside from that I was making the parallel that it wasn’t a Kirk and Picard story, it was a Picard story with Kirk just showing up for the last fight. Picard could have brought king Arthur back to help him fight for all the difference it would make to the story.

    • Regardless of whether actual rape took place, being stripped naked and photographed against your will is still a form a sexual violation.

      • Jonathan Campbell

        Yes, I know. But I brought it up because Alan Moore seemed to be quite…annoyed, when people started suggesting that the Joker raped Barbara. I think he found the idea offensive, actually, though he snarked (probably not-seriously) that the Joker might have raped Jim Gordon.

    • E.Buzz Miller

      I don’t even really consider Killing Joke WIF, even if it has the tropes of it. I think WIF should be reserved for the arbitrary maiming and depowering of a female character just to have the male hero and villain something more gain more animosity, and here it didn’t seem so much a throw away, and Barbara at the time was essentially a civilian character no longer a superhero., so it really wasn’t taking Batgirl and making her weak.

    • drumstick00m

      My conspiracy theory of “WTF DC?” with going from DCAU to New 52 (pretty good to blatant misogyny) is there was a coup. The people made over the (actually nicely written) death of strong jawed manly man Hal Jordan slithered their way to power at DC in an effort to take things back to the “Good Ole Days.” I believe they only meant to resurrect and purify Hal Jordan, but the road to hell is paved with “good intentions.”

      PS I do not like Hal as much as John.

  • Beej

    Good points by Jonathan Campbell. Yes, if women are simply the supporting characters they are then used as plot points. Add to that, the lack of creativity in using the same old plot device of “hey, let’s rape/murder the woman our hero loves to get a rise out of him”. Sigh. More original writing and a conscientious effort to give importance to female characters is what’s needed, but if they keep making money… why would they change and/or care that they are leaving the ladies in the fridge?

  • CthulhuBob

    I still own my original copy of TKJ and one of the most shocking and heart-wrenching scenes in it is when Barbara opens then door and BOOM! It shocked and disgusted me, but that was the point, despite his title as the Clown Prince of Crime the Joker is EVIL, plain and simple. He is vile and wretched scum. And when I saw that variant cover it sent chills down my spine. I found the imagery powerful and terrifying…and thats the point isn’t it?
    The Joker is not simply a typical wife-beater or misogynist, he is the ultimate psychopath in the DC Universe (in fact I can’t say that Marvel has anyone as disturbing + famous in their cast of characters). And I think context is everything in this case, you say how laughable that switch-up with Supes is and I heartily disagree. I find that equally disturbing and the reason for that is that I was out of the comic collecting hobby by the time Death of Superman was published, all I see is a frightening image without the context of the story it is based. Ironically, Supes is being feminized by Doomsday since it looks like lipstick being painted on rather than a smile. It makes me wonder if people would holler as loud if that was used as a variant cover for one of his titles.
    Art is made to make us feel…not feel good …just feel. And I can say unequivocally that the Batgirl image definitely makes us feel, it just seems some people would rather not feel something that close to reality when they enjoy their fiction which is a pity. And what I feel is fear and hatred towards the Joker, not pity for Batgirl…and thats how it should be imo.

    • Jonathan Campbell

      “The Joker is not simply a typical wife-beater or misogynist, he is the ultimate psychopath in the DC Universe (in fact I can’t say that Marvel has anyone as disturbing + famous in their cast of characters).”

      Red Skull? Carnage? Sabretooth?

      I could probably contest DC as well- Darkseid comes to mind.

      • CthulhuBob

        Red Skull maybe since he is a Nazi. But Carnage is portrayed as none too smart and Sabretooth is just a brute. Whereas Darkseid is a megalomaniac and destroys planets but does not derive pleasure from the suffering of others like the Joker does. It’s the Joker’s sadism, devious intellect and the joy he takes in both the suffering of others and his own insanity that sets him apart from other supervillains.

        • Jonathan Campbell

          Sorry, but I don’t really agree with that. I didn’t list Red Skull just because he was a Nazi- the Skull has his own torture chambers, plots and executes mass murder for shits and giggles, had a HORRIFICALLY abusive relationship with the villain Mother Night that makes Harley and the Joker look tame, tried to murder his own baby daughter for being a girl, once achieved godhood and used it to turn Earth into a hellhole filled with poverty, famine and multiple natural disasters, masterminds numerous terrorist organizations, is pretty much in-canon as “worse than Hitler”…Seriously, some of the most horrible and ruthless villains in comics (INCLUDING The Joker) have flat-out refused to work with the Skull either because he is a Nazi or just because he is that flat-out evil; and the ones who DO tend to be just as bad or somehow even worse.

          Carnage I’d describe as book dumb- he isn’t smart or educated or anything like that, but he isn’t stupid either and he doesn’t fall for a lot of the tricks the genuinely idiotic members of Spidey’s rogues gallery tend to (like the Rhino)- insults, for instance, don’t really work on him, if for no other reason than he is far too drunk on his own sense of power and the love of killing to care. And he can be quite devious and tricky at times as well.

          Sabretooth is not dumb at all. He is a genius hacker, is fluent in multiple languages, and is a veteran of many wars and operations with several lifetimes worth of military experience. He is a tactical mastermind and a highly-skilled and trained combatant, and probably the most dangerous tracker you will ever meet, not to mention he is an extremely skilled manipulator. He might SEEM like he’s just a brute but he is actually VERY intelligent and not one to be underestimated. He is far more sadistic than the Joker too, just not as artistic or creative- Sabretooth kills for pleasure and literally snacks on babies, and commits torture, cannibalism and murder with his bare hands. But he knows what he’s doing and he has pulled off some very elaborate schemes and psychological revenge plots against Wolverine and others.

          And Darkseid is absolutely a sadist- that’s the core of his being. He most definitely DOES derive pleasure from all the suffering that he causes and he goes out of his way to create it- Darkseid doesn’t merely want to conquer the universe, he wants to eradiate happiness and free will and turn everyone into mind-slaves who will die for his whims. It’s less obvious because he isn’t overtly emotional or expressive, but Darkseid definitely enjoys terrorizing his underlings, his enemies, his worshippers, his slaves, and pretty much everyone who crosses his path. He is a psychological sadist on a tyrannical scale. Darkseid’s goal in life is to make everyone in the universe as miserable as possible; I’d argue he is even MORE of a sadist than the Joker will ever be.

          And actually the Joker is LESS sadistic in The Killing Joke than he is in many other incarnations. The point of The Killing Joke wasn’t that the Joker was sadistic and pure evil- even if it was the comic that made fans take him seriously again-, it’s that he’s an ultimately tragic villain who is a victim of his own madness. He believes he is enlightened about the world – that it doesn’t make sense and that “one bad day can turn the sanest man alive to lunacy”-, and he tortures Barabara and Gordon not so much for pleasure as to prove his point and philosophy right. But he’s wrong- Gordon doesn’t break, Batman throws his logic in his face, and the comic ends with the Joker having to face up to the fact that he is a mentally ill man who probably needed help LONG before he fell into that vat of acid (because if “one bad day” is all that it took to make him a costumed maniac, then he wasn’t all that sane to begin with). And the Joker can only sadly conclude that Batman is correct but that he might be too far gone to be saved.

          But he isn’t meant to be sadistic or evil; he is meant to be deranged and pitiful. The Mark Hamill versions and others like it- THOSE Jokers’ are evil and act purely
          out of fun, and are portrayed as murderous thugs even before they became supervillains. But the one from TKJ genuinely believes he is in the right and doing Batman, Gordon and everyone else a favour, exposing what he thinks is the truth about the utter insanity of the world. He is wrong, and he is deflated and broken when he realizes this, but he isn’t pure evil.

          Yeah…I take this stuff seriously.

          • CthulhuBob

            I am glad I mentioned that I got out of comics before the Death of Superman since that may explain my ignorance regarding the backstory on the Red Skull, Sabretooth and Carnage. Man they got really Evil after that. As to Darkseid there was a story that concerned his return to his planet in which the inhabitants were gleeful for his return. Seems they viewed him as their saviour from long ago when he uplifted them. It had a weird logic and gave him a hint of nobility.
            On the other hand, I did follow the Joker and my memory seems to be tinted by his depiction after TKJ. But bringing it back to the image that started all of this, without any of this context I still think it’s an effectively disturbing image along with the “spoof” using Superman.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Actually a lot of those Red Skull evil examples are from the 70’s and 80’s. And Carnage only debuted about a year or so before Death of Superman took place.

            Yeah, I’m just being pedantic now.

            Darkseid has had a hint of nobility since his inception- Jack Kirby liked to give guys like him and Doctor Doom a code of personal honour that elevated them above ordinary thugs and evildoers…in their own mind, at least. Kirby actually gave them this code and hints of honour because he thought it made them delusional, that evil is sad and pathetic and his villains cling to this image of being better than they actually are, as if having a sense of honour or doing the occasional good or noble deed REALLY makes up for being a tyrannical dictator with all that implies.

            Anyway, it’s kind of a running theme with Darkseid that his slaves are so utterly dependant on him and are conditioned so thoroughly that they will stick by him no matter what (can’t say the same for underlings like Desaad, but they’ll only act against him if they think he’s vulnerable). The 90’s Superman cartoon ended with Supes tossing a broken and beaten Darkseid to his slaves to be judged by them…and he watched in horror as they cared for and helped him instead (Darkseid quipped “I am many things, Kal-El- but here, I am God”). There is also a comic from the 80’s where Superman ignites a revolution on Apokolips by the slaves that Darkseid deals with by executing the old slave drivers and replacing them with the slaves who revolted, who became just as bad as their predecessors.

            So unless the story was specifically going for that, I don’t think it means Darkseid is more noble for being viewed as a saviour; it means he’s just as manipulative as ever.

  • Solkir

    Very on point and well stated, but I have to point out that, having read Gail Simone’s entire run, Batgirl isn’t terrified or debilitated for the entire series. It’s just a part of her arch (granted, one that makes less sense if the Oracle years still happened). Simone uses Batgirl to tell the story of someone dealing with post traumatic stress, and if not overcoming it, at least finding a way to manage it in such a way that it doesn’t control her life. It’s not the entire focus of the series, but merely an aspect that makes it more interesting to read (for me at least).

    • MichaelANovelli

      Speaking from my own experience, people react to PTSD in radically different ways, but it is possible to “get your life back” in this scenario. I’m glad that at least there’s forward momentum in her arc. :)

      • drumstick00m

        I still agree with Josh: DC negates all Simone and the rest of the good Oracle/Barbara writers with Jason Todd.

  • Corvax

    As someone who admittedly hasn’t read the Batgirl reboot, I’m disappointed they use the Joker’s attack as a backstory rather than something to build up to. I hadn’t heard about that until now. And no, I don’t think they need to stretch it as far as him stripping and molesting her in such a lighthearted series, but I think a build-up to a scenario similar to what we saw in Killing Joke would be an interesting direction to take it. A tease toward a tragic end would be a poignant juxtaposition to what the series appears to be now, but an undeniable reminder that even if this is a lighter book, it still takes place in a pretty bleak universe, where sick creatures stir in the corners, violence will always beget violence, and colorful costumed crimefighting can have some pretty heavy consequences.

    As for the cover being cancelled, I’ve got mixed feelings. On the one hand, true, it’s tonally out of place for the title and obviously upsetting to a lot of people. On the other hand, the Joker is supposed to be disturbed and to do and have done disturbing things. He’s above (or below, rather) and beyond your typical mustache-twirling bank robber. Maybe this wasn’t the best place to point out the depths to which he’ll go to prove his points, but it shouldn’t just be white-washed out of continuity.

  • Steve Potter

    I think it would have been interesting if the New 52 had Barbara as Oracle instead of Batgirl, and without the Killing Joke. To me, Oracle is just cooler than Batgirl, and I think it would have been wise to just have her be paralyzed for a more typical, less Joker-related reason, and have her decide to fight crime anyway.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Having Barbara as Oracle out of the gate certainly would have been an interesting idea and a bold choice. And considering how there was an entire generation of fans who had grown up with Barbara only as Oracle to them I think it would have been generally well accepted. Personally, Barbara Gordon as Batgirl never had an impact on me; it was only as Oracle, a masterful John Ostrander creation, that Barbara was interesting to me.

      So yeah, giving Barbara a different origin for her disability would have been better in the long run, especially to fans of Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown.

      • Steve Potter

        No matter how badass Batgirl is, the shadow of Batman is there. She used a variant on his code name for crying out loud. In her own stories, she’s just an imitator. In Batman stories, she’s a sidekick, one of many.

        But as Oracle, I feel, she has more agency. In her own stories she has a vast supporting cast and can do just about anything. In Batman stories, she’s indispensable. She’s his eyes and ears throughout Gotham, giving him information someone on the ground couldn’t. Furthermore, because only Batman can hear her, she’s his link to Bruce Wayne, essentially serving as his moral compass. See her role in “Arkham Asylum” and ESPECIALLY “Arkham City.”

    • Skylar Zenas Mullins

      well we could give her something like the mantis suit and thereby still have her be able to do superheroing on foot. I mean the DC lineup consists of super geniuses, aliens, cyborgs, and wizards and your telling me Barbara has to be stuck in a wheelchair? it would be like if someone in ghost in the shell lost an arm and went “oh damn if only we had the ability to somehow replace limbs, I guess I’ll just have to live with one arm since getting a new one is clearly the talk of madness.”

  • 1) Self censorship is when someone refrains from saying or expressing an idea for fear of negative reprisal. It is an informal censorship, not a codified one.

    2) Tim Drake was also a Batman sidekick motivated to be a hero not out of personal tragedy but a desire to emulate Batman.

    3) I am so sick of the “Women in Refrigerators” refrain. It makes sense in a lot of cases, but it also works. Batman as a character is motivated by his parent’s refrigeration, Superman is (greatly) motivated by Krypton’s refrigeration, Spiderman by Uncle Ben’s, and numerous other heroes are motivated to similar tragedies. Unfortunately what Gail Simone was talking about in the instance was that there were hardly any female characters of note and a lot of supporting female characters were being killed for motivation, which is a systemic form of sexism in the industry. Something that will not be fixed by ignoring violence done to female characters, but by putting out more female characters and having those like Barbara overcome the violence done to them (sadly the New52 has back tracked on that as you mentioned).

    Barbara’s paralyzing was used in this way for the story, but it is now part of her history, she was retired from being Batgirl until that tragedy galvanized her to be Oracle. She is her own refrigerated motivation.

    4) The Doomsday thing makes little sense because of how that story ended with them killing each other, also Doomsday is not known for violently painting smiles on people’s faces. Having Maxwell Lord with a gun to Ted Kord’s head would kind of work. Having the joker painting a smile on Jason Todd’s face would work.

    5) What the hell does the tone of the work have to do with alternate covers? There are alternate covers that have little to anything to do with the books they are on. They are alternate to generate some small uptick in sales to a small group of dedicated collectors.

    6) The cover should exist, but should be on a story centered on the Joker, it should be about this incident, and it should be closing the book on the topic because it is too old to still be a thing of such focus. The entire universe exploded in the 1980’s and nobody but Psycho Pirate mentioned it for decades yet this keeps coming up. There are other stories to tell.

  • Skylar Zenas Mullins

    there is also the problem that, yet again, we have sexual assault being used as a “woman problem.” reading or watching a story about a male characters doesn’t carry with it that ever constant unsettling specter of “will she be…” it’s a very sickening condition in society that men get to have adventures that even if not light hearted still possess a nobility and dignity to them while women have to have this horrifying and dehumanizing thing hovering over them. I mean gollum who is the personification of sad and pathetic dies in a way that is a Shakespearean tragedy with elements of poetic justice. despite his death being brought about by his own twisted obsession his life is what allowed Frodo to reach mount doom and his death is what ultimately brings the destruction of sauron and the salvation of middle earth. see even a character as pitiable as gollum still gets to retain more dignity by the end than what women are subjected to in stories like killing joke or other instances where the writer wants to have the heroine deal with a “woman’s threat.”

  • Leio

    You’re fucking delusional if you think it ruined her character.

  • Kamille

    when you remove something because it might be offensive to someone else? That is censorship my friend, forced or not.

    • SamH

      No, sometimes, that’s called empathy. For example, if a book is a light hearted escapist adventure for young girls, you don’t throw a horrifying reminder of sexual assault on the cover, no matter how desperate some idiots are to shock people.

      • Greenhornet

        Why would somebody do that? That’s a stupid way to market such a book.
        Bad analogy.

        • Toby Clark

          It’s not an analogy, it’s exactly what they were prepared to do.

  • mamba

    Thank you for pointing out the biggest mistake they made with Batgirl was not keeping her unique. As you said, she was the ONLY one who actually wanted to do what she did, had no messed-up back story, and hence she was always the most FUN character to watch. Since she was doing what she did for fun (and justice, but really? It was always kicks for her), there was a life and energy to her stories.

    But now? Now as you put it she’s ” as messed up as the rest of them”. which means they took the ONE SINGLE UNIQUE characteristic about her..and tossed it in the trash. Now she’s basically a female Robin.

    What WERE they thinking??? It would have been better to leave her as Oracle, or show her minus the seemingly obligatory trauma.

    Reminds me of the old joke with the mopy X-men who are always complaining about their lot in life, when the rest of us in reality are just thinking “Oh yes, it must suck to be able to do what you do, really?” Dude, you can shoot lasers out your eyes and your friend can rip apart a talk with their mind, and you both look perfectly normal! exactly WHERE is the problem? just enjoy your abilities and roll with it!

    • Greenhornet

      I feel the same way about the X-Men and have always been cold towards Marvel for that reason.

      Joker is NOT a psychopath (Until “Infinite Crisis”, that is), but just crazy One day he’s poisoning the water supply, the next he’s putting GLUE on the seats of a school bus. Instead of crippling BARBRA, he should have crippled BATGIRL because to him, it would be “ironically funny” since she’s so athletic.
      But consider this: Batgirl can call in favors from Supergirl, Zatanna, Batman and a dozen others to help her. They have alien technology, magic and TIME TRAVEL at their command! Hell, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel regularly talk to the Greek GODS so there is no reason for her to be crippled, At the very least, they can fix Barbra enough that she could get around on crutches.
      How about this version: after the assault, Barbra creates the Oracle network as she recovers and is so successful that she decides continue and let someone else take up the Batgirl mantle.

  • Faulkner

    Well, with all the sudden onset of SJW articles all over the website, I can see who’s side this site is taking in the culture war. You people are about as subtle as a charging rhino, you know that?

    • MichaelANovelli

      You still here?

      • mamba

        It’s always hard to get rid of a germ…

    • diamond


  • WelshPirate

    Well, it seems to me that it wasn’t “The Killing Joke” that ruined Batgirl, but the writers of the New 52 who seem to have made it their personal crusade to mutilate every character they touch. And that goes double for the female characters, just ask Starfire.

  • Toby Clark

    “It’s understandable that DC
    wouldn’t want to write one of their most popular stories out of
    continuity (even though they had no problem writing out Alan Moore’s actual best DC story, “For the Man Who Has Everything”, thirty years ago during Crisis on Infinite Earths)”

    It was evidently put back later. When Mongul Jr. showed up a few years ago in Green Lantern Corps, there was a splash page in issue #24 recapping his and his father’s history, including a shot from that story.

  • Wizkamridr

    I find it hilarious that Joshua said Bruce Timm “get’s” these characters, and he’s the one who adapted the killing joke into an animated film. Timm is overrated and obsessed with batgirl.