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Comics Relief: SPIDER-MAN & MJ: Married Again,BATGIRL Controversy, Plus Changes To Marvel’s STAR WARS

Tons of comic book news to unpack in the week’s Comics Relief, like the return of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson as a happily married couple, and J. Scott Campbell’s answer to DC’s latest costume change for Wonder Woman. But the truly big news this week has to do with the ongoing drama surrounding a Batgirl cover that won’t ever see print, but is causing tons of debate nevertheless:

Batgirl/Joker Variant Cover Causes Major Online Controversy

Probably the biggest comic book story this week revolves around just a cover, and it’s now a cover that won’t ever even see print. I’m talking about the variant cover for the upcoming Batgirl #41, which features Barbara Gordon, frozen and terrorized in the grip of the Joker. On its surface, something like this probably shouldn’t be that controversial, since the Joker is Capital E-Evil, and there have been plenty of images of him terrorizing many characters over the past 75 years, none of which caused such a furor online as much as this image. So much furor in fact that Rafael Albuquerque, the artist of the piece,  decided to ask DC to not publish it when the issue hits in June.

So why the furor? [Editor’s Note: Has anyone used the word “furor” this much?] Well, context is everything. As most fans know, in Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel The Killing Joke, the Joker shoots Barbara and cripples her, and it is also heavily implied that he raped her as well. So to have a cover image where Batgirl is helpless and crying in the hands of the man who sexually assaulted her, especially when the story inside the comics bears no relation to the image, it does just reek a bit of exploitation. It’s a bit like “Hey Kids! Remember that time our heroine was sexually assaulted?” I also think of Batgirl had a more defiant face, and not one of cowering fear, this probably wouldn’t even be a controversy. So DC has chosen not run the cover in June, although now because of the controversy, more people have seen it than would have ever seen it had it gone to print. Oh, the irony.

J. Scott Campbell Does His Own Wonder Woman Costume Redesign, Just Because 

Batgirl isn’t the only DC heroine who is facing controversy this week, although this controversy is certainly on a lower scale of controversial. Last week we reported on Wonder Woman’s new costume designed by David Finch, which, pardon our French, is pretty darn fugly. Now artist J. Scott Campbell his debuted his version of what he thinks Wonder Woman should be wearing, and despite his fame as something of a cheesecake artist, Campbell pretty much nailed what a good re-design for the Amazing Amazon should look like, stating “I’ve been informed by many on Twitter that we can’t handle this kind of Wonder Woman any more. Are they right..?” And showed off his sketch for an updated Wondy costume, and addressed point-by-point why it’s better.

* Different, updated, but still recognizable as the multi-decades-long icon that she is ✓
* Authentic visual connection to her Grecian/Roman Amazonian culture and background ✓
* Americana infused such as the use of Red White And Blue, Eagle and Stars ✓
* Minimal arm protection thus making her abilities to deflect bullets with only the skillfull use of two small bracelets all the more impressive, as it should be! ✓
* Tasteful level of exposed skin to show off womanly athletic form without resorting to cleavage or thong etc… ✓
* Unencumbered shoulder area for easy twirling of lasso ✓
* Color-scheme bright, uplifting, and positive without excessive dark blackened in areas (well, imagine that it would be!) ✓
* Mild resemblance to Cobie Smulders (ok, I added that one in for me!) ✓

I find myself agreeing with Mr. Campbell on all points here….maybe DC needs to give him a call. [Bleeding Cool, via J. Scott Campbell’s Facebook]

Attention Hellboy Fans: Dark Horse Has A Mike Mignola Sale You May Want To Jump On

Last year Mike Mignola’s Hellboy turned 20, and as part of the continuing celebration of the big red ape’s b-day, Dark Horse Comics has launched a sale on digital Mike Mignola books, dropping them down to about a dollar an issue. You can find such classic Hellboy books like Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil, not to mention Hellboy spin-off titles like Abe Sapien and Witchfinder, as well as non-Hellboy related work from Mignola, like Baltimore. The sale only last through this upcoming weekend, so this is one you might want to jump on right away. [Comics Alliance]

Spider-Man and Mary Jane’s Marriage Back On (For Now)

If you grew up reading Spider-Man comics anywhere from the late 80s to the mid 2000’s, Peter Parker and Mary Jane’s marriage was as much a staple of the Marvel Universe as Reed Richards and Susan Storm’s was. That is, until then-Marvel EIC Joe Quesada got his way and finally undid the marriage with the wave of a magic wand in the storyline called One More Day. Since then, Spidey has been living the single life again.

But just as many of us have finally gotten used to the idea of a single Peter Parker, Marvel is bringing back the married version of Spider-Man and Mary Jane, along with their little daughter (who grows up to be Spider-Girl if I’m not mistaken) in a version of Spider-Man that proceeds as if the marriage had never been undone, all of course thanks to the events of Secret Wars, in Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, written by Dan Slott and drawn by Adam Kubert.

According to writer Dan Slott, “There are legions of Spider-Man fans that are passionate about changes that have happened to Spider-Man continuity; They are upset that the baby went missing, that the marriage went away. Spider-Man has been around for fifty years, and the marriage was around for twenty-five. So now we’re seven or eight years into a world without a married Spider-Man. It’s a big itch that people want scratched.” You too can have your itch scratched When Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows hits on June 3rd. [Entertainment Weekly]

Changes On The Way For Marvel’s Ongoing Star Wars Title

When it comes to Marvel’s new Star Wars ongoing comic, this week we’ve got some good news and some bad news. As is customary, let’s get the bad news out of the way first-artist John Cassaday’s last issue of the book will be #6. This can’t come as a total surprise, as Cassaday is a very meticulous artist who isn’t known for his long runs on any title, his 25 issue run on Astonishing X-Men with Joss Whedon maybe being the longest.

Now to the good news-not only has writer Jason Aaron confirmed he’s in for the long haul, but the artist chosen as Cassaday’s replacement is none other than All New X-Men’s Stuart Immonen, who joins with issue #8 (issue #7 will be by an as-yet unannounced guest artist.) Immonen is not a bad choice at all, and as you can see from the preview images Marvel released with the announcement, Immonen draws a pretty awesome Luke Skywalker. [Newsarama]

Mark Hamill Plugs This Year’s Free Comic Book Day

Speaking of Luke Skywalker, the man behind the Jedi, Mark Hamill, is a lifelong comic book fan, and is urging fans to go to this year’s Free Comic Book Day, on May 2nd. He even made a YouTube video plugging the event (as well as his upcoming turn on the CW’s The Flash as the Trickster. Why not?) Check it out below:

Miracleman Is IDW’s Latest Artifact Edition

Miracleman (formerly Marvelman) has been having a resurgence of late, with Marvel reprinting many of his now classic adventures over the past couple of years. Now Miracleman is the latest comic to get the Artifact Edition from IDW. The new collection contains 144 pages of Alan Moore’s early tales. The hardcover is solicited as being $95, and features an orientation size of 15 x 20. This is a book for hardcore fans only (as are all the Artifact Editions really) but if you’re the kind of fan who enjoy the entire process of creating a comic, these artifact editions are a god send. Among the artists included in this edition are Garry Leach, Alan Davis and John Totleben. Although only credited as “the original writer” at his request, said writer is Alan Moore, who doesn’t want any credit for his work here. He may be a genius, but let’s not forget, he’s also a total weirdo. [Comics Alliance]


So what do you think of the Batgirl controversy, or any of the other comics news stories in today’s column? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. AlwaysTheBigSpoon says:

    Jason Fabok did the updated redesign first with issue #36 of Justice League.

  2. Ian Boothby says:

    The Joker maimed Barbara, stripped her nude and took photos of her to show to her father. That’s sexually assault even if she wasn’t raped. She was also just an object in the story, like a daughter in a Deathwish movie, something to make the hero angry.  Writers like John Ostrander and Gail Simone brought the character back over the next few decades making her into a hero again. The Killing Joke isn’t a story that connects to where the character is now and the artist and creators did the right thing leaving it in the past. 

  3. Cotlon says:

    Uh, the new Wonder Woman redesign is fantastic. It hearkens to her Justice League War outfit and makes sense for a GODDESS OF WAR! The other one is too traditional. Not to mention it shows off the “female form” without being overly fan service, and is utilitarian instead of obviously designed by men. I know that her sexuality plays into her character(I’m a huge WW fan) but you are dead wrong on her new costume. It is phenomenal. 

    • Eric Diaz says:

      I loathe the Justice League War outfit and her characterization in that movie, and her whole recent Xena knock off iteration of Wonder Woman that DC is going with. I absolutely hate that a character created to represent love and peace is now the opposite. And Diana is and will always be my favorite character. DC has ditched her complexity and nuance for something simple that they think 13 year old fanboys can wrap their head around. 

  4. MJB says:

    Whatever, I loved Wonder Woman’s outfit redesign. It’s badass.

    • SirBoulder says:

      Why the hell is wonder woman’s outfit a controversy when Superman’s new outfit is indisputably hideous and stupid looking.

  5. epobirs says:

    Wild idea: how about Wonder Woman having a wardrobe like a normal person? The Wasp is still one of the few superheroes to break away from the pattern of wearing the exact same outfit for years on end. I know very few women who’d live like that and plenty of men would be annoyed by it too. It’s one thing if you’re wearing an actual uniform issue by a formal organization. But when your outfit is entirely your own choice, only your unstable molecule budget should be the limit.

  6. Guest says:

    I disagree; that is not a ‘tasteful’ amount of skin. It wouldn’t hurt to cover up her thighs a little more. The prevalence of skimpy clothing in today’s society is a cultural atrocity.

  7. J.Hill says:

    I can guarantee you that most of the people crying to DC to drop the completely optional, only for collectors variant cover were people that will never read the book or have never even picked up a comic book before… just a vocal minority of self righteous internet social justice warriors that only care about issues from behind a keyboard. Comic books have depicted much, much worse with not even the bat of an eye, but as soon as someone that gets offended as a hobby sees it while scrolling through their facebook feed, they make it their mission to make it die. Is the cover dark? Yes. Unsettling, even? Sure. But the Joker is a sadistic psychopathic serial killer. It’s what he does. It’s a shame that they caved into the demands of those posers. 
    BTW, the Wonder Woman redesign by David Finch isn’t bad. I like it. It’s not a bad thing that female heroes are wearing more clothing. Of course, this is coming from a father of two young, impressionable comic fans. Look at Batgirl, Spider-Gwen, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Woman… all really cool designs without making it all about sex appeal. 

  8. ImADragon says:

    Is Petey’s daughter in Renew Your Vows the same one that becomes Spider-Girl in MC2?

    • Riley K says:

      Technically no because MC2 is another universe in which the child (from the Clone Saga) survived and grew up to be Spider-Girl… This one may not grow up to do the same in 616 or whatever it becomes

  9. Facepalm says:

    Yeah except Moore the writer of the killing joke has stated before that Batgirl wasn’t sexually assaulted, and given some of his work on Crossed I doubt he would have an issue with saying she was. So again this whole “controversy” is still moronic. It’s a varient honoring the joker, with varients you aren’t bound to what’s in the book you are doing the cover for.

    • Jack Raider says:

      It was said that in early drafts he actually did rape her but it was cut due to DC not being idiots.

  10. Jack Raider says:

    It’s actually not implied at all he raped her and, in fact was confirmed he didn’t.

    • P.J. Lowry says:

      he tore her clothes off and took pictures of her naked without her consent. Even if he never violated her, it still a sexual assault on her body. I also happen to disagree with banning the cover. The Killing Joke is an important chapter of Batgirl’s history… without it we would never have had an Oracle, which was a major character in the Bat Cannon. So to ignore that part of her life is to ignore what was also her major resurgence as a very important character.