DC Comics have confirmed that Rafael Albuquerque’s highly criticized Joker variant cover for Batgirl #41 will not be published at the artist’s request.
In a statement, Albuquerque said:
My Batgirl variant cover artwork was designed to pay homage to a comic that I really admire, and I know is a favorite of many readers. ‘The Killing Joke’ is part of Batgirl’s canon and artistically, I couldn’t avoid portraying the traumatic relationship between Barbara Gordon and the Joker.
For me, it was just a creepy cover that brought up something from the character’s past that I was able to interpret artistically. But it has become clear, that for others, it touched a very important nerve. I respect these opinions and, despite whether the discussion is right or wrong, no opinion should be discredited.
My intention was never to hurt or upset anyone through my art. For that reason, I have recommended to DC that the variant cover be pulled. I’m incredibly pleased that DC Comics is listening to my concerns and will not be publishing the cover art in June as previously announced.
With all due respect,
DC Comics then added:
We publish comic books about the greatest heroes in the world, and the most evil villains imaginable. The Joker variant covers for June are in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the Joker.
Regardless if fans like Rafael Albuquerque’s homage to Alan Moore’s THE KILLING JOKE graphic novel from 25 years ago, or find it inconsistent with the current tonality of the Batgirl books – threats of violence and harassment are wrong and have no place in comics or society.
We stand by our creative talent, and per Rafael’s request, DC Comics will not publish the Batgirl variant.
– DC Entertainment
It’s worth clarifying that the “threats of violence and harassment” mentioned in DC’s statement were the ones being directed at people who were criticising the cover — something which was cleared up via Twitter by Batgirl co-writer Cameron Stewart.
The image of the cover was released on Friday as one of the twenty-five Joker themed variant covers for the month of June. Albuquerque’s cover pays homage to Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke, in which Barbara Gordon was shot and paralyzed by the Clown Prince of Crime.
The cover received a hugely negative response for highlighting a far darker side of the character’s history – serving as a stark contrast to the youthful, exuberant tone of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr’s current title.
So, what do you think? Was Albuquerque right to request that the cover not be published? Let us know in the comments.