Recently, DC comics came out with this Batgirl variant:
This image caused a stir because of the sexual undertones and the fact that it hearkened back to one of the darkest points in Barbara Gordon’s history: The Killing Joke. For those few who haven’t read this graphic novel, it’s the comic where the Joker cripples and humiliates Babs in order to get at her father. It was one of the most problematic moments in the story, and even Alan Moore has gone on record regretting the decision to cripple her without paying much attention to the trauma she’d suffered.
DC Comics has pulled this variant at the request of the artist, and, regardless of whether they were right or wrong to do so, I just love their statement: “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.” Now, you would think that the artist was the one getting the threats, but nope! It’s actually the critics that were being harassed. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but that’s incredibly misleading. Thankfully, though, Raphael Albuquerque cleared that up. You can read an interview of his here.
Dynamite had given the Red Sonja series a new life by getting veteran & fan favorite DC Comics writer Gail Simone to take over the title. Simone was able to key into the character by reexamining her core concept from a more enlightened take on the property that lead to one of the most successful run’s on the title in recent memory. That success has allowed Simone the opportunity to reboot several Dynamite properties with the creators of her choosing, starting with rising star Marguirite Bennett to take over Red Sonja from the writer.
Bennett begins her time on the title making an interesting choice in having the character’s setting radically change in the debut issue and then makes light of how she deals with it. Bennett goes for humor in the opening chapter of the series and it kind of works in the abstract, but also lacks enough substance for the story to engage. Bennett’s plot is humorous in it’s way and it ends somewhere with potential, but there isn’t much to it outside of that. In theory, this story is a way of revealing aspects of the character by showing what she is like in absence of something that has defined her, but the problem with Red Sonja #1 is that it has very little going for it besides that. This is certainly something that could be fleshed out further in future installments, yet in the context of this single issue, it’s lacking. Artist Aneke does give the book a cool visual narrative in a more cartoonish style that is unexpected but welcome. In that way it matches the intended tone of the writing really well. Colorist Jorge Sutil hue’s are mostly bright and it fit’s the mood of the comic.
In the end, Red Sonja feel’s like it could be going somewhere interesting, but it fails to connect in it’s first installment. While this book certainly has the potential to reach the heights of Simone’s time on the book, it doesn’t get there in it’s debut.