This is a scene from the brand-new video game Batman Arkham Knight, in which Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), after she has been injured and is in a wheelchair, is held captive under the control of the Joker, and is made to kill herself in front of Batman. The scene is “Fake” in that she’s “not really dead” but the scenario is played out to torment Batman in the game so he will become enraged.
And Batman’s reaction – “Scarecrow was punishing me.”
Because this is all about Batman, of course. Never mind that they just used an iconic character from my childhood as grief bait for Batman to get his revenge.
If you are not aware of what “the Killing Joke” is – it’s a controversial, sadistic storyline written for DC Comics by Alan Moore in 1988 where the Joker tortures and rapes Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), then leaves her paralyzed in order to give Batman and Commissioner Gordon anguish. This story entered her “canon,” and Barbara became the wheelchair-bound computer geek Oracle for years and years after, and other women took over the character of Batgirl. Only recently have they “retconned” the storyline to make Barbara Gordon into Batgirl again – except that they left “The Killing Joke” in her storyline and just fixed her paralysis.
Women have been angry (with good reason) with the KJ storyline ever since because it takes one of the strongest female superheroes and turns her into a damsel in distress for Batman to rescue. And it’s still part of her storyline today, complete with all the torture scenes intact (although they tone down the rape scene pretty drastically so it’s not as clear anymore that it happened.)
This and the Amazons being killed off in Wonder Woman are two of the worst ideas that DC Comics has ever had, and they continue to double down on those stories instead of recognizing how offensive they are.
So as much as I still love Wonder Woman and Batgirl, to me the idea of them is removed from anything happening at DC Comics today, and I read Marvel Comics instead.
How cool is this that the actors from the Batman TV show starred in a political public ad in the early 1960’s? You’d never see this today. In case you were wondering after watching the below video, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 did get passed, and has improved women’s salaries, but needs to be amended to achieve the true aims of the bill, because women are still paid on 77 cents on the dollar compared to men.
The EPA’s equal pay for equal work goals have not been completely achieved, as demonstrated by the BLS data and Congressional findings within the text of the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act. President Barack Obama said in March 2011 that he will continue to fight for the goals in the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill was reintroduced in both houses of Congress in April 2011.
I’ve always been on the verge of being a comic book geek, without every quite arriving. As a kid I was a fan of the girl super heroes — I loved Wonder Woman, Isis and Batgirl on television, but my family wasn’t much into comic books and my lack of transport to a comics shop as a kid meant neither was I.
I was so disappointed that my Wonder Woman halloween costume at six years old looked nothing like this!
The closest I came in my formative years was having a friend in college who had gobs of them that I read obsessively. But I was too poor to buy any myself at the time.
Oh look, me reading the Green Arrow in college. Nice hair!
As an adult, pop culture has kept me vaguely aware of the developments around my childhood superhero favorites. My first online fake identity was a Batgirl anonymous account. I have my own superhero nickname (obviously!) and logo – even t-shirts. Many years ago, I fantasized about being Batgirl. I wanted to kiss Wonder Woman (wow, that page needs an update). I even have an awesome college-era t-shirt of Batgirl performing oral sex on Wonder Woman over the handlebars of her motorcycle in my t-shirt archive. (I should post a photo of that, shouldn’t I?)
Seriously, the TV show motorcycle had lace on it? I totes did not remember that at all.
But venturing into comic book stores always seemed like too steep of a time commitment/ learning curve for a hobby that seems to appeal mainly to teen boys. Too many titles, too many diverging story lines – how do I tell what I’ve read and what I haven’t? I vaguely knew that there was a Batwoman comic, and that the character was gay, but I didn’t go out of my way to research that much.
But things have changed… I started reading themarysue.com (A Guide to Girl Geek Culture) several months back – (how did I not know about this site before?!) and they cover female comic book heroes pretty extensively, which means I’ve jumped over a bit of the learning curve. And there are some major changes going on at DC Comics right now that make a difference. The company has been struggling financially with many of their titles for awhile, and so is doing a reboot of the every product they have – called the New 52 or DCNU, they’re streamlining their titles and hitting the reset button on story lines.
Beginning in September, all of their comic books will start with a new issue #1. There will be new Batgirl, new Batwoman, new Birds of Prey, and new Wonder Woman story lines among many others – and an easy way for me to jump in and wrap my head around the characters.
So I went into the local comic book shop (Downtown Comics – the Castleton Branch) on the recommendation of my friend Jason, who is an occasionally employee there, and I set up subscriptions to collect my favorite comic book characters:
While I was there, I picked up some of the graphic novels for recent story lines for each of the characters. All of the stories will get a reboot in September, but I’ve been catching up on many of the recent incarnations.
One comic book fan (Mario Pieda) suggested this alternative:
In the question of “pants or no pants” I’d like to throw in my vote of (shockingly!!) “pants” because she looks more badass wearing them. Note that this would be the only situation that I will ever vote in favor of “pants” over “no pants.” It would be nice if Wonder Woman were to continue on without looking quite like such a hooker, frankly. Not to slut shame Wonder Woman or anything, but really, don’t those star-spangled underwear ride up your butt when you’re kicking ass, woman? How much fun could it be to save the planet with a Wonder Wedgie?
I’m aware that at 43 years old, a new comic book obsession is probably a mid-life crisis of sorts. But it’s cheaper than a sports car. I hope.
I miss making out. Not that I don’t do it anymore, but not the way I used to. I mean that I miss kissing that’s unaccompanied by sex, or thoughts of sex, or thoughts of a relationship, or thoughts of anything other than just — making out.
That’s the best part of being a teenager – you can kiss without having to worry about all the stuff that comes after. I guess that’s not true anymore, really, is it? But it was when I was a teenager.
You know that kiss that isn’t going anywhere, but might? Unhurried, undistracted. “Long, slow deep wet kisses that last three days.” You know that line had to come from a movie, because no actual man ever said that and meant it as anything other than a pick-up line.
That kiss where you know your partner’s tongue as well as you know your own? The kind that starts our a little frantic and then you get each other’s rythym and eventually you almost feel like the same person, until you realize your foot fell asleep and you really need to move?
I imagine myself kissing women all the time.
I wanted to be Batgirl. I wanted to kiss Wonder Woman.
I wanted to be Dorothy. I wanted to kiss Glinda.
I want to be Buffy Summers. I want to kiss Willow.
I want to be Gillian Anderson. I want to kiss Jodie Foster.
I really want to kiss Holly Marie Coombs, but if I were Holly Marie Coombs, I’d want to kiss Shannen Dorhety.
Gina Gershon has me all twisted up in knots. I want to kiss her and be her at the same time.