Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and sixty-ninth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
As always, there will be three different posts for each legend this week!
A controversial Batgirl story was re-written and re-drawn when it was reprinted.
In 2014, DC did a reboot of their Batgirl series by a new creative team of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr that took Batgirl out of her normal area and sent her to the hipster Gotham City neighborhood called Burnside. They revamped her costume and made the book appeal to a new generation.
The revamp got great reviews and strong sales.
However, just a couple of issues into the revamp, there was controversy.
Batgirl #37 saw Batgirl face off against someone who was impersonating as Batgirl. The impersonator was named Dagger Type. Dagger Type was posing as Batgirl for a series of photos for an art show and one of them was Batgirl in a wheelchair, which naturally seriously disturbed the real Batgirl because of the whole, you know, Joker shooting her and putting her into a wheelchair thing. So she went to go hunt Dagger Type down.
However, when Batgirl confronted Dagger Type, the reveal was not handled in the best way…
As you can see, “But you’re a…” is right out of central casting for a transphobic “trans panic” story.
In addition, while the creators intended for Dagger Type to be a man who was just dressing up as Batgirl, that was not really gotten across in the story itself, which made it seem as though perhaps Dagger Type was transgender and, if that was the case, then it was a whole big “Wow, transgender people are psychos” routine that is, again, right out of the oldest of old school transphobic writing tropes (think Ace Ventura: Pet Detective).
On behalf of the creative team, Cameron Stewart apologized on Twitter, noting ““We made mistakes. We’re deeply sorry. We will do better.”
In a shocking move, “doing better” in this case actually meant RE-DOING the comic book when the first trade paperback release for Batgirl of Burnside came out!
There are a lot more edits in the comic book, but I figured I’d spotlight the two most major ones, namely the reveal (the reveal is what pissed the most people off) and then notice the changes with the pronouns, so that they wanted to make it clearer in the comic that Dagger Type is not meant to be transgender and that Dagger Type is just a narcissist jerk and that the shock is specifically about the identity theft (and that people aren’t laughing at Dagger Type due to how he is dressed, which is also a tired trope, the whole “Following the reveal, any further depictions should make the character look as disturbing and as worthy of mockery as possible”).
It’s cool of the Batgirl creative team and DC Comics to go out of their way to correct something that they, themselves, acknowledged was a mistake. Good on them. This was not forced on them, but rather it was something that they felt was the right thing to do and DC went above and beyond to allow them to do so. Very neat.
Check out some legends from Legends Revealed:
Check back Saturday for part 2 of this week’s (Black Panther-themed) legends!
And remember, if you have a legend that you’re curious about, drop me a line at either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com!
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