A controversial 1988 comic book in which the DC Comics’ villain Joker character tortured and crippled Batgirl and sent photos of her naked and injured to her father has just gotten a new shot of controversy.
We now know the original comic was to have more explicitly shown Batgirl’s battered body hinting that Joker had not only tortured but raped her.
The page of original art for the book Batman: The Killing Joke was revealed in a Tweet by Gosh! Comics’ Billy Hynes on December 1. It reveals the body of Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl, in a highly sexualized, naked from the waist up pose.
In the story line, Joker seriously injured Barbara Gordon, eventually shooting her through the spine and paralyzing her. He then took photos of her which the master criminal used to drive the girl’s father, Police Commissioner James Gordon, insane.
This was already a pretty controversial story line for a 1988 comic book, but the original art made the rape aspect of the story seem more explicit. Comics fans have for years debated over whether or not the Joker also raped Barbra Gordon, but the original art was nixed and the published art was far less sexually charged.
This one-issue Joker special was written by famed comic book provocateur Alan Moore who caused a stir with his Watchmen series for DC Comics a few years earlier.
Moore, who has said he grew up in a family of communists, used his Watchmen books as a sly attack on capitalism and Ronald Reagan. He has said his Batgirl torture story contained “no important human information” and has been known to disparage the book.
However, the comic had a big influence on the Batman storyline. It set the stage for Barbara Gordon to become a character named Oracle, not to mention helping push comic books towards darker, adult-oriented subject matter.