Normally I don’t review things that are bad. I don’t believe in spreading negativity about a project that a creative team probably poured their hearts and souls into. However, The Killing Joke was such an iconic comic that I felt I need to do a review of it that’s not your typical internet nerd hate-fest.
Comic books keep making the mainstream news lately. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but we’re going to take a look at the latest development.
In the final pages of Batgirl #19 Barbara Gordon confesses a lot of things to her roommate Alysia Yeoh. For some time Alysia has been concerned about Barbara’s erratic behavior. Barbara tells her about being shot and paralyzed by The Joker but stops short of telling Alysia that she’s Batgirl. Alysia then confesses to Barbara that she’s transgender.
The one thing that I like about this is DC Comics did not hype this prior to the release of the issue. If they did I didn’t see it so I was generally surprised by this outcome which comics need a lot more of. What I didn’t like is that felt forced. It reminded me of the episode of Law & Order where Elisabeth Rohm’s character, Serena Southerlyn, is fired by the D.A. and she replies was it because she’s lesbian and it had never been mentioned in the show prior to that. It feels like that DC Comics did it just for the sake of doing it.
For the most part I have no problem with the Alysia Yeoh character and her sexuality. What I would like to see is Alysia just be portrayed as a normal person that happens to be transgender. What I hope they don’t do is make her a caricature or have her be the victim of some uber-violent hate crime. That would cheapen the character and even a lot of main characters in comic books feel cheap already. You know, with the temporary deaths and all that.
However I have a bone to pick. A lot of people are saying that Alysia Yeoh is the first transgender in a mainstream superhero comic book and I beg to disagree. 20 years ago in the pages of Sandman, Neil Gaiman introduced the character of Wanda, a pre-op transgender woman who plays an integral part in the Game of You storyline.
You can’t argue that Sandman wasn’t a mainstream comic considering its impact on the comic community at that time. And while it may not be a superhero comic per se it did take place in the DC Universe proper and Dream did interact with the likes of Batman, Superman and Martian Manhunter. Wow, I sound like Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.
Anyway all in all I feel like it was just there. Just not any reason to pick up or drop the title.