Flashpoint #2 Variant Cover Is Pretty Messed Up

DCWomenKickingAss has posted the following image, and WARNING it’s rather gruesome (it’s been a rough day for DCWomenKickingAss all around… Sue is a HUGE Oracle fan). Now, I like referencing classic comic art as much as the next guy.  It’s always fun to harken back to iconic images.  But if this is the reference I think it is, I think they’ve made a bad call.  Here is the variant cover to Flashpoint #2, which comes out next Wednesday:

Wonder Woman is holding Mera’s decapitated head… lovely.  That’s what you want the kids to see when they come into comic shops.  Especially the little girls… “oh hey, it’s Wonder Woman!!  Wait, WHAT??!!” and then they run out screaming.

The only reason I could fathom someone creating such a cover is that it’s an homage to this infamous cover of Crime Suspenstories #22:

This was the cover that Bill Gaines tried to defend at the Senate hearings on juvenile delinquency in 1954 after he said that EC Comics’ art was all in “good taste” and Senator Estes Kefauver whipped out this.  Gaines ended up saying:

A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the neck could be seen dripping blood from it and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.

And thus did we get the Comics Code Authority. 

Anyway, the Flashpoint cover strikes me as a reference to the Crime Suspenstories cover… both heads are at a similar angle, both are grabbed by the hair, and both have blank eyes (though at least they don’t have Mera’s eyeballs rolled back in her head like the poor Crime Suspenstories gal… that’s always struck me as the most screwed up detail of the entire piece).  Wonder Woman and the ax murderer are positioned differently, and the layouts aren’t the same, but I think the heads are similar enough that it’s a callback. 

Regardless, who thought this cover was a good idea??!!  It’s super gruesome and a really twisted reference and of all the things they could have done, why this??  Get it together, DC dudes.  I know we don’t have the Comics Code anymore, but I think “Don’t show decapitations on covers” might be a really good general rule for everyone to keep in mind.

Published by Tim Hanley

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale.

4 thoughts on “Flashpoint #2 Variant Cover Is Pretty Messed Up

  1. You know if I hadn’t been so busy with the crazy rumors about Batgirl I would had posted that cover. I also flashed on it when I saw it and I agree they were paying homage it. It’s sad how many people are like “so what, who cares” when DC blithely puts a decapitated woman on the cover of a comic book. It’s even more sad that it’s Wonder Woman holding it. And, as you said, I’m sure parents will love to hand their kids a Wonder Woman comic after seeing this.

    I can’t wait for the photoshops to start with Wonder Woman holding something else.

    1. Yeah, you had a pretty busy day with the Batgirl rumours!! I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen… maybe it’s all a big tease and we’ll end up with a Cassandra Cain Batgirl book. But yeah, decapitated heads just aren’t appropriate for comic covers, much less a publisher’s biggest book. Gruesome AND numerous is a bad combination. Plus a decapitated woman really isn’t helping the industry’s anti-women reputation. At least Wonder Woman might get out of it okay… since it’s an alternate universe costume, maybe in a year or so no one’s going to know who the murderous fiend on the cover is.

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