Having just found out about J.H. Williams iii and W. Haden Blackman leaving the Batwoman comic over last minute editorial mandates being placed on story lines that were planned out well in advanced, the deal breaker apparently being DC disallowing Kate’s marriage to Gotham detective Maggie Sawyer, I figured I’d throw my two cents into the internet’s collective cap. I’m also going to go ahead and post here that, while discussion is always a good thing, due to the apparent amount of political and religious vitriol I’ve seen on many other posts regarding this, I’ll be disemvoweling any posts that are hugely off topic in either of those directions.
For the moment, let’s just take it at face value that DC’s decision didn’t have anything to do with Kate and Maggie both being women. Assume that it would have happened no matter what that DC would nix the marriage.
My big problem here as a reader, a writer, a reviewer, a consumer of media, whatever is that DC editorial doesn’t seem to have stopped Williams or Blackman from having Kate propose or any of the lead up mutual feelings scenes that humanized both characters. Essentially, they gave all the build up to something that would have been really big for both characters and that would have effected how the interacted with not only each other and their families, but also the villains and just general people of Gotham. They cancelled on what was, or felt like it should have been, a natural progression for the characters and an opening for really interesting possibilities for future side story bits, the kind of stuff that happens between the super villains. It feels disingenuous on the parts of the editorial guys who have apparently decided that marriage makes for boring characters, to have let the lead up happen and then cancel on it at the last minute. I will admit as sort of an aside here, I think a little more time could have been taken on the engagement and building up Batwoman’s rogue’s gallary and her support team, her family and her non-romantic relationships, more. That would have been good for the character I think.
As a larger thing, the way DC has mishandled public relations on this is just breathtaking. While I can understand that a company wide ban on marriages would include Batwoman, the fact remains that this wasn’t something that was just randomly sprung on anyone. Williams has said from the beginning that Batwoman has been planned out several arcs ahead so that everything would go smoothly, it was even sited as part of the reason that the Batwoman on going comic kept getting pushed back. This was something that should have been nipped in the bud early, before any proposals or even Kate and Maggie dating, just as part of writing in the New 52 if there was going to be a ban on married superheroes.
Now, remember that bit I mentioned up near the top about taking DC at face value on this? That ties into both the mishandled PR and the overall ban on marriage. Whether DC intended to make it a matter of the characters’ genders or not, they did. I talk a lot to my friends about how awesome Batwoman is because she’s essentially Batman as a woman rather than the original Kathy Kane who was in it because she had a thing for the big bad Bat, but it isn’t entirely even. If DC ever decided that they wanted to marry off Bruce Wayne to Selina Kyle or some other chick, that’s only a big deal because it’s Batman. Given how much of a big deal gay marriage is, and likely will remain until everyone has equal rights under the law. It’s down right boneheaded that readers heard from one of the writers, who was leaving the book, that he didn’t think this was about the characters’ sexuality. That should have been one of the first things DC made a point of saying if only to help head off accusations of homophobia. They didn’t though and, while I could easily be missing information here, the only things I’ve seen from anyone at DC other than Williams have been from Dan Didio.
I’m honestly not sure how to feel about that last bit. On the one hand, it does feel like a natural flow for the narrative has been cut because DC editorial thinks that mariage makes characters boring. On the other hand, I admit that this does feel a bit sensationalistic, Batwoman hasn’t really been treated as a character who happens to be gay rather than a gay character. The little intro at the beginning of each issue makes sure to remind us that this is a lesbian character we’re reading about rather than letting us gather that from the comic itself. When the writers leaving the title first became news, posts about it were overwhelmingly about the missing lesbian wedding rather than repeated last minute editorial changes. Heck, even my post her focuses mostly on the wedding and it’s impact on things rather than on DC making poor choices with how they treat their talent. It’s the big deal that DC didn’t want it to be and they don’t really seem to be doing anything about it.
I’ll probably come back later and chew this a bit more, focus on some of the plot stuff they could have done with married Kate and Maggie that wouldn’t make them boring. I might talk about the whole “sacrifices” thing that Didio mentioned at some point as why superheroes can’t get hitched. That’s all later though.