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Today in things that make us scream incoherently

Creative Team Walks Off Batwoman, Citing DC’s Refusal to Allow Characters to Marry

J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman announced late last night that, after having given the matter much thought, they have decided that they can no longer work under their current state of editorial interference, and will be walking off DC’s Batwoman title as of issue #26. Batwoman, a perrennial GLAAD award nominee, is also the first superhero title at Marvel or DC to feature a lesbian character in the lead. Williams and Blackman have said they were upset at long outlined and communicated plot events being overturned by editorial at the last minute, but the one that bothered them most was DC prohibiting them from ever allowing series lead Kate Kane to marry her fiancée Maggie Sawyer.

Williams has been with Batwoman as an artist (and since the New 52, writer and co-writer) since her soft reboot in 2009, when a character was needed to headline Detective Comics while Batman was dead/lost in time under Grant Morrison‘s Batman R.I.P./Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne. It was this series, written by Greg Rucka, that truly established the current character of Kate Kane (though she was reintroduced to the DC universe in 2006), giving her a backstory rooted in current events like Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and a moment of superheroic inspiration that established explicitly and thematically that she is Batman’s equal. Rucka, unsurprisingly, called the news “disappointing.”

Blackman said in his post, “we are committed to bringing our run to a satisfying conclusion and we think that Issue 26 will leave a lasting impression.” After that issue, none of the original creative team will remain on the book, and for fans, the future of this version of character is wholly up in the air. It seems most shocking to me that DC would allow someone like Williams, an artist considered one of the most inventive, if not simply one of the best, in the industry right now, to become so frustrated with editorial that he would walk off a project that he’s clearly so invested in. Then again, editorial over-meddling has been a very common theme in creator walk-offs since the New 52, from Rob Liefeld‘s departure to Gail Simone‘s firing (she was later rehired). And if I may indulge in some dark humor for a moment, there’s at least one ray of hope in that DC might be just dysfunctional enough to, as in the case of Gail Simone, be able to fix this after the controversy blows up. UPDATE: So far, the publisher’s only official comment on the walk out, from a DC spokesperson, is as follows:

As acknowledged by the creators involved, the editorial differences with the writers of BATWOMAN had nothing to do with the sexual orientation of the character.

Indeed, let us turn to the matter of DC’s prohibition on Kate and Maggie tying the knot and how it is and isn’t emblematic of DC’s hamhandedness when it comes to its minority characters. DC was uncharacteristically mum on the PR front when Kate proposed to Maggie, a puzzling move that I, at the time, chalked up to the company wanting to stay in spoiler averse J.H. Williams III’s (currently the artist on a highly anticipated Sandman “sequel” comic penned by Sandman creator Neil Gaiman) good graces. After all, they’d gone gang busters to let everyone know that they were introducing a gay Green Lantern in an alternate universe (his long-time boyfriend was killed in the second issue in which he appeared), and they’d just had a controversy that spread into a small retailer boycott over the participation of anti-marriage equality activist Orson Scott Card in a Superman anthology. Why wouldn’t they want to get the word out that their highest profile gay character in the main DC universe was engaged in a happy, supportive, committed (and, if Gotham City is indeed in New York State, fully legal) marriage?

Well, it makes sense if DC is staunchly against marriage of any kind in the New 52, which is not unlikely at all. It did not go unnoticed that among the many casualties of the almost exactly two year old reboot were many, many of the DC Universe’s high profile married couples. Superman and Lois Lane were broken up, as were Barry Allen (The Flash) and Iris West. A number of otherwise established couples have also simply not been reintroduced to the main DC Universe, like Big Barda and Mr. Miracle (recently reintroduced in a parallel universe, too early to say if they’re still married), Ralph (Elongated Man) and Sue Dibney, and Wally West (The Flash) and Linda Park West, Jay Garrick (The Flash) and Joan Williams, and Adam Strange and Alanna Strange.

However, an action doesn’t have to be intentionally insensitive to be insensitive, and I would argue that’s what has happened here. Gay characters in most other mediums, have long, long operated under widespread stereotypical themes that denied them long lasting presences in stories, much less long lasting relationships. There’s a trope named after it, Kill Your Gays, and it’s a deadly drinking game to start listing gay characters who never dated or who couldn’t be with a willing partner because they lived in a place in which that would not have been acceptable, who died prematurely due to events that were coded “gay” (i.e., AIDS or violent hate crimes), or whose partners died in the sorts of deaths that are still very closely associated with gay characters. Now, we all know that inside of comics, almost nobody gets a stable relationship, but given the context of the kinds of stories that are told about gay characters, and that have been told about gay characters for years, it is insensitive to simply view “postponing, denying or destroying a marriage between gay characters” to have precisely the same narrative weight as “postponing, denying or destroying a marriage between straight characters.” And that’s without even considering the real life struggle of real people to have their right to marry recognized by the society around them.

A college classics professor one told me something that’s stuck with me for a very long time as a lover of superheroes: the point of heroes, narratively, is to break boundaries, so that we normal people will know where the boundaries are. He was talking primarily about tragic heroes like Achilles, but this applies as well to comedic heroes (in the old sense of comedic, i.e., heroes who get to win) in a slightly different way. Superheroes break boundaries so that we know what boundaries are possible to break. For many years now, merely getting equal legal recognition for their relationships has been a boundary that the gay community has been fighting to break. Now imagine that I am saying this very slowly: If you are a person who has ever had your life touched by a fictional hero, you should be able to understand how very important it is to allow gay heroes to break that boundary.

I try not to get personal in posts like this, but if there was one thing I could say to DC about this latest in a long list of editorial snafus, it would be this: I fully intend to, one day soon, have a Batwoman themed image marked indelibly on my skin. My first, and possibly only tattoo. You are in an industry that survives on people loving a certain character so much that they’ll stick with them regardless of creator changes, reboots, and retcons. I will be taking Batwoman off my pull list after issue #26. I might pick up the trade of the next story arc, if I hear it’s good. I’m not going to stick around or put down money up front to see her potential as a hero for actual people who do not have very many examples like her hampered by editorial meddling. And that’s not because I don’t love her enough. It’s because I love her too much to watch that happen to her.

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  • Jason Nathaniel Calhoun

    Regarding the last paragraph: Well said. My feelings on it exactly.

  • Thomas Hayes

    Very well said, Susana.

  • .GONNY

    Susana, thank you. This is a terrific piece, and expresses quite succinctly what so many of us haven’t been able to put into words.

  • TKS

    Is anyone else tired of the Big Two’s attitude toward marriage? Peter and MJ, Clark and Lois, Kate and Maggie. It seems that the editorial leadership of these two large publishers is little more than “ew…mawwage!” They see marriage as stagnation. Are any of these editors married? Did their lives stop being exciting or did they stop having any sort of new experiences once they got married? Mine didn’t. If anything, my life has been more exciting since having gotten married (at least, I am much less of a jackass since having gotten married).

    This problem normally isn’t too bad, straight married couples aren’t really starving for representation, but here it stops DC’s ability to tell the stories that Batwoman should be telling. You said it, Batwoman is the only headlining lesbian of either company. DC could be doing SO MUCH with her, but their immatruity keeps getting in the way.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you!

  • Siobhan Thomas

    Yes, awesome piece.
    I want JH Williams to join Greg Rucka at Marvel, they can do a Captain Marvel series and make me very happy.

  • Anonymous

    Gail Simone did comment else where to that effect, that this is more about DC being anti-marriage, then anti-gay marriage.

  • Pomfelo

    The Big Two are constantly rebooting/nixing/commissioning stories lines based on what they think their “core audience” of young cis etc. males want.

    Here’s a strategy that worked at the (theater) box office this summer: attach good creators to established character to make a superior product. The people will come!

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s a bit more complex than that and the unfortunate and devastating thing here is that what started out as something rooted in sexism has now crossed over and caused genuine harm for LGBT representation and equal rights.
    This idea that marriage is a “chain” that it’s “stagnent” that it’s “the end” is deeply rooted in sexism. It’s rooted in an idea that is deeply ingrained in our culture wherein women are viewed as “chains” that “hold men back” and that a man’s “adventures” are over when he “settles down” with a wife. It’s not a coincendence that the language surrounding the destruction of the Supermarriage was very much in the line of making Superman look “cool” and that their immediate response after breaking up his marriage was to hook him up with someone who looked younger and “hotter.” It’s a damaging and troubling view on relationships and commitment and it’s linked to this idea that women are “prizes” that men “win” at the “end” as opposed to a more progressive idea that love is complex and that marriage is a new beginning and not an end.
    The problem is now we see this limited, immature view on love and relationships being crossed over in a way that isn’t just sexist but truly damaging and insulting to the LGBT community. It’s bad enough when I see the insulting gendered commentary that surrounds this “marriage is aging/not cool/boring” mindset. But to see it now inflicted upon one of the only lesbian relationships in the entire genre is really, really hard to swallow.

  • Thomas Hayes
  • Janna

    I never understand editorial teams seemingly purposefully antagonizing creative teams that are doing a good job.

  • Zwielicht Funkel

    Well, with that, DC is pretty much dead to me. At most, I may buy used stuff, but I’ll avoid giving DC my money, no matter how few it may be.

    It’s ridiculous, if even Archie Comics can show a gay marriage, then nobody should be afraid of it. But I suspect that this is exactly the case. They are afraid of angering Card, because he is he hates gay people.

  • Anonymous

    And that’s really a reflection on the way the culture frames this idea of commitment and marriage to the young, male, cis, straight audience.
    As long as women are still viewed in this genre first and foremost by how they can service men and how they can appeal to men (i.e. even if they are kicking butt they need to look hot for the men while doing it) we will continue to see this immature, limited mindest about love and relatiosnhips.

    It’s a problem that is rooted in sexism that has now gotten completely out of control is is affecting stories that NEEDED TO BE TOLD about gay couples. And that’s so sad.

  • Gerald Kirby

    I want to comment, but there is nothing I can add. Over the last two years DC just keep disappointing me again and again. I wish I could stop caring, but I can’t; I care too much about these characters. I’ve stopped buying anything New 52. Before anyone says it, yes, I know that there are some good books being produced. Unfortunately, for myself at least, the negatives about this “soft reboot” far out-weigh the good.

  • AverageDrafter

    Cowardly. Spineless. Braindead. Tone-deaf. Idiotic. Self destructive.

    DC your constant hand-wringing strikes again.

    1) Hire the best you can

    2) Give them assignments they are excited about
    4) Work with them on story and editorial direction and get a company/artist consensus BEFORE THEY START THEIR RUN.


    They can do 1&2 and somewhat 3, but for some reason can’t manage the last.

    These aren’t movies that cost $200 million to make, they are comics – and this one was one of your more obscure characters until these visionary artists gave you a reason to care again. I just don’t understand what you think you are protecting?

    Seriously, DC just stop… stop it. Now.

  • Allison

    I’d be more willing to assume DC just doesn’t like marriage if this didn’t come on the heels of Gail Simone being fired and re-hired when she just happened to be planning to make history by writing transwoman into the Batgirl series. Kinda sketchy if you ask me.

    Yes, it does take a little more effort to keep a fictional marriage interesting than it does to shake up a fictional relationship that hasn’t been sealed in matrimony, but I kinda have faith that DC can find writers talented enough to put in that effort.

  • Andy Bentley

    Let’s remove the gay marriage quotient to this story. This is the umpteenth time DC has stifled the creative art process. Shouldn’t you be angry enough at that regardless of why this bone-headed decision was made?

  • Anonymous

    Or it’s about serialized story telling and publishers being concerned that marriage limits their story telling possibilities.

    I would subscribe to that they think readers of any gender would rather reader about their characters falling in and out of love, then growing old and having loving steady marriages.

    Personally I think it’s short sighted as there is a lot of drama to be mined from marriage, but it would be harder for a ‘young’ audience to connect to.

    Sexism is always present, but I don’t see it as the core issue here. It would be nice to see every variation of a story being told to show loving committed marriages of all types, as well as divorces, But given that our “heroes” rarely age past 35, it’s not gonna happen.

  • Nicole Elizabeth Currie

    While I can’t say I know every post on this site, I’m pretty sure there have been more than one post that’s angry when DC pulls something like this, despite what they were being heavy handed about.

  • spartantown

    Great reporting on this, Susana, and I appreciate you including your personal feelings as well. I’ve felt that Batwoman needed some changes for some time. However, the way DC went about this is ludicrous. Which is typical of DC I suppose. I would have liked to see Maggie and Kate get married at some point even though I thought the proposal seemed very premature. I think Williams and Haden earned the right to close out their run on their own terms instead of DC abruptly demanding wholesale changes at the last minute. It’s just another example of DC treating their talent like cattle and making knee-jerk reactions without the proper forethought. Business as usual.

  • Anonymous

    The idea that marriage limits storytelling possibilities is a cop-out. The real issue is that writing a committed marriage forces writers to be creative and thoughtful as opposed to falling back on tropes that have been around for decades–tropes that yes, are often sexist at their root.
    Yes, heroes rarely age past 35. And that’s really not a problem. No one is asking for marriages to be written where we see 70 year olds in the retirement together. But I see no reason why a status quo can’t include a committed relationship.
    I also think this idea that “young” audiences can’t related to committed relationships is a fallacy and it’s a fallacy that has been, in many ways, culturally taught. If we continually teach a young audience (particlarly a young MALE audience) that marriage is ‘uncool” and “the end of fun” then we are shaping the way they view commitment going forward. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    I was only 11 years old when I started reading Superman comics. I was clearly nowhere near marriage nor a committed relationship but I had ZERO trouble relating to the Supermarriage. I didn’t need to be married to get that or to find that beautiful. Just as young people don’t need to be married to see commited relationships on TV or in movies and find them relatable and beautiful. These things can become self-fulfilling. If we tell young men repeatedly that marriage is the end of their “fun” then we raise them to grow up viewing it that way.

  • Craig Forshaw

    The problems with it are two-fold:

    (1) It suggests that the readers of the comics find the concept of married life dull and uninteresting. Personally, I find it anything but. I find the concept of the will-they-wont-they relationships boring, because of my second point.

    (2) By saying that, for example, Peter Parker cannot marry, they have basically said that none of the relationships will actually go anywhere, anyway. The whole romance angle is based around some sort of pay-off – and with the guys in charge still largely promoting a very conservative view of the world, you probably wont see Peter Parker moving in with a steady girlfriend, long-term, either. So, by doing that, they managed to ruin that.

    That said, the Nu52 has been pretty awful from start to finish, with the few good things quickly ruined by editorial incompetence as DC seek to make it clear that they consider the characters, rather than the talent behind them, the only important thing. ‘Batman Inc.’ and Johns ‘Green Lantern’ wrapped up, and with ‘Xombi’ and ‘Secret Six’ cancelled, and Kevin Maguire booted off ‘Justice League 3000′ for not being grim and gritty enough, coupled with the frankly bizarre reimaginings of some characters (Cyborg-Superman revealed to be a universe shrinking relative of another super-family character; Tim Drake not actually being Tim Drake; almost everything I’ve seen involving Starfire; etc) mean that DC have pretty much convinced me not to part with my money on there current work. Of what they have coming up, there is only ‘Multiversity’ and Morrison’s ‘Wonder Woman’ that holds any interest… unless Gail Simone relaunches ‘Secret Six’. (Then, I will forgive them everything. Double if they bring back Damian Wayne in it, so we can have Damian meet Ragdoll! :-D) I also wont be watching any of their Nu52 animated features.

    Interestingly enough, when I visited my local comic shop this week, my friend who runs it also pointed out that his previously unshakeable love of DC has gone the way of the dinosaurs, too, primarily because of Villains Month and Year Zero interrupting all the various titles DC are putting out because marketing said so.

  • Brian

    This site continues ever useful.

  • Craig Forshaw

    Both companies are in pretty bad places with creative talent of late. Marvel just seems to keep relying on Bendis, or, more recently, Hickman, but they seem to have a bit of a reputation for being like a frat-house. I remember that this is why Warren Ellis wouldn’t go to Marvel creative retreats anymore… something about someone drunk and naked in a fountain (don’t have the link, can’t remember exactly). I remember Gail Simone wasn’t eager to go back, and Grant Morrison was soured by Marvel’s relationship with Mark Millar, the treatment of his X-Men run, and the general darkness of the Marvel Universe.

    Meanwhile, DC seem to be going out of their way to show the “talent” whose boss, it seems. The changes to Vertigo contracts to ensure them a larger slice of the pie just saw creators stop pitching stuff to Vertigo. ‘Before Watchmen’ should never have seen print, and the years of deliberately trolling Alan Moore (given that Moore answers honestly about how he feels, and DC/WBs tend to do things like lie to him (about interfering on his ABC books; about his involvement with ‘V for Vendetta’) have made both sides look petulant to a lot of people. Then there was their refusal to pay Neil Gaiman his going rate for a new Sandman series, and then they relented when they realised just how stupid a decision that was. Now, it seems that unless you’re Scott Lobdell or Geoff Johns, DC is going to pull the rug from under you creatively. It’s telling that Morrison has decided to move away from superhero comics, and head to more creator-owned stuff away from DC. It honestly feels like the idiots who were running the movies, who cannot see their way past Batman, have now begun some level of corporate synergy, but without realising that all their ideas are just terrible.

  • Brian

    Yes, and it’s mentioned in the article. So they are angry for that in general, and this in specific.

  • Craig Forshaw

    I don’t think it has anything to do with Card. He’s a minor name, these days, and I don’t really see the ‘Ender’s Game’ movie changing that.

  • Erin Treat

    As I’ve said in many previous comments here, I lived my life in fear that DC would start meddling with Batwoman and wreck what was amazing about the book, and now it’s happened. I’m not reading after issue 26 if they don’t fix this.

  • Ashe

    Shit, we want awesome superhero marriage? Look no further than The Incredibles. Hell, the sub-plot to SAVE the marriage was very entertaining as well as touching.

  • Brian

    “Personally I think it’s short sighted as there is a lot of drama to be mined from marriage, but it would be harder for a ‘young’ audience to connect to.”

    I started reading comics in the early 1990s. Spider-Man has been married my whole life. Superman has been married since I was 11 years old. These characters’ marriages are as indelible a part of their characters as their powers and secret identities. And the notion that marriage is too hard for kids to connect to, so let’s have more stories about Peter Parker worrying about the rent? Ridiculous.

  • Gerald Kirby

    Since DC started the New 52, how many creators have been fired or driven-off of titles? I would really like to see a list of that somewhere.

  • Myron Byron

    Er, no. I’m more angry about the fact that gay representation has been shafted yet again than I am that DC is messing with its people.

  • Not So Young Democrat

    Christ. This is just terrible news. Batwoman is one of the best books at DC right now and one of the few of their super hero books that feels like it’s doing something at least somewhat new in terms of art. Forcing Williams and Blackman off the book is terrible. I don’t think I’ll be buying Batwoman any more after this.

    I should also add that I think Batwoman is the first ongoing title at DC or Marvel to star a gay character, not just a gay woman. (First and only I might add, I don’t think there’s any other gay character headlining a solo book although there’s some who are members of teams).

  • Thomas Hayes

    Why do they give Scott Lobdell so much freedom? I haven’t read anything by him or Johns, but I do see plenty of praise for Johns, whereas Lobdell gets almost none. I’m not happy with Lobdell at the moment for derailing a promising story arc in Supergirl when he brought the book into a crossover.

  • Aeryl

    Yes we should be mad, but these things are exacerbated by the gay marriage quotient.

  • Thomas Hayes

    Up until Marvel’s Avengers, The Incredibles was my favourite superhero film ever. In fact in a lot of aspects it’s actually better than Avengers, I only *just* rank it below. And you’re completely right.

  • Not So Young Democrat

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m naive but I think that it’s just that marriage is perceived as being less narratively interesting than romance. I certainly think it’s harder to write an interesting storyline about marriage (unless it’s about the disolution of a marriage) than it is to write a romance plotline. Several months ago I heard a film scholar on the radio talking about how there’s a real dearth of movies which are about marriage. There’s TONS of movies about people falling in love and there’s movies which feature married people, but there’s not a lot of ones about marriages themselves. And she speculated that this is because there’s an easy and ready made narrative which exists to follow in love. But marriage has less of an obvious narrative to it, especially if its a happy marriage which is assumed to be sort of a steady state. “Happy families are all alike” and all that.

    I think with superhero books there’s been an unfortunate tendency to try and regress a lot of characters lately. Many of these characters like Superman and Spider Man got married because they were kind of growing up with their audiences (although rather more slowly). Spider Man couldn’t just keep flirting with Mary Jane forever. Eventually they had to get married. Same thing with Superman. But I think a number of editors have felt that these characters were too old and marriage is one of the symbols of that.

  • Ashe

    Yesss. I’ve re-watched The Incredibles so many times I’ve lost count. What a great film.

    In the end, it’s not really the idea-it’s what you do with it. Something DC keeps forgetting.

  • Anonymous

    *clings desperately to her digital ‘Beyond’ titles, one of the last remnants of the old DC Animated Universe*

  • TKS

    I agree with all of this.

  • Anonymous

    But I think you are sort of making my point for me here.
    The reason these stories about courtship are so “easy” to tell is because they are often contingent upon lazy plot devices that are often rooted on some pretty sexist ideas about love. There’s a reason women lament the lack of really good romantic comedies these days that don’t paint relationships between men and women with really uncomfortable gender problems. Writing about the drama and conflicts that come from marriage ::is:: hard because it requires better writing and much more mature view on life and love.

    I agree with you that editors thought marriage was making these men “old”—but AGAIN—this kind of makes my point. Who taught us culturally that men who get married are “old?” Who taught us culturally that people in their early 30′s were old? And notice who gets shafted in this idea of what makes a man “old.” It’s ALWAYS The woman. It’s always this idea that a man who is tied down isn’t as “cool.” It’s a problematic view that stems from a culture where we teach young boys from a young age that they are meant to “play the field” and that when they settle down the “fun” is over.

  • TKS

    I wouldn’t agree that setting boundaries or nixing story ideas is “stifling the creative art process.” If the editorial staff nixed ideas that went against the current continuity, which disrupted the narrative they were trying to build, or nixed a trite or offensive idea, that’s not hindering creativity. That’s requiring creativity.

    Jimquisition did a great video about this recently when people were asserting that considering “inclusiveness” in gaming was the same as “neutering” creativity. He asserted that people could continue to do the same sexist, racist things that they’ve always done, or they could be creative and find a way to welcome everyone. (He points to Saints Row as a franchise that is inclusive but definitely not “neutered.”)

    Their editors. Making sure everything is consistent and creating an overarching story is their job. We’re not angry that they’re doing their job, we’re angry that they’re interpreting their job as “deny homosexual marriage.”

  • Andy Bentley

    I understand it’s in the article, I’m trying to highlight this element of the story as it’s already being overshadowed in most media outlets.

  • Andy Bentley

    Understood, but if you come at them that way, they’ll deflect with the “marriage in general” theory suggested in this article or they’ll point to Alan Scott. By amassing all the complaints by creative about the company, then you have some traction

  • Andy Bentley

    If you come at them that way, they’ll deflect with the “marriage in general” theory suggested in this article or they’ll point to Alan Scott. By amassing all the complaints by creative about the company, then you have some traction

  • Andy Bentley

    TKS I understand what editors do, I’ve done design work on substantial publications. The editors at DC are not doing the job well, that’s the problem. Can you honestly say that the amount of people that have quit on this company is “business as usual”? Off the top of my head, Rob Liefeld, Paul Jenkins, George Perez, James Robinson, Joshual Hale Fialkov, Andy Diggle, J.H. Williams and of course the infamous Gail Simone public firing and rehiring. That’s not even mentioning the last minute changes in creative teams (to the point where the proper people aren’t credited on the cover). Have you read how they treated Paul Jenkins?
    This isn’t happening across the isle at Marvel. It’s a pandemic of miss management

  • TKS

    I misread your comment then. Often times in my experience people use “stifle creativity” when editors make any sort of creative decisions.

    I do agree with you that they are not doing their job well.

  • TKS

    I agree that there need to be more single-character titles featuring a member of the LGBTQ community, but I wouldn’t pass off those who are members of teams. Billy and Teddy have been members of Young Avengers since before Batwoman’s first appearance and, I think, have been handled beautifully.

  • Aeryl

    No, this has plenty of traction amongst people who care about LGBT equality.

    Plus, as the article pointed out above, straight marriage and same sex marriage are not equivalent, so yes the editorial changes to a gay relationship, especially after the other many insensitive things DC has done, points to a persistent problem with their treatment of LGBT folk.

  • Samuel Hain

    Poo Pushing Party at Blackman’s place!

  • Maggie

    “No, we’re not against marriage because they’re gay — we’re against marriage for EVERYONE!”

  • Laura Truxillo

    I…I am at a loss for words.

    I mean, where do you even begin? How do you begin? What. Is. HAPPENING. Over there.

    And why the *#$%&(@$*()@#$ do they hate marriage so much? Do they really think that’s part of the secret to good stories and sales? No marriage?

    I…I don’t even.

  • Anonymous

    I’d say yes. And I am. DC has been pretty crappy as of late, from Starfire to “Wonder Woman movies are too difficult” to pretty much the entire New52, to… damn, what isn’t lousy? I had next to zero respect for them as late. It’s down to zero today.

  • Anonymous

    Another example where Archie Comics are leaps and bounds ahead of Marvel and DC. Plus, they still use hand-lettering. Hells yeah.

  • Anonymous

    That’s why Life With Archie is awesome.

  • Anonymous

    Right. I think it’s a two fold problem. The company’s immature (and in my mind disturbing) treatment of the nature of marriage and committed relationships is the first issue. And that has traction bc there is a gendered component to it that can’t be ignored after witnissing the pretty abhorent way that the Supermarriage and the Spidermarriage were undone. (And the way the “wives” were basically tossed out in the cold so that the dudes could go hook up. Ick.)
    But this issue takes the ABOVE issue and then multiplies it ten fold with the reality that DC already has a terrible track record of treating their LGBT characters with dignity. It’s taking a problem that was already a problem and adding another layer of insult.

  • Maggie

    I roll my eyes at DC so hard right now, because arrrrrrrrgh what do they have against marriage?

  • Anonymous

    Archie Comics used to be so endearing for the slightly out-of-touch, frozen-in-time 50s archetypes and repetitive gags. Now it’s in the vanguard for progressive representation in American comics. WHAT IS HAPPENING.

  • Maggie

    I still, alas, have a good deal of love left for pre-new 52 versions of things (Power Girl, Batwoman, Zatanna, Black Canary, and Lois Lane — oh, DC, why’d you stop writing such awesome, awesome characters?! Whyyyyyyyyyyy?) But post-new 52 DC and I are very, very much broken up. I guess I’ll read my trades and lament over the awesome that was but is no more.

  • Anonymous

    Honestly? I LOVED Maggie’s relationship with Toby Raines back in the Superman books. And I loved that Maggie and Toby as a couple managed to be sneaked into Superman the Animated series.

    I’m still bitter that the Superman books now can’t have gay women in them apparently, and VERY bitter at how Toby and Maggie were broken up by the fact that nobody ever got around to writing Toby moving to Gotham like the books said was the plan originally.

    So I can’t help but see a deep hypocrisy here. “Oh no, DC won’t let us try to make this gay couple more solid in their relationship. The relationship being the one that destroyed the longest-lasting gay relationship in mainstream comics.”

  • TKS

    Yeah. But not enough Skrulls. If Archie had a few more Skrulls I might be on board.

  • Erin Treat

    I love this post. ALL OF THIS!

  • Ash

    curious though, If they let them marry just so the lgbtq community wasn’t slighted, wouldn’t that be the same thing as saying, “put the fat kid as goalie, he wont have to move around much and takes up most of the net just standing there” during a soccer match?

    another interesting thing to point out, is not all members of the lgbtq community follow the heteronormative approach to sexuality and relationships (or the cummulation of these into a marriage), which i bring up because everyone makes a big deal about the denial of marriage to lgbtq people which affects only a portion of the population, yet the rights of trans people (which also yes only affects part of the population, but when the basic quality of life can be affected by the smallest right– like using a bathroom that lets you feel safe and comfortable, that tends to be where my attention would go)

    I don’t honestly see the story as a slight against the community… More so I see it as the artists and writers involved not being able to express their stories as the way they see fit. It’s not a gay thing, it’s an artistic direction thing in my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    Regressing Barbara from Oracle back into Batgirl was probably the single greatest blow AGAINST diversity in comics history. It doesn’t matter what shows up in the book’s supporting cast, it’s a title with discrimination for a foundation, and it’s deeply deeply disappointing to see Simone degrade herself by volunteering to write such a shameful thing. I see no reason to have any faith in DC whatsoever.

  • Anonymous

    The gags can be decent, too. The two B&V Double Digest imprints tend to be a good value, IMHO.

    Plus, they’ve got Gisele Lagace drawing for them every now and again. Reversedale was cute as all hell.

  • Anonymous

    Yup. I flat out love DCAU. Current DC print? A ten-foot pole is my constant companion.

  • Anonymous

    This decision by DC is yet another way that they are handing the next generation of comic fans to Marvel. DC has decided to keep it’s Universe dark and unfriendly to families and women. They have no families in their Universe that are remotely stable. They have almost no kid friendly animation. This title was my one ray of hope that they were not a white boys club. Now allowing no one to get/ stay married? Smells like bitter single guy syndrome, not a creative marketing decision.

  • Anonymous

    Who can possibly be against the possibility of two gorgeous brides kissing? [/fifteen year old boy mode]

  • Janelle S

    Women lament the lack of really good romantic comedies? That’s a thing? I am ready to believe it, but, at 37, I have never had that conversation or anything close to it. Maybe because romantic comedies are one of those genres that I don’t even bother worrying about what’s “really good”; I’m just looking to avoid what’s “really bad”.

    But, I disagree with your examples about great narratives about married couples. Nick and Nora (who are outstanding, and I sort of wish someone would update them so I could wail about how so-and-so is never going to be as amazing as Myrna Loy), the Cosbys, Eric and Tami Taylor… those narratives weren’t *about* married couples. The married relationship didn’t carry the show. It was a *part* of the show, but it wasn’t the show. I think the only show I can recall that was *about* the marriage itself is Mad About You? Maybe.

    Perhaps that’s all picking at nits. After all, a superhero comic isn’t going to be about the hero’s marriage any more than The Thin Man movies were about Nick and Nora Charles’s marriage. So maybe the idea that a marriage is viewed as a limited narrative vein to mine isn’t such a big deal. We aren’t looking for that issue of Superman in which Lois reams Clark for not picking up the kid from daycare because she’s on assignment and dammit, it’s HIS TURN.

  • MeatyStakes

    I’m at the point of not even caring about what DC does, I’m just so fed up.

  • John Burkhart

    Like other people say Below, Marvel’s no better. Why, hello there “One More Day”.


  • Rebecca Pahle

    Popping in to say that I, personally, lament the lack of good romcoms. The genre isn’t inherently bad—look at The Shop Around the Corner, for example. There are a lot of great older romcoms, but most of the ones out now are just generic and blah, if not outright insulting to women.

  • Janelle S

    This is why I attempt to avoid the ones that are just really bad. Aiming for really good sounds like a lot more work and frustration than I really want when I’m looking to be entertained.

    You know, I tried both the Judy Garland and Jimmy Stewart versions of “The Shop Around the Corner” and neither one worked for me. I *was* trying to sell someone on “His Girl Friday” last week, though.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t have time to search for a link right now but there have been some pretty solid articles written in the last few years about the decline of the romantic comedy and some of the more damaging tropes in them.
    And yeah, I sort of feel like it’s not the point that none of those narratives were about married couples and only featured them?
    The point of a Superman comic is for Superman to be…Superman. If Lois and Clark are married, their marriage serves as the emotional backbone of the narrative at times but it’s not in conflict with Clark saving the world nor Lois being the best journalist in the world anymore than Tami and Eric’s marriage was in conflict with himi being the best football coach and her the best guidance counselor.
    The point I was trying to make is that I think it’s lazy and wrong to assume that you can’t tell great stories where the relationship that may provide the emotional resonance to your plot actually results in a marriage. It’s wrong to assume that you have to keep couples apart in order to tell that story.

  • Anonymous

    His Girl Friday is wonderful and, ironically, was one of the inspirations for Lois Lane. Rosalind Russell.

  • Anonymous

    Right. I do’nt think the genre is bad. But I think there are some problematic tropes that have worked their way in there over the years, in part, bc of cultural sexism.

  • John Smith

    And SAGA, which is entirely about marriage and crazy popular.

  • Fletch

    Looks like DC is trying to hang on to the last vestige of morals, and good for them. Heroes are supposed to do what is right and moral and many of us, myself included, think gay marriage is wrong. If heroes went down the path of doing what is immoral and wrong, well, they wouldn’t be heroes anymore would they?

  • MeatyStakes

    I’m sorry, I don’t know of this ONE MORE DAY thing, it never happened. There is no such thing.

    But I am really sad that they cancelled the main universe Spiderman, but I guess it’s okay. It was touching how Peter decided to hung up the tights after Aunt May passed away, now he can finally be happy with Mary Jane somewhere away.

  • Ryan Colson

    Go whole hog; boycott DC entirely. I just read Forever Evil 1, chalked it up as interesting, and a villain lenticular hologram later (Two Face) came to the conclusion their editors are utterly stupid since both comics tell two drastically different versions of Harvey siding with the Crime Syndicate. Their quality control is massively bad as in six years we have or are getting do many characters with the same code name. Frustration City.

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    Immoral and wrong is what you’re doing now, not two people in love committing themselves to each other in marriage.

  • Anonymous

    The thing they are limiting themselves in is FAMILY story options, if no one is married. The endless sibling/half sibling ‘surprises’ that they are recycling from soap operas are tired. No one has an active family life. I would LOVE to see them having to interact with inlaws and kids. (Evil inc and PS 238 are hilarious) Many superhero titles as “lone fighter protecting the city (or world) against evil” may be OK, but they formed teams for better stories as well as logistics. NO families is ridiculous. And offensive. Is this a world we want our kids introduced to, where no hero gets a family? WHy on earth would they stay superheroes? Why ever become one if it is universal that all Super families are destroyed? This sends a clear message on what DC values. And the message is clear that LGBT do not get heroes and families.

  • Ashe

    MMMPH. That is on my to-read list!

  • Anonymous

    heh. Supernanny. LOL

  • David Zgurski

    The bottom line is that while the big two will allow LGBT characters to come out of the closet, they are not allowed to be happy and make the same choices that everyone else gets to make. It’s bald-faced homophobia and prejudice. LGBT people still look up at an impenetrable glass ceiling in many places and now DC is one of them. Comic books rightfully deserve extinction if this is what is going to happen.

  • margrave

    I hope that you guys and anyone else going to NY comic-con has a chance to really lay into them for this. It may not be about gay marriage, but it looks bad in general and yet another example of editorial running roughshod over creative is still bad.

  • margrave

    I don’t know if it’s fair to say that about Marvel they did actually have a gay wedding.

  • Anonymous

    There were plenty of us up in arms when Clark and Lois’ marriage got ‘poofed’. I refuse to buy any book where sups is macking on Wonder Woman. It’s just plain wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Batwoman’s fiance Maggie Sawyer is a cop. There are real gay cops putting their lives on the line every day for your sorry self Fletch. Don’t you dare say they aren’t as much deserving of the term hero as the straight ones.

  • Fletch

    So “love” is the criteria by which you judge people should be able to marry? That doesn’t fly. What about if I wanted to marry a relative, or someone underage, or my dog, or more than one person. I’m not saying gay people don’t love each other, but “marriage” has an innate meaning (one man and one woman) that can’t be changed by law. Government didn’t create marriage and it can’t alter it. “Gay marriage” is as much a contradiction in terms as saying “dry water” or “male sister”. It just doesn’t make sense when you consider what it *is*. We’ve just had the 50th anniversary of Rev Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. Some have tried equate the gay marriage argument with the civil rights thing (which it isn’t).

    King asked in his letter from a Birmingham Jail ‘what makes a law just’? His answer – “How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.”

    So, is the gay marriage “law” (where it is legal) rooted in eternal law and natural law? I would say neither.

  • margrave

    Add Naked Suicidal Harley to the mix and DC’s having a really bad PR day

  • Gary Keyes

    DC–please grow the hell up. Please. It’s 21st century for God’s sake! Why can’t you just leave things alone? Is that so hard?

  • Anonymous

    Yes, because an editorial staff so enamored of the crotch shot and micro costume is interested in a moral stance. (ref Hawkeye initiative) Seriously, if they felt that way, why start the title at all? This is a serious, great character and a serious relationship is an obvious story development. If they wanted a different stance, or to avoid controversy they should not have started down this road. But this road less traveled has led to success, and their “no chapels for anyone! Bwaahaahaa” sabotage is not heroic at all.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously? Historically marriage is about property rights and inheritance. Learn your legal history and medieval and church history while you are at it. The Bible is fine with 12 year old girls getting married as well as polygamy so it is terrible legal precedent. Most medieval weddings of nobility were not official until there were heirs. Great moral precedent. I like our laws better. Also, I am smelling troll, because who that is very conservative would read DC?

  • Fletch

    I’ve read and enjoyed both DC and Marvel. Are you suggesting that DC is for liberals? But perhaps Marvel is more conservative – I don’t know. My position can partly be summed up by what Captain America says in this panel -

    So, I echo his words –
    “No, YOU move”

  • Anonymous

    For me, the best part of this article is how even if this is just anti-marriage it ends up being about more:
    “Now, we all know that inside of comics, almost nobody gets a stable
    relationship, but given the context of the kinds of stories that are
    told about gay characters, and that have been told about gay
    characters for years, it is insensitive to simply view “postponing,
    denying or destroying a marriage between gay characters” to have
    precisely the same narrative weight as “postponing, denying or
    destroying a marriage between straight characters.” And that’s without
    even considering the real life struggle of real people to have their right to marry recognized by the society around them.”

    And so while I appreciate Gail Simone and JHW’s follow up opinions, you can’t deny that it ends up being about more than just marriage or editorial involvement.

  • Rithmomachy

    When DC editorial wanted to kill off John Stewart, no one thought they were
    anti-black, but the effect would have been to eliminate their best and
    most iconic black character. Now DC wants to eliminate their best and
    most iconic gay relationship. In both cases not for story purposes, but
    against the wishes of the creative teams. It doesn’t matter why, the
    effect is to make DC comics less diverse and less representative of
    their readership.

  • Sophie

    …I’m afraid to ask.

  • Clevername

    Looking at this from a business point of view, franchises from across all types of media always took a nosedive in viewership after going through with a marriage storyline. Dramas, sitcoms, movies, comic books, etc.

    Looking at the state of DC these days, they are scared shitless of taking any risk. Batwoman isn’t even the first comic THIS YEAR that’s had it’s producers leave over disagreements with increasing pressure from DC higher-ups.

  • margrave

    Specifically Panel 4 PANEL 4

    Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders,
    appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will
    release them all. We are watching the moment before the inevitable
    death. Her expression is one of “oh well, guess that’s it for me” and
    she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen.

    People are not happy about it. I’m sure it works better in context how much i don’t know. But really you have to have a panel of her gratuitously naked? Not to mention suicidal. This isn’t even a good page to suggest who would make a good artist for a comic book, because the panels aren’t related. There’s no way to tell if someone has good storytelling skills. It’s dumb

  • EricP

    I hadn’t really looked at Batwoman before all of this came up. I’m glad I did – the artwork and panel layouts are AMAZING. I’ll be grabbing more back issues and reading until issue 26 at least. I’ll be sorry to see J.H. Williams go, but I see why they took a stand.

  • Anonymous

    I’m gonna guess the panels are related, story-wise, given that they all involve Harley tempting death in various semi-absurd ways. The descriptions also seem to suggest that she’s being required to do these things by (and probably for the twisted entertainment of) someone else, which, in my opinion, makes them even more squicktastic.

  • Gerald Kirby

    Looks like Dan Didio, in his “infinite wisdom” as co-publisher, has replied to this controversy. He either has his head up his ass and believes the spin, or just doesn’t care. He really needs to be removed from the company.

  • Anonymous

    We’re surprised that mainstream comics have lost their collective balls when it comes to bold creative decisions?

  • TKS

    I can’t speak to much, but I don’t think this is true in comics. The first thing J Michael Straczynski did when he started writing Amazing Spider-Man was get Peter and MJ’s marriage back on track. His run of ASM is, I believe, the best selling ASM run of all time. He left because of editorial mandates to break up their marriage, after which sales for ASM dropped dramatically.

    Now, I’m not asserting that correlation means causation, but you’d have to have some pretty convincing data to prove your assertion that “marriage is bad in all franchises.

    EDIT-by this point, I think Spider-Man has been married longer than he hasn’t been. Same for Superman. I don’t think the fact that they were married REALLY hurt their sales over decades.

  • TKS

    Agreed. I think that “It’s not about gay marriage; it’s about marriage.” Is the wrong way to phrase it. I think “Your (DC) immature at best and sexist at worst view of marriage is starting to stomp on homosexual couples too. Stop it.”

  • margrave

    oh they are related storywise, but they aren’t showcasing an individual’s ability to tell a story sequentially. I’m probably not explaining right, but if you were to do 4 panels where the action continues from one panel to the next they can get a sense of your ability to tell a store with pictures

  • Clevername

    That’s fair, but wouldn’t that just be the exception that proves the rule? I agree that it’s a bunch of executives afraid of taking a “risk” but when you look at the numbers of marriages in media that killed ratings, it’s easier to put your business blinders on.

  • TKS

    You keep referencing these “marriages that killed ratings,” I can’t think of any of these off the top of my head. I can think of unpopular marriages in media, but I can also think of many popular marriages in media. I kind of think that “marriage” and “success of franchise” are unrelated variables when taking a step back. I’d need a pretty solid source before I buy into that assertion.

    I think that “People don’t like marriage” is like “marriage is stagnation.” They are both cop-outs. They are excuses to tell the same, trite stories.

  • Clevername

    Oh I agree, they are unrelated variables, I’m just saying that executives are only looking at the numbers and link them directly with marriage storylines.

  • Anonymous

    My favorite parts of any Superman story are where he’s trying to navigate his relationship with Lois. I realize that’s a bit strange, but he could do all his villain-fighting off-screen, and I’d be ok with it. The guy who introduced me to Superman felt the same way.
    Their relationship is complex. She has a high-powered career, at work he’s a schlub. She’s always having to defend him when he flakes out at work. She’s the only one who know him for what he truly is, and I think that’s a major strain on her.
    Idk. Anyway, I always thought Superman was pretty boring as a super-hero. It’s his home and family life that makes the character what he is.
    As for Spiderman, the whole idea that “with great power comes great responsibility” is exemplified in that marriage, because marriage is a big responsibility.

  • Anonymous

    To JH Williams I say:
    “I will follow youuuuuuuuu
    Follow you wherever youuuuu may gooooo!
    There isn’t an ocean too deeeeep,
    A mountain so high it can keep,
    Keep me away,
    Away from your art!”
    My point being that he is the freaking most amazing comics artist I’ve seen in…ever. Obsessed.

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    Awwww, the widdle bigot was deweted befowe I could repwy to hims! I has a sadz nao!


    One could also point out all the blatantly gay couples in the bible but I don’t think he’d listen to those facts either. Good riddance to him though.

  • TKS

    Again, I don’t buy the assertion that “franchises tank after marriage happens.” I haven’t seen anything to make me believe that might be the case. I’d have to see these “numbers,” or even something that references the existence of these “numbers.”

    Further, assuming that this non-causal correlation IS real (Still don’t think it is), if an editor or executive is making decisions based only on statistics, than they’ll probably be able to read statistics. If someone’s job is to make decisions based on numbers, they’ll be able to see if numbers aren’t related, and won’t make decisions based on those numbers.

  • Jaime Wissner

    As an aside, Gotham City is not located in New York State. It is canonically in South Jersey.

  • Anonymous

    It’s truly incredible, which makes this even more heartbreaking. I just don’t trust them to assign a creative team that will respect the character like she deserves.

  • Scott

    “there are no bad concepts, only bad stories.” or writing as i would say.

    the only way a fictional marriage would get boring is if the writer makes it boring. ooooor if the editor puts so much directives that it makes it hard to make a marriage interesting.

    also, i notice that Superman and Wonder Woman are still on the freight train to either that forced marriage or SuperWonder baby. but, you know, Superman and WonderWoman are super and wonderful. Bat-characters are dark and broody. they cant be getting married and having kids! no no, and if it happens, those spouses and/or kids are only there to die for more brooding.

  • Ashe

    “…and DC’s having a really bad PR day.”

    Usually a day ending in Y.

  • Anonymous

    Superman and Wonder Woman were put together on the back of the absolute destruction of the Superman/Lois Lane marriage and in the midst of some horrific treatment of Lois Lane during the 75th anniversary. Their relationship has been marketed mainly through a male gaze lens of sex and male power fantasy in contrast with the more nuanced, developed and mature relationship with Lois that took years to develop.

    Superman/Wonder Woman is hardly an advertisement for anything other than DC’s total and utter dysfunction with healthy love stories. They gutted and destroyed Lois and Clark—which was a 20+ year committed partnership—to make it happen.

  • Maggie

    I feel that a good writer is what makes stories feel fresh and interesting, not arbitrary roadblocks (like no marriage for anyone!!!!1) that actually get in the way.