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What's with the name?

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Today in things that make us scream incoherently

DiDio Attempts to Explain DC’s Marriage Ban; Will Scrap Last Williams/Blackman Batwoman Issues?

DC Comics’ PR has taken multiple hits this week, and this weekend is a major convention, so you know what that means: DC higher ups giving unsatisfying responses to fan outcry at Baltimore Comic Con. Specifically, we’re talking about Dan DiDio saying that superheroes should never have happy personal lives, Aquaman and Mera aren’t married, and that a new writer will be taking over Batwoman with issue #25.

From the Beat, DiDio’s statement, made from the floor of the DC Nation panel before it commenced:

Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives. They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests.

That’s very important and something we reinforced. People in the Bat family their personal lives basically suck. Dick Grayson, rest in peace—oops shouldn’t have said that,—Bruce Wayne, Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon and Kathy Kane. It’s wonderful that they try to establish personal lives, but it’s equally important that they set them aside. That is our mandate, that is our edict and that is our stand.

DiDio also spent time affirming his, and DC’s, commitment to gay characters, daring listeners to name a comic company who “stands behind” LGBTQ characters in the way DC does. And I’ll give him that truth at least: Kate Kane is the only gay character in superhero comics who stars in her own, eponymous ongoing series. But I might quibble that Williams wasn’t setting up a 100% perfect marriage with Kate and Maggie. The comic establishes very well that they’re both extreme workaholics with enormous trust issues, and that that’s likely to be a tension that they return to going forward. I might also point out that for a member of the Batfamily, Kate Kane hasn’t been involved in a single tie-in issue for any of Bat-crossover events, unlike, say, Batwing or Harley Quinn, who’ve both been graced with the honor. (It’s been pointed out to me that this may be because J.H. Williams was adamant about not involving his title in such events, and my answer is if that is true, it means that DC editorial is more hardheaded about a marriage ban than about a crossover system proven to increase book sales.) But that’s not really my primary problem with this.

(My primary problems also do not include getting into the debate over whether marriage is necessarily the end to interpersonal drama for a character, though that’s a significantly open question.)

As I said at length on Thursday, straight characters in all mediums do not have a history of being disproportionately depicted in either no relationships, failed relationships, prematurely ended relationships, or terrible relationships. Gay characters do. Not simply because the canon of stories where an LGBTQ character is at the center of the story is very small, or because in the last thirty years getting permission from publishers, censors, studios, etc., to have a gay supporting character in your work meant accepting that you would never be allowed to show them living a “gay lifestyle,” or because so many stories about gay people are set in historical eras or made up settings in which they would be imprisoned, shunned, tortured, or killed for being out. But also because many stories about gay characters who never wind up with their true love, never date, live with unhealthy relationships, or whose partners are killed or otherwise narratively disposed of were written with the express purpose of demonizing homosexual relationships and making sure that the dominant narrative about homosexuality was “If you accept your LGBTQ sexual orientation you will never be happy and it might even kill you.”

The fact is that a blanket ban on happy, stable relationships does not mean the same thing for straight and gay couples in comics, and it is insensitive, myopic, and tone-deaf to insist otherwise, regardless of the original intent of the editorial mandate. The fact is that it does not require supernatural/superheroic powers for straight couples to get married anywhere in this country, but it does for many gay ones. The fact is that there are kids out there right now who believe that because they are different from their peers they will never find anyone to love them, will never be accepted by their community, and may never be accepted by their government.

Those kids need heroes who do the things that their environment tells them are impossible. They need gay heroes who grow up to be loved by the men and women that they love, in stable, healthy, and, yes, legally sanctioned relationships. They need heroes, as well as real people, to show them that it gets better.

That. Is what heroes. Are for.

I say that as a person whose favorite superhero is Batman, one of the most misanthropic unhappy loners in comic canon who flagrantly uses women to protect his secret identity and can barely maintain a relationship with his adopted children. Lets just move on, to what I am hoping, fervently, was a misspeak by DiDio.

In his pre-panel statement, the Co-Publisher named the writer who will be continuing the series after Williams and W. Haden Blackman take their leave. Under other circumstances I’d be very excited about Marc Andreyko, the openly gay writer behind last decade’s Manhunter ongoing, featuring the adventures of superhero, prosecuting attorney, and single mother Kate Spencer, taking over from Williams on Batwoman. But DiDio said Andreyko would be starting with issue #25, which is one issue earlier than Williams and Blackman said that they would be wrapping up their last story arc on the title. I’m hoping, against hope, that DiDio simply got some numbers mixed up, because I think it goes without saying that the way to convince fans to continue buying the title at this point is not to scrap the final two issues of the old creative team’s run after they’ve already stated that they’ll be bringing it to a “satisfying conclusion” that will “leave a lasting impression.”

I’ll end on this final note: the current DC universe is not without stable long term relationships, or at least that’s what I thought. It was widely pointed out, when I posited that a mandate against marriage for all might be the reason for a ban on Kate and Maggie’s, that both Animal Man and Aquaman are married in the New 52. Animal Man is currently physically separated from his wife following her disillusionment with the superheroic life after the death of their son. Aquaman and Mera? They’re perfectly happy co-habitating co-regents of Atlantis and were even featured in DC’s Valentines Day special. Just, according to a recent DC reveal to Bleeding Cool, not married.

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  • Gerald Kirby

    I am so tired of Dan DiDio and his work at DC. Can we please, PLEASE have someone better now?

  • Anonymous

    “Kate Kane is the only gay character in comics in (their) own, eponymous ongoing series”

    Kevin Keller?

    The one that had an on-camera wedding? Yes, in an alternate timeline title, but still.

    When DC makes bad choices, they make whoppers.

  • Lindsey Stock

    If DC scraps Williams’ final issues, I’m scrapping the final three DC comics still on my pull list. That’s just petty bullshit, plain and simple. I was enjoying Wonder Woman, The Movement, and the Green Team, but it’s not like I can’t live without them. It would just give me the opportunity to add more IMAGE and Dark Horse to my life.

  • Erin

    All of DiDio’s arguments are really good reasons for why Batman shouldn’t be married, and really bad reasons for the rest of the DCU.

  • Shoshana B

    At this point, I’m seriously asking myself if I love Lil’ Gotham enough to give DC money every month.

  • Suzanne Larsen

    wow…just wow. I really really hope they don’t just scrap those issues. On the other hand, this is just the kind of power play dick move that DC loves. “Crazy artists and writers, we’ll show YOU who the boss is!”

  • Andy Bentley

    Called it in the talkback for the original article. I said don’t go after them for being homophobic, go after them for the last minute editorial changes. Go after the cause of the disease, not the symptom. Now they get to just brush it off as Didio has just done.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I’ll edit that to specify superhero comics, give me a sec.

  • Miguel Hernandez

    Don’t get it really. I understand the idea of the tortured hero who sacrifices their own happiness for others, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be married. Peter Parker was able to do it for a long time, and it added to the overall character in many ways. Reed Richards and Sue Richards are married. Luke Cage is married. Marvel can pull it off, but why does DC think it’s impossible for a hero to be able to have a marriage, let alone a happy life and still fight crime? They even had Superman and Lois Lane married for a while.

  • electrasteph

    So I purge my final remaining DC title from my pull list two issues earlier, and DC gets less of my money. Oh well. Not my problem.

  • sean

    Married dc characters
    Seems like it’s full of them.

  • Pomfelo

    Good writing and editing can overcome just about any obstacle.

  • realinvalidname

    tl;dr: “Kids, keep reading manga instead.”

  • Project Dan

    What “happily ever after” crack is DC smoking? Their mandate seems derived from people who know jack about being married. You can be married and life can still be hard, especially if you’re, oh, I dunno, a masked crime fighter. Or worse — married to one.

    Too bad about Andreyko. I love me some Manhunter, but there’s zero chance I’ll pick up his Batwoman run.

  • Gerald Kirby

    I was thinking more about this, and this article helped me figure out what I dislike the most about the New 52: all serious, all the time. The lives of the characters need to be dark and difficult for the sake of realistic drama. Okay, but is real life always dark and depressing? No. Real life is a mix of happy and sad times. In any of the New 52 comics I’ve read, I don’t think I can recall any fun, silly or even hopeful moments. There is no contrast between the good and bad times, the dark, serious moments loose their poignancy. People rag on Joss Whedon, but think about Serenity: early in the film we see a rough landing, and Wash is saying his silly mantra “I’m a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar.” Later in the film, when the ship crashes, Wash is killed doing the same thing. Contrast. Had Wash just died, it would have still been shocking, but that previous scene made his death all the more impactful. If creators want characters to resonate with an audience, they need to be shown at bother their best and their worst.

  • Lindsey Stock

    This whole anti- happy- relationships thing just really doesn’t even make sense from a marketing point of view, especially since DC has really been shoving their stupid Superman/Wonder Woman thing down everybody’s throats. They’re even dedicating an entire title to it!! Why bother getting invested with the characters’ relationship at all when it’s a stated fact that there will never be any emotional pay off? Who wants to read something where there is absolutely no hope that the character will attain any kind of fulfilling personal life? That’s just freaking depressing. I love me some good emotional angst every once in a while, but seriously, who the hell wants to read it ALL THE TIME, in PERPETUITY!?

  • Jack Creed

    Sorry, but it sounds like a cop out if you ask me.

  • cheesy

    So much truth. Being married is just as hard, if not harder, than being single. It’s just harder with another stable individual in your life. Ugh.

  • cheesy

    So much truth. Being married is just as hard, if not harder, than being single. It’s just harder with another stable individual in your life. Ugh.

  • Anonymous

    To paraphrase Anatole France: DC, in its majestic equality, forbids straight couples as well as gay couples from getting married, having stable relationships, and being depicted positively in media.

  • Anonymous

    To paraphrase Anatole France: DC, in its majestic equality, forbids straight couples as well as gay couples from getting married, having stable relationships, and being depicted positively in media.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone at DC have even the slightest idea what they’re doing?

    Between this and the whole thing about encouraging people to draw a naked suicidal Harley Quinn for a contest, this is one hell of an attempt at driving people away from their company.

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone at DC have even the slightest idea what they’re doing?

    Between this and the whole thing about encouraging people to draw a naked suicidal Harley Quinn for a contest, this is one hell of an attempt at driving people away from their company.

  • Lindsey Stock

    I don’t think they’ve known what they were doing for a while now. Either that or they’re purposefully trying to run themselves into the ground because they’re bored with making comics and want to form a band.

  • Curuniel

    “I say that as a person whose favorite superhero is Batman, one of the most misanthropic unhappy loners in comic canon who flagrantly uses women to protect his secret identity and can barely maintain a relationship with his adopted children.”
    – Yeah, but the thing is, that’s Batman. It suits his character and his own deep, recurring issues. We love him for it, but if all heroes were like Batman, the world would be a grim and depressing place. I think a blanket ban is silly because if you’re writing it right, each character should have a different kind of response to relationships and the possibility of marriage; marriage should mean something different for each hero, as it does for each real person IMO.

    If marriage is having the same doomed effect on every character, you’re writing marriage lazily.

  • Melodia E. McIntyre

    Why do superheroes HAVE to have failed personal lives?

  • Amanda Burke

    I’m sorry, I can’t contribute to this discussion. My brain just exploded at what’s behind the spoilers line.

  • Brittany K

    I had been considering checking out Batwoman exactly because of the lack of crossovers, I’m a completionist, and the huge amount of crossovers in the big two’s comics is what keeps me from reading them. I want the whole story, not bits and pieces, and comics aren’t cheap so that’s not really doable. But after all this… I don’t know if I will.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    What is with comic books and marriage? ^^;

    With DC: Retconning Alan Scotts marriage and children,
    retconning supermans marriage, sweeping aquamans marriage under the
    At least as of their recent reboot, they have to hilarious lengths gone out of their way for the damaged protagonist who is incapable of having a fulflling relationship.

    With Marvel: Erasing Spidermans marriage, undoing Human Torch’s marriage, nullifying Wasp’s marriage, the storm/black panther coupling, cyclops and jean grey/emma frost…
    The whole concept of relationships seems to frighten the writers and they will occasionally do it for shock value before erasing it out of existence and pretending it never happened. (At least DC is polite enough to give an excuse why these events don’t happen.

    I mean, gosh. Are they so paralyzed by the challenge of writing an actual realistic relationship that turns serious and isn’t used for the

    Bleep, given the rarity of comics that take that step and try to seriously explore such relationships, they would be covering some pretty fresh ground. Unlike the constantly tread and retread

    ‘ive gottens me a relationship with this person but 1. I cannot juggle it and my job so i have to sacrifice love for justice~ 2. their really EVULZ~ and it was all a plan to trap me~! 3. Wah! Just before/just as/immediately after our marriage, my love interest has died~’

    Plot lines that are pulled on an almost regular basis whenever a character enters into a relationship in any of the comics. >_>

    It gets so….Tired and overdone.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Well to be fair, before Wonder Woman and Superman even hooked up, we were informed in the comics that them pairing up would result in the end of the world. ^^; So even the couples their celebrating are bleeped.

  • Anonymous

    The only thing that will bring about change is low sales. If you really want change, stop buying DC print comics and tell your retailer why. That’s the business language that will be understood.

    Isn’t Lil Gotham Digital first? That’s coming out of the CA office, then, not DC print.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    That is a very good point. To look at DC’s animated stuff as a comparison, or heck, even DC comics earlier works, you had the flash facing high’s and lows in his life as a hero and as a human being, Wonder Woman encouraging children to go to greater heights as she fights for truth, Superman rescuing people emotionally as well as physically. When a character is all grim and depressed and takes everything seriously, their terribly disassociated from people and lack alot of emotional impact.

    The comic where Superman stops a girl from commiting suicide by talking her down instead of simply forcing her to life was a heroic deed at least as if not more heartfelt and amazing than the instances where he saves buildings from giant robots or stops oncoming trains.

    Heck, even Batman used to be shown having a tender side, carting around a baby through the streets of gotham to find its mother or reaching out to dick greyson when his young ward was hurting.

    Seriousness tends to get in the way of emotion and people practically BEING emotion, are not like that 24/7

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    CA office? Umm, if it is not to much trouble, could you explain the difference? I thought they were the same thing

  • Shoshana B

    I’ve been getting the print version, and I would assume that either way my money would be supporting DC Comics? On the other hand, I WOULD like to support Dustin Nguyen, so I’ll have to figure that in, I guess.

    Either way, the one other DC title I’ve been reading I’m dropping. I was considering it before, but this confirms it.

  • tetisheri

    Is it time for the obligatory “DiDio sucks” comment?

  • Iqeret

    diDio’s comment sounds to me like a lazy man’s excuse for not writing a proper story. Do everyday heroes have happy personal lives? Some do. Some do not. Because that’s _people_. Superheroes are everyday heroes taken to extremes, to show us how the world is and how it should be. It follows that their personal lives, like their public exploits, should be the same. Do your job properly, DC, and encourage good storytelling from good writers/artists.

  • Anonymous

    When did DC start subscribing to the Joss Whedon school of thought?

  • Anonymous

    No, Whedon would let them get married, then kill off Maggie in two or three issues.

  • electrasteph

    I wonder if that’s what Didio was asking them to do.

  • Foxfire

    I’ve only been married for 9 months but I’m going to have to disagree. Being married is great. Having another person to share my life with, who I put before other things, and who I know puts me first as well? Yeah that’s pretty damn cool.

    I’d like to see a few heroes have healthy stable lives doing what they do and still managing to find time for life and a wife (or husband). This is also gives you something to rip away from the character later on.

    You can also set up some really good cross-overs between the mentally healthy heroes and the mentally unhealthy ones with some really good interpersonal conflict over the differences in philosophy and beliefs.

  • Amanda Evans

    I think Susana Polo nailed it as to why we need a gay married superhero,
    and all the commenters here are smashing Didio’s argument to pieces. Since
    when does marriage automatically equal happily ever after for everybody?
    Does DiDio live in a Disney movie or something? Marriage offers a
    chance to introduce a whole new level of conflict, if that’s really what
    he wants. Look, it’s not like Kate and Maggie have to be married to
    have a legitimate stable relationship (duh, gay people have been doing
    it forever) but if that’s how their relationship is developing
    story-wise, why put this manufactured blanket prohibition on it? I could
    just go on and on. Christ on a Cracker this dude is annoying.

  • Foxfire

    I’m pretty sure Whedon wouldn’t be so crass as to kill off Maggie.

    He’d kill off Kate and then Maggie would assume the role in honour of her and be dark and brooding. Not to mention carrying on in the fine tradition of the bat family in that they keep dying.

  • Mark Brown

    Hell, the bat-family is actually closer than most real families –Dick, Tim, and Damien are explicitly called brothers (and act like it, sometimes hilariously).

    The whole point is that Batman –of ALL people– needs to create a family to remain functional.

  • Important Film Maker

    DC comics really took the whole “no press is bad press” thing to heart. When was the last time we had a positive story coming from them?

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Personally what I took from Batman was that everyone needs that emotional connection with other people. Trying to isolate yourself dehumanizes you in painfully unhealthy ways. You need others to keep perspective. That the darker things get for you, the more you need that connection to remain stable.

    Though I tend to read to much into things so I might be overthinking it a tad. ^.^;

  • Dana

    Well put re: the need for LGBTQ kids to have heroes. And while I realize there’s a difference between Disney kids’ cartoons and more serious comics of the DC/Marvel ilk, I’ll point out The Incredibles as one example of a happily married superhero couple. With kids. Sure, they had some issues–as you say, marriage isn’t the end of interpersonal drama–but they show it can be done. If Pixar can do it, surely DC can, at least once in a while.

  • Gerald Kirby

    Someone actually made a time line of all the New 52 departures:

  • KryptoBunny


  • Nick Gaston

    I’m increasingly wondering about the unhappy marriage rate among comics editors-in-chief…

  • Jason Atkins

    I mostly agree with your sentiment, but there is a devil’s advocate point that I think is worth bearing in mind.

    Big portions of America are pretty conservative when it comes to marriage, family values, and that sort of thing. The political landscape surrounding same-sex marriage is pretty divided, and that means that same-sex couples in American media, like Kate and Maggie, have a pretty sizeable spotlight shining on them. That puts them on a pedestal, as a representation of what same-sex marriage could be like. Is filling that marriage with conflict really a good idea?

    Again, speaking as a devil’s advocate here: I can understand why the prospect of Maggie and Kate being a married couple could make DC nervous. If they were a happy, functional, stable, loving married couple who just happened to have matching chromosome pairs, that’s undeniably a positive thing. If you show that relationship as being dysfunctional, fraught with conflict, and “not working” however, that’s a little bit murky. If Kate and Maggie’s marriage – the archtype same-sex marriage for DC – doesn’t work, does that mean that DC thinks that all same-sex marriages won’t work? Obviously not, but there are people who could interpret it that way, and that’s the sort of thing that a large entity like DC needs to concern itself with.

    Ultimately, I think it boils down to the fact that DC doesn’t have enough LGBTQ characters. If they had more, they could more easily show a broader variety of relationships, and they wouldn’t have to worry so much about the political implications of individual series. As it stands, DC has painted itself into a corner, and unfortunately the only way to get out of the room was to stamp a paint-coloured boot-print on the cover of Batwoman.

  • Nick Gaston

    Supervillains, by contrast, not only being free to pursue personal happiness and satisfaction, but also the only ones able to effect meaningful change upon the world (if even only through attrition). Villainy is thus a force of life, of innovation, of change, of will. Of humanity.

    Supervillains rule, kids!

  • Lapin

    You know, a LOT of my favorite canon gay couples in sci-fi/ fantasy end up broken apart, usually because one of them ends up dead. Or they’re couples that aren’t even canon in the first place.

    It’s like Susana wrote- things like this disappoint me because there are still so relatively few depictions of gay characters in the media, and even fewer positive ones. There’s a lack of narrative diversity for gay characters. Married gay couples in fiction are rare. That’s why this feels like a bit of a personal blow; the series had already spent time building up to a potential marriage between Kate and Maggie, and now we don’t get it just because DC thinks married characters don’t sell.

  • NickN

    It is kind of odd and unnerving that the Crime Syndicate, complete with an evil Social Darwinist Superman, not only seem to be happier than the Justice League but also get along better than the League has in the past twenty issues. They even happy interracial couple, Atomica and Johnny Quick.

  • Gary Keyes

    DiDio is an idiot.

  • Anonymous

    It’s important to remember that Superman/Wonder Woman was conceived on the back of the total and complete DESTRUCTION and gutting of the 20+ years Superman/Lois LAne partnership and marriage.

    People seem to be forgetting that Clark Kent HAD a fulfilling personal life married to the LOVE OF HIS LIFE with Lois Lane and then DC Comics went out of their way to gut and destroy it to push this stunt.

    Superman didn’t win anything here. His mythos has been hurt more than ever and Lois Lane has been treated like dirt on her 75th anniversary.

  • Anonymous

    Uh yeah…and the whole part where Superman was committed to Lois LAne for 20+ years before DC went out of their way to RUIN it and then shove Superman into Wonder Woman’s arms?

    Do people not remember how it must have felt for the people who loved the Superman/Lois marriage to see the way DC treated that marriage last year and then started shoving Superman/WW down people’s throats?

    Bc I can assure you….being a fan of the Superman/Lois Lane partnership has pretty much sucked for the last few years. DC Has been horrible to those fans.

  • Anonymous

    Yes. Kate and Maggie would have been a chance for DC to have a married couple that could have been a positive example to some kid out there who really ::needed:: to see themselves represented in a comic or on the page. We need more LGBTQ heroes and we need more positive examples of these relationships on the page. Period.

  • Anonymous

    I understand what you are saying and I can’t deny that this is a complex situation.

    But I just can’t get behind the idea that DC should shy away from trying to do the right thing just because it means they are going to have to be more thoughtful and work harder with these special characters down the road. It’s just so….lazy.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. It’s just in jest.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. It’s just in jest.

  • frodobatmanvader

    Which is why I am one of the few who likes The Dark Knight Rises. It takes on that very concept by showing that Bruce’s addiction to being Batman is *precisely* the thing that keeps him from connecting with others.

    …It didn’t necessarily make that assertion *coherently*, but I’m still convinced that’s the assertion the movie was trying to make.

  • frodobatmanvader

    Wait a few more years. Marriage becomes a lot less idyllic. Then wait a few *more* years, and it becomes idyllic again. Then wait a few MORE years…

    You get the point. But this just furthers the point that you and everyone not a part of DC are making that marriage being banned as a plot device in comics is INSANELY stupid.

  • frodobatmanvader

    Apparently because what is status quo for Batman and Spider-Man must now become status quo for ALL superheroes, or something.

  • frodobatmanvader

    Oh man, was I pissed about Alan Scott’s family life getting thrown under the rug so he could be one-half of a gay marriage that was only done as a stunt and then casually ignored. It just showed that the ONLY real criteria they were looking for was that the character had not been relevant for a looooong time…

    Meanwhile, Kyle Raynor was sitting right there, would have made much more sense, would have had a much bigger impact because he is a beloved character, and wouldn’t have left a genuinely happy marriage with happy children in smoldering ashes, never to be properly explored because WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT ALAN SCOTT!? (swept under rug)

    I think DC has their definitions of “Empowering” and “Patronizing” mixed up.

  • frodobatmanvader

    Reading this now makes me wish someone would do a version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch where her “aunts” aren’t sisters, but nice married couple.

    I wonder what other stories could be improved by retooling two primary female characters’ relationships?

  • frodobatmanvader

    I love all of you.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a brilliant comic, don’t let DCs bullshit put you off it. I’d recommend checking out the trade paperbacks of the current run. I certainly wouldn’t recommend supporting Batwoman from this point onwards byt the JH Williams III/Blackman run are really great.

  • Laura Truxillo

    “Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives. They are committed to being
    that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their
    own personal interests.”

    There is…there is just so much wrong with that statement.

    It’s like he never paid attention to books. A hero can have a happy, stable relationship that still invites conflict. Wally and Linda, Lois and Clark, Peter and MJ…all of them had loving, stable personal relationships, but still went through problems that could rock them to the core.

    I’ll never forget Wally’s speeches about Linda as his anchor. That’s not a hindrance to writing. It’s not even a hindrance to writing a hero who’s committed to sacrifice. It’s just…balls, can we please have some DIFFERENT FLAVORS OF HERO ALREADY? Please. Just a few that can have some happiness in their personal life.

    Because really, it just turns them all into unrelateable cut-outs, when none of them is allowed some kind of happiness.

  • Laura Truxillo


    And apparently to demonstrate that being a selfless hero sucks 100% of the time.

  • Laura Truxillo

    This is just it. It one of those things that makes me go: “Wait? That actually IS your blanket policy? No happiness?

    …**** that. I’m gonna go read a comic with some joy in it.”

    I mean, I don’t mind reading dark or sad stories. But I don’t want to ready a whole universe of stories about people whose lives will suck by Editorial Degree.

    I read comics because they’re fun.

  • Laura Truxillo

    “Heck, even Batman used to be shown having a tender side, carting around a baby through the streets of gotham to find its mother”

    You…you have no idea how to hold a baby, do you?

  • Laura Truxillo

    How do you figure? Because he wasn’t being the Batman during his years as a recluse.

    I thought it was more Alfred’s inexplicable decision to keep Love Interest’s letter from him, even after he saw the hole Bruce was in that kept him lonely. Or, well…plot device.

  • Foxfire

    Well, we’ve been living together for seven years now and that’s without housemates or anything.

    I know we’ll be ok (not going to say ‘think we’ll be ok’ because that implies some semblence of doubt :))

    I agree though, I don’t get the cockblock on marriage unless DiDio is gay himself and he’s all, nuh uh bro’s, till the world lets us marry, no-one can!

  • HamsterMasterSamster

    Gosh, Peter Parker’s ongoing attempts to balance personal and superhero life were one of the main draws for me to that story. There’s little that can get you more emotionally invested in a superhero than seeing them try so hard to be human and have basic human friendships and relationships, and then seeing their superhero responsibilities constantly come crashing into everything they’ve tried to build. Heartbreaking, but so compelling!

  • Charlie

    For me the relationships, especially between superheroes, is one of the things that I like about comics. It’s the reason I love the old JLA cartoon. To me a comic like Supergirl should take an approach like Buffy. Whatever superpowers you have you still have to live day to day and you still have emotions and flaws like everyone else.

  • Cy

    This exactly. Not every character should be dark and brooding. Batman fights against criminals to fight his inner demons. Superman fights for the people around him. Lois was the source of his greatest strength. Without her he’s a weaker character. They need to write within the character’s story, not shoving them into the same mold.

  • Charles Ranier

    a friend pointed out that, by that same logic, soldiers and police should never get married, they should never form relationships, they should focus solely on protecting and serving and stop being so damn selfish for wanting companionship, support, someone to have THEIR back while they’re having ours.

    Not cool, DC. Not cool.

  • Anonymous

    DC has two division for stories right now. DC digital is headquartered in CA–presumably because much of its output is movie/TV related, like Smallville and Arrow’s digital comic. Writers of these series report to them.

    Editorial for the regular DC print books come out of NYC and is headed by Harras, Didio, Lee & Johns. They’re in charge of monthly issues.

  • Anonymous

    You make me wonder if this is happening in part because DD and others in mgmt are hitting middle age.

  • Anonymous

    “Superheroes shouldn’t have happy lives” sounds like victim-blaming in this case.

    Also, the storyline was planned a year in advance, as noted in one of your previous articles on the marriage cancellation subject. So either mgmt just now learned about it and didn’t like it, or someone is backtracking for some less than heroic reason.

    Which brings us to–

    My 6 simple guidelines for working in comics editorial/management:
    1. Trust the Talent
    2. Avoid cheap thrills if at all possible
    3. Have art imitate life and life imitate art
    4. Be open to pushing boundaries (see #1)

    5. Be relevant (see #1)

    6. Be a hero in your policy and actions whenever possible, because that is what the world needs and what people are looking to you for.

  • Bear TheDad

    Jesus. That really makes it all look like a train wreck in slow motion. Maybe DiDio should take a gander and that site and reevaluate the direction that DC is headed. Down isn’t traditionally a good direction for businesses to head, especially when flames are involved.

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    Name a comic company who stands behind gay chars better than DC? How about two; MARVEL AND F**KING ARCHIE COMICS.

    DiDio needs to just shut the f**k up, admit he’s a racist sexist homophobic assclown, step down as EIC, and give his desk to Gail Simone already.

  • Anonymous

    Well, actually I find his statement quite embarrasing. I don’t see why a hero should not also have a (happy) life of his own. I think his comment is big bulls… and more of that is only driving me more and more away from DC and Marvel.

    I don’t know but am I the only one who has the feeling that since a couple of years there’s something fundamentally wrong going on at DC’s? I cannot help but that’s the way I feel.

    Sure, not all personal lifes must be happy or fulfilled. You may always have to work at it but to exclude any personal lifes or happy private relationships for heroes is just big bull!

  • Thomas Hayes

    I agree. I read the current Supergirl and like it for the most part but it is sadly lacking in that inter-character human element at present. One of the comic’s strengths is that our internal time with Supergirl herself isn’t boring and actually works, but there’s still too much leaning on that element, and the lack of a support cast for her (outside of villains) is starting to weigh the book down, especially given the decompression of the story arcs in this run. What you’re describing was becoming the status quo in the comic for a few issues, 8-13, before it got roped into a terrible crossover that Supergirl should not have been part of at all.

    The “superheroics & soap opera” vibe was one of the great strengths of Batgirl 2009-2011, as it’s protagonist had plenty of people to bounce off, antagonists, allies and neutrals. Incidentally, given those character dynamics, its lighter tone, and its very positive lead character, Batgirl 2009 made a better Buffy comic than the actual Buffy comics are…

  • Anonymous

    No. That would only make sense if you were going after DC because you hate them. People are going after them because they care about LGBT issues. So, no, it’s not a symptom, it’s the actual issue. That doesn’t mean that the last minute editorial changes are not a problem and a serious one. It’s just that it’s not the entirety of the problem.

  • Mordicai

    Huh, did Dan Didio…get that character’s name wrong?

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    I am also not fond of the wonder woman/Superman pairing, however I cannot say I would be pleased to see the pairing fall apart in horrible flames since that was apparently their intention and just another chapter in their ‘superheroes cannot have relationships or EVERYONE DIES!’ stunt XP

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Painfully true… XP
    People may talk about the mariad of differences between the two companies but in reality they are painfully similar under the surface >_>

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    ……That sounds so much better than the ‘occupy wallstreet is evil and it was the poor folks that ruined wallstreet and only rich people can save the day from the evil poor who are destroying the world~’ assertion that I shall choose to believe that your view is what they were intending ^^

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Its just awesome that muggers and muggee’s will drop what their doing to teach Batman how to properly take care of a baby X3

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    TV related…Wait, does that include Batman 66? O.o One of the few weekly comic books out there?

    I apologize for poking you for more information but who is heading DC digital? Because whoever it is, between Lil Gotham and Batman 66, they seem to have their head on their shoulders.

  • alk

    Superheroes shouldn’t get married because marriage inevitably leads to a happy personal life? Yeah, that just proves my hypothesis: the people making these decisions have never been married. LOL

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Especially since that love interest was killed immediately upon his reveal just to show once again that marriage is hopeless XP

    But gosh, Raynor coming out would have made for a very surprising twist that would have sparked much more attention to the topic and could have been an interesting exploration of the character from a new viewpoint, especially since they have kept his previous history which would have made for some very interesting stories…

    But yeah XP instead they rebooted a legacy character to kill off his decendants all in an effort to further prove their whole ‘heroes cant be married’ mantra.

    Yeesh, in retrospect im reminded of fanboys who go into a rage whenever their favorite character gets paired up with someone they do not like. Like when Joe Quasada who constantly complained about how much he hates the mary jane/peter parker pairing so he broke em up and went out of his way to declare that the mephisto deal erased mayday parker from existance because he so hated the pairing.

    …Could that be the logic behind this current insanity?

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    But that is totally logical~! Everyone knows that the real world works just like that! People cannot be in a relationship AND have a job that causes stress like saving lives or helping people~ IT IS IMPOSSIBLE!

    Nobody is so heroic and powerful that they can juggle a job and a relationship! The very idea is far to unrealistic for comic books! Especially in a universe with aliens, wizards and gorillas who fist fight on the moon before realizing their all on the same side and go on to fight robot zombies.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Wow…that is a painful read….Thank you very much for the information

  • Lindsey Stock

    Exactly. I want Wondy and Supes to fail because I just hate that pairing with a burning passion (that doesn’t really have a whole lot of logic behind it), but ending that relationship due to some editorial decree that no hero is allowed to have a functional and happy relationship ever because PERSONAL SACRIFICE or whatever is just lazy story telling. If bad things happen in a character’s personal life, it should have relevance and meaning to the story, not be just some lazy ass tool to create perpetual drama. If DC is so damn opposed to personal relationships, they should just leave them out completely and make all of their books 100% action, which is what they’re mostly doing already anyway, but at least then they could drop the pretense of writing for anyone other than 13 year old straight white boys.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, this includes Batman 66 and the Superman anthology, as well as Ame-Comic Girls, I believe. And the comic based on the Injustice video game. Indeed, they’ve been quite inventive. (Though I dislike the last comic.)

    Smallville Season 11 has been a constant bestseller at Comixology but what these numbers really mean, I have no idea, as Comixology doesn’t release anything but overall downloads each quarter.

  • Mandy

    Maybe I’m reading in the wrong places but I seriously cannot remember seeing anything positive since at least the launch of the reboot.

  • Art Wellden

    I began to get tired of “happy lives” not being allowed with mainstream characters back in Spidey’s “one more day” run. Being a sucker for all of my childhood faves i of course still pick up the odd Spiderman and x-men and bats and any mainstream blah that tickles my fancy here and there depending on the creative force (mostly reading fave artist/writers in Image at the mo). But for a long while i just got sick of the same crap. i am a very single guy and i tend to enjoy the relationships in comics for the idea of that same kind of -wish upon star- hope that they give people who struggle to find anyone…its like saying to yourself “if a hero with that much shit in their lives can handle a balancing act of being with another person then maybe there is still hope for my sorry self”.

    I returned to things like Spidey and other comics with characters trying at the happy ever after thing because of the realisation that with these characters there are no credits to run at the end… it’s a mainstream title and even if its a struggle they are going to keep it going and that makes me think in a naive way that they will perhaps show how these characters handle the reality of a relationship and then marriage…both Spidey and Reed Richards got married and Marvel (sorry im using Marvel the most as an example here) celebrated both events and each of the characters still had their dramas…marriage is not a final curtain for these characters…it adds to the issues they deal with….and heck if that means they get broken apart at a later stage..ok then but id imagine to continue giving readers that hope they need, you’d at least then show the couple still fighting for one another in some way even if separated or something…or each of them still trying to have that happy life with another person.
    I still have Batwomen on my “to read” list only, so Im sorry if Im butting in on something that Im not all knowing with…but i cant ignore what iv’e read about this so far. I mean If that is the final word Mr.Didio that heroes cant be happy please tell me why am i going to read these characters if all I am to learn is the already self aware fact that being the good guy tends to not lead to the best of things for me.
    (hmm i should now call my mum and apologise for badmouthing her silly tv soaps whenever she hassle me over the cost of my comics…sigh)


    I think DC is having the same problem governments are – a bunch of old fools out of touch with the world, yet still thinking they know what’s best for their sector simply because they helped in prosper in some way :/

    More new blood is needed.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Actually, DC made a statement that they are officially targeting the 18-34 demographic
    They don’t have any particular interest in younger readers since they don’t have the money.

    and yeah, they really need to give up on personal relationships altogether if they do not intend to do them. At the moment it feels more like an effort to monkey Marvels marriage endevors (retconning marriages, retconning children, hooking up characters for no reason and going out of their way to show an inability for relationships to work…)

    There is nothing wrong with comics that do not necessarily have relationships as a focus (Bone to name an example) But the incessant game of keep away just to draw in fans and then laugh at their misery is the lowest form of cheap shot practiced only by the lamest of needy lazy writers XP

  • Anonymous

    Aaaaand this is why I read stuff like Girl Genius, Freakangels and Digger, and none of DC’s titles.

  • Anonymous

    That’s awful. What a situation…
    Oh, someone also created an interesting counter:

  • Gerald Kirby

    I’ve been using that site quite a bit often too.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    *looks into it* ah,it is run by Jim Lee, the other head of DC and the guy who keeps insisting that there arn’t any problems with DC and everything is peachy keen and that sales have been better than ever

    Thank you very much ^^
    Though…Even knowing that, I am still at a loss on how to diffrentiate the digital comic exclusives from the digital releases of their paper comics

  • Important Film Maker

    Well, guess that means the reboot was a success… relatively speaking…

  • Laura Truxillo

    Thing is, even Marvel does a better job of it than this. They have fewer titles overall (I think) but more variety within those titles. And they have goofy ones like Young Avengers (which is such a spiritual successor to the original Young Justice). Even Hawkeye, which IS about a guy who “just can’t win” and who sucks at his personal life and which DOES have a lot of dark or sad things happen in it, still manages to be a FUN book.

  • Jason Atkins

    I agree completely. Unfortunately, whether DC “should” do something or not is largely irrelevant… at the end of the day they’re a business that is required to make a profit, and often the easy / lazy options are the ones that work out being the most cost-effective.

    At least, most cost-effective assuming you don’t have a huge drop in sales due to negative publicity because your approach to handling a situation backfired.

  • Anonymous

    Just throwing this out there in response to DiDio’s challenge to name another company who stands behind the LGBTQ characters the way DC does….. Didn’t Northstar (one of the X-Men) get married to his partner last year? Wasn’t it on the cover of the issue? (Astonishing X-Men #51) Wasn’t there a whole “Save the Date” campaign announcing it?

    Might wanna check that kinda rhetoric there sir.

  • Abel Undercity

    So basically the DC editorial staff is acting on the same motivation as Zoom, Wally West’s Reverse Flash.

  • Levi Sweeney

    Funny, I just finished reading Aquaman Volume 2: The Others, and it never occurred to me that Artie and Mera weren’t married. I just assumed that they were because they were in the pre-Flashpoint continuity. At any rate, I think Didio is stupid for thinking that heroes absolutely have to have bad personal lives for the sake of cheap drama. As an aspiring graphic novel writer, I intend to do my very best to give my heroes perfectly normal, healthy relationships.

  • desertport

    This is kind of the thing that always keeps me from getting emotionally invested in DC chars. I used to really enjoy Batman, but then I realized that he would never, ever find fulfillment or emotional resolution, or even happiness.

    “It’s wonderful that they try to establish personal lives, but it’s equally important that they set them aside. That is our mandate, that is our edict and that is our stand.”

    As a theme, this is incredibly grim and for me as a reader, unsatisfying. It does help to have it spelled out that there’s no use hoping for the best for these poor chars, though. I’ll just be over here in this corner rereading all the awesome wedding issues Marvel has come out with over the years.

  • Brian

    Superman’s been married since I was eleven, and – regarding a similar action by another company – Spider-Man’s been married almost as long as I’ve been alive. Their marriages are as much a part of their characters to me as their names and their powers, and I never felt like it made for bad stories or I couldn’t relate to them.

  • Brian

    They were until Didio pulled this out of his ass, I’m sure of it.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Hmm… Well, considering that all of this is the result of the nefarious schemes by the first Professor Zoom…


    Oh my.


  • Charlie

    I agree, the Supergirl comic was alright but it’s really a chance for DC to write an extremely powerful character without the constraints of how careful they have to be with Superman’s image. I don’t know why they don’t take advantage of that chance.

  • AverageDrafter

    “So kids – Don’t be heroic or you will always be miserable! And especially never, EVER get married.”

    This is worse than homophobia, its happinessphobia. Everyone should be miserable… all the time if possible. FU Dc….FU right in the ear.

  • Christine Abbott

    Hey everyone, I’m trying to gather signatures on a petition to show DC how we feel about this. Please sign!

  • Thomas Hayes

    Unfortunately it’s a case of history repeating itself. The pre-New52 Supergirl book suffered from a similar lack of direction in its first 33 issues. That said, that book was trying to be ‘dark and edgy’ bordering on grim, and completely missing the point of the character’s appeal, so what we have now is definitely a step up from that. Unfortunately the same editor, Eddie Berganza, is in charge now as he was back in 2006-2007, so who knows what batshit insanity we’ll get in the next year.

  • Aundrea Singer

    I’m smiling grimly to myself, imagining how it’s going to look if DC goes ahead and lets any straight character get married ever.

    Great points, and I agree with you on every single one of them. I firmly believe that popular media has a responsibility to help make the changes they supposedly want in the world. Bat Woman’s marriage would have been, like Kevin’s in the Archie comics, far more than just about her character arc. And like Archie comics, I believe that the good publicity would have far outweighed any negative.

    I know that there are people who believe that entertainment companies are only accountable to themselves (and their shareholders), but to that I counter how time and time again, what these companies have chosen to show has influenced public opinion. (Star Trek: TOS is one of the easiest and best examples, with the first interracial kiss on television, and an episode devoted to the essential ridiculousness of racism.)

  • Anonymous

    Yes, same here.

  • Jay, King of Gay

    I get this, sorta. The old school meaning of hero involved a great, personal sacrifice. Not Just being brave and standing up and doing the right thing, there’s always an associated deep and painful cost –that’s what makes the action heroic rather than just brave.
    I’m not defending, he could put it another way. But I basically get it that they want the old school hero, that standing up and fighting the good fight is done because it’s what needs to be done, not because there’s glory and happy pony times on the other side.

  • Robert Rivera

    “DiDio also spent time affirming his, and DC’s, commitment to gay characters, daring listeners to name a comic company who “stands behind” LGBTQ characters in the way DC does.”

    How about Marvel, for starters?

  • Charlie

    Personally I think if DC truly want to attract young women to their comics they need to reclaim characters like Supergirl, Batgirl and Donna Troy for those young women. Make them heroes to match Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger and Buffy Summers. That seems beyond obvious to me.

  • Charlie

    Surely that means more if there is happy times. You don’t get to see how grim things can be without a contrast. Just look at how Tolkien used the Shire and Mordor.

  • Jay, King of Gay

    I think people are discounting the value of the proposal. Was that not a happy time?

  • Jay, King of Gay

    But there was a proposal, and is a proposal NOT a happy time?

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t find what the Mary Sue thought about the Harley contest Any thoughts?

  • Jill Pantozzi

    We didn’t do a whole post on it but it was mentioned in TWS over the weekend:

  • Anonymous

    Thank you. I somehow skimmed right over the “other stupid thing” description somehow :D.

  • protoformX

    I’m not in anyway insinuating there should be a positive outlook on all the DC snafus… But every time I read one of these stories on themarysue, it causes me to spend money on something. Gail Simone fired from Bagirl? I ordered The new 52 Batgirl Vol 1 and 2 from amazon (my first foray into the new 52)… before they arrived she was rehired… now even though I know its not true, I feel like its my job to do this every time a creative team I like get waylaid. So I’m doing the same with Batwoman, fingers crossed lightning can strike twice.

  • Jay, King of Gay

    plus in typical whedon fashion, death would not be the last of Maggie. She’d keep coming back in one form or another.

  • frodobatmanvader

    That’s a good point. Honestly, I guess I come to that conclusion less from a “this is a clue the plot provides” and more from “this interpretation is the only damn way that ending works.” And now I can’t type because my facepalming denies the use of half my fingers.

  • frodobatmanvader

    Tangently, perhaps. I just think that DC is basically being run by ass-backward dudebros who feel so safe and secure in their sinking ship, they don’t even bother to bathe off their stinky sexism.

    …Yeah, that metaphor kinda got away from me for a bit there, didn’t it?

  • frodobatmanvader

    No, that’s true. What I was trying to get at is that all marriages are complex, even the blissful ones. Therefore they are all rife with storytelling possibilities.

    However, I didn’t make that point very coherently, so thank you for clarifying where I couldn’t.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    To be honest I can’t say that its just a DC thing though because Marvel has been just as bad when it comes to marriage. I cannot think of any marriage in the avengers for example that didn’t end in flames

  • frodobatmanvader

    Or “annulment via deal with the devil.”

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Oh or immediately after the marriage finding out that it was a skrull all along. (Which happens way to often in Marvel)

    And unlike DC which at least makes this absence felt (until they erase the universe completly) Marvel tends to immediately forget any of the events in question ever really happend and sweep it under the rug to be retconned later.

    Like Thanos and his on again off again relationship with Hellcat Which was retconned and treated as noncannon.

    Or one of the many times that Aunt May died only for her to be brought back through ridiculous means with the events leading up to it treated as if they never occurred.

  • Persia

    IMO, that’s exactly the appeal/point of the Batfamily.

  • Persia

    Where do they think the 18-34 demographic comes from, though? They just wake up one morning and think, ‘hey, maybe I’ll read a comic book?’

    Jesus Christ, cigarette companies have this figured out.

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    The idea stems from a catch 22.

    Several years ago they did a survey trying to figure out what kind of readers they get. The results showed that most people who read comic books were 16-30 years of age. Thus, without trying to work out what content from comic books or which specific comics appealed to that age range, they began asking “What sort of things does the 16 to 30 age bracket like?” Which they translated as ‘over the top gore and violence, gritty grimdark and lots of boobies and cheap fanservice.

    Due to this shift, the amount of younger readers and readers outside of their target demographic gradually shrank and several people were turned away by the comics simply because of this shift, which lead to lower sales.

    When seeing this drop in viewership, DC, convinced that it had nothing to do with their content, decided it was simply because readers were tired of keeping up with the current status quo and that what the universe needed was a full reboot.

    They kept the background history for green lantern, batman and legion of superheroes since they were DC’s biggest selling books at the time (not thinking that if they were to perhaps look into and try to understand why these books were doing well instead of going by statistical analysis they could have done better for it…)

    They rebooted the DC universe with even more magnified grimdark, gross fanservice and violence (since they are determined to capture that demographic) and while they were at it, they merged the Wildstorm comic line and the Vertigo comic line into the DC universe since both Wildstorm and Vertigo were outselling DC universe comics at the time. (Since this merger, both Vertigo and Wildstorm comics have suffered drastically, leading to a large chunk of their comics being cancelled due to rapidly dwindling sales.)

    And once that was all over they went and did another survey and found that now, their general readership was 18-34 with even fewer younger readers getting into comics and more older devoted fans (which actually meant they had a reduced readerbase rather than a shift in demographics) and in desperation, announced that this was the target demographic that they wanted to sell too.

    It is so painfully stupid when you have marketeers trying to run things when they don’t understand the bloody market. XP

  • Anonymous

    So what? What you’re suggesting is that whenever an author makes a story decision, they need to consult demographics and read the latest soapbox articles to see which issues they need to be tackling, which viewpoints, minorities, etc, they need to represent. I’m not a big fan of DC’s overall “darker” direction. I think comics should be fun, but this is their decision to make and I think its a defensible one.

    As much as I hate the new 52, its clear what they’re doing. They’re clearing out the continuity so that people can jump on anew. They’re also making sure the tone of the comics fits what they expect their next batch of readers to be. Its a lot of stuff geared at a new generation of young teens (mostly teen boys). Dark, violent, sexy, angsty, and rebellious (hell, even Superman is reimagined beginning the early part of his career as a passionate rebel, if that doesn’t scream teen boy pandering, I don’t know what does.)

    For a long while, the industry is eeking by, and this is what they think they have to do to survive. You can’t blame them.

  • Jake Mertz

    “Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives.” I’d call that BS. The most interesting stories are like rollercoasters. The lows make the highs more meaningful, make them stand out. Without the highs, the story becomes just dismal and depressing.

    And people ask why I don’t buy comics anymore. It isn’t that I got to old to want to read them, I think you never are, but that they got to darned “New” for me to want to read them. I miss the old days.

    I have the graphic novel called “Superman: The Wedding and Beyond”. It had the issues where Lois and Clark got married, and a few past that. I especially liked the one where, due to the fact that Superman had lost his powers for some reason, Lois actually had to save his bum. It was a nice change of pace.

    I do still read graphic novels. I like that they either have the whole story, and a good chunk of the story, and I can get the gist of the story contained within before I buy them. I don’t think I’ll be getting many graphic novels of the new 52.