This is not the post I thought I’d be writing today, but after scrolling through my dashboard on Tumblr I saw an upsetting post from ‘DC Women Kicking Ass’ that stated that Batwoman writers Haden Blackman and J.H. Williams III were leaving the comic due to constant interference from DC asking them to change or rewrite storylines at the last minute. The final straw seemed to be when DC prohibited the marriage between Batwoman and her girlfriend, Maggie.
The two writers explained:
Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.
We’ve always understood that, as much as we love the character, Batwoman ultimately belongs to DC. However, the eleventh-hour nature of these changes left us frustrated and angry — because they prevent us from telling the best stories we can. So, after a lot of soul-searching, we’ve decided to leave the book after Issue 26.
It seems like just yesterday I was reading about how Batwoman’s marriage might really help DC comics–not only in their popularity and readership, but also at least put them on the same page as Marvel, who’s already had one of their most well-known gay characters, Northstar, get married. Northstar’s marriage showed that Marvel was taking a firmer stance on gay rights issues, and while DC has made an effort to include gay characters, revealing that a previously known character is actually gay seems to be the extent of their support. Batwoman and Maggie’s marriage was set to change all that, but it appears a lesbian marriage is a little too progressive for DC comics.
According to an article from The Mary Sue, a DC spokesperson has made a brief statement about the controversy. They said:
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.
Given the above quote and this one from Twitter, it seems like the creators do believe that Batwoman’s sexuality was a main sticking point. Yes, it does not appear as if Batwoman’s upcoming marriage being canceled was the only reason for the exodus, but it certainly seems to be the biggest one. Now I’m not saying that DC Comics is being intentionally homophobic. DC Comics has kind of put a stop to any and all marriages or relationships that happened before the New 52, most notably dissolving the marriage between Superman and Lois Lane. In some ways I felt this made sense. If you start the universe over, then naturally certain story lines and relationships will disappear in favor of exploring new ones or rewriting old relationships so that new audiences can experience them from the beginning. I understand why DC would want to stop and rewrite old relationships, but Maggie and Batwoman have never been married. Their marriage would be brand new and would even potentially draw in a new audience. That is what the New 52 was supposed to do. Putting a ban on any and all marriages or relationships is silly nonsense. How is that supposed to help DC?
Furthermore, whether DC Comics was attempting to ban all same-sex relationships or not, putting a stop to Batwoman’s (a notable queer character) marriage during a time when marriage equality is being fought for is just a slap in the face to any queer readers.
I wish I could say I was surprised, but really I’m not even slightly shocked. In general, it seems as if DC is less likely to take a chance on incorporating minority characters. Now I’m not saying that Marvel is this bastion of virtue, they aren’t, and they certainly have their own problems, but at least recently Marvel seems willing to take the chance on breaking out of the ‘straight boy’s club’ mindset. Marvel made a big statement by having Northstar marry his longtime partner, and people were looking to DC for similar progress (or to at least try to keep up with Marvel). While DC’s New 52 was supposed to revitalize the characters and draw in a new audience, so far they seem to be continuing with the same things they have always done. Batwoman being prohibited from marrying her girlfriend is just one sad example.