I love comic books but sometimes the industry makes me want to cry. I’m sure you’ve heard the news but, if not, read it and weep with me (note: J.H. Williams III blogged about it on his site but due to high traffic, the site is down as of this writing).
There are a number of reasons why this upsets me, the least of which is that Batwoman is my favorite comic book, Kate Kane is my favorite character in all of comics, or that I just love ladies in love. All of the above are true, but the real concern here is the message DC is sending by not allowing Williams and his creative partner, W. Haden Blackman, to write a story involving an actual marriage between Batwoman and her fiancée.
First, in a time where the fight for marriage equality is gaining more and more ground all over the United States, I think DC’s refusal to allow Kate and Maggie Sawyer to explore that is just silly. The stories practically write themselves. Kate already has a history with her discharge from the military under the now-defunct Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Her experience with equality issues is a part of her core history, part of the reason she eventually comes to operate as Batwoman. To go through that struggle and finally have the opportunity to marry the woman she loves would have been groundbreaking. As a character, she deserves to have a light at the end of the tunnel. As readers, we deserve to see this story arc reach its natural conclusion by the creators who have worked so hard to tell this story.
This is hardly the first time in the New 52 that DC has swept away the hope of having an LGBT wedding. Issue #2 of Earth 2 introduced Alan Scott and his new fiancé, Sam, only to have Sam killed by issue #3. Rather horrifically, might I add, by an explosion on a train.
But, as DC has gone to Twitter to inform us, this has nothing to do with Batwoman’s sexual orientation.
As acknowledged by the creators involved, the editorial differences with the writers of BATWOMAN (pt 1)
— DC Comics (@DCComics) September 5, 2013
had nothing to do with the character's sexual orientation. (pt 2)
— DC Comics (@DCComics) September 5, 2013
If that’s the case, then what could it be? Maybe it’s crazy notion that married superheroes aren’t all that interesting. We’ve seen it time and again in comics, where couples are torn apart for the crime of being too happy together. For some reason, publishers think that having their characters in loving, committed relationships will close storytelling opportunities, or turn off readers, or whatever it is that they think marriage does to superheroes. I guess no one’s been paying much attention to Sue and Reed Richards but surely Marvel’s Fantastic Four stories aren’t all that compelling, right? The notion that Reed has taken his family (wife, kids, brother-in-law, and best friend) into space to cure the affliction that is causing their powers to go out of control wouldn’t sell comics, would it? Nah.
This is a trying time in comics. With creators telling us that comics aren’t for women and publishers refusing to allow characters to get married, what conclusion are we supposed to draw from this?
Let’s go with this idea for a minute, do a little projection exercise. Comics aren’t for women. They’re for men. Okay. Now, comics can’t tell stories about marriage, because marriage limits what can be done in comic books. Fine. So males all over the world, the only ones comic books are being catered to, are being shown that people can’t get married, because it limits them and their potentiality? Really?
DC (and Marvel; I’m an equal opportunity accuser) needs to look around at their fan base and think about what image they’re presenting to the world. Right now, this “no girl allowed” mentality, this anti-marriage mentality, this bachelor pad world of swinging singles in capes feels pretty darned alienating. But, you know, they think it’s because we aren’t interested.
Maybe if they’d stop ending marriages (Superman and Lois Lane, Black Canary and Green Arrow, Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson, Black Panther and Storm…) or if they’d allow others to get married, we might be a little more interested than we already have been this whole time.