Love, Marriage, and its Place in Comics

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.

A groundbreaking moment diminished by the lack of follow up by DC.

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.

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.

We shouldn’t have to keep asking.

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.

Kristi McDowell

Kristi McDowell

Comics, cats, and (red velvet) cakes enthusiast. What she lacks in social skills she makes up for with pop culture trivia. When she’s not writing her wildly popular blog, Pop Culture Sushi, she’s editing the independent ongoing series Autumn Grey and working on her own mini-series, debuting this fall. She may also, instead, be playing more Fallout 3 than is frankly acceptable. She’s played in a rock band, worked in a comic book shop, and knows enough karate to fight crime – if only she could settle on a theme that goes with pink. No flamingos.That is to say, she has a tenuous grasp of reality and the audacity to think that someone actually cares about what she has to say.

5 thoughts on “Love, Marriage, and its Place in Comics

  1. Greg Rucka’s writing of Lois and Clark as a married couple was some of the most compelling relationship drama ever in comics. Same goes for Simone. Kelly and several others on the Super books. I miss Lois and Clark as a married couple. I miss the struggle they shared to protect Clark’s secret intermixed with Lois’s commitment to her career and the various crazy threats that threatened to pull them away from each other and their passion for fighting back.

    I wanted all of that and more for Kate and Maggie. This is just so sad.

  2. I think one of the concerns publishers have with marriage is that it ages a superhero. That, I think, was the main reason they ended Peter Parker’s marriage the way they did. They wanted Peter to be a young, hip guy, but marriage, divorce or making him a widower would all make him seem like an old fogey to a young, hip market.

    Of course, this goes hand-in-hand with the news from a few weeks ago that one DC head honcho told artist Paul Pope that “…we publish comics for 45-year-olds…”

    I guess they’re assuming that by 45, we’ll all be divorced or something?

    At any rate, this news was incredibly depressing. The Kate Kane/Maggie Sawyer romance has been one of the best things going at DC. Much better, by far, than the Superman/Wonder Woman thing they’re trying to push off on us. So losing that – as well as Williams’ art – is a very depressing blow to my comic fandom.

  3. Reblogged this on La Virino Kiu Skribas and commented:
    Great article! Batwoman is one of the books that I was reading. I’m not sure if I’ll continue to read it but we’ll see. I’m disappointed that DC has a negative view about marriage. I think Batman fits what they’re saying but as far as the rest of the Bat family I’ve always thought that they’re not as dark as he is and they’re partly there to be a beacon of hope and love for Bruce.

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