As most of the LGBT nerd community has heard, as well as those outside of various comic fandoms, DC has nixed plans on Batwoman’s once-to-be lesbian marriage. Is this a short sighted attack on marriage equality? Is this DiDio on a homophobic rampage? Or have the editorial egos at DC swollen so much they prevent artists and creators from doing what they were hired to do?
Editorial interference has been a notorious underground rumor concerning DC (and Marvel, to a lesser degree). This latest story, however, definitely struck a nerve with myself and the LGBT community. If you haven’t heard here is the Cliff Notes version: Haden Blackman and J.H. Williams , the creative team behind the Eisner Award winning series Batwoman, had plans to marry the title character to her lesbian lover. DC, issuing an editorial edict, did not allow the story to be told. Blackman and Williams, citing creative differences with the editorial staff, will leave the title after Issue #26.
Though it would be all too easy to say DC is behind the times and homophobic, especially in comparison to Marvel who recently had a gay wedding between two X-Men and had their fan favorite Young Avengers couple, Hulkling and Wiccan, getting engaged, I think the reason behind this move is less nefarious, though still insensitive, and more stupid.
Dan DiDio, head mukkity-muk at DC, stated that because the New 52 Universe was so new DC didn’t want to lose the opportunity to sell stories. His view is that Batwoman, or any character, being married would age them in the eyes of the reader as well as close potential stories with new love interests. He has a point: if Superman and Lois Lane were still married Wonder Woman and Supes wouldn’t be a thing. However, it is not a very good point. Stories can still be told whith married characters. And married stories are still interesting and hold validity and fun like single stories. The entire comics fanbase can relate to being both single and in a relationship. Why would we react well to one type of story but lose interest in another?
While I don’t see this at outright homphobic or gay-hating I do see it as insensitive to DC’s LGBT fanbase. DC (and Marvel) do not have the best track record when it comes to telling stories of LGBT folk or women. Example: Kyle Rayner, being the GL in the old universe, had a friend who was gay-bashed. The story arc was treated with all the tact and sensitivity of an after school special. What’s more is that the story didn’t focus on the gay character in question but on how his bashing affected Kyle. The gay character was used as a prop to move Kyle’s story forward. And we all know that Women in Refrigerator Syndrome, as termed by Gail Simone, was a concept created after Kyle’s female love interest was found dead in a freezer. Her death, again, was used as a plot device to tell Kyle’s story and little interest was put on hers.
DC has attempted to rectify this. The new Teen Titan Bunker is gay. He’s also stereotypical in every sense of the word and slightly campy (he also happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine!) which many in the LGBT community find upsetting. Alan Scott, the Green Lantern in Earth 2 recently got engaged to his gay lover only to have him die panels later. Again, the LGBT death was used to tell another’s story, granted this time the survivor was also gay it still begs the question: why couldn’t Alan Scott be Green Lantern with a love interest? While I don’t believe the intent of not allowing Batwoman to get married was homophobic I do think it was VERY insensitive and very poor timing. At a time when our Facebook News Feeds are constantly telling stories of homphobia both here in the States and abroad it would have been nice to have one of the only LGBT characters with a solo title celebrate something spectacular. DC, trying to protect its potential stories, neglected the need and want of this story. This on top of DC’s Orson Scott Card scandal has led to many viewing DC as outright homophobic and hateful.
While I see the lack of an LGBT wedding as disappointing it is not the aspect of the story that outrages me. What I find most maddening is that DC’s editorial team has such an ego. I’ve heard rumors of Jim Lee and Geoff Johns fighting with other creators, trying to impose their thoughts and ideas over a title’s creative team. These rumors do not make my happy. Especially considering Lee’s leave from Marvel, I find this turn of events highly hypocritical. While this has caused stress for writers and artists in the past the fact that this team, behind one of the most critically acclaimed titles in the New 52 series, left over it shows that DC does not compromise like it should. DC is trying to protect its property and for good reason: Superheros can become million (or billion) dollar cornerstone properties. With the success of Marvel’s The Avengers and Man of Steel and Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy it isn’t a surprise that DC wants the opportunity to keep superhero mythology fresh and readily available for the big screen. I, however, do not understand why a married hero would sell less stories and therefore be less of a potential property to make money on. Furthermore, with DC’s inability to even have Joss Whedon, the man behind the most successful superhero movie of all time, helm a Wonder Woman movie I highly doubt that Batwoman would ever, ever be a potential movie candidate.
I am still a DC fan. I still love their iconic characters and I still love a lot of what they are doing and the stories they are telling. It is because I love them that I must say this: Fuck you, DC. Let the writers and artists you hired do what you hired them to do and tell great stories with your guidance, not your micro-management.