Look, let’s be clear, I’m not a fan of DC. To be a little more specific, I am not a fan of DC’s business practices and editorial decisions. All of that being said, yesterday the internet perpetuated one of my least favourite of its trends: snap judgement from journalists fishing for hits.
Late Wednesday night W. Haden Blackman and J.H. Williams III, the writer and artist of Batwoman, respectively, posted a message on the former’s blog that they would be leaving the title. Here’s the section of that post that has received the most attention [emphasis added]:
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.
From what I can tell, the news was first broken by The Outhouse, and was soon followed by all the other major comic book news outlets. ComicsAlliance and Newsarama both likewise delivered the news straight, but elsewhere this wasn’t the case.
io9 published a post titled “DC forbids Batwoman’s gay marriage, creative team leaves” [which has since been updated], and Bleeding Cool went with the headline “JH Williams III Walks Off Batwoman Over DC Not Allowing Her Marriage To Maggie Sawyer” [has also since been updated]. The truth is that neither of these headlines are entirely inaccurate. The issue is that neither of them are entirely accurate, either.
This is sensationalism at its finest, folks. DC editorial is doing poorly, I will give you that. Keeping that in mind, the fact that Kate [Batwoman] and Maggie [her girlfriend] were unable to be depicted being married is just one drop in the bucket when it comes to why both Blackman and Williams left. That is not even close to being the sole reason.
Moving forward, let’s get the facts straight and focus on what exactly DC was forbidding. People all over the internet have gotten all up in arms about the publisher outright forbidding a gay marriage, and, well, let’s get some hard evidence up in this post:
For all of you non-comic book readers out there, let me elaborate a little on comic book storytelling. Marriages are the enemy. No, that sentiment isn’t borne out of the fact that I used to work for a divorce marketing company, it’s based on the Big Two publishers believing that marrying off heroes limits storytelling.
See that on the right? That is Peter Parker and Mary Jane
literally selling their marriage to the devil. I’m not going into why or how, but that is how badly editorial at the time wanted to end their union. At present Spider-Man is single [I’m likewise not going to get into what other changes have occurred since then], and as a result he is able to have conflict with girlfriends and bemoan his loneliness and not have to worry as much about people he cares about being hurt.
Returning to DC, in their present continuity Superman and Lois aren’t married [or even dating], and a many other longstanding marriages have never taken place. If anything, the company is giving fair treatment to all marriages regardless of the orientation of those in them.
Look, I’m glad Haden and Williams are refusing to put up with meddlesome editorial, especially in light of all the disappointment and frustration they’ve faced in the past year or so. That being said, let’s read thoroughly through what is really being said here by all parties. Let us also not allow ourselves to be swept away by what I can only dub sensationalist journalism.
To end, a DC spokesperson has since told ComicsAlliance and Comic Book Resources, “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.” I, at the very least, am inclined to believe them.