Saying goodbye to good friends is one of the hardest things to go through – and sometimes it can be even harder when they’re not even real. I’ve been an avid reader of comics long enough to witness a fair number of announcements in the community that seemed to be just without ground or merit and it’s not something I think I’ll ever get used to. Wednesday night (9.04.13), co-writer and artist for Batwoman for DC Comics announced that he and his co-writer Haden Blackman would be stepping down after the release of issue 26 of the lauded series. Neither truly wish to leave, but felt they must due to the editorial climate they faced while working for DC. 11th hour revisions, requests to up-end months of narrative planning, and straight-up refusal of important plot points – many of which were crucial for the creators’ “against the status quo” approach that proved to define each successive arc of Batwoman.
The intended plot-point in question would have been the marriage between masked heroine Batwoman (Kate Kane) and her current fiancée, Maggie Sawyer – a pivotal and highly anticipated event for the characters, as well as fans. It would have been a fascinating take on the archetype of a close loved-one guarding the most precious secret of the principal caped character. Sadly, this will not be the case, after DC agreed to Kate’s proposal to Maggie, they informed the creative team that there would be no marriage.
“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,” Williams III & Blackman stated. “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.”
While responding to shocked exclamations, heartfelt consolation, and worried queries, Williams III (also backed up by fellow DC writer Gail Simone) was clear to state that the decision wasn’t driven by an anti-gay/anti-lesbian position, but an anti-marriage one. It’s unclear why DC Comics would be opposed to letting their characters tie the proverbial knot, but the major problem here is an editorial one. This was later confirmed by a DC Comics rep who stated:
“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 want to believe that and will attempt to do so until it becomes obvious that it is not the case and DC Comics is following through with their ill-willed mission of ostracizing gay, lesbian, trans, and all others akin comics readers.
Where do we go from here? I don’t know if DC will be able to pull together a satisfactory creative team in time to keep Batwoman going, but I know this: whoever picks up the book cannot fill the void J.H. Williams III & Haden Blackman will be leaving – and they damned well shouldn’t. Batwoman has been successful in no small part to the intense creative style offered by Williams III art and panel layout (don’t even get me started) interwoven into the wonderfully strange narrative strung together with Haden’s hand and the next creators should attempt to find that same happy medium. I personally would be interested in seeing a collaboration of a team such as Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba working on this book. Any caliber of talent less than them would be absolutely unacceptable for what Kane and her story deserves. I’m glad that Williams III is still working on the astronomically anticipated Sandman: Overture with Neil Gaiman and I will remain hopeful that Kate and Maggie’s story will find its way to the crisp colored pages of a beautiful 22-page issue, double-page spread depicting a marvelous ceremony.
Goodbye Kate as I know you now. You’re inspiring, headstrong, keen on getting into tight spots, and remarkably gifted at getting back out of them. You’ve showed me much of what it means to be true to who you are and I like to think you redefined my idea of who a caped crusader can be.
Thanks for all of that.