It’s a dark day for fans of J.H. Williams III’s and Haden Blackman’s GLAAD Award-winning run on DC’s Batwoman, a comic book series that has been lauded for its honest, compelling portrayal of LGBT issues. Last night, citing constant last minute editorial changes and an apparent prohibition on showing gay marriage in the book’s pages, the creative team announced in a joint statement that they would be leaving the book. Despite Batwoman (a.k.a. Kate Kane) having proposed twice on panel to her partner, Gotham City police officer Maggie Sawyer, DC has put its foot down against not only depicting the marriage, but letting it happen at all.
On his Twitter account, writer J.H. Williams explained, “We fought to get them engaged, but [we] were told emphatically that no marriage can result.” Williams went on to note that the matter was never presented to them as anti-gay marriage, but, clearly, it rankled the powers that be. Apparently, though, this was not the only issue that gave the creative team pause; rather, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Here’s Williams’ and Blackman’s official statement in full:
Dear Batwoman readers -
From the moment DC asked us to write Batwoman — a dream project for both of us — we were committed to the unofficial tagline “No Status Quo.” We felt that the series and characters should always be moving forward, to keep changing and evolving. In order to live up to our mantra and ensure that each arc took Batwoman in new directions, we carefully planned plotlines and story beats for at least the first five arcs well before we ever wrote a single issue. We’ve been executing on that plan ever since, making changes whenever we’ve come up with a better idea, but in general remaining consistent to our core vision.
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.
We’ve always understood that, as much as we love the character, Batwoman ultimately belongs to DC. However, the eleventh-hour nature of these changes left us frustrated and angry — because they prevent us from telling the best stories we can. So, after a lot of soul-searching, we’ve decided to leave the book after Issue 26.
We’re both heartbroken over leaving, but we feel strongly that you all deserve stories that push the character and the series forward. We can’t reliably do our best work if our plans are scrapped at the last minute, so we’re stepping aside. We are committed to bringing our run to a satisfying conclusion and we think that Issue 26 will leave a lasting impression.
We are extremely thankful for the opportunity to work on Batwoman. It’s been one of the most challenging and rewarding projects of our careers. We’ll always be grateful to everyone who helped us realize 26 issues: Mike Siglain, who brought us onto the project originally; Greg Rucka for inspirationally setting the stage; our amazing artists Amy Reeder, Trevor McCarthy, Pere Perez, Rob Hunter, Walden Wong, Sandu Florea, Richard Friend, Francesco Francavilla, Guy Major, Dave Stewart, and Todd Klein; Larry Ganem, for listening in tough times; and editors Mike Marts, Harvey Richards, Rickey Purdin, and Darren Shan.
And most of all, a huge thank you to everyone who read the book. Hearing your voices, your reactions, your enthusiasm every month was such a joy, so humbling, so rewarding. You guys rock! Because so many of you embraced the series, we were able to complete four arcs, and your passion for Batwoman encouraged us to push ourselves to do our best work with each and every issue.
Thank you for loving Batwoman as much as we do.
Goodbye for now,
Haden & J H
In a statement to Comics Alliance, a DC representative 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.” Still, this news comes as a particular surprise, given that when the New 52 first launched, DC made waves when it had the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, come out as gay, a fact on which it prided itself. My colleague Rob Bricken, over at iO9, put forth that DC’s refusal to publicize Kathy Kane’s proposal to her partner earlier this year was a PR move designed to not draw any negative attention to Ender’s Game author/gay marriage opponent Orson Scott Card’s run on Adventures of Superman. Whether or not that was the case, it certainly seems significant now in hindsight.
Given the myriad “eleventh hour changes” and contentious editorial relationship, it doesn’t seem particularly surprising that Williams and Blackman left, but it’s a definite blow to DC’s stable considering they’re one of the best creative teams in the game right now and it’s an even bigger blow for fans of Batwoman, which was nominated for another GLAAD Media award for its depiction of LGBT issues. DC is already losing ground to Marvel at the box office. It’s a shame that they’re losing ground to Marvel now on being progressive as well. That may sound a bit hyperbolic – and yes, it may be, as one reader noted, more of a “marriage problem” than a “gay marriage problem” – but it strikes me as an odd choice from DC’s editorial team and an argument which I have a hard time taking at face value. That being said, for a well spoken counterpoint from an editor’s point of view, read what Dark Horse’s editor-in-chief Scott Allie thinks about the matter.
Update: As some of you have noted in the comments, it may be more of an anti-marriage reaction from DC editorial rather than anti-same sex marriage. Evidently, they’re trying to keep many of their heroes single, perhaps because Forever Evil will end with a round of superhero speed dating — only time will tell. For further context, read Gail Simone and others chime in on the matter in this Twitter thread.
The pair will remain on the title through December’s issue 26 and Williams has confirmed that this will not affect his upcoming work on Neil Gaiman’s forthcoming Sandman prequel through Vertigo. What do you think of all of this? Who would you like to see take the reins of Batwoman? Let us know in the comments below.
[HT: Comic Book Resources]