DC Comics is notorious for mistreating its female readers and female characters, but today’s news is one of the most crushing blows in the publisher’s long, sordid history: Batwoman co-authors J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman have announced that they’re leaving the title after issue #26 because, among other things, DC refuses to allow Maggie and Kate to get married. In a post on his personal blog, Williams spoke on behalf of himself and Blackman, saying:
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.
You’ll remember that Kate and Maggie actually got engaged all the way back in issue #17. It was the first lesbian wedding proposal in mainstream comics history, but we didn’t really get to see Maggie accept Kate’s proposal until six months later in issue #23. At the time, I thought it was just a bizarre writing choice, but Williams’ blog post makes it sound like DC has been interfering with their decisions for a while now.
Williams has been with Batwoman since she was relaunched in Detective Comics #854, first on art duty and then taking over the storytelling reins when Greg Rucka left DC due to creative disputes with the publisher. Together, Rucka and Williams wrote and illustrated Batwoman: Elegy (Batwoman’s full run in Detective Comics), which garnered universal praise and even earned a GLAAD Media Award for tackling issues like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” When Blackman joined the team, he continued to contribute to the queer tone we’d come to love from the title. Williams and Blackman, like Rucka before them, have been very committed to telling an authentic story about an unapologetic, out-and-proud lesbian character. In fact, at times the book has seemed like it existed outside the sphere of DC’s straight white male editorial privilege.
But not anymore, apparently.
It’s not uncommon for comic book writers to leave titles because of differences with publishers, but in this case it is flat-out alarming because one of the main reasons Williams and Blackman are leaving is because DC is refusing to allow them to go through with Kate and Maggie’s wedding. It’s also distressing because it is just another in a long line of questionable DC decisions and statements this year. (For example: Hiring a noted homophobe to write Superman.)
“We are committed to bringing our run to a satisfying conclusion and we think that Issue 26 will leave a lasting impression,” Williams wrote on his blog.
Here’s hoping it’s not the conclusion of Batwoman‘s gayness as well.
What do you think of the news that Blackman and Williams are leaving DC?