BATWOMAN’S KRYPTONITE = HOMOPHOBIA
Remember all the talk last year of the
new lesbian Batwoman (aka Kate Kane) who was to debut in the comic series
52 and then get her own series? Remember how you bought the latest
issue of 52 each week and watched in disappointment as her character became
less and less a part of the story? And then how you wondered what ever happened
to the Batwoman series?
“The Powers That Be are pretty good these days about letting you choose
to make a character of your own design homosexual or bisexual," says Grayson,
"but the closer you get to an established character, the harder it becomes.
And although I sympathize with that decision in many respects — it’s not
fair to retcon an established character just to make a socio-political point
— the problem with that policy is that, for the sexual identity issue
to have weight in the world of superhero icons, the so-identified character
has to be an icon.”
Kate Kane, Grayson believed, would solve that problem.
“I thought we were on to a nice solution when DC asked me to develop
a new, contemporary Batwoman who would be a lesbian from the start,” Grayson
told CBR. “That would allow us to have a character with a Bat emblem across
her chest who was homosexual without retconning any currently used characters,
and we could also ensure that her sexuality could be a minor character note
rather than a major story revelation.”
But not only was the new lesbian Batwoman relegated to a back seat in the
52 series, Grayson found out eight months into the development of the proposed
Batwoman title (from a newspaper article, no less, not even a phone
call from DC Comics) that the project was dead.
“That reversal really surprised and disappointed me,” Grayson admitted.
“I won’t pretend not to be resentful of how badly DC treated me in that
exchange, but the majority of my concern and sympathy goes out to the character,
who was basically thrown away by a company which had a lot of support to make
her successful and unique. My experiences up to that point had been much more
positive, although admittedly less ambitious, and it was really sad and discouraging
to see the ball so badly dropped.”
Clearly, she hasn’t been watching enough TV shows or movies, where throwing
away good lesbian characters has been elevated to an art form.
I guess that’s why I’m not surprised to read this — Americans can barely
handle more than one lesbian on TV or at the movies at a time (unless she’s
killing someone), so there’s no way they’re going to buy a lesbian superhero.
There has been some success in introducing more peripheral lesbian characters
in comics, though. The article
shares a positive story about how DC comics reacted to Gotham Central‘s
lesbian cop Renee Montoya, and it singles out Top 10‘s Jack Phantom
(pictured, right) as "a GLBT character who just happened to be lesbian,
but was allowed to express her sexuality in a non-exploitative way." And
the world didn’t even stop turning!