Has Batwoman reached the end of her Bat-line?

The first rule of getting attached to comic book characters is: don’t get attached to comic book characters. They live, they die, they re-live, they re-die, they change titles, they change costumes, they change personalities, they change writers. This is especially true for female characters, many of whom haven’t had any success holding down their own titles for any length of time. But last year, Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III brought Batwoman back to life in Detective Comics, and I broke the rule. I fell in love. And now DC has decided to sideline Batwoman — again.

At Wonder Con this weekend, Rucka made the announcement that he is leaving Batwoman and DC, only weeks after the series won a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding comic book.

"It is agonizing to walk away from Batwoman," Rucka said.

There is no official word from DC about what happened, but it’s not hard to piece together the story.

When Batwoman took over Detective Comics with issue #854, she was only supposed to stick around for 12 issues, but Rucka and Willams received such high praise from fans and critics that DC began putting together a plan for Batwoman to have her own title. During a podcast last December, Rucka said:

Jim and I are going to be — I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying this — but we’re starting work on what will be a Batwoman title. Our initial plan had been, you know, 12 issues on Detective and, for a variety of reasons in-house … the last five parts will be told later in 2010.

Last month, at Emerald City ComiCon, Rucka spoke again about the project, saying, "I don’t know if [it's] going to happen."

And then at Wonder Con, he revealed that while there is no bad blood between him and DC, he turned in his last work "for the foreseeable future" to them last week.

DC hasn’t really known what to do with Batwoman since Kate Kane came out in 2006, but it seemed like they’d lucked into the perfect storm with Rucka and Williams. Their run on Detective Comics has been universally lauded as some of the best art and storytelling the industry has seen in a long, long time.

When the news initially broke that Rucka was walking away from DC, there was an immediate, incessant cry of homophobia, which emanated — shockingly enough — from fanboys. It took DC four years to give Batwoman a solo story and then they didn’t even let her finish out her Detective run, despite critical praise, awards and stellar sales. Squeamishness about Batwoman’s sexuality seemed like the obvious reason. But J.H. Williams took to his blog on Saturday afternoon to contradict the outcry:

I was afraid something like this was going to occur but held out hope that it wouldn’t happen. That DC and Greg could come to some sort of agreement, apparently not going to happen. So what does this mean for Batwoman and the project I’ve spent a decent amount of time and thought on? I don’t know. I do know that DC is firmly committed to this character from what I hear from them.

So where does all of this leave us? I believe DC will want the character to continue somehow. In what form? I’m not sure, but she’ll be back, I’m sure of it. This character has too much potential to just go by the wayside. So we should be hearing some sort of news at the appropriate time I assume.

From a fangirl perspective, losing Batwoman would simply suck. But, from a lesbian perspective, losing Batwoman would be devastating. The honesty and authenticity with which Rucka handled her sexuality was groundbreaking, especially coming from DC. And it would be a shame for DC to stick her back on the shelf (or tuck her back into the closet) when her success has proven that what comics fans really want are awesome stories about awesome characters — spandex, sexuality and bustiers be damned.

Let’s hope DC is as committed as Williams seems to think they are. The second rule of getting attached to comic book characters is: don’t get your hopes up.

Oh well. I broke rule number one; I might as well break number two while I’m at it.

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