There’s been much ado as it concerns Batwoman and DC‘s alleged war on marriage. Whether DC‘s kibosh on Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer’s marriage is specifically a front against same-sex marriage or marriage as a whole, it’s a debate onto itself. Which side of the debate you fall on depends on whether or not you believe what DC is saying is actually true, or if you believe that DC is simply spinning the facts in order to maintain their argument. Regardless of what DC would have you believe, they have much to answer for.
For those who haven’t been keeping up, here’s the story thus far: The creative team behind Batwoman, JH Williams and W Haden Blackman announced that they would be leaving Batwoman after issue 26 due to 11th hour editorial changes: one of those changes being, DC not allowing them to marry Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer. In actuality their run on Batwoman will be ending sooner than anticipated. Marc Andreyko, the writer behind Manhunter, will be taking over the title at issue 25, leaving JH Williams and W. Haden Blackman’s final issues in limbo.
Editorial interference is nothing new to DC, or even the “big two” for that matter. Working for DC comes with the understanding that you’re playing in DC‘s sandbox with DC‘s toys. Regardless of what innovations or ideas you bring with you, at the end of the day when your work is done, the characters still belong to them. It’s absurd in actuality but as it stands, this is the way it is. It goes without saying that simply because DC owns the characters and ultimately have the final say, doesn’t mean that they’re always responsible when it comes to using that power. I understand the need for editorial interference at times, but it’s not as if Batwoman wasn’t selling or wasn’t well-received. Rather Batwoman is an Eisner award winning title that readers of Batwoman genuinely love.
So why was marriage such a sticking point that DC ran off two of its Eisner award winning creators? Plenty of DC characters have been married in the past but as of late DC has been doling out divorce papers to all across the DCverse. Dan DiDio, DC Comics‘ Co-Publisher, appeared at Baltimore Comic Con to explain why marriage has been deemed so taboo in the DC Universe. DiDio explained that;
Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives. They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests.
That’s very important and something we reinforced. People in the Bat family their personal lives basically suck. Dick Grayson, rest in peace—oops shouldn’t have said that,—Bruce Wayne, Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon and Kathy Kane. It’s wonderful that they try to establish personal lives, but it’s equally important that they set them aside. That is our mandate, that is our edict and that is our stand.
I wonder just what world Dan DiDio lives in where marriage automatically equates to happiness. Thomas and Martha Wayne were married and how did things turn out for them? Even if you buy into the idea that “heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives”, it’s unfathomable that Didio would try to argue that marriage in any way would make a heroes’ life easier rather than more complicated. People who work a regular 9-5 often take on more stress after getting married, so to argue that someone who risks their life on a daily basis is undoubtedly happier when they have something else to juggle is just silly.
For full disclosure, I’m not married. But I know plenty of people who are. Some are happily married, while others are not. Regardless of which category they fall into, they all maintain that marriage is not a walk in the park. It’s hard work and even for those who find happiness in theirs, it can be an everyday struggle.
DC isn’t alone in their crusade against marriage, Marvel are guilty of similar shenanigans. Then editor in chief, Joe Quesada, famously ended Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane because he felt that readers wouldn’t be able to relate to Spider-Man if he was married. Of course, readers easily identify with what it’s like to develop super powers after being bitten by a radioactive spider but marriage is far too sensational of concept to possibly be relatable. Dan DiDio’s reasoning, as well as Joe Quesada‘s for that matter, are short-sided and asinine to say the least.
So why not trust that their creative team actually knows what they’re doing? Surely, DC can’t truly believe that it’s impossible to write a compelling and entertaining story with a married character, can they?
When I first heard that Batwoman‘s creative team was leaving their title, I naively assumed that DC would be upset over losing two Eisner award winners. I thought that maybe they’d recognize that they overreached and would give them some leeway. After doing some research, DC actually looks to be more relieved than upset. Allow me to explain. The first issue of Batwoman that Andreyko is being tasked with will bring Batwoman into the Year Zero storyline in lieu of allowing Williams and Blackman to bring their story to a conclusion. Now Batwoman seems to be part of the “batfamily” in name only, being that her character has never crossed over into the batverse. As DC editorial sees it, this stresses the idea of a shared universe. This is evidenced in Didio’s tweet to Dane Hellyer and JH Williams. Didio claims that, “Eisner or not, we need the books to be exciting, entertaining, and part of a shared universe.”It’s been confirmed by JH Williams himself that they were focused on telling their own story rather shoehorning Batwoman into whatever company wide crossover DC was cooking up.
When it’s all said and done, what we can take away from the Batwoman marriage controversy is that the decision makers over at DC have prematurely ended what could have been a character defining run due to their shortsightedness. It’s clear that DC is far more concerned with their company wide crossovers then actually allowing their creative teams to tell their stories. Year Zero is will likely sell more comics, in the short term, because that’s how crossovers tend to work. They’re a quick buck, but next year when the next crossover happens no one will care about Year Zero because it’s not predicated on an artist’s vision. Rather it’s the product of decisions made in a boardroom. JH Williams and W. Haden Blackman’s run on Batwoman would likely not have broken sales records in the coming months but people would be far more likely to want to revisit their story in years to come. As for DC‘s war on marriage, it stands as a testament to why editors need to remove themselves from the creative process and let the writers and artists, the creators, do their job.