Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Batwoman Dilemma

My illustration for The Line It Is Drawn featuring Batwoman and The Question.
So if you haven't yet read, my favorite artist-writer JH Williams III and his writing partner, W. Haden Blackman, walked away recently from their gig on Batwoman with their last issue being 26. The major problem they cite is the eleventh-hour changes made by editorial, which throw off plans Williams and Blackman made as early as a year in advance. Among the developments include Batwoman's alter ego Kate Kane's marriage to love interest and Gotham City Police Department officer, Maggie Sawyer. Enter: unwanted controversy.

Publisher Dan DiDio responded to this emphasizing his full commitment to making Batwoman work and expressing his vision of the characters comprising the Bat family living consistently shitty lives. This vision prompted the change and led to the hiring of Marc Andreyko to replace Williams and Blackman in issue 25 onwards.

So just like you, here I sit, torn on what to do next. Should I continue supporting the title or bail out as soon as Williams and Blackman do?

Before I jump into this, for the interest of full disclosure, I confess that I'm against the idea of marriage for anyone in real life, but I don't exist to force my ideas, beliefs, and practices upon others' lives nor do I think it should be law. Marriage could be great and ideal for the substantial benefits, affirming/confirming soulmate status, and such. From my experiences and observations, though, it seems to be more trouble than it's worth. But never say never! Who knows? Maybe I'll miraculously end up with a ring on it, and, this time, on an actual finger. An entry for perhaps another time! Anyway, although I personally prefer for no one to be married, I can't stress enough the significance of having Kate and Maggie making the leap together. It's a powerful and timely statement to make and also the organic trajectory they've led up to. It just feels right and natural. Anything else that results would feel heavy-handed, save for Maggie's death and how dare all of you making me entertain such a thought knock on wood! 

Maybe I should just move onwards to the inner turmoil...

On one hand, I don't want Batwoman to fail. Admittedly, I understand DiDio's vision of having the Bat family of characters leading lives of adversity in and out of their masks. I also like Marc Andreyko, who's known to write female protagonists remarkably well as his acclaimed Manhunter run proved. (Yikes, I miss Kate Spencer.)

On the other, I don't get why DiDio and co. persist to make changes at the very last minute. All these rampant problems between creators and editors surely could be avoided if they stick with plans already agreed upon months—even years(?)—in advance. Truly a perplexing practice.

Secondly, although I agree that members of the Bat family should lead trying lives, at least a few scenarios exist that could still make Kate Kane's married life compelling and unique to follow. Why can't Kate be married and still have an overall shitty life? Why can't she have one glimmer of hope and love just as Bruce Wayne has Alfred and sometimes a Robin? One light amidst the overpowering darkness?

Or even if being married is too much happiness for a Bat character, why not allow Kate this anyway? She already stands apart from the rest of the characters in the Bat (or, let alone, any) universe, which is a relief since there's no way anyone can accuse her of being a replica of another Bat character with just one or two differences, an issue I have with most of the Bat family.

Or what if Kate married Maggie and their missions led them to, at different times, work together, race against each other, or flat-out work against each other? Yet no matter the situation and outcome, they still agree to love each other through thick and thin in their personal lives. The secrets, deceptions, sacrifices, drama, tension, strain, and resolutions to such problems serve as ingredients to stories I would love and kill to read. (Kill a bug, maybe... a spider, definitely.)

Marriage doesn't always result in an ideal "happily ever after" scenario. We can readily cite real life as a testament to this. But in a way other comic book readers readily understand: pick up Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' Saga and experience for yourself how following the adventures of fictional married characters could be hella fun. An understatement, I assure you.

Finally, I find DiDio pulling Williams and Blackman off Batwoman two issues earlier in response to their joint statement disturbing, infuriating, and disrespectful to the writers and the fans, who want a semblance of closure. If anything, that's what I'm left with at this point.

So, what do you plan to do?



Tammy said...

Hey mic?,

This is the illustration that made me love you. Seriously. I don't want to get married either, but if you drew me pictures of Kate and Renee all the time, I would totally gay marry you (if you didn't mind all my girlfriends).

I'm super angry about what the DC eds. are doing to JH, Haden, and Batwoman (and what they did to Rucka). Even if the intention is not rooted in homophobia (and I don't really think that it is), the level of tone-deafness is so profound that I just can't fathom it. You give us our first really recognized lesbian hero with a title of her own, and you don't trust her authors to tell compelling stories that include a a successful, complicated relationship. Why the hell not?

I guess that's the thing for me: how can you not trust Williams and Blackman? Why pull the rug out at the last minute? And why the fuck won't you let them leave on their own terms? Does DC have no idea that their readers are invested in this character and the story that has been developing? Batwoman is important to me, damnit.

So that's why I'm done after #24. And I mean really done. Done with DC. It breaks my heart to abandon Simone, Snyder, Azzarello, Nguyen, and Art and Franco, but DC has just gone too far. The world has been fucking with our people forever; leave Batwoman alone.

mic? said...

Hi Tammy!

First and foremost, proposal most definitely accepted (if you don't mind all my action figures)! Anytime you're ready. ;)

I definitely share your frustration and anger with DC editorial. Their poor dealings with Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Dwayne McDuffie, John Rozum, etc. served as red flags for quite some time. And now this. DC's editorial mandates confuse the shiz outta me. I just can't defend them anymore.

Thanks so much for weighing in. You helped me figure out what to do. I'm dropping BATWOMAN after JHW3 and Blackman's last issue. BATWOMAN was the only immediate problem I had, but after reading your response, I decided to make further cuts. Not all, but half of what I get from them.

I don't like it when corps disrespect, abuse, and exploit talent/creatives. And I definitely don't like it when corp heads derail fair, accurate, and compelling portrayals of characters representing disenfranchised/oppressed people. Not cool. Never will be cool.