September 2013: The longtime Batwoman creative team of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman part ways with the title due to “editorial decisions [that] came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting.” Fans of the book and those familiar with the ensuing drama are more than aware that these “editorial decisions” mainly surrounded the now-scrapped plans to have Kate Kane marry her longtime partner, Maggie Sawyer.
As the backlash and outcry began to spiral into a public relations nightmare for DC, Dan DiDio took the opportunity, during a panel at the Baltimore Comic-Con, to address the situation.
“Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives,” he said. “They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests.” He then went on to point out members of the Bat family specifically. “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.”
In addition to not knowing the current Batwoman’s name (Kathy?), DiDio essentially issued a blanket statement that forbade the cowled heroes from indulging in anything that might bring them happiness. Their personal lives were doomed to forever reflect the depressing and crumbling facade of the city they have sworn to protect.
Since then, everything has been going according to plan. Current scribe, Marc Andreyko, is in the midst of squaring Batwoman off against the vampiric Nocturna and Maggie is battling her ex-husband for custody of their child. The relationship between Kate and Mags? Shaky, at best.
Gail Simone has certainly had her hands full bringing forth the “doom and gloom” edict in the pages of Batgirl. Not only has the titular character faced the likes of demented villains like Ragdoll and the Ventriloquist, she’s also had to deal with the return of the Joker and her mother’s disfigurement at the hands of the madman. To top things off, a wealthy socialite, who moonlights as a morally ambiguous villainess, seems hellbent on destroying Gotham in order to prevent its further corruption.
July 2014: Roughly ten months have passed since DiDio spoke at the Baltimore convention and Batgirl is about to receive a drastic shift in tone. With Simone leaving the title and Cameron Stewart set to take the helm, Barbara Gordon will be relocating to the hipsterish Gotham borough of Burnside in order to tackle grad school.
In a recent interview with MTV, Stewart said, with regards to Barbara, “Just prior to the start of our story she’s pushed to the breaking point and decides that she’s had it with misery and darkness and wants a change. She wants the opportunity to have some fun and live the life of a young, single girl in the city, so she packs up and moves to Burnside.” Artist, Babs Tarr, added, “I am excited to bring some flirt, fun, and fashion to the title!”
Hold the presses! What happened to the destitute and lonely lives that the caped crusaders were being forced to endure for the sake of the mission? It couldn’t have just been a feeble attempt at damage control following fan rage over what appeared to be a blatant slap in the face to the LGBT community and a character that they’ve come to care about! That’s just unspeakable and would never happen in this day and age. </end sarcasm>
Does this mean that fans can expect a light at the end of a very dark tunnel to shine on Kate and Maggie? If solicits for future issues of Batwoman are to be believed, it might not be advisable to hold ones breath.
While it’s true that this doesn’t necessarily prove that there was any underlying homophobia with relation to the 86ed wedding of Kate and Maggie, it also doesn’t help add credence to DiDio’s insistence that there wasn’t.
At the same Baltimore convention, he emphasized the company’s support for their gay characters, “Name one other publisher out there who stands behind their gay characters the way we do.” Mr. DiDio, let's get you introduced to Marvel Comics. Have the two of you met? Marjorie Liu’s Astonishing X-Men #51 might be a great place to start getting acquainted.
Follow Shaun N. on Twitter at @datura1979.