In one of the bigger surprise news stories of the past few months, the authors of DC's acclaimed Batwoman series took to the internet last night to announce that they have quit writing the title, citing 'editorial interference' as the cause of this decision. J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, posting on Williams' blog, stated that "…we were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing [lead characters] Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end."
This is a bit of a PR snafu for DC, who, having suffered through numerous controversies over heavy-handed editorial guidance in the wake of the 'New 52' re-launch, had recently seemed to be remaking their image as a more creator-friendly publisher – at least until last month's removal of announced artist Kevin Maguire from the upcoming 'Justice League 3000' title stirred up the flames all over again.
And considering that (1) Batwoman has consistently been one of the best-reviewed titles of the entire 'New 52', (2) the title had been particularly acclaimed for its portrayal of the developing relationship between Batwoman/Kate Kane and her fiancee, detective Maggie Sawyer, and (3) J.H. Williams III is also the artist of DC/Vertigo's upcoming and much-hyped 'Sandman: Overture' series, this seems like a spectacularly tone-deaf move on DC's part.
Williams III further clarified matters in posts on twitter, replying when asked about DC's change of heart on depicting gay marriage in the book: "Not wanting to be inflammatory, only factual- We fought to get them engaged, but were told emphatically no marriage can result."
Perhaps somebody should have informed the editors of DC's 'New 52' that depicting same-sex marriage isn't something something to shy away from in this day and age. And in fact, according to a recent Gallup poll, the percentage of Americans who would back a national law to legalize gay marriage stands at an unprecedented… 52%.
Now how's that for a numerological coincidence?
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Since this story broke in the wee hours of the night, several pundits have popped online to suggest that DC's concern was the "marriage" part, not the "gay" part. That marrying off two characters, regardless of sexual preference, limits the storytelling potential for a character. Regardless of whether you agree, this is something that's been publicly cited before, in DC's decision to nullify the Superman/Lois Lane marriage in the New 52, and Marvel's nixing of Spider-Man's marriage to Mary Jane. Make of that what you will, it's not an official statement from either party, but is food for thought.]
The last issue of Batwoman by JH Williams III and W. Haden Blackman will be #26, on sale in December.