Painful Breakups: JH Williams & W. Haden Blackman exit Batwoman
One of the few artistically creative and consistent books that DC publishes is getting a creative change-up. Multiple sources are reporting that JH Willams will be exiting Batwoman following issue 26 due to creative differences with DC editorial over what they would be allowed to do in regards to story beats surrounding a possible wedding between Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer. The creative team posted a statement explaining their reasons for leaving the title;
“Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. 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 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.”
All in all they are being very professional about the whole thing, which stands in direct contrast to DC editorial who seem to feel that last minute changes and slashing previously approved scripting choices is the way to foster a profitable creative enterprise. When you hire a writer and artist for a book you take on the responsibility of trusting their judgment with the character you have handed them. Yanking the rug out from under them a year after the fact and stifling them creatively is not the way to keep people on your side. This is just the latest in a string of failures on the part of DC’s management structure to handle their creative pool. If your last name isn’t Snyder or Johns and you work for DC, please be advised that you mean nothing to the people in charge. Your creative output means absolutely zip. Do not for a second believe otherwise.
DC is a business. They are looking to make money. Creativity means little to them in the long haul. They wish only to make money and keep intellectual property in play for transition into other mediums. Batwoman is tied to the Batman line in a way that it gives her greater visibility but also closer scrutiny. DC seems to be of the mindset that marrying her in any fashion would have been a poor choice for their intellectual property regardless of her sexual orientation. This is a company that heralded her sexuality upon her creation but now seems hesitant to follow through with it. Williams has said that it was a matter of perception about the concept of a married comic book character and if she were straight they would likely have vetoed the storyline as well. This seems to stem from the nu52 attempts to keep everyone indeterminate in perceived age, a good example being Clark Kent not being married to Lois Lane and shacking up with Wonder Woman.
This decision is perplexing in a myriad number of ways. Creatively speaking it is the wrong idea. From a publicity standpoint it is also a terrible idea because even if the decision had no connection to Kate Kane’s sexuality, you can bet your bottom dollar that the headlines will make it so. The Hollywood Reporter loudly proclaims “‘Batwoman’ Co-Authors Exit, Claim DC ‘Prohibited’ Lesbian Marriage.” DC isn’t going to be able to sweet talk their way out of this without looking like they crushed creative freedom in the name of capitalist based homophobia. Good job, guys.
Marvel managed to turn the wedding of Northstar, a character nobody gave two thoughts about, into a promotional publicity win for their company. How DC did not realize that doing the same thing with a prominent member of the Bat-family would be a major notch on their belt is beyond my understanding.
But, hey, 3D covers. People love that, right?