Outrage Week: DC Comics and the Institution of Marriage

The protagonist seems surprised by the topic of this post....

The protagonist seems surprised by the topic of this post….

As Outrage Week continues, I’m moving over to DC Comics for a moment. I’m not talking about the recent Rebirth issues, but instead, about something that happened during the new 52, and certainly did generate a bit of Outrage. In September of 2013, J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman announced they would be leaving as the editorial team on Batwoman, citing DC’s editorial interference. In particular, the key issue was the publisher’s refusal to allow characters Kate Kane/Batwoman and her partner Gotham City police officer Maggie Sawyer marry each other.

while Batwoman has proposed to Maggie twice — twice on panel — DC not only refused to let the wedding be depicted on panel, but refused to let them be married at all. “We were told emphatically no marriage can result,” said Williams on Twitter. He later added it was “was never put to us as being anti-gay marriage.” Although how refusing to let people marry — even fictional characters — is not anti-gay marriage is beyond me.”

Williams and Blackman left the series after issue No. 26 in December. Given that Batwoman is one of DC’s stronger title, and arguably its one of the best-looking comics, thanks to Williams’ incredible art and panel experimentation — it was a loss to the entire medium.

DC entered recovery mode in response, and DC co-publisher Dan DiDio tried to explain the situation. Here’s why he was still completely wrong. He said, “They put on a cape and cowl for a reason. They’re committed to defending others — at the sacrifice of all their own personal instincts. That’s something we reinforce. If you look at every one of the characters in the Batman family, their personal lives kind of suck…
Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, and Kathy Kane — it’s wonderful that they try to establish personal lives, but it’s also just as important that they put it aside as they know what they are accomplishing as the hero takes precedence over everything else. That is our mandate, that is our edict, that is our stand with our characters.”

Wait, what? Having a Bat-logo on your suit means that you have to have a dysfunctional personal life? really?

Okay…ostensibly, Dan DiDio truly believes that its important to keep DC’s superheroes unmarried in order to keep the focus of their books on their superheroics instead of their relationships. For a superhero company, that sounds pretty sensible. Maybe.

Except it’s not, because if DiDio is saying that heroes can’t get married because it’s part of their personal lives (and he is) then he’s saying that heroes shouldn’t have ANY relationships. Unless there’s something specifically horrible about heroes marrying, marriage is just one form of personal relationship, which also includes family, friends, and even technically archenemies. If DC’s heroes need to put aside their personal relationships, then why the hell were Superman and Wonder Woman dating? Is it the lack of a marriage certificate — a fictional piece of paper — that somehow makes this relationship okay, but not Batwoman’s engagement to Maggie Sawyer?

The more you probe at it, the more it seems like it was an anti-gay marriage decision by the company, or editorial.

DC doesn’t have a problem with romance, and it doesn’t actually have a problem with personal relationships, it may just have a problem with MARRIAGE in general. Of course, the New 52 started with heroes like Animal Man and The Phantom Stranger being married, but both those marriages have been wrecked, so maybe DC is being consistent there. See, DC is apparently as anti straight marriage in the New 52 continuity as it is against gay marriage for Batwoman.

Again….this is consistent. Superman is no longer married to Lois, and Aquaman is no longer married to Mera. Apparently, the New 52 was entirely a treatise against the dramatic value of marriage as a plot point in human relationships. Wow.

But let’s break it down to the simplest point, which should have generated high levels of Outrage. Even if DC had the best intentions in the world, the fact of the matter is that DC has shown children being graphically killed (pick one of several versions of Robin), but won’t allow a character to have a loving relationship legally recognized. That’s horrible. No amount of reasoning in the world will change that fact.

Somehow, Captain America saying “Hail Hydra” was a bigger deal than this.

Tomorrow…Outrage Week Continues, as we spotlight things that maybe, just maybe, were a bigger deal in comics than that last page reveal in Captain America.

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