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Last week, DC Comics’ Batwoman title lost its writers when J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman quit the book, publicly citing editorial indecision as the reason why and specifically mentioning that they were forbidden from showing the lead character getting married to her girlfriend in the series. Amid cries of homophobia, it was quickly clarified by Williams and, later, DC itself, that the problem wasn’t the idea of gay marriage but marriage as a whole. At this weekend’s Baltimore Comic-Con, DC co-publisher Dan Didio explained why.
Didio told the audience of a DC Comics panel at the convention that one idea is clear in his and his editors’ minds when it comes to Batman-affiliated superheroes: They shouldn’t be happy in their private lives. “They put on a cape and cowl for a reason,” he explained. “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.”
Citing the secret identities of Red Robin, Batgirl and Batwoman, Didio continued: “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.”
While the idea that superheroes’ personal lives suck is hardly a new one — it’s pretty much been standard operating procedure for Spider-Man since his creation, after all — it’s unusual to hear it stated so blatantly, if only for the dramatic tension it leeches from any new love interest or potential happiness introduced in these characters’ lives. If we know that it’ll all end badly, why should we as readers get involved at all?
At the same panel, Marc Andreyko was named as the new Batwoman writer. In an unexpected — and unwelcome — twist, he will start writing the series with the 25th issue, two issues earlier than Williams and Blackman had been expecting to leave the series. “Sadly, I guess with a new writer starting on Batwoman 25 means that the issue 25 we wrote already isn’t coming out,” Williams tweeted on Saturday.
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