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Batwoman writers quit after superhero's wedding 'prohibited'

Categories: Books

Batwoman, illustrated by J.H. Williams III. (DC Comics)

Update, Sept. 9: DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio addressed the Batwoman controversy this weekend at Baltimore Comic-Con.

"Heroes shouldn't have happy personal lives," he said about why the comic book character's planned marriage was blocked. "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."

DC also announced that Marc Andreyko, an openly gay writer known for the series Manhunter, will take over the Batwoman comic book starting with Issue #25.

According to comic book news site Bleeding Cool, Williams and Blackman, who originally planned to leave the comic after Issue #26, had already written their own script for #25, which will be shelved to make way for Andreyko's debut on the series.

Original story: J.H. Williams III and W.H. Blackman, co-authors of the Batwoman comic book, announced today that they are leaving the title after citing interference from the DC Comics editorial board. They will be leaving the book after Issue #26, which ships in December.

Williams, who also draws the artwork for the series, said in a blog post that DC editors demanded last-minute changes to their storylines, including the marriage between Batwoman, a.k.a. Kate Kane, and her fiancée Maggie Smith. The two were engaged in Batwoman #17 back in February.

"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," wrote Williams.

"We were told to ditch plans for [villain] 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 our end."

When asked on Twitter, Williams later clarified that the decision not to show the wedding had nothing to do with the fact that the characters involved were gay.

The current incarnation of Batwoman made headlines when she was introduced in 2006's Series 52. A Jewish lesbian from a military family, the character of Kate Kane was forced to leave the U.S. Military Academy. The Independent called her debut "a pioneering storyline which came before America's controversial Don't Ask Don't Tell policy regarding homosexuals in the military was repealed."

Writer Greg Rucka wrote the 2010 Batwoman storyline in DC's Detective Comics, with Williams on art. The collected edition of the story, titled Elegy, won an Eisner Award nomination and a media award from GLAAD. 

460-batwoman-elegy-spread.jpgArtwork by J.H. Williams III from the Batwoman: Elegy series. (DC Comics)

Rucka left DC in 2010, and Williams took up co-writing duties as well as art, teaming with Blackman for Batwoman in 2012 as part of DC Comics's "New 52" reboot of all its major comic book titles.

This isn't the first comic book marriage DC has nixed in recent years. As part of its New 52 wiping away of previous storylines, Superman a.k.a. Clark Kent's marriage to Lois Lane was removed from continuity.

DC Comics responded on Twitter, saying that the decision not to marry Batwoman and Smith had nothing to do with their sexual orientation.

Comic book fans expressed their outrage at Williams and Blackman's departure, and thanked the creators directly for their work on Batwoman.

Several other writers and artists have left the company in the last few years, citing creative differences with editorial. Batgirl writer Gail Simone was removed from the comic in December, but hired back only two weeks later after massive fan backlash online.

Gay characters in comic books have been making headlines in recent years. Marvel's Northstar, part of Canadian superhero team Alpha Flight and the company's first openly gay character, married his boyfriend Kyle Kinadu last May. And Archie Comics' first openly gay character, Kevin Keller, was introduced in 2010 and sparked controversy in August with his first on-panel kiss scene.

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