Comics and progress are not exactly two words that go together in the minds of the non-geeky public but for those of us immersed in the world of capes and masks, we’ve known for decades that comic books are far deeper and nuanced than their colorful protagonists seem at first blush.
Take Peter Parker and the Hulk. Two scrawny nerds that gain amazing and incredible powers. The former learns that his power comes with a heavy price and the latter blindly lashes out at the world. Both were bullied and went in polar opposite directions on how to respond.
The X-Men are a thinly veiled metaphor for racism and intolerance as mutants are treated as second class citizens to the point of regularly being hunted and killed.
The Avengers tackled the issue of domestic violence. She-Hulk dealt, however briefly, with date rape. Etc. Etc.
Comic book have taken on social issues with a finesse that beggars their supposedly “low brow” appeal. But the previous examples are all Marvel comic books. DC comics, on the other hand, has a somewhat messier relation with progress. And that’s not even counting their hiring of notorious bigot and all around right-wing freak Orson Scott Card to write Superman.
In their latest attempt to piss off comic fans far and wide, DC has forbidden one of their major characters, Batwoman, from marrying her partner. Sure, it was OK for her to be a lesbian but married?! Apparently that’s just one leap over a tall building too many:
J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman have announced they’ll be leaving as the editorial team on Batwoman, citing DC’s editorial interference and in particular, the publisher’s refusal to allow characters Kate Kane/Batwoman and her partner Gotham City police officer Maggie Sawyer marry each other.
That’s right, 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.
This is incredibly disappointing. Even more so because DC also published The Sandman under the “M for Mature” Vertigo label, a set of comics tangentially a part of the greater DC universe. Sandman stands as one of the greatest works of storytelling in our times and was progressive in almost every facet. In light of this, it’s clear that the powers that be at DC do not think a younger audience is ready for something as radical as a same-sex marriage. I believe they are grossly underestimating their audience. Children have to be taught to hate and in the absence of that teaching, they are open to the new and different. If they can handle aliens, demons, gods, other universes, death, resurrection and Howard the Duck (I know he’s not DC), they can handle two people in love getting married regardless of their gender.