Sep 06 2013

Williams and Blackman exit ‘Batwoman’ over editorial decisions

J.H. Williams III - Batwoman

J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman have announced that they will exit Batwoman after issue #26, citing last-minute “editorial decisions” as the cause of their frustration. One of the more publicised changes was DC Comics’ decision to disallow the lead character Kate Kane to marry her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer “after a year or more of planning and plotting”.

Williams is not the first person to leave the title, with Greg Rucka walking several years before, along with a number of other high-profile departures from various DC Comics titles since the start of the New 52 in 2011. Williams and Black issued twin statement via their websites, going into detail about some of the other changes that DC wanted to make to the book at the last minute.

Dear Batwoman readers –

From the moment DC asked us to write Batwoman — a dream project for both of us — we were committed to the unofficial tagline “No Status Quo.” We felt that the series and characters should always be moving forward, to keep changing and evolving. In order to live up to our mantra and ensure that each arc took Batwoman in new directions, we carefully planned plotlines and story beats for at least the first five arcs well before we ever wrote a single issue. We’ve been executing on that plan ever since, making changes whenever we’ve come up with a better idea, but in general remaining consistent to our core vision.

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.

We’ve always understood that, as much as we love the character, Batwoman ultimately belongs to DC. However, the eleventh-hour nature of these changes left us frustrated and angry — because they prevent us from telling the best stories we can. So, after a lot of soul-searching, we’ve decided to leave the book after Issue 26.

Williams later took to Twitter to clarify this position: “Not wanting to be inflammatory, only factual- We fought to get them engaged, but were told emphatically no marriage can result. But must clarify- was never put to us as being anti-gay marriage.”

DC clarified this position on social media, stating “As acknowledged by the creators involved, the editorial differences with the writers of BATWOMAN had nothing to do with the character’s sexual orientation”.

Given that both parties have gone to the trouble of stating as much, it is worth emphasising that the repeated cry in the media of this banning of a “gay marriage” is not the core issue. Indeed, there is apparently a wider ban on marriages in the DCU, with pre-Flashpoint unions no longer holding any currency. The editorial decision on the GLAAD Award-winning book is unfortunate, especially given that DC already blew up Alan Scott’s boyfriend in Earth 2 as he was proposing, and both Marvel and Archie Comics have allowed openly gay marriages in their books.

More troubling is the repeated cries we are hearing of DC editorial’s treatment of creators.Indeed, Williams and Haden’s statements are almost identical to those of Rob Liefeld, who said on his own departure from several titles at DC last year that his “reasons are the same as everyone’s that you hear. I lasted a few months longer than I thought possible. Massive indecision, last minute and I mean LAST minute changes that alter everything.

The legendary George Perez cited similar problems after only a few issues of Superman: “I had to kept rewriting things because another person changed their mind, and that was a lot tougher.”

Earlier this year, Paul Jenkins departed the company, stating that DC “have created a culture of dishonesty that affects too many creators. And the worst part of all is that they bully their creators. They tried to bully me, and I told them to go to Hell“.

Williams also stated that this wouldn’t impact his upcoming work with Neil Gaiman on Sandman: Overture. When asked on Twitter if he was still involved with that project, he replied: “Absolutely yes. This problem has nothing to do with anything involving Sandman or Vertigo.”

Batwoman #26 is released in December by DC Comics.