The devastating and often jaw dropping DC Comics news items for Sept. 6th - 8th, 2013! For the record, the formation of DC Entertainment to better merge DC Comics with related media adaptations and merchandise turns four years old this month.
Williams III & Haden Blackman flee "Batwoman"; Andreyko replaces them!
Since the "New 52" era began on August 31st, 2011, DC Comics has seen no end of awkward if not downright embarrassing creative team changes to a slew of titles - many of whom got nasty in social media announcements. While taken in isolation they may seem like the cost of doing business with the second of the "big two" comic book publishers owned by a giant corporation, but make a list of them and it can seem rather damning. This includes multiple instances of creators being axed before their first issue goes to print, or via email, or more often than not due to oppressive editorial interference or mismanagement. Even longtime DC Comics stalwarts like Rob Liefield, George Perez, and Kevin Maguire, who was tossed from "Justice League 3000" just last month (delaying its debut by at least two months). As the weekend loomed, J.H. Williams III as well as W. Haden Blackman noted on their respective websites that they would be leaving writing and art duties on "Batwoman" immediately, with the intention "Batwoman #26" would be their last.
The current incarnation of Batwoman, Kate Kane, is an openly gay heroine and the first to star in her own ongoing series at DC Comics. While the character appeared as a regular feature in "Detective Comics" since 2006, plans for her to have her own ongoing series began in 2010, and it finally debuted in 2011 with the rest of the "New 52" launches. The two cited that the final stumbling block was DC Comics' editors refusing to allow Kate to marry her fiancé, Maggie Sawyer, who she proposed to very recently. Word that a character heralded by the LGBT community whose publication earned DC Comics several GLAAD nominations played out quite poorly online, from the Beat to the Mary Sue to even the NY Daily News blog. To their credit, DC brass as well as Williams III and Blackman themselves note that this wasn't a case of DC Comics being biased about LGBT heroes and refusing a "gay marriage" story - they're simply against the marriage of any of their superheroes, period. This stance has gotten so extreme that Dan DiDio even went as far as to note at this weekend's Baltimore Comic Con that not even Aquaman and Mera are married; despite her often considered the "queen of Atlantis" alongside Aquaman in virtually every other description in Maxim or Amazon, or even DC Comics' own website. With the start of the "New 52" from August 2011, virtually all of the major DC marriages were broken up (Lois and Clark, Barry and Iris) or never existed (Wally and Linda).
DC Comics brass essentially said, "don't let the door hit you on the way out" with the speed with which a replacement writer on "Batwoman" was announced. At the aforementioned Baltimore Comics Con, writer Marc Andreyko was announced as taking over the series from Williams III and Blackman. Openly gay, he is best known for writing "Manhunter" for DC Comics from 2004-2009, which starred the Kate Spencer incarnation of the mantle. Apparently Andreyko will be taking over sooner than the outgoing creators anticipated; originally assuming they'd have the comic at least until issue twenty-six, it's since been revealed that Andreyko will take over as of "Batwoman #25"; possibly leaving the most anticipated "Batwoman vs. Batman" subplot on a cliffhanger. There will be a zero issue offered between the runs, which means "Batwoman" will have had 2-3 "zero issues" in just three years.
While the incoming creator is well liked and DC's stance wasn't intended to seem bigoted, this has been a public relations disaster to say the least - on a week where the company was beginning their much heralded "Villains Month" crossover. Much as when "One More Day" destroyed Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane of twenty years over at Marvel Comics in 2007, it sets the unfortunate truth that romantic subplots won't be allowed to reach a non-violent or positive conclusion, which limits options considerably. The fact that it makes DC Comics appear "anti-gay" across the web, even unintentionally, in an era where Marvel drew headlines with a gay wedding in "Astonishing X-Men" or Archie Comics embracing a gay character in Kevin Keller or marriage in the "Life with Archie" magazine, seems to imply something going off the rails in the back offices. While the schemes of new editor-in-chief Bob "Bankruptcy" Harris have worked in the short term, in the long term DC Comics is not looking healthy at all.
Artists asked to draw a suicide for "Harley Quinn" contest!
In another DC Comics marketing disaster, an effort to draw in new talent as well as promote a relaunch of a solo "Harley Quinn" series by hit creators Jimmy Palmiotti and Nicola Scott has gone horribly wrong. While a regular artist for the series has been found in Chad Hardin, DC Comics' main website offered a contest until October 1st for fledgling artists to be published in November. Included was a request for a four panel page for applying artists to draw, which includes a final panel which sees "Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all". Her suicide in the panel is said to be "inevitable" and "she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen".
Perhaps intended as dark comedy, it nevertheless is another example of the tone deafness of someone in an editorial department. Websites from Jezebel to IGN were shocked and appalled. Co-publisher Jim Lee had to all but publish a free art lecture on Twitter to answer criticisms of it. Wouldn't it have been easier to have taken a look at all the panels being tasked to novice artists for a public contest and make sure there were no scenes which could be in any way controversial in them? Ben Franklin, one of America's first major printers, noted: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".