Gail Simone has a new blog post up today, in which the fan favorite writer and real life superhero shares some thoughts on the marriage controversy that spun out of the departure of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman from Batwoman two weeks ago. You know the one. We wrote about it. The entire blogosphere did, for a week straight. Oh ok, fine, we'll go over it again.
Williams and Blackman left the book, citing constant, last minute editorial interference, a common gripe amongst former DC employees. One of the instances of editorial interference put forth as an example was the decision to not allow Batwoman Kate Kane to marry her love interest, Maggie Sawyer. Many media outlets, including very major ones, jumped all over this as "DC is against gay marriage," but the company (and Williams) quickly responded that it was the marriage part, not the gay part, that DC took issue with. You see, DC feels that their characters can't have happy lives, as that doesn't make for good grim and gritty, angst-ridden, nineties-style storytelling.
And fair enough. We believe them. Hell, they went so far as to editorially mandate that Aquaman, king of fish (or something), is not married to his queen, Mera, even though, you know, they're king and queen (of fish), which usually implies an official union. Maybe they play things fast and loose down in Atlantis, and just getting to third base with the king (or queen) automatically makes you the queen (or king) (of fish).
Marriage, gay marriage, none of that was really the issue in the first place. We know DC has absolutely no problem using gay characters to generate publicity to sell comics. It's a valuable tool, like 3D covers and crossover events, which they're more than happy to sexploit if it'll get them a writeup in USA Today. No, the issue is what it's always been: editorial interference so egregious that it drives creators to publicly abandon DC and badmouth them in public at unprecedented levels.
People are still focusing on the marriage thing, though, and that's what Simone is addressing here (and it's her blog, so who are you to complain?). There are two specific issues Simone addresses. One is that Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) and Dinah Lance (Black Canary) were never, to the best of her knowledge, going to be a couple. Apparently people have been saying that Simone planned this romance back when she was writing Birds of Prey, and DC stopped it, but Simone says that's just not true.
Secondly, she says that she had proposed a same sex marriage in Wonder Woman back in the day, between Hippolyta and Phillipus, and that Dan Didio himself approved it. This was three to five years ago, when including a gay marriage would have been more controversial. The only reason it never happened is that Simone left the creative team before she got a chance to write it. Simone doesn't draw any conclusions here (an earlier version of this article incorrectly made that assumption). It's just a related example that shows that, at least at one point in time, DC was okay with a gay marriage.
But that may not even matter. If we've learned anything from all of this, it's that just because DC approves a story at one point in time does not mean it will actually make it to print. Getting plans approved by DC Editorial is a lot like going on a date with a werewolf during the full moon: they could change at any moment, and when they do, things are likely to get hairy (okay, we're not proud of that joke). More to the point, the very fact that people are so ready to believe DC has an anti-gay agenda, despite the company featuring gay and transgender characters in books, is because DC is just so bad at public relations, as evidenced by things like this whole hullabaloo, or the hiring of prominent and outspoken gay rights opponent Orson Scott Card to write a high profile Superman story. It's not misinformation that leads people to conclude that DC might be homophobic. It's DC's tone deafness, their seeming inability to keep their foot out of their mouth, that leads people to believe this narrative.
And that's too bad, because DC's public misfortune frequently overshadows their actual comics, a situation which is good for no one, except, perhaps, sensational comic book blogs (hi there!).
So maybe what DC should do is put Simone in charge of PR, because her style of direct and open communication with about this stuff is how DC should address all their publicity disasters, instead of blaming the fans and social media and resorting to dubious corporate double-speak about fish people.