Back in 2011, DC’s New52 had just started and, among their launching titles, there was the critically acclaimed title Batwoman. This was a huge deal because it was a book with an openly lesbian character as the lead. The book spent 17 issues building upon the relationship between Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer to the point that, at the very end of the book’s first over-arching storyline, Kate and Maggie became engaged to the acclaim of the fans.
In 2013 and months after the marriage had been green lighted, all of the sudden DC stepped back, the wedding was vetoed by editorial mandate and the creative team that had created one of the most acclaimed books in the entire New52 quit the project entirely out of anger. What had been a huge step forward for DC had, from day to night, become an example of the lack of commitment from publishers in having diversity in their books. And to make matters worse, DC tried to justify itself saying none of their heroes in the New52 were married with the exception of Animal Man, which was an issue in and of itself.
Cut to present day, Batgirl issue #45 has recurring character Alysia Yeoh (a trans woman introduced at the start of the New52) marrying her partner Jo (no relation with Jo from Lumberjanes) and this is treated by people, alongside Bombshells and Midnighter, as a sign of DC becoming more progressive in their stories and learning from the whole Batwoman Mess
Except it is not.
I want to make one thing clear: It is great to see a Trans character marrying in one of DC’s more mainstream books and it would be great to see more of Alysia and Jo. However, this doesn’t address what is and has always been the issue with the Batwoman controversy and the “No marriage” veto: DC refusing to have a Queer Hero in a healthy relationship.
The idea that heroes should not marry because of “responsibility” to their duties as heroes is in general a problematic one because it ignores the countless families that have to deal with similar situations in Real-Life: Firefighters, police officers, entire humanitarian groups such as Doctors without Borders, etc.
Real-Life heroes who, in a lot of cases, do have to find the balance between their families and their duties. However, it is specially problematic when it comes to Queer characters because, unlike your usual straight character, they are rarely the heroes of their own stories or are allowed to be shown in a happy relationship.
One of the fundamental elements that was present in Batwoman with it’s original creative team was the developing relationship between Kate and Maggie, their relationship was at the very core of the book, possibly even more so than the super heroics. That’s why the very last page of issue #17 was so effective: The story arc wasn’t really about Kate stopping all this monsters, it was about Kate opening fully to Maggie and them becoming part of each other’s lives. This, in turn, made DC’s back pedaling as well as the highly problematic storyline that happened after the original team had left all the more hurtful.
There is also something that I feel I should also point out, Alysia is not a Hero the same way Barbara or Kate are (she doesn’t dress as a bat to go fight bad guys), the veto DC did never applied to her to begin with. They are not backing from their previous comments, they are not acknowledging their mistake, They are still saying what they said then: Heroes are to remain single.
Yet i see people using this (alongside Bombshells having Kate and Maggie together and Midnighter having his own solo title), that this is a sign of DC learning from their mistake. Honestly, I don’t see it.
Bombshells? it is an out-of-continuity digital book, chances are the characters will never appear in the main DC Universe and will forever remain in their own little world.(and DC in the past has shown they care little for their digital titles. Ironically, this may be the reason why Bombshells and Injustice are such great books)
Midnighter? the character was forced into being single for this book. The exact same problem as with Batwoman.
People say this is a sign of DC becoming more progressive? I’m sorry, I still see the same company that, all of the sudden, claimed that Aquaman and Mera were never married. The mistake they did two years ago is yet to be addressed, and the only way to fix what happened back in 2013 is by fixing what happened in 2013.
It has been 2 years, 1 month and 24 days. Still waiting.
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