Batwoman started out as just a character reintroduced into the DC mythos post-Crisis on Infinite Earths to basically make the DCU more diverse. I believe the conversation went something along the lines of:
“Hmmm, you know, we really don’t have any high profile gay characters…”
“Yeah, some people are probably angry about that.”
“Who could we make come out?”
“Nah, Nah, man, let’s just make a new character… but not a guy that’s too obvious.”
“Oh my gosh! You’re so right. How about a lesbian?”
“YEAH! A really hot lesbian with… with…”
“Red hair! That’s totally punk like lesbians!”
“Well what character, then?”
“Let’s push some buttons.”
“Oh fuck yeah, Batwoman.”
Hence the reason why Batwoman/Kate Kane’s first modern appearances in 52 were that of the lipstick lesbian variety.
Now, DC was wrong, but I believe they have corrected their mistake, and now even furthering the comic industry as a place of equal opportunity based upon skill, not to fulfill quotas.
Bringing Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III along was the most ingenious move ever. Rucka makes a career out of crafting strong, memorable, and remarkably all different, all unique female characters. Him and Williams morphed Kate Kane from the Lipstick Lesbian variety into the badass she is today where her sexuality isn’t the focus on her but an integral part of who she is like it should be to everyone. Williams commands so much respect for Batwoman and all of the other characters (male and female, etc.) showing them in realistic, fantastic, and positive portrayals. Hell, even the “bad” characters still have respect to them and aren’t demeaned.
However, Rucka announced last week that he was leaving DC. I was heart-broken thinking that now my Batwoman series was dead in the water. I rethought about the tail-end of the panel at ECCC for DC Nation where questions about a Batwoman series kept on being deflected by Ian Sattler because there was some tension there. Nevertheless, I’m glad that Rucka is making a choice that will please him as he continues to make astounding pieces of work (Stumptown is only two issues in and I love every one of them, my heart seriously pounds harder knowing when the next one comes out).
So, what to do now? That was the big question across the internet: is there any possibility for this amazing thing that has received such positive critical attention to continue in some form that will treat the character with just as much respect? And truly, I believe that if DC didn’t feel like they could put a series of equal or greater value on the market, they wouldn’t do it. However, I believe their announcements this morning proved that there is a team that can match the powerhouse that was Rucka/Williams.
Earlier this morning DC announced here about Williams staying with a Batwoman series as both writer and artist. He plans to continue to write the series while switching between arcs on art duties because, quite frankly, his immaculate style truly takes probably twice as long to produce as other comic artists. Along with Williams, Haden Blackman of Star Wars universe fame will co-write the book.
Now, not only is keeping one of the pioneer workers on for the ride for the headlining series an incredible accomplishment, the other artist who will switch off with Williams between arcs was also announced. Amy Reeder, known for her work on Vertigo’s Madame Xanadu, will take art duties for the book off and on to give Williams a break. In my opinion, this is a tremendous accomplishment on DC’s part. First of all, like any artist, Reeder has proven themselves on – what many might consider but I would beg to differ – a lesser title from a more independent (in terms of stories not financially since Vertigo is DC’s baby) publication company.
I believe that Reeder’s slightly manga influenced style counters Williams just enough to make it identifiable and separated in its own right, but it’s also very apparent how similar their styles of frame composition work.
I’m reveling in this announcement because, in similarity to the comment before, this shows that DC is not just trying to fill a quota of women in the industry. They’re not bumping up Reeder because she ascribes to the female gender. No, they’re giving her this project because she’s so goddamn good and deserves the opportunity.
Unlike Marvel’s similar summer (mini)series such as Her-alds or Girl Comics to celebrate She-Hulk’s whatever whatever anniversary, this position isn’t to fulfill some lack of women in the comic industry and a stab to right wrongs and showcase women who just happen to like, write, and illustrate comics. This is not a showcase for a woman who can do comics, but this is a job given to a professional who has earned it. It doesn’t matter whether or not Reeder is female or male or transgender or whatever; what matters is that she’s so talented and she will continue to portray Batwoman with the respect, fairness, and unique sensibility that Rucka and Williams so delicately constructed.
I was scared at Rucka’s departure, but I can honestly say that DC is doing something that Marvel isn’t, and that’s considering artists (writers, illustrators, pencillers, inkers, colorists) for their talent and not their gender.
Thank god one of the big two is finally getting it.
As a note to any counter-arguments:
– Yes, I understand that DC is still at fault for many ill portrayals of women and for often appearing to fulfill quotas either through their characters or employees. Nevertheless, I believe that they are, at least for Batwoman, taking a gigantic step in the right direction.
– Greg Rucka has a giant fan-base, and I’m sad to see him leave DC. Nevertheless, I believe that with this line-up of talent, the Batwoman series will be just as good as before, if not better. Also, consider this interview that CBR did today with J.H. Williams III and his plans for the series. You can really tell that he respects Rucka’s work incredibly and will not purposely go around stomping on Rucka’s plans.
– I understand that at least Marvel is doing something. To me, it feels a little exploitative and a way to give them an out if sales flounder for continuing to depict women unfairly. Nevertheless, doing anything (even if it seems like some sort of affirmative action) is important.