J.H. Williams III to Leave Batwoman

batwoman1_c01by Aaron Einhorn
Since the reintroduction of Kate Kane into the DC Universe back in 2010, she has been one of my favorite members of the Bat-family. She debuted in 52 #7, and then took over the flagship Batman-title, Detective Comics starting with #854 and running through the events of the Battle for the Cowl.

After she left Detective Comics, Batwoman ended up in several miniseries which focused on her and her girlfriend, Rene Montoya (The Question), and even survived as one of the flagship titles in The New 52, making her easily the most high-profile LGBT character in DC Comics, and possibly in all comics currently published by the Big Two.

And for almost all of that time, she has been carefully shepherded by J.H. Williams III, along with such notable collaborators as Greg Rucka, W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder. And she’s been handled masterfully.

To begin with, Williams’ art is among the finest in comics today. I will freely admit that while I read a lot of comics, I’m not actually a fan of the medium. I would far prefer to read more superhero novels than to read more comics. I like superheroes, not comics – comics are simply the easiest way for me to get my fix. So, I will rarely read a comic I don’t enjoy just because the art is good. Bad art can keep me away from a book with a good story, but good art won’t bring me to a book whose story I can’t get into.

(Which, yes, is the reason I never really bought in to the early Image Comics revolution.)

Williams’ art on the other hand, is that good. I would have bought Elegy even with not enjoying the story, because the art is so beautifully done. Fortunately, I didn’t have to.

It would have been easy to make Batwoman derivative, or simply a stereotype. Rucka, Williams, Blackman and Reeder have not done that. They have given her a good set of motivations, distinct from those of Batman and his Bat-family. They have elaborated on her backstory and supporting cast, even when the insanity of the New 52 reboot took away Rene’s secret identity and totally borked Flamebird’s history. The series has even taken us to the point where Kate has proposed to Maggie Sawyer (as of Issue #17). They’ve given her a unique and intriguing Rogue’s gallery (Alice is every bit as fascinating as the Joker at his best), and all in all, they have made Batwoman an awesome and incredible character.

Now, I’m not a fan of the New 52. Before the New 52, I read about 25 DC Comics titles a month. When they announced the New 52, I gave well over half of the titles of the New 52 a try, and I am now done to reading six titles.
Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Earth-2, World’s Finest and Batwoman.

I’ve been ready to drop the three Green Lantern titles ever since Geoff Johns left the Lantern family, and I think once they finish the “Light’s Out” storyline, I’m going to be done. Similarly, when James Robinson left Earth-2, that threw up warning signs for me, and while I haven’t dropped the book yet, I think it may be happening soon.

But Batwoman? I was still in love with Batwoman.

And then this and this happened on J.H. Williams III’s and W. Haden Blackman’s blogs.

For those of you who don’t feel like following the link, the important snipped of their statement is as follows:

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.

This is the cover to Batwoman #25, so, not quite the final issue.

This is the cover to Batwoman #25, so, not quite the final issue.

To put it mildly, I am extremely saddened by this news. Saddened, but not disappointed. DC’s editorial board has been consistently inconsistent over the past few years, and this has shown in the pages of every single comic, in the interviews and online activity of the creators and in the plans for films and television shows based on their creations.

I’m kind of heartbroken here. I love the DC Comics characters. My first superhero costume was Superman and my third was Batman and I’ve now added Superman Blue (yes, from the crazy nineties storyline) to my line-up. I own a Green Lantern sterling silver ring, and all of the promo rings. And Justice League Unlimited remains one of my all-time favorite cartoons.

But each and every move from the New 52 has served to remind me that these are no longer the characters I knew and loved. As of Batwoman #27, I will be dropping the title – and I think I’ll finally be dropping the Lantern family books as well.

I understand that DC is trying to revitalize and excite readers about their characters, and I sincerely wish them success in that, but I cannot help but feel that they no longer care about the interest of fans like me. Meanwhile, Marvel is taking just as many creative chances, and giving me characters and stories I enjoy reading, and really enjoy seeing on film.

Regardless, I would like to thank Williams, Blackman, Reeder, Rucka and all the others who have given the new version of Kate Kane life. DC Comics may own the rights to the character, but you fine people have the rights to her soul.

Comments

  1. That pretty much sums my thoughts up too.

    I already stopped reading DC, but I tried to keep up with Batwoman because it was one of the few genuinely interesting and innovative things going on at DC.

  2. This is heartbreaking. I don’t know what else to say.

  3. Okay, I DO know what else to day. It hurts me that all those potential stories and that beautiful art have been lost because of editorial screwing around. It hurts extra that it’s killing one of the strongest female-led books in mainstream superhero comics, a book that I would have recommended to even non-comics fans who want to see strong female characters – and the high quality that this medium can accomplish.

    Out of the New 52 gal-centric comics, this was the strongest. Batgirl and Birds of Prey have been disappointingly uneven. ARGH!

    • It absolutely was. And based on how uneven Batgirl has been, compared to Gail Simone’s previous work on Birds of Prey and Secret Six, I can only assume that they are jerking her around just as much.

      I couldn’t even stick with BoP past issue 4.

      • We thought Swierczynski’s New 52 Birds of Prey started strong but then tumbled across the countryside in a huge ball of flames.

        An argument can be made that Simone is weaker on solo books than team books, but I could NOT get over Batgirl’s mini-freakout when someone pointed a gun in the direction of her body during a fight early on. It was so campy. We didn’t get past the first trade.

        Then with Judd Winick and Guillem March destroying Catwoman, what was left? So sad.