The relatively quiet reveal Wednesday [Feb. 20] in “Batwoman” No. 17 that the titular character proposed to her girlfriend marked a departure for DC Comics, which recently has utilized headline-grabbing shocks to boost its sales following its New 52 realignment.
[Updated 8 a.m. PST Feb. 28: DC has now reportedly dropped this type of branding for the month of April.]
Consider it convenient timing for DC, which has been subject to significant criticism for its decision to bring in vocally anti-gay writer Orson Scott-Card to write the upcoming “Adventures of Superman,” and who made a great deal about “Earth 2” Green Lantern Alan Scott being gay, before killing off his fiancé in the very first issue.
DC has in the past earned accolades from the gay community for its portrayal of Batwoman, winning two recent Outstanding Comic awards from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, but the decision to hire Card has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Fans by the thousands have protested, signing petitions against the “Ender’s Game” writer, and prominent comics writer Glen Weldon went so far as to promise that Card’s Superman will be the first Superman-related story that he’ll be missing in 45 years.
“As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself,” a DC spokesman told the Advocate earlier this month.
[Updated 10:01 a.m. Feb. 28: A DC representative reached by the Los Angeles Times declined to comment on this story.]
In looking at the Batwoman reveal, consider the difference between her presumably upcoming nuptials with Marvel’s announcement last year that Alpha Flight hero Northstar would be marrying his longtime partner. Headlining a major push from Marvel as the first same-sex marriage in the company’s history, the event picked up major media coverage, and was splashed across the cover of “Astonishing X-Men” No. 51.
And Archie Comics made headlines in 2011 when it announced that its first gay character, Kevin Keller, would be marrying his partner in “Life With Archie” No. 16.
It may be emblematic of shifting cultural standards given the overwhelming momentum toward acceptance of same-sex couples that the surprise in “Batwoman” doesn’t come as a press event or as a shock to fans. With 53% of Americans favoring same-sex marriage, and the Associated Press recently amending its style to acknowledge same-sex couples as husbands and wives, controversy that may have been kicked up just a few years ago is now largely moot.
[For the record, 10:12 a.m. Feb. 28: This post originally was published on Feb. 22 and was subsequently taken down. It is against Times policy to remove online articles from publication except in rare circumstances, so we have republished it as written Feb. 22 with the addition of two updates.]
– Morgan Little
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