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Batwoman and Green Lantern Could’ve Been LGBT Pioneers, and DC Doesn’t Care

In recent years there has been an influx of gay and lesbian presence in the comic industry. From the outside looking in, it would seem that DC Comics in particular is making a sincere effort to give equal and fair representation to the LGBT community. There is no question that this new-found effort is consorted, and in response to much uproar of prior under-and-non representation of gay people in comics.

It is a long upheld myth that only straight white men read comic books. It is also a fact that since the industry has begun diversification that comic book sales are better than they’ve ever been. But that doesn’t mean that the characters and story lines Marvel and DC are creating do justice to the communities they so eagerly claim to represent.

To the reader who is part of minority demographics,or who is a simple supporter of their causes, need not look too deeply to see that the industry is not truly representing the interests of any special interest group, particularly that of the LGBT community. DC has been willing to sacrifice some brilliant creators in order to maintain a status quo, despite a rapidly changing world around them and to the detriment of some fantastic characters, namely Batwoman and The Green Lantern.

A Brief History of Batwoman: There are SPOILERS below.

“There’s only one Batman! That’s been said many times and has always been true, for no other man has ever rivaled Batman as a champion of the law, nor matched his superb acrobatic skill, his scientific keenness, his mastery of disguise and detective skill! But now, in one suspenseful surprise after another, Batman finds he has a great rival in the mysterious and glamorous girl… The Batwoman!” -Hamilton, Edmond (1956), The BatwomanDetective Comics #233

When Batwoman was first realized as a member of the Bat-family, she was imagined as a love interest to combat allegations of Batman’s homosexuality in the 50’s. This was all made necessary thanks to Seduction of the Innocent and it’s anti-pop culture propaganda. It’s interesting to realize that Batwoman from square one’s sole purpose was to pacify negative connotations associated with sexual inequality.

She’s always Katherine Kane, wealthy daughter, struck by unimaginable family tragedy. She is always a woman who is driven to fight crime in the shadows, much like Bruce Wayne. In both Detective Comics and in the New 52 Batwoman lives up to her name in a long and proud bat-legacy. In the 60’s Batwoman alongside many other lower level heroes was stricken from canon. Kate Kane as Batwoman wasn’t mentioned again until decades later, when DC’s next bout for diversifying their material surfaced.

The reemergence of Batwoman took place in the midst of Infinite Crisis in 2006, and it was then that DC took it upon themselves to brand Kate Kane as a lesbian. With the help of J.H. Williams III, a talented writer who has handled Batwoman‘s art and writing with the utmost care, DC delivered a potent political message through Batwoman’s comics. But this political powerhouse didn’t last long, because in September of 2013 Williams and his creative team have walked off of Batwoman citing that DC Comics would not allow Miss Kane to marry her long time lover and soul-mate, Maggie Sawyer.

To add more insult to this injury, the press barely touched the matter, but then rejoiced when an infantilized Batgirl was re-imagined and promised “There will, in fact, be MORE LGBT characters than ever before.” This is despite Babs leaving behind a now popular transgender roommate, Alysia Yeoh. To any equal-rights advocate and avid comic reader who follows the Gotham City Caped Crusaders the sentiment is nauseating, transparent, and insincere.

Source: GeeksofDoom

Source: GeeksofDoom

Brief History of Earth 2 Green Lantern:

Alan Scott is not originally the Green Lantern of Earth 2. No, Alan Scott was originally the first Green Lantern, created in the ’40s. Because of this rich and invested history, the news of Alan Scott being a gay character in Earth 2 was not met without some understandable controversy.

Due to his deep running history in DC Comics, Alan Scott’s newly announced sexuality was a blow to fans who cared about him and his long-standing marriages to Rose Canton, and then Molly Mayne. This isn’t so much homophobic as it is similar to the backlash felt by Lois Lane being nixed for Wonder Woman in the New 52’s Justice League story line. There is almost always negative backlash when a developed character is drastically changed, for better or for worse.

On Earth 2, Alan Scott is an openly gay entrepreneur and public figure. From Issue #1 Scott is established as a man with strong character. He dedicates his life’s work to the heroes who died in the fight against Darkseid. After a tragic crash while taking a break from business in China the train Alan and his (almost) fiancé, Sam Zhao, are on crashes. Nearly every passenger dies and the casualties include Sam.

While on the brink of death, The Green comes to Alan Scott in the form of a flame. Scott accepted his destiny as the hero of Earth, and became the Green Lantern, using the ring he was to propose to Sam with to wield its supernatural powers.

The Controversy: There are SPOILERS below.

To clarify, J.H. Williams did not come out and say that DC is against gay marriage. What happened in a spectacle of PR acrobatics was Williams and W. Haden Blackman wished to show the nuptials of Kate Kane and her fiancé. When they were told it wasn’t going to ever happen they quit. This is a huge loss to DC because not only was Batwoman one of the best drawn comics due to Williams’ cross panel and distinctive art styles, but even after he was replaced as the artist, Williams and Blackman continued to write some of the best and most suspenseful Batman related stories in the New 52.

“Unfortunately, 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 […] 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.” -Blackman and Williams

Comic readers did lament the departure of the Williams and Blackman. There was even some coverage on some legitimate websites, however, the fire died quickly. Batwoman has been taken over by a new team, and whether or not they’ve lived up to the now legacy of Batwoman left behind by the two talents is in the eyes of the beholder. To say they’ve set the bar high would be a gross understatement indeed.

Although this is the first cited instance where writers have left DC Comics at the altar, so-to-speak, because of gay rights, this isn’t the first time DC has cleverly avoided showing a gay wedding. The New 52 was a breeding ground for retconning old gay characters and then reintroducing old characters as gay. One example of a gay character who was ill received came from Earth 2‘s Green Lantern, Alan Scott.

Scott prior to New 52 had a beloved marriage, which has stood the test of time for decades, and a gay son who no longer exists in New 52 canon. In his origin as the Green Lantern, Alan Scott’s Asian lover becomes engaged to him, and then is immediately killed off. As a result, Alan Scott is chosen as a Green Lantern to defeat an evil power, The Rot, and the deceased fiance’s engagement ring is used as an instrument for the Lantern’s powers.

It matters more that Kate Kane can marry than that Batgirl goes to college with an LGBT community. It would have been just, as if not more significant, if  Alan Scott would have lost his husband rather than his fiancé. We advocates for equal rights are not fighting so much for the presence of gender and sexual orientation in media as much as we are fighting for wide and total acceptance of equal rights.

To deny Kate Kane or Alan Scott their walk down the aisle is a cop-out on the part of DC. This is especially true of Batwoman who had a reputation for being honest and true to the world. This was built into her origin since her Detective Comics days, when she was kicked out of West Point under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. DC squashed this Batwoman reputation at the cost of an astounding team, who refused to compromise Katherine Kane’s integrity, and what Batwoman has stood for to a grossly underrepresented community.

Source: shehulk.sliverofice.com

Source: shehulk.sliverofice.com

What this means to Equal Rights:

This means that DC is trying to play both sides of the fence. They will give LGBT people a presence, but even in their make-believe multiverse they will not give LGBT men and women equal rights. They continue to push superficial stereotypes, outfits, and character traits onto readers without actually effecting complete positive and authentic character life changes. This is within their power, and it should be authentic to their already incredible bisexual, gay, and lesbian characters.

DC Comics is not introducing a new LGBT representation in Batgirl, or in whatever incarnation of a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans character they invent and rewrite. There already was an LGBT presence in their universe. DC will continue playing musical chairs with the idea, shifting the heat from one second-tier character to another, in order to never fully develop these romances and personalities. However, attempting to keep everyone at bay won’t do the publisher good for long. As mentioned before times are changing, and the creative geniuses they want to hire will not continue to make timid work, and compromise their own visions, for very much longer. Marvel gets this. The world is changing, and thankfully so. Because the time is long past due for this issue to not be an issue at all.

Cover Image Source: Comic Vine

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Categories: Comics, Editorials and Ramblings

Author:Paige Six

Blogger at coiledrose.wordpress.com. The Product Manager & Chief Operating Officer over at Another Castle. A Writer & Editor for Ladies of the Roundtable. Contributor to Aggressive Comix, Attack of the Fanboy, and so many more!

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4 Comments on “Batwoman and Green Lantern Could’ve Been LGBT Pioneers, and DC Doesn’t Care”

  1. 08/22/2014 at 4:54 PM #

    Reblogged this on Coiled 薔薇 Rose and commented:

    This piece is one I’m very proud of, and it shares with it a message that is dear to my heart, as a comic reader and as an advocate .
    I hope you and everyone else enjoy. Please, I encourage you to share if you agree.

  2. 08/23/2014 at 5:29 AM #

    Way to raise the bar for research, dedication and quality to blogging about serious issues =]

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