Funnybook Babylon

February 26, 2008

Why Do People Say There’s Nothing Interesting About Batwoman?

Filed under: Blurbs — David Uzumeri @ 1:06 pm

9122566.jpgI’ve been embroiled in a discussion on another blog regarding DC’s attitudes towards lesbians and the continuing vaporware of the Batwoman book, which is rapidly becoming the comics industry’s Duke Nukem Forever. The one thing I keep hearing, all the time, is that Batwoman is boring, that she’s a cipher, that she has no personality, that there’s no good reason anyone would want to read a comic about her.

I also hear, fairly regularly, the cynical observation that she only exists as a Bat-character to push a lesbian agenda; or that her sexuality is the sum total of her character.

Now, I don’t know what conspiracy of forces have left us going until May 2008 without a Batwoman comic. I don’t know what happened to Devin Grayson and Dustin Nguyen’s pitch; I don’t know why it was rejected; it’s a shame that the badly-kept-secret new iteration of the book is still on the production table. But from what we saw of her in 52 and now in Crime Bible, it’s pretty damn clear that DC knows her background and what they’re doing with her. First of all, we already saw the source of the guilt and fortune that led her to become Batwoman: guns. The Kane fortune is from the firearms industry over a long period of time. I don’t know what the catalyst was, but a detail like that is clearly related to her mission.

Secondly, though, and most interestingly, are the possibilities that the character’s social status and sexuality provide to the writer regarding the extension of the classic secret identity trope, because Kate Kane has two separate secret identities. Her public face, that of billionaire heiress Kate Kane, is, as far as I can tell, basically a better-behaved Paris Hilton – similar to Bruce Wayne’s public face. Then, there are the people in her private life who know of her sexual orientation, which is kept secret from the public. Then there are the people who think she’s straight, but know she rolls around in a fetish suit and dropkicks gangstas in the wee hours of the morning. Then, only past those two secrets, do you have any idea who Kate Kane actually is.

This could lead to all kinds of interesting drama attacking the secret identity theme from new angles, as well as a fascinating if complex web of supporting characters. To say there’s no reason for this book to be published, or that if it was it would have nothing to offer other than ass shots and fetish references, is just sad and cynical and unfortunately symptomatic of the comics fanbase today.

Just a thought.

24 Comments »

  1. I’d like to read your version of that title. But the question never really was whether someone could write a good Batwoman title, it’s whether the failure to publish the title is an injustice. An injustice that can only be explained by homophobia and misogyny.

    The only reason that people are arguing that the character is a cipher is that others have boldly stated that Batwoman is an icon, and that she is so inherently interesting that no rational company would fail to publish a title that prominently featured her.

    Now, I agree with you in part. Rucka did set the stage for the ‘multiple secret identities’ theme, and began to lay the groundwork for her motivations. If a good title comes from that, it’ll be cool. If not, then it won’t. We both know how often those kinds of things happen. An interesting supporting character has been introduced, and could potentially support a title of their own. For a million reasons, some good, some bad, the company declines to publish a title featuring said character. This happens all the time.

    I still don’t see the reason that anyone should care about this. And the notion that publishing a title featuring a character that represents the version of homosexuality that the mainstream is most comfortable with will be a step forward is insulting. A more cynical reader than I would wonder whether this argument is even being made in good faith by some of the people advancing it.

    Comment by Jamaal Thomas — February 26, 2008 @ 1:35 pm

  2. I’d argue with this bit:
    An injustice that can only be explained by homophobia and misogyny.

    since I’m extremely wary of assigning motivations to creators/companies like that. No one at DC has given a reason for the delay, and there are plenty of reasons that the book could have been delayed. Maybe Grayson burned a bridge with her editor. Maybe her plans didn’t fit into the plans for the DCU.

    I think that Rucka and JHW3 being on the book (and come on, we know they are) is a good sign, and the reason for the delay is probably just that JHW3 isn’t a fast artist. They’re getting as many issues as possible in the can before soliciting.

    Dark Knight drops in late July. That means we’ve got two more solicits to see before it’ll be announced.

    Comment by David Brothers — February 26, 2008 @ 1:59 pm

  3. I read it as Jamaal being sarcastic as hell.

    As for what the question was, that was Val’s question, yeah, but a few responders, including Kevin Huxford, were basically dumping all over the concept of a Batwoman ongoing, saying there was no point to doing it and nobody would want to read it and it’s just there to be the Lesbian Book. I’m saying that’s not necessarily the case.

    As for why Grayson was removed from the book – man, who knows. I loved Gotham Knights but the sections of her prose novel I read were just creepy. If, as some suggest, we’re trying to take the personal lives of the writers totally out of the equation, then I guess Rucka just had a better pitch or something. I dunno. But I find it really, really hard to believe it was for any reason other than storytelling. The book’s current delay, yeah, that could be WB cold feet. But whatever happened with Devin Grayson was probably because of the script, or continuity issues, or just a philosophical difference, rather than DC being uncomfortable having a bisexual woman write about a lesbian.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — February 26, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

  4. What chafes me is that the character was clearly used by DC upon her debut to churn the PR mill; that since then rumors and comments about some kind of ongoing or miniseries have floated about; and yet nothing substantial has come of them.

    I take the point that “lots of characters like this are introduced, all the time, and don’t get their own miniseries or title,” but then again, there weren’t New York Times stories about Geist back in the day (and yes, I had to use Wikipedia to even remember one of the characters introduced in Bloodlines).

    I would never say all this amounts to homophobia or misogyny, but it’s at the very least odd, and a bit stupid–I get the sense that if this were Marvel and the character were Spider-Woman, we’d have our miniseries if not an ongoing already.

    Comment by Matt — February 26, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

  5. David,

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. I was just trying to restate the question to include all of the assumptions that this idea’s defenders seem to be making.

    Matt,

    I feel like the mainstream attention is kind of besides the point. It’s always nice when the media pays attention to our little corner of the entertainment industry, but I don’t know if a company should be approving (or disapproving) pitches based on it.

    Dave,

    I see your point.

    Comment by Jamaal Thomas — February 26, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

  6. When you really get down to it, Kate Kane is a lesbian because Renee Montoya needed a compelling reason to interact with her in 52. Since she’s only been in 52 and Crime Bible, she can seem like a cipher if you don’t look past the lesbian angle. You gotta see the ex-lover angle where the lion share of what development she got went.

    Comment by HitTheTargets — February 27, 2008 @ 1:48 am

  7. Matt, keep in mind we’ve been promised a Bendis/ Maleev Spider-Woman book for three years now.

    I tend to agree that Batwoman is currently a cypher, largely because Rucka hasn’t gotten to tell the story that makes her into something other than a cypher – yet. I do believe we’ll see the remored Rucka/ JHWIII series at some point.

    Comment by matches — February 27, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

  8. I guess all I’m saying is that the mainstream attention, which seemed deliberately solicited by DC for this character to boost 52, makes the creation of the character smack of exploitation, and combined with the lack of any follow-up attempt to explore her character, seems a bit shameless to me.

    I don’t think they should be approving or not approving Batwoman pitches because she got a lot of media attention–I think they should have the guts to explore this perfectly usable character further in some fashion, instead of retreating behind the skirts of their Corporate Overlords, which is what they HAVE to be doing, even if they could never come out and actually say so.

    Comment by Matt — February 28, 2008 @ 12:34 pm

  9. Part of the PR mill since her debut?

    She was a PR gimmick before she even hit the book, which is one of the strongest examples of DC handling this character wrong.

    But to imply, like others have, that the Grayson pitch got canned because Grayson is bisexual or her pitch was just too edgy is silly (not that anyone here is saying that).

    We’re talking about a writer who had been reviled for her last Bat book work (Nightwing). It has been suggested that, in her DC prose work, she worked to sneak the homo-eroticism into the book. One issue suggests she might not be the best writer to launch a Bat book with (that you have high hopes for), while strongly implying a homosexual relationship between Batman & Robin in a prose novel could make you fall out of favor with Bat editors.

    The other issue to think about is how Rucka has publicly expressed being pissed about how Renee Montoya was handled outside of 52 and his own work. Like in Countdown. Since I’d imagine that Batwoman was largely his baby in 52, you have a sensitive Bat writer who is more marketable than Grayson that might be unhappy with how she was handling the character. A more marketable writer who’s exclusive was coming up for renewal.

    So…if you want to come up with reasons why Grayson’s take was canned, there are plenty that don’t have to deal with her sexuality or that of the character. :)

    Comment by Kevin Huxford — February 29, 2008 @ 3:01 pm

  10. Jesus, man, get over Devin Grayson. This article isn’t even about her. Not everyone hated Nightwing, and claiming she “snuck in” homoerotic undertones in her prose book is pretty insulting. I mean, she’s not my favorite writer, but let’s not go attaching motives to stuff we didn’t like unless we’ve got interviews to back it up.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — February 29, 2008 @ 3:24 pm

  11. Oh hey, I was just thinking that I wasn’t getting enough of Huxford’s Second Crusade: WHO IS DEVIN GRAYSON SLEEPING WITH NOW?! over on your own blog or at Valerie d’Orazio’s place, and wondering how to rectify that.

    And now here you are, in our comments section, talking about why the Batman office doesn’t like her (informed, no doubt, by a steady stream of anonymous e-mails from DC insiders who don’t want to give their names). Awesome. Too bad Christmas is nine months away; between this and the reaction to the Wizard article I’m on a roll when it comes to getting what I want.

    You want to know what’s making you look terrible? All of this shit.

    Comment by Jonathan Bernhardt — February 29, 2008 @ 3:41 pm

  12. Devin Grayson’s aborted run came up in the discussion here, guys. I didn’t bring Devin Grayson to a discussion that didn’t involve her already and I didn’t bring up the whole “dating Mark Waid made it easier for her to get pitches read” thing here. YOU DID.

    The discussion about sneaking in homo-erotic undertones to her DC prose work didn’t come from me, it came from others who actually reprinted the passages where she talks about Dick feeling Bruce’s hot breath on the back of his neck. Others in the comments section here talked about how her prose writing just seemed creepy. I elaborated on it.

    By the way…I never suggested I received anonymous e-mails from DC insiders. Why would you assume it was a DC insider? Because the person doesn’t like Valerie? That’s not exclusive to DC employees or fans, you know? :)

    So…I post something about a writer who’s possible work on a Batwoman title was brought up and the question of why DC still hasn’t done a Batwoman title was brought up. I get jumped on by the two of you and you bring up a topic I didn’t even introduce here…and then appear to slam me for bringing it up when I didn’t?

    Can you explain, again, how Devin Grayson WASN’T part of the discussion before I got here and how I brought along a crusade about who Devin is sleeping with when I didn’t? I’d really like to know how that all works in your head. :)

    Comment by Kevin Huxford — February 29, 2008 @ 4:37 pm

  13. Dude, you have been cutting a swath across the blogosphere like some sort of hellbent kamikaze pilot crashing into Occasional Superheroine with a Devin Grayson-bomb payload. I, the same person, said that not only were the excerpts of Devin’s novel kind of creepy-seeming, but ALSO that it’s incredibly unfair to extend that to saying she “snuck in homoerotic tendencies.” That implies A) that her editor is utterly mentally retarded and B) that Grayson is some sort of clandestine homo-positive operative trying to sneak the gay into as many comics as possible. It wasn’t totally to my taste, but if that’s how she sees the characters, the execution may have come off as “creepy” but that’s not an excuse to assume the intent.

    As for Waid, yeah, Jon brought up the whole sleeping with thing, but that was it. And don’t pretend like you rolled up in here with a totally separate discussion to what’s been going on out there in the blogosphere and that we’re being ridiculous to bring that text in.

    Finally, the blog post wasn’t even about Devin Grayson, and the whole point was to put that aside and talk about why Kate Kane doesn’t have to be PR fluff or a doomed character or a cynical cash grab for the lesbian comics market, they have hinted at more than enough depth and uniqueness to make me buy her book with the right creative team.

    It’s not that I can’t stand you, or can’t stand Val, I just have a problem with ideologues and people who form an opinion and then refuse to engage in rational discussion about it. You’ve turned this whole dumb topic into being about Devin Grayson when I just wanted to talk about Kate Kane.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — February 29, 2008 @ 4:54 pm

  14. You’re crapping me, right? You even brought my name up here before I even showed up. I am not cutting a swath across the blogosphere. Where have I gone all over the net about the Devin Grayson thing?

    Devin Grayson’s aborted attempt at the title was brought up here before I got here. I was brought up here before I got here. It was said that I dumped all over the idea of Batwoman when I really didn’t.

    My personal opinion on the concept of Batwoman:

    1. There wasn’t much depth given to her character. Apparently, some depth was added a bit in Crime Bible, which I haven’t read yet because I missed the first issue and decided to just pick up the trade at some point. But that depth wasn’t there before Grayson’s run got canned.

    2. I think that a female bi-sexual writer may have been, in many ways, a perfect pick for writing such a book. I don’t know what her pitch was, but I can see legit reasons (not directly related to Devin’s pitch) for that attempt getting canned…as I detailed above. If you look into things with the end of her Nightwing run, her last large arc appeared to have gotten cut short by editorial, as issues started not matching up with solicitations. So that might speak to how the Bat offices felt about her work on Nightwing at the end (making her a less attractive option for another Bat book).

    I think that DC bungled the timing on getting this out. They miscalculated in trying to wait for Rucka to do it, with him then opting out of his exclusivity.

    I think DC had a potential hot property that they squandered, but I think that people are overreacting to think that there was a deep character just begging to be written about that the world has lost out on. The character has been largely a blank slate with few identifiable characteristics other than being a rich, lesbian.

    My mentioning Devin was based on her already being brought up here, the fact that I’m one of the fans that eventually dropped her Nightwing run, etc. I made a joking reference to her relationship with Waid. It was a stupid thing to do and, if I had it to do all over again, I’d not make the joke.

    But it blew up into what it has become due to having to defend myself against being called a misogynist, Valerie pretending my follow-up posts were even more inflammatory, and then basically using me to write a part of her blog talking about guys who always assume women sleep their way to the top. I’m an easy guy to get stuck in an argument with, because I’ll argue off in directions I don’t have that much interest in (like whether or not Devin actually benefited professionally at all from dating Waid).

    Anyway…I like the blog, think you should get a podcast link that allows your stuff to be downloaded in iTunes (so I can listen to it easily at the gym), and would really appreciate if you didn’t try to paint my post here as something other than what it was or suggest I’m cutting a swath across the blogosphere when I haven’t really done much on the topic outside of my own blog and Valerie’s.

    Comment by Kevin Huxford — February 29, 2008 @ 5:30 pm

  15. David U: Now, I don’t know what conspiracy of forces have left us going until May 2008 without a Batwoman comic. I don’t know what happened to Devin Grayson and Dustin Nguyen’s pitch; I don’t know why it was rejected; it’s a shame that the badly-kept-secret new iteration of the book is still on the production table.

    David Brothers: I’d argue with this bit:
    An injustice that can only be explained by homophobia and misogyny.

    since I’m extremely wary of assigning motivations to creators/companies like that. No one at DC has given a reason for the delay, and there are plenty of reasons that the book could have been delayed. Maybe Grayson burned a bridge with her editor. Maybe her plans didn’t fit into the plans for the DCU.

    David U: I read it as Jamaal being sarcastic as hell.

    As for what the question was, that was Val’s question, yeah, but a few responders, including Kevin Huxford, were basically dumping all over the concept of a Batwoman ongoing, saying there was no point to doing it and nobody would want to read it and it’s just there to be the Lesbian Book. I’m saying that’s not necessarily the case.

    As for why Grayson was removed from the book – man, who knows. I loved Gotham Knights but the sections of her prose novel I read were just creepy. If, as some suggest, we’re trying to take the personal lives of the writers totally out of the equation, then I guess Rucka just had a better pitch or something. I dunno. But I find it really, really hard to believe it was for any reason other than storytelling. The book’s current delay, yeah, that could be WB cold feet. But whatever happened with Devin Grayson was probably because of the script, or continuity issues, or just a philosophical difference, rather than DC being uncomfortable having a bisexual woman write about a lesbian.

    Matt: I would never say all this amounts to homophobia or misogyny, but it’s at the very least odd, and a bit stupid–I get the sense that if this were Marvel and the character were Spider-Woman, we’d have our miniseries if not an ongoing already.

    So…tell me how my initial response doesn’t seem completely on topic in response to all the quotes above?

    Comment by Kevin Huxford — February 29, 2008 @ 5:36 pm

  16. I flew off the handle a bit, I was just sad to see this degenerate into another Grayson argument, one I’m not perpetuating. Blame = on me. But still, the entire topic of Grayson is kind of tangential to the discussion of whether Batwoman is a retarded/hopeless idea or not.

    Also:
    1. We are on iTunes.
    2. Just because Greg Rucka isn’t exclusive doesn’t mean DC “lost” him, and he’s been going out of his way to make this really clear. He’s still got three upcoming projects from DC he can’t talk about, one of which is most likely Batwoman, and the other two – hell, I dunno, maybe a Final Crisis mini about Renee and some other book? I dunno. Either way, this isn’t a lost cause that DC is sinking, I’m pretty sure Batwoman *is* coming.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — February 29, 2008 @ 6:03 pm

  17. “I get the sense that if this were Marvel and the character were Spider-Woman, we’d have our miniseries if not an ongoing already.”

    Maan, Bendis and Maleev have been promising a Spider-Woman ongoing for like three years now. Not your point, but still.

    MARVEL – Get me an indie anthology and that Spider-Woman ongoing — STAT!

    Comment by Chris Eckert — February 29, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

  18. Spider-Woman #1 hits the week after Secret Invasion #8. So says the Bendis.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — February 29, 2008 @ 6:07 pm

  19. Sorry, David, if I was contributing to pulling this off topic. I didn’t mean to.

    I’m glad to hear you were on iTunes. When your link for subscribing to the podcast was a regular RSS feed, I stupidly assumed that meant you guys weren’t. I’ll go subscribe immediately.

    I’m still in the midst of getting my vlog on iTunes and simply just have to use a feed that allows people to subscribe through iTunes without Apple listing it. So I kind of had tunnel vision looking for the same thing here.

    I, too, think that Batwoman is coming. I just figure that DC is kinda caught off guard right now with having messed up the timing. I know Rucka isn’t GONE completely, but I think DC’s answer at WonderCon would have been different if we were still going to get a Rucka/Williams III series.

    Comment by Kevin Huxford — February 29, 2008 @ 6:14 pm

  20. Rucka said in his wordballoon interview that there was (and i’m paraphrasing so if G-Rucks is reading this and I say it wrong I am sorry!!!!) “a good reason” that “he did not agree with, but is still good” for this delay in finding out answers on Batwoman. I’m assuming it’s still in the pipe. I’d love to know what’s taking so long, but more than that I’d just love to read the fucking comic.

    Comment by David Uzumeri — February 29, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

  21. I thought that Word Balloon was prior to Rucka’s decision to drop the exclusive?

    Either way…if he’s writing it, I’ll give it a shot and, if he’s not, I’d be eager to find out who will be.

    Comment by Kevin Huxford — February 29, 2008 @ 7:01 pm

  22. I haven’t seen this theory pop up yet, but isn’t it possible that DC doesn’t want a “Batgirl” and a “Batwoman” series on the shelves at the same time? I always assumed the cancellation of Cassandra Cain’s series was because TPTB intended to “replace” her with the new Batwoman character.

    Now that there’s a new Batgirl series in the offing, perhaps DC wants to wait until that’s over to roll out a Batwoman series. It could be something as simple as the Batgirl series being done more quickly (either because the creators work quicker or for continuity reasons) and thus going on the schedule first.

    Comment by matches — March 1, 2008 @ 7:56 am

  23. matches: I find that hard to believe, since the two characters have nothing in common and could co-exist perfectly well. If you believe having two Bat-females running around with their own books is too confusing I don’t buy it, as people are not that stupid. Nobody was confused back when Superboy had an ongoing alongside of the Superman books.

    Comment by Hoatzin — March 4, 2008 @ 3:41 am

  24. The character was interesting, subtle, and promising in 52. She had some great scenes with Nightwing, but I also liked that she was more of a heroine for Montoya’s Question than anything, fully capable but marked for death by the bad guys and so needing some knightly assistant from Renee.

    The truth is that they’re going to have to put the character into the hands of a capable writer to make her enjoyable, and she’s going to be something different from 52 whether that happens or not. It’s not a sure financial success story for DC, especially as they lost mainstream interest over the “lesbian” controversy over a year ago. Sad for their bottom line – they should’ve exploited it.

    Comment by Jbird — March 17, 2008 @ 2:08 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Powered by WordPress