No Gay Marriage, Please. We’re DC Comics.

“Hi, Batwoman. I hear you like women. I prefer youthful male wards.”

Let me make it plain:  I don’t read Batwoman.   I’m not crazy about J.H. Williams’ art style.   I don’t read any DC Comics regularly.   I barely pay attention to what’s going on in comic books any more.

But I do know Batwoman has a loyal following.  I do know Williams is one of the more acclaimed artists working today.  I know this revamped Batwoman was something more than just another costumer cut-up swinging around Gotham City who took their inspiration from flying rodents and as an open lesbian, Kate Kane was one of the few gay superheroes in a genre that still lags behind most of pop culture in acceptance and enlightenment of homosexuality.

This is not simply about imaginary characters in made-up stories that never happened.  It’s about not marginalizing an entire group of people.

It’s okay for Batwoman to be a lesbian.   Lesbians are popular now.   It’s okay for her to draw her having sex with her partner.  Guys dig women making out.    It’ s not okay to let her to marry her partner because that runs counter to DC’s editorial mandates.    Those same editorial mandates where same-sex marriage is a hell-no! but Naked Harley Quinn is a yes, please!

The reasons for the unholy marriage between the homophobic Orson Scott Card and DC is starting to become clear.

DC’s decision to bar Batwoman’s big gay marriage from happening is being chalked up as being about business instead of homophobia, but that seems like bullshit particularly when Williams says it was an editorial dictate to keep Batwoman and Maggie Sawyer’s marriage from happening.

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.

Batwoman has won a few GLAAD awards. Well, it was nice while it lasted, but onward and upward!

I’m sure whomever the new writer and artist on Batwoman will do fine. They’ll probably straighten her out and have her kick this lesbian thing, sex her up, make her breasts bigger than her head like Power Girl and fall madly in bed with Batman.

Homophobia? Maybe not, but isn’t it interesting how hard DC pushed back when the Internet revolted against Orson Scott Card writing a Superman comic, but is now issuing boiler-plate statements about forcing out the creators of one of their few New 52 titles worth reading.

As far as “business decisions” goes, while DC may have a problem with same-sex marriage, they don’t have a similar one with crude sexual exploitation.

DC Comics has been having a bad week. Yesterday, two members of the Batwoman editorial team quit after their publishers refused to allow Batwoman (who is a lesbian character) to marry her partner. And now the comic company has provoked even more outrage by hosting a contest in which they readers to draw Harley Quinn, a popular villain, preparing to commit suicide. Naked.

The trope of sensationalized female character deaths has long haunted the medium, as has a terrible tendency to oversexualize and objectify women characters; it’s almost surprising that it’s taken DC this long to combine the two into a vile heap of casual sexism — because female suicide is so fascinating and compelling and cool, right, guys?

The contest winner will have the opportunity to contribute to an upcoming comic about Harley Quinn; it’s billed as an amazing opportunity to break into the industry. In order to be considered, one must draw four panels: in the first, Harley is attempting to get struck by lightning, in the second she’s wearing a bikini made of chicken in the hopes that alligators will devour her, and in the third she’s attempting to get swallowed by a whale. The fourth is, by far, the worst:

Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all.  We are watching the moment before the inevitable death.  Her expression is one of “oh well, guess that’s it for me” and she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen.

Why would anyone want to see a naked and depressed woman about to electrocute herself in a bathtub and why would I want to pay $3.99 to see it?

Oh HELL no, says DC.

What’s the message from DC Comics?   Same-sex superhero marriage=BAD

Naked superbabe about to off herself=GOOD

Well, at least they don’t have Dr. Light raping anyone, huh? Hey kids! Rapey comics!

Generally speaking, readers prefer superheroes to be White, male, heterosexual and single. Like they are.

Doesn’t make it right and it sure doesn’t make it representative.

I’m tired of comic book tokenism and I’m even more tired of always being told, “Look, you got your one (fill in the blank) hero and that’s all you’re gonna get!”

When Marvel married off one of their innumerable mutants, Northstar, to his partner a few years ago, some said this was simply a comic book company riding the wave of a hot trend.   Maybe so.  Northstar is a minor league, third-string character.   It felt like a token gesture, not a giant step forward and Northstar hasn’t played a major role in the X-Universe since he jumped the broom.

But it happened.   And it hasn’t been “ret-conned” out of existence.  The sun still came up and the world still turns.  A gay marriage happened in comic books and NOTHING BAD HAPPENED.

Marvel is not better than DC.  But on this one issue Marvel is better than DC.

DC can make this right.   They could do it.   They should do it.  Will they do it?

That might take more moral courage than anyone at DC has.

The Dark Knight Rises But Falls Short of Greatness

Batman vs. Bane: whose voice is harder to understand?

Some spoiler-free thoughts about The Dark Knight Rises

1.  It makes me want to watch The Dark Knight again.
2.  Christopher Nolan makes some long-ass movies.
3.  It ties up Nolan’s Batman trilogy in a big bow.
4.  Epic length does not make an epic movie.
5.  It’s no Avengers.

It was awfully generous of Christian Bale as the hero to defer to Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as The Joker in the last movie.  He’s not as charitable with Tom Hardy’s Bane.  It’s unfair to compare Bane with The Joker, but I will anyway.  The Joker’s plan (and lack of one) in The Dark Knight makes far more sense than Bane’s scheme, which makes no damn sense.

This was a superhero summer what with the The Avengers which finished off what five previous Marvel movies began, the “ready or not and like it or not, we’re rebooting The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises.

I’m just like Catwoman, but don’t call me Catwoman.

Now I’m out super-heroed OUT.  I am not looking forward with breathless anticipation for Iron Man 3,  Thor 2,   Captain America 2 and I definitely do not even a little bit about Man of Steel because Superman sucks ass.   Zack Snyder shot his creative wad with Dawn of the Dead.  Everything after that?  300, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch have their fans, but include me out.  I’ve had quite enough of CGI and bombast, thank you.  Now I’d like something simple like Beasts of the Southern Wild, thank you very much.

Good things about The Dark Knight Rises:  Christian Bale suffers well.  Anne Hardaway and Marion Cotilliard are major assets as much as Maggie Gyllenhaal and Katie Holmes were major whiffs.  Gary Oldman is the underrated link between all three pictures.   The big set pieces (and the third act is nothing but big set pieces) work great.  Nolan is on top of his game here.   The movie is ambitious and it delivers on most of its ambitions.

Bad things about The Dark Knight Rises:  Tom Hardy had the thankless task of following Ledger’s performance and while he bulked up physically to play Bane, he can’t make him an interesting character or foe.   Hans Zimmer’s score got on my nerves.   Nolan still hasn’t figured out how to choreograph a convincing fight scenes.  Almost all the “surprises” aren’t surprising at all.   There are too many scenes that “tell” instead of “show” and raise questions of “Wait…how did that happen?”   There is just too much going on in a movie that goes on too long at two hours and 45 minutes.

I have some problems with The Dark Knight Rises.  I liked it, but I don’t love it.  It’s better than Batman Begins but it can’t touch The Dark Knight (no shock there).   It’s deep, but it’s not much fun.   Batman inhabits a much different (and uglier) world than The Avengers.   Nolan doesn’t play scenes for laughs the way Joss Whedon does.   This is a movie with far more serious things on its mind than alien invasions and scheming demi-gods getting their ass kicked by green-skinned gamma monsters.

 Gotham City is a bleak, grim and unhappy place and its hero is every bit as bleak, grim and unhappy and I don’t think Nolan gives a crap if his movie is more “entertaining” or not.  He’s a serious man making a serious movie.   This is a hero who wants to feared, not cheered.  He prefers to suffer the hatred and suspicion of those he’s sworn to protect.  Batman wouldn’t know what to do with crowds cheering him for saving the day.  Nolan has elevated what a comic book movie can be.  Under his vision of Batman he has shown how you can take an utterly ridiculous concept and make audiences not only lose themselves in the world of the Dark Knight, but not even question its probability.

Nolan avoided doing a Spider-Man 3 and making a jumbled movie with tons of money and no coherent story.   The Dark Knight Rises is a labor of love and it shows.   But not all those labors work successfully and that shows as well.