Big Gay Batwoman

Since 2006, we’ve seen one of DC Comics’s highest-profile LGBTQ characters–Kate Kane, the current incarnation of Batwoman. She’s a tattooed gay Jewish redhead, so, awesome. Although the character has inspired some criticism, she’s been mostly successful. This is particularly true since Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III took the helm with “Batwoman: Elegy”. Not everyone is a fan, though: at FanExpo Canada this past week, comic artist and writer Darwyn Cooke had this to say:

I want them to stop catering to the perverted needs of forty-five year old men, I want to stop seeing Batman fucking Black Canary, I don’t want to hear Batman swearing, I don’t want to see him feeding a boy rats, I don’t want to see characters getting raped in the ass, I don’t want to see characters who have been straight for sixty years become lesbians overnight because the writer’s too stupid or uncreative to come up with something decent

Let’s forget for a moment whether we agree with his stance on what audience comic books should be meant for, and let us certainly float on past the issue of whether sexual assault belongs in comics. What’s been getting attention is his comment, which is pretty obviously directed towards the new Batwoman. While many people have come to his defense, he has also been attacked for homophobia, which may not surprise you. Darwyn unapologized in a comment on this article about it, and says a couple of things I find interesting:

Consider this- After sixty years of being a lesbian, a beloved character is made straight for sales or creative purposes- wouldn’t that be wrong as well?

I think gay characters are an important and welcome part of any contemporary expression. What I want is to see creators and publishers creating new characters that are gay and lesbian, and spend the decades needed creating and supporting stories about these characters. It strikes me as opportunistic and somewhat wrongheaded to take someone else’s creation and after decades of established character action make that drastic a change.

It seems pretty clear to me that, whatever the issue is here, it isn’t coming from a place of overt homophobia. But this blogger at “DC Women Kicking Ass” makes the point that Kate Kane is not the same old Batwoman as always. We see this all the time in comics. This character hasn’t been around since the beginning, she is just wearing the mantle of a familiar character. And this blogger is absolutely right to point out that in comic books, familiarity sells. While Cooke’s desire to see brand spankin new LGBTQ characters created, DC is never gonna make money on them. Having a queer woman as a comic standard is going to get her much wider exposure. Cooke is focused on criticizing DC’s pandering to older comic readers, and views this as a deliberately provocative character choice designed to boost sales. But I don’t think DC is Katy Perry-ing this. I thought that, in Elegy at least, her sexuality was handled very sensitively. She also isn’t a typical femme-y lez you’d expect the 45 year old fanboys to be drooling over–she’s ex-military, kicked out because of DADT, and wears a tuxedo to a gala (before rushing off to, you know, fight crime). So what do you think? Sensationalist or rad?

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