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She Has No Head! – Greg Rucka And The Fate Of Batwoman…

As the entire comics reading world knows by now, Greg Rucka has decided to leave DC.Batwoman 5

Before I start point by pointing this for myself, let me first offer congratulations to Mr. Rucka for doing what he wants, what he feels is right, and what he believes will reward him most (in a myriad of ways).  I couldn’t wish success on any writer more (not that he needs it) and I’m thankful for his sake, and ours, that he has the freedom to go and do exactly what he wants to do whether that be prose novels, screenplays, comics, and everything in-between.

On a selfish level I’m delighted.  Stumptown is probably my favorite book right now, and we’re only on issue two.  And while we’re talking about issue #2…it’s April 2010, and we’ve only had two issues since the book debuted in November 2009.  So hopefully this move away from doing a million books for DC will solve that problem (according to Rucka’s interview we can expect #3 in May and #4 in June before a little hiatus).  So in a way, I couldn’t be happier.  I haven’t tried any of Rucka’s Queen & Country prose novels yet (though it’s on my list) but if he’s also going to return to the comic series that he promised to one day return to, which is sounds like he eventually will, then even better.  I look forward with great excitement to more Stumptown, more Queen & Country, and more whatever else Mr. Rucka has up his sleeve – which if the interview is any indication is a TON of amazing stuff.

Stumptown 2On a selfish level I’m also worried like hell.  I can’t think of a book I was looking forward to more than Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III‘s anticipated Batwoman series, and to learn that this isn’t happening?  Heartbreaking.  Am I interested in Kate Kane even if she’s not under the powerful pens of Rucka and Williams?  Of course.  But I’ll be honest and admit that I just don’t trust anyone with her right now.  It’s true that Rucka has set her up with a pitch perfect origin and a strong focus that you’d like to expect any writer could step into and carry on, but we all know it’s just not a given.  It takes a pretty amazing writer to NOT screw up even the best laid plans…er…characters.  Prior to Rucka’s Batwoman/Detective Comics run Batwoman had ALREADY had a bit of a difficult run…so, it’s hard to believe that DC isn’t going to bungle this as they try to follow Rucka’s lead without Rucka, no matter what condition he has left her in.  Assurances from Williams that DC remains committed to the character, are nice to hear, but without the other half of that team I’m skeptical.  Not to mention that Williams’ quote:

“I was afraid something like this was going to occur but held out hope that it wouldn’t happen. That DC and Greg could come to some sort of agreement, apparently not going to happen.”

Suggests a much larger problem – a problem that both Marvel and DC need to find a way to deal with – because it’s just going to keep coming up.  A problem much larger than one of the big two losing a mega talent like Rucka. Williams quote suggests that Rucka did want to stay on and do Batwoman (who wouldn’t with Williams on board and a character Rucka has been so involved with and obviously loves?); but that they were not able to come to an agreement.  The fine print of Rucka’s statement about why he’s leaving reinforces Williams’ statement, and goes beyond it in a way, suggesting the REAL problem here and perhaps with the industry in general:

“I need to start telling the stories I want to tell.”

This tells me unequivocally (though respectfully, as Rucka is nothing but a class act) that at DC he’s not able to tell Tara Chacethe stories he wants to.  THAT is a problem.  When the best of the best are leaving the big two because they can’t tell the stories they want to – whether that be because of editorial mandate and interference or because creators just aren’t willing to hand over their original creations to the property ownership machine of DC/Marvel – it doesn’t matter.  It still means that talented people are going to keep jumping ship for either more lucrative or more personally fulfilling pastures.

As some of you may know, I wrote a novel and have an agent, and as someone that has learned a little bit about the process of publishing a novel, there’s no question in my mind as to why Rucka would return to this generally more lucrative and highly rewarding profession.  In addition to advance money and royalties (as opposed to page rates), he owns his characters, owns his material, and he’s in control of what is put on the page – and as an already established author he has near complete control.  He can do infinite spin offs, control everything that ever occurs in the worlds he creates, and he can option the rights to his material into films, graphic novels, or lifetime movies of the week if he so desires (I hope he’d opt no on the latter).  And no matter how much he loves Batwoman or Wonder Woman or any other character he has worked on for the big two, he’ll never have that with them and he’ll constantly have to answer to someone (or many someones) in the meantime.

In truth, even as an unpublished newbie author that has no clout or celebrity, I have to admit that while I would love to write some comics, and there are certainly big established characters that I would like to take a crack at, I can completely see why someone like Rucka would move on.  In fact, it would seem like insanity not to.  Not unlike a talented lady hitting the glass ceiling back in the olden days (or you know, yesterday, depending on where you’re sitting) Rucka has hit the glass ceiling.  He couldn’t be more respected and beloved for the work he’s done, and yet still he’s hamstrung by all sorts of things like any other artist working with pre-owned and well-guarded properties.

Batwoman 4

But this isn’t intended to be some rant about how Marvel and DC are big bad corporate entities that must be stopped…it’s intended to be an open dialogue…what can change in the industry to keep real talent like Rucka around?  As readers we’re already buckling under the inflated prices of comics, so I doubt comics will ever be able to be much more lucrative for writers and artists.  Certainly it’s unlikely comics can compete with things like selling a screenplay or having a hit novel or becoming huge in the art world (see: James Jean).  So we assume that creators stay around for a love of the medium, for the chance to work with other great creators and to tell the stories they dream of, in a medium they adore.  But if they can’t tell those stories with the big two?  If they have to go running to the independents to do that – then how are the big two supposed to hold onto anyone?  How are we supposed to hope that we can demand better mainstream books when most writers worth their salt eventually go off to do other things?  I will say that in all of this I’m reminded how very grateful I am for all the wonderful independent comics publishers out there.  It’s a wonderful thing that there IS somewhere for Rucka to run to.  A place where he can tell the stories he wants to tell, but still in the medium that we all love.

But beyond Rucka, and perhaps more important considering the nature of this column, how can we hold out hope that the Batwoman character – a book I just a few months ago called – THE Superhero Comic I’ve Been Waiting For - will be given the respect she deserves?  When DC has only managed to see her through one perfect arc (and a not so great follow up arc) – how can we even hope that she’s going to continue to get the kind of attention that she needs as a growing character and property?  In a comic world of constantly flailing female characters, and so few of them leading strong books, I was holding out hope that Batwoman would a beacon leading us into a new and different world.  Now?  Her future and possibly that of other female characters that I hoped could follow in her footsteps seems in question.

105 Comments

[…] She Has No Head! column is up on CSBG.  All about Greg Rucka’s departure from DC and the fate of one of my favorite characters, […]

On a certain level, I’m wondering how Rucka wouldn’t have been able to tell the story he wanted to tell with Batwoman, considering she’d been in the peripherals of the Bat-family until he had control of her. It seems counter-intuitive that DC would be overtly meddlesome with her.

On the other hand, I think that Rucka probably should have come out stronger with her first starring issue of Detective. I was willing to give the title a shot, but it was very unforgiving to people who didn’t know much about Batwoman, or hadn’t read “Final Crisis: Revelations.” I probably wouldn’t have given the title a second look if you hadn’t written your article about it.

I’m completely bummed out by the news, I’m not going to lie. I have been a fan of Batwoman and Bat-Girl/Flamebird since I was like 11 years old and first learned about them in the Encyclopedia of Supheroes, and then the old Who’s Who issues. I went and sought out old issues, just to look at them, and they became *my* Batman and Robin.

Batwoman, from the moment she was announced, was someone who I was just…ecstatic for. I mean, it was about time that DC revisited that concept, and in what a way.

And Rucka…he did it so well. She was NOT Bruce Wayne with breasts. She was NOT like the Huntress. She wasn’t Catwoman firmly on the side of the angels. She was very much her own character, and one whom we have not seen much of.

My big worry is that DC will palm her off on someone incapable of doing her justice, such as Judd Winick. Creators who I would like to see take a hand at Kate Kane are Marc Andreyko, Phil Jimenez, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, Ivory Madison, or Gail Simone. Any one of those writers, I think, would do Kate some sense of justice, which other writers simply wouldn’t be able to do.

What kills me most about it is that it seemed like we were finally getting Bette Kane in a role she could grow into, one which she deserves, given her long history with the DCU…but that looks like it simply wasn’t meant to be now.

Honestly, it’s great for Rucka to get out and do what he wants to do – his Queen and Country [comics and novels both] are AMAZING, and I’ve been getting into his other work as well and…I bow down to the man, I really do. He’s one of my favorite writers working today.

But that doesn’t stop this news from being any less of a total bummer.

I think with the way things are, essentially nothing is going to keep the big names around except their own desire to write Batman, Superman, X-Men, Spiderman, etc.

Marvel in my mind is doing a good job to get around this issue. Namely, developing new talent and give them shots at the big names. Look at Kieron Gillen, Andy Diggle, even Brian Clevinger and Paul Cornell. These guys are getting full books to work with both new and established characters (M13, Daredevil, a shot Thor run, Thunderbolts after Ellis, etc).

“what can change in the industry to keep real talent like Rucka around?”

But Rucka is staying around, he’s just not doing Marvel/DC superhero comics. Rucka leaving DC is only a concern if most of the comics you read are Marvel/DC superhero comics. Rucka is still going to be making comics, in fact he said that he’s working on a creator-owned project with Williams, which is a great thing. I can’t think of a writer whose Marvel/DC superhero work is better than their creator-owned stuff so, for me, Rucka leaving DC to concentrate on doing his own projects, comics or otherwise, is unequivocally a good thing.

Granted, Rucka leaving DC does mean that Batwoman’s future is going to be uncertain, at best, but Rucka was going to leave the character at some point anyway. It just happened sooner rather than later. Even if DC doesn’t put a good creative team on whatever title she ends up in, you still have the Rucka/Williams issues.

While I too bemoan the loss of Mr. Rucka from DC, I’m less concerned about Batwoman than I am about The Question. While many were dismayed by the death of Vic Sage and Rene Montoya taking up the mantle I for one have enjoyed the way she has been presented and Rucka’s handling of the character.

I think the fundamental issue is that “Stories I want to tell” = “Stories I have creative control over.”

Ultimately, the decision that each writer or artist has to make is whether they want to play with someone else’s toys, like Geoff Johns or Brian Michael Bendis have, or go out on your own, like Robert Kirkman did a few years back. On one hand, you get to have a hand in shaping some of the beloved characters in the past 100 years, but the trade-off is that you don’t ultimately have control, and anything you do can be undone the the next person on the book. On the other hand, with independent work you have complete (or near complete control) over a property, and if it gets licensed to movie studio, you as the creator are much more likely to get a bigger chunk of change in the deal. But the trade-off here is the risk involved and the possibility of making it big is much smaller.

Personally, I think Rucka is doing this the right way. He made a name for himself in independent titles (and novels), used that to get into mainstream super-hero work, and is now using his success there to springboarad back into creator-owned titles, taking a much larger fan base with him.

As for Batwoman… until we find out what they’re going to do with the character, we’re just borrowing trouble. I’m sure we’ve all had favorite characters who we were terrified were going to be ruined by an upcoming creator. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t but until we actually see what’s happening, anything we say at this point is moot.

Batwoman was one of the most refreshing launches for a character in recent history – and Rucka’s involvement with the character was the only constant part of her success. I even liked her in FC Revelation, which in general I was not a fan of – then again, I was one of the “FC doesn’t make any sense and all the exciting stuff happens off-panel” arche-/stereo-types, so take that as you will.

I’ve noticed over the last few years (as have hundreds, maybe thousands) of other fans, that Marvel and DC have developed a core of writers that take the reigns for all major initiatives. At Marvel, we all know the names; Bendis, Millar, and now even Matt Fraction has joined their ranks. At DC, it’s Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, James Robinson, and maybe soon JMS. And despite all his talent, and all his contributions to 52 alongside two of DC’s current architects, Rucka never managed to find his way into that inner circle. I don’t know whether he just didn’t get along with his editors or what, but his projects always seem to play second fiddle to someone else’s. Even Batwoman seemed, to me, like it launched when it did to back up Morrison’s new direction for the Bat-line – it could have launched any time over the past few years, but they chose to launch it just in time for it to be caught up in someone else’s gimmick (albeit a very entertaining one that I am enjoying immensely). It just seems to me that DC’s “commitment” to this series and character has always come at the price of it being tacked on to whatever someone else was doing. Or maybe I’m just angry it’s over.

@ Eric Rupe: But, that’s not what she said. She said what can be done to keep talent from leaving THE BIG TWO. Believe it or not, some people enjoy superhero comics as much as indy comics, and they’re not just things people read when their favorite indy book hasn’t come out yet.

@ Amit: Both Marc Andreyko and Ivory Madison are EXCELLENT suggestions. If either of them wrote Batwoman, I’d pick it up. Also, on another note…the best thing either DC or Marvel can offer is the ability to offer writers the chance to write their own versions of their favorite childhood heroes.

They should offer a greater level of creative control, but aside from that, I think superhero comics are fine. If you’re saying, “Eventually someone will come along and undo all the changes you made”, then congratulations, you’ve gotten too wrapped up in continuity.

Do you think someone undoing it matters once its been written? No matter what changes they make–they can kill the guy you wrote, replace him with someone new. Make him decide to quit and give the job back to the last guy. They can cosmically retcon every specific scene that YOU wrote. …And none of that matters when a fan walks up to you and says, “Your run on Superman was my favorite. No one’s ever written him as well as you have and its still not as good as when you were doing it.”

Those issues that you write, the resonating they do with that one fan, or those dozen fans, or hundreds or even thousands–no one can retcon that.

I’ve never read Batwoman, or anything else by Greg Rucka, so I can’t comment on his situation specifically. But I have heard of similar situations with other writers, and it seems to me that the biggest problem they have is when the editors or higher ups force certain stories on them. When a writer has some plan and the editor shoots it down as a bad idea, either on its own merits or because it clashes with the company’s conception of the series, then it’s usually not such a problem. Most writers seem perfectly willing to accept something like that. (And in fact, it can even help in a creator-owned story to have an editor who’ll tell the writer when he’s making a big mistake.) What really seems to upset writers (and rightly so, in my opinion), is when the company has a story already in mind and the writer is forced to go along with it. Writers want to tell their own stories, not somebody else’s, even if their own stories have to be part of a larger whole that they’re not fully in charge of.
This means, of course, that if Marvel and DC really want to hold on to the best writers, they really have to stop churning out these endless crossovers. I don’t know if it was the crossovers that drove Rucka to quit, but they’ve definitely done so with other writers.

The more I think about it, my primary interest in comics is with titles featuring characters that I know written and drawn by folks that are allowed to treat them as if they own them.

ALL-STAR SUPERMAN felt like that. NEW FRONTIER felt like that. The James Robinson run on STARMAN felt like that. The Rucka-Willams run on ‘Tec felt like that, too. That illusion of freedom deriving from various alternate (or off-brand) takes is why I tend to sample well-reviewed DC titles over Marvel ones, even though I know Marvel has a deeper talent pool.

However, my faith in DC characters (or even the creators) as brands is increasingly limited. It forces me to make calculations that I don’t want to make about the leverage a given creator might have. Does JMS have the leverage to tell HIS Superman stories? Probably. Does Grant Morrison have the leverage to tell HIS Batman stories? Clearly. Did Gail Simone have the leverage to tell HER Wonder Woman stories? Ultimately … No. Does James Robinson have the leverage to tell HIS JLA stories? Sadly, no.

When I feel the cold hand of editorial in the midst of a story, I generally stop reading and toss the comic in the trash. That is what happened with Rucka and Scott’s BN: WONDER WOMAN. It is no longer as simple as “I like Writer X, Artist Y and Character Z. Sign me up”. That causes me to buy and read fewer comics, because I am averse to the toss the half read comic in the trash moment.

Anyway, I wish Mr. Rucka the best. I’ll likely pick-up his Q&C prose novel and whatever he does with Mr. Williams.

I would think Nightwing is the best-laid character in the DC Universe. (Someone please get that…)

I think that the only reason a creative person like Rucka doesn’t solely produce his own creations and instead works for DC is economics and nostalgia. The economics being both the marketing muscle behind companies like Marvel and DC, grabbing the minuscule comic reader market better than companies that allow creators to retain their rights, and the page rate that comes with the “big two” (or the like). The nostalgia being, the want (and challenge) to play in the same pool as their favorite childhood/teenage characters.

In my opinion neither of these are sustainable as a career. Inevitably the quality will suffer under the editorial mandate of corporate franchises (which is what these superhero comics long to be). Thus you have someone like Warren Ellis, creating his own series (stories with endings) which he owns.

It is no wonder that Rucka, who started with creator owned comics (after prose of course) would feel stifled by even the most creatively open editor. The editor’s job, besides getting people to make better comics, is to keep the brand viable if not increase the brand’s profile. Sometimes, and I’m stating the obvious here, what a creator might have in mind for a character could be counter to the interests of the brand.

While I feel for Rucka, and sympathize with fans of his writing (as I am one), the writing must be on the wall when you start writing about the bat signal appearing on the clouds; this is not your character even if you created it. As such, I don’t blame him for wanting out and I hope he keeps putting out interesting comics with some of the best female characters around.

While I’m sure anything either Rucka or Williams does is going to be fantastic… I too am worried about Batwoman. And Wonder Woman for that matter. And Power Girl too!

DC can’t seem to keep a creative team on one character for very long at all. And that, in the long run is to a series’ detriment.

I would have loved to see Gail Simone have a run like JMS did on Spider-man or Bendis did on… er Ultimate Spider-man. Why is it only Spider-man gets epic long runs? Why can’t Wonder Woman or Power Girl can’t keep a successful creative team for very long…

:(

This is my sad face.

Expanding (in a way) on what Dean said, I think one way DC and Marvel could keep talent around is by creating out-of-continuity lines where established talent can tell whatever stories they want to tell.

DC already more or less has this with its All-Star line – even the name is apt – they just need to make it official and open it up to more people. And there should be some variety. Not every story should be a 12-issue limited series; there should be one-shots, ongoings, etc. The books should be exactly as long as it takes to tell the story properly.

Marvel, on the other hand, would have to create a line out of whole cloth, but that wouldn’t be very hard.

Mary Warner said: “…with other writers, and it seems to me that the biggest problem they have is when the editors or higher ups force certain stories on them.”

I find that true to some extent, but with DC and Marvel today, 2 or 3 people at each company decides the future course for the superhero lines. Everybody else has to toe that line. Such is the state of the industry that the entire list of characters must follow the company line. Readers want that. Note how much the big crossovers increase sales. Gone are the days when book A merely makes a passing reference to what is happening in book B.

Expanding (in a way) on what Dean said, I think one way DC and Marvel could keep talent around is by creating out-of-continuity lines where established talent can tell whatever stories they want to tell.

Or maybe they could just let them tell the stories they want to tell and cut out the middleman. Throw this continuity thing on the trash heap and make good stories. Worry about how they fit in later.

Brandon Newell

April 5, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Kelly:

You spoke my own thoughts so eloquently.

Batwoman is one of the most special characters that has debuted in recent memory and it took a team like Rucka/Williams to shepherd her forward with such care and synergy.

This is how you debut a character.

Unfortunately, I feel the same old issues regarding Kate’s sexuality may have put the brakes on Rucka’s plans, causing him to leave.

He’s been very patient in developing her while DC held back, fearing protests would affect the bottom line and “The Dark Knight” film.

But he waited. And we waited. And what was released was so very special.

The fact that Greg said in December he and Williams were working on a solo title for Kate indicates something went wrong internally. Again.

Remember, this isn’t the same DC Comics that approved her creation. This is now DC Entertainment, a totally different beast.

While no one knows for sure what happened, it isn’t much of a stretch to see the same old antiquated fears cropping up again, which is very sad and gives very little faith in DC as a publisher.

Most of all, I fear Kate will be permanently shelved, under the guise they’re waiting for Rucka to return, sort of like Starman.

Probably better they do that than then what some other less skilled writer – Winnick, Johns – would do with her instead.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 5, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Suggests a much larger problem – a problem that both Marvel and DC need to find a way to deal with – because it’s just going to keep coming up. A problem much larger than one of the big two losing a mega talent like Rucka.

Do they need to?
There’s always someone else ready to fill the gaps – and not that many writers or artists seem ready to walk.
(Except for the every hilarious Patrick Zircher – I love that guy and his total lack of caring about the powers that be).
Even Morrison just seems to switch companies when he gets annoyed at one.

The only two before Rucka I can think of are Waid and Ennis – and both seem to be doing better than they were, so why would we want them to stay?

And other than that, the only other real case seems to be Alan Moore – and let’s face it, he’s a one of a kind.
Gaiman seems unwilling to do too much more after Vertigo wouldn’t give him his rate for what became The Graveyard Book, but he’d pretty much left already.
Byrne refuses to acknowledge Marvel, but I don’t think they’ve noticed.
Unfortunately, or not, I think it’s a problem that concerns fans a lot more than it does the companies.

@ FGJ:

Do they need to?
There’s always someone else ready to fill the gaps – and not that many writers or artists seem ready to walk.
(Except for the every hilarious Patrick Zircher – I love that guy and his total lack of caring about the powers that be).

Even Morrison just seems to switch companies when he gets annoyed at one.

I guess it depends upon your take on the health of the comic business, which is a subject that I am very much of two minds about.

On the one hand, there seem to be about 350,000 people buying comics through the direct market. Those people were almost all there ten years ago and spending roughly the same amount of money. By far, most of the money goes to either DC or Marvel books. Those companies seem to have walled off their product from new readers. So, the direct market can only really shrink as current readers drop-out, cut back or die.

On the other hand, the Trade Paperback market has exploded. Those books seem to reach a larger audience. Comic concepts have expanded into other media and generate money that makes these properties more valuable for all concerned.

Either way, corporately owned superheroes are the straw that stirs the drink in my mind. Folks come looking for superheroes and find other genres through them. The only way for them draw folks in to the medium is for them to be good. Top creators are the best way to achieve that in my mind.

I was bummed when I read this news, but it wore off pretty quickly. Maybe I’m just jaded enough to realize that business is business, and that I’ll always have those seven awesome issues (hopefully in an Absolute version some day!), and that as long as Rucka isn’t leaving comics…life goes on. But I also still have the little nerdling in me that scoured pharmacy and newstand spinner racks all over town in search of Marvel books in the 80s – because there is something about continuity that appealed to me, but also because I always want the rest of the story (big Paul Harvey fan, too). And there so clearly was more to Rucka’s story – at the very least, Alice’s origin, that I can empathize with those not as cynical as me. So, yeah, this pretty much sucks.

As to, “what can be done about it?” I guess I would answer that in responding to the commenters who are wondering why Rucka never broke into DC or Marvel’s inner circle, or why, for instance, Warren Ellis isn’t flying to New York for these “creator conferences” that so much Big Two PR narrative is built on these days…it’s because they don’t want to! These are corporate businesses, with ingrained political structures. While there undoubtedly benefits to being an architect of one of their shared universes (fame! fortune! health insurance!), I’m sure there’s a lot of b#!!$h!+ that goes along with it too. And “not being able to tell the stories you want to” is probably just one of the things you need to grin and bear in order to get there. In comics, as in any other business/organization, there are those who like to or are willing to play the game in order to climb the ladder and grab the spotlight, and those that don’t. Nothing is going to change that, especially not while both types of folks and the companies they work for are making money.

Either way, corporately owned superheroes are the straw that stirs the drink in my mind. Folks come looking for superheroes and find other genres through them. The only way for them draw folks in to the medium is for them to be good. Top creators are the best way to achieve that in my mind.

I disagree with this pretty strongly. Of all the folks I know that have started reading comics as 18+/adults, none of them started with capes. They are usually turned on to something like The Walking Dead or Gabrielle Bell or Jeffrey Brown or 100 Bullets, by me or The New York Times or a display at Borders. People who want to read superhero stories generally know where to find them. As someone looking to promote the growth of the medium/form, I’d much rather have top creators churning out a wide variety of memoir and fiction – a la Queen and Country or Stumptown.

“Byrne refuses to acknowledge Marvel, but I don’t think they’ve noticed.”

Yeah, but he sure makes a lot of money drawing their characters for commissions.

“Or maybe they could just let them tell the stories they want to tell and cut out the middleman. Throw this continuity thing on the trash heap and make good stories. Worry about how they fit in later.”

That’s how things used to be, once upon a time. And it worked fairly well. But continuity HAS become a major selling point in comics today, let’s not fool ourselves about that. And let’s not forget, selling comics to *as many people as possible* is the ultimate aim of a company. So, why not try to to have it both ways and make GOOD stories that ALSO make use of the continuity? People who don’t care for continuity can just *ignore* that fact, you know (unless a story is so poorly written it cannot stand on its own for those who don’t get the references); on the other hand, those who enjoy good continuity will miss it if it isn’t there.

I’m all for noncontinuity stories as long as they’re *clearly* labeled as such. I don’t want to be left wondering, for example, if a Swamp Thing story counts as part of the main DC universe or not. I don’t think that’s asking for too much.

Oh, and writers who feel construed by continuity, should just not write in shared universes to begin with.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 5, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Well, I hope that DC will get their act together soon and realize that Ruck & Williams and Batwoman go hand in hand and do something about it.

In the meantime, why don’t you try your hand at writing Batwoman, Ms. Thompson?
You seem like you could do well on this one.
At the so very least, I’d buy your books.

What do you think? ;-)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 5, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Yeah, but he sure makes a lot of money drawing their characters for commissions.

John Byrne being hypocritical?

I never!

“Certainly it’s unlikely comics can compete with things like selling a screenplay or having a hit novel or becoming huge in the art world (see: James Jean). ”

On the other hand look at a group like Paper Rad or somebody like Gary Panter who has managed to bridge the comics and “art world” harmoniously. Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t James Jean always more of a cover and print artist than a comics artist?

“But, that’s not what she said. She said what can be done to keep talent from leaving THE BIG TWO. Believe it or not, some people enjoy superhero comics as much as indy comics, and they’re not just things people read when their favorite indy book hasn’t come out yet.”

Believe it or not but there is a ton of independent, small press, and creatively controlled genre fiction in comics.

[…] She Has No Head! – Greg Rucka And The Fate Of Batwoman… | Comics … […]

There are two things I wanted to comment on. One, I think getting and keeping good talent (especially writers as there seems to be a lack of these in comics) is essential to keeping comics alive.

I think DC, like any business shouldn’t be condemed to looking out for its properties and doing what is best for the bottom line… but keeping creators like Rucka on the pay role directly effects that bottom line and I don’t think the big two have ever been too convinced of that.

And as an aside, if DC was worried about Kate being controversial and that somehow hurting their sales they are idiots. Controversy breeds publicity and there isn’t such thing as bad publicity. Batwoman made headlines because she was gay. That can’t be the reason Rucka was having creative trouble with DC becuase if it was they are dumb.

I mean how much money did Bruno make?

Being controversial and thinking outside the box is how you draw new people in.

Anyway, and this is my second point, I don’t think continuity helps anybody. Continuity caters to a certain fan base, and its all well and good… but really… think of the best sellers of the past two decades…

Watchmen. Dark Night Returns. Kingdom Come. All Star Superman. Ultimate Spider-man.

These are not in continuity stories. These are the biggest sellers and the best acclaimed stories. People want good stories. And further, they want good SUPERHERO stories. But continuity seems to be a bit of an outdated concept. And so is playing a conservative game.

The big two should take more chances and reach out to new audiences instead of playing it safe. Its better for everyone involved. And I think Rucka was a creator that doesn’t play it safe creatively and they are missing out.

Amit! took the words right out of my mouth…I finally get the Kate / Bette “team-up” that my fanboy self wanted and I can’t enjoy it because Rucka is leaving….

Sometimes I think the comic gods hate me……

A Chuck Dixon-Mike S. Miller “Death of Batwoman” series sounds like my dream come true.

I hate Batwoman character for one reason. The same reason I want to break Obsidian out of his egg and have him chasing distaff tail.

I don’t want gay characters . Period. Unless they’re cannon fodder ala “Cry for Justice.”

Ruck doesn’t to keep Batwoman relevant and in the spotlight. Her destroyer and character-assassin is gone.

And soon, she will be as well. She’ll show up in the spotlight of a fight scene in the latest great Bat stunt and she’ll either sit on a table like Superman or offer in “Final Crisis of the 52 Greatest Lanterns” or whatever great idea they have planned.

DC’s idea of progress is relaunching “Boobs of Prey” with it’s tasty T&A art that I love.

What a good publisher.

Haven’t read anything by Rucka’s DC stuff that was above average.

God, that gay hype is shallow crap.

Carlos Futino

April 6, 2010 at 5:52 am

While I’m a little bummed that Rucka’s & William’s Batwoman isn’t happening, but if that means we’re finally seeing more Whiteout, I’m game.

Ethel Sugarman

April 6, 2010 at 7:57 am

With all that Greg had to endure in bringing Kate’s stories tom life, it’s no wonder he quit DC.

After excitedly announcing a Batwoman title in December, he just up and quits. I can’t imagine what DC was torturing him with this time in the name of corporate homophobia. To drive him away from his creation, it must have been excruciating.

DC Entertainment is not the same as DC Comics. And Batwoman’s sexuality is kryptonite to DC Entertainment.

Poor Greg. It’s a huge loss to readers and a sad indication of what DC Entertainment stands for.

Jerry Baldwin

April 6, 2010 at 8:17 am

DC is sooooooo going to screw over Batwoman.

Peter Woodhouse

April 6, 2010 at 10:22 am

Tom Fitzpatrick’s “sharking” again!
Down, boy! Put some bromide in your cappucino!

Maybe (just maybe) Rucka will pull a Peter David and create a new character for a new company and be able to tell the stories he wanted to tell. Peter David created Fallen Angel beause he wasn’t done telling Supergirl stories. I’m pretty sure that Oni or IDW or Radical or Boom would open their arms and welcome that property.

Dean:

Regarding your “creators treating corporate characters like they own them” – I agree that that produces the best stories and always has. However, I want to know what Grant Morrison’s original Batman RIP pitch was, because it sure as heck didn’t turn out like he hyped it to (Morrison, as opposed to Millar, usually follows up on his own hype). Ditto with Final Crisis. And of course, I really want to know what stories Rucka WANTED to tell with Batwoman that DC wouldn’t let him tell.

Also, regarding your DC vs. Marvel point, I have to disagree. Look at Invincible Iron Man, the sadly departed Iron Fist and Capt. Britain titles, Captain America, HIckman’s FF, or even Jason Aaron’s Wolverine — it really feels like some of the tales being told there are definitive. That’s the problem I have with a large portion of DC’s output: the writers and artists, while talented, seldom seem to be trying to define the characters for their generation. I would say Morrison tried and succeeded with Batman and Superman, Cooke redifined Martian Manhunter and Catwoman, and Rucka certainly tried and succeeded with the Question and Batwoman. But look at Geoff Johns. He is a slave to making his version of Green Lantern fit in with all previous depictions of Green Lantern, and I can’t say artistic collaborators Reis or Van Sciver really went in a different direction from the classic Adams or Gibbons depictions, either…

@ Roman:

You might be right regarding DC v. Marvel. It is an impression that I have had since the ’90s and it could very easily be out of date. Quesada is an artist. Folks coming from the art side of things seem to be less intrusive in editorial roles than writers.

I am actually a Geoff Johns moderate. I sort of admire what he tries to do, even when it is not consistently successful. Taking the highlights of the various versions of these characters and trying to weave long-run plots is a difficult. Like it or not, Johns has defined Green Lantern as much as anyone since O’Neal and Adams.

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 7, 2010 at 5:23 am

“Tom Fitzpatrick’s “sharking” again!
Down, boy! Put some bromide in your cappucino!”

@Peter Woodhouse:

I live to “shark’, it’s a guilty pleasure. ;-)
Especially where Ms. Thompson’s concerned. ;-)

Too bad, I don’t drink coffee, I sure could use some bromide!

Given DC’s present multiverse, I’d have thought DC were in a relatively strong position to at least let Greg tell the Batwoman stories he’d like to… just set them on a as yet uncharted Earth, and use the continuity he wants to.

Desire to own characters?? Perfectly understandable… I’d have thought Vertigo and (Marvel’s Icon) gave scope for this. Surprised more cutting edge super hero stories aren’t told in Vertigo.

But question may be: Does DC think sales gained by allowing top writers more creative control make it commercially worthwhile?? Personally I’m bemused at number of super hero fans that follow characters rather than writers…. and maybe that encourages DC to play safe, and insist on their characters being pretty static and predictable.

She dies and they’re bury her. Weep.

And Rucka is typical of comic creators these days. The idiot needs the job and doesn’t tell what he’s been doing for the past 3 years. He’s not writing for fans. But for the iLLUSION of writing for the fans.

Everyone who bit, were the fools. Welcome to the club.

This has a bunch of good points about DC, but I’m not sure where Marvel fits into the equation at all – who have they driven away recently? As far as I can tell, everyone who’s working there is happy as hell.

OK, I guess JMS, but the guy had like two years with Thor without any crossovers too, and he basically publically called out Quesada over OMD, which is a pretty dumb move politically.

My theory is this…I think Rucka wanted to do the kind of stories that got him recognized by GLAAD. I think DC, like most corporate entities, are reluctant to explore these “markets” out of fear of a moral backlash and a loss in marketshare/profit. Stories of sexual identity aside, like any other business, the comic industry does not want to alienate a single reader and so do their best to keep close to the status quo. A shame really–because I think Batwoman has demonstrated there is a large market out there clamoring for something different from a well worn genre.

I think everyone who has ever collected comics hits that point where they get burned out and think “Do I even care anymore? Have I read all the stories I need to read?”

I’m at that point right now and I’ve gotta say that stupid incidents like this are the reason that people ultimately decide to quit reading comics. I only pull two or three superhero comics a month (everything else has gone Vertigo or independent over the last couple of years) but I can honestly say that there was nothing I was looking forward to more than Rucka and Williams’ Batwoman stories.

What a shame. And for what? More corporate greed on the part of The Big Two? Fear of homophobic backlash? Ridiculous. What a rip-off.

Ian

P.S. TopJack, why don’t you fuck off, you bigoted bastard?

There’s got to be a reason that Stumptown came out from Oni-Press and not from Vertigo, where some DC creators put out their non-DC Universe stuff.

I’m sure I’ll be called a DC apologist, I really don’t see how any cases of homophobia can be levied against the company with regard to Batwoman. The long-delay between the character’s debut and the actually publication of the Rucka/Williams run has more to do with the long lead time JHW needed to complete the work, instead of any antipathy or anxiety about publishing a lesbian superhero. There are plenty of comics DC has announced (Andrekyo’s THUNDER Agents relaunch, for example) that have never been released, and if the announced Batwoman comic was too “gay” for DC, they just wouldn’t have released it at all, not release ten issues of it and then force Rucka off the book.
I love JHW, but I don’t think a monthly Batwoman book was ever really a viable reality without a number of fill-ins or publishing the book on a schedule similar to All-Star Superman. And maybe neither of those options appealed to Rucka (waiting three years to get out twelve issues) and decided to do the creator-owned work instead. As to why it’s not going to be published with Vertigo, it probably has more to do with the creator-owned deal that Vertigo offers–that includes Vertigo into the trademark with the creators and cuts them in on any movie money, I believe–than any animosity with DC.

Nice article. I agree with many points. Here are my thoughts.

DC/Marvel is a playground. Play nice or go somewhere else. They have the best superhero characters. Continuity matters. Would you watch Star Wars. Lost, or Battlestar Galactica, if stories were not set in the established universe or mythos? Anyone interested can always catch up and read or watch the older stories. These are grand narratives.

Being the superhero fan I am, I loved Batwoman. DC better not put her in Limbo. I will trust that the editors will recognize demand for more of her story. I will trust they do their best to find a writer and artist that will make kickbutt comics.

I have no interest in Stumptown or Queen and Country.

Lets look at another medium. I’m a fan of Tarantino movies. I will not however spend money on Inglorious Basterds, as I am not interested in that type of movie.

To me, corporate comics are all about the characters and the universe they inhabit. There are only 10 or so creators that I will follow to whatever they do. Compared to 30-40 “properties”

Lets see if someone at DC or Rucka straight out tells the fans why the split on over Batwoman. Creative differences is too vague to satisfy this fan.

gay characters don’t belong in mainstream superhero comics.

Thank you for summing up, well, what I’ve been playing with since I heard about this. We pretty much agree across the board.

@Ian

Shh, if we pretend they don’t exist maybe they’ll go away. Calling out someone’s bigotry on the internet will only lead to shenanigans and discussion that goes nowhere.

@Trey

I too would like to know what exactly caused this split. There is entirely too much speculation for my taste. I too think that it can’t be over the fact that Batwoman is gay or that Rucka is getting tired of corporate owned characters or that he wanted more freedom for movies and etc… or even a combination of these things There is a deeper story we’re missing here and I don’t think we’re gunna get to the bottom of it by ourselves.

Neither do black characters, right Will? Or women unless they are T&A.

Get your head out of your ass.

“But this isn’t intended to be some rant about how Marvel and DC are big bad corporate entities that must be stopped…it’s intended to be an open dialogue…what can change in the industry to keep real talent like Rucka around?”

How is he leaving the industry when he’s just going to focus on his own work? Why do comic creators have to work for Marvel or DC (and to a lesser extent, Dark Horse or Image) be somehow validated creatively and develop import?

So Greg Rucka is leaving DC Comics, if Marvel was smart they would seize this opportunity to offer Mr.Rucka a deal, because I know of several female “street level” characters that Greg Rucka might enjoy writing (cough Songbird from Thunderbolts cough cough, cough, wheeze Diamondback, Komodo, and Cloud 9 from Avengers The Initiative cough wheeze wheeze to name some). However I don’t see Marvel doing this, which is kind of unfortunate. But the sky is the limit for Greg Rucka and whatever opportunity he decides to pursue.

I saw Williams at Boston ComicCon, but I didn’t really bring up the whole Batwoman issue. I dunno, it seemed like maybe a sore issue. What do you say? Offer condolences? I just got some issues of it signed and didn’t bring it up.

This was one of my favorite books and I was looking forward to Batwoman returning (preferably in Detective again). It’s a shame that won’t be happening now.

I’ve never been a big fan of Rucka otherwise but I might check out his other new stuff if I see it in the shop. Still, ideally, Williams and him would be continuing with Batwoman.

@ Jon

thanks pal!
your enlightened comment haS given me cause to re-examine my stance on gay superHeroes, and made me realize that i’m also a racist and a misogynist. wow. i jUsT can’t thank you enough. rest assured that tomorrow morning i will endeavour to turn my life around and start living it in a manner that would meet yoUr aPproval. with that in mind, could YOU please publish your e-mail address so that i can contact you For Advice and Get your input on what i should think?

Thanks,
Will

Dude, writing in code because you’re too chicken to say what you mean? Classy. You coward.

I’m surprised so many people keep saying how Marvel should snap up Rucka while they have the chance? Why?

The man has said time and time again that this he is leaving DC for the time being, purely because he wants to work on his own creator-owned working. Not only does going off to Marvel go completely against that, it’s also the equivalent of spitting in DC’s face.

@Wesley:
Wow, dude. You really are smarter than you look.
I can understand your leaping to Jon’s defence, after all, with a name like Wesley I’m sure you were probably the victim of gay taunts in the schoolyard. Did you answer that Joe Weider ad from that back of an old comic, and get all beefed up and ready to take on the world?
Good for you! I’m glad you took time out of your busy day crusading to call me out on something I said to some asshole that took exception to my simply stated opinion. Yes sir, it’s guys like you that keep the internet safe for the little people. Now quickly, leave your calling card, and away! away! the night calls and you must be off!

This feels like deja vu for me. I feel like all the good writers/artists have said “peace out” in the past. Are Marvel/DC really doomed to repeat their history?

I really think that Rucka is making the absolute right decision. It’s a creator’s world out there, and content is king. Why give it away to a corporation? With the rise of the web as a marketing tool, we have democratized access to press and the fans- so why give away any creative rights or compromise your vision? While I am saddened that I’m not going to see JW3 on Batwoman, I’m sure whatever he gets on next will get my dollars.

Although, he’d make a lot more money going to do movie work…

I think in today’s market, it’s just something we as readers are going to have to get used to- creators are wisely going to look out for themselves, and keep their best story ideas for their own projects.

AND- will roberts- please go away.

@ Mambazo Marvel does have the ICON imprint which is creators to work on their own projects (Ed Brubaker’s Criminal, Brian Michael Bendis’s POWERS, and Mark Millar’s KICK ASS, and NEMESIS to name some of ICON’s titles), however I pretty much stated in my previous post that I do not see Mairvel reaching out to Greg Rucka to offer him a deal, and a big reason for this is because Greg Rucka possibly signed a non competition clause prohibiting him from working with Marvel immediately should he decide to leave DC (that’s business) plus Greg Rucka has worked for Marvel before, I do not think he is interested in doing so again. No hard feelings I hope.

Oops I meant to say Marvel has the ICON imprint which allows creators to work on their own projects, my bad (it’s 7 am, I’m sorry for the typo). again my bad on the double post.

To clarify–I don’t think Rucka left because (due to) his not being able to tell a story about a lesbian character, rather this is but one sticking point for any corporate entity–do not alienate a single segment of their market; which is impossible. The books I love, especially the superhero genre, are the ones where it is apparent the writer/artist created something rather than delivering an editor’s vision. Of course when the editor(s) support the vision, more often than not, the work turns out that much better. I think there is far too much effort spent on trying to deliver what consumers want–because at the end of the day some of the biggest hits in comics, film–all media–are often the projects the suits think will fail.

@Tim Doyle
Why? Because my opinion is unpopular on this board? I don’t believe that gay characters should be in comic titles that are meant for children. I’ve got no personal bias towards gays, or blacks, or women, and so resent being labled a nazi. I’ve got no problem with gay characters in Stormwatch, that’s clearly a mag meant for an older crowd, hence the lack of Stormwatch pajamas, toys, and breakfast cereals.
A person should be able to walk into a comic shop and pick up any title that’s part of the Batman line and be able to hand it off to a six year old confident they won’t find any pages of objectional content. That was the case in any decade prior to this one, and if you want the industry to survive another it’s gonna have to mean an end to all this fan fic bullshit that passes for mainstream comics today. It’s the Me! Me! Me! mentality of todays aging fanboys that will spell the end of the industry, and then where will you be?

Will:

Why couldn’t a gay superhero be represented as a toy? Or on a breakfast cereal? Will children catch “teh gay” from eating cereal with a picture of a superhero who happens to be gay?

You seem to be under the impression that gay superheroes do nothing but have depraved and promiscuous gay sex in between bouts of crime fighting. Unfortunately, this type of archaic and ignorant assumption is what likely led newly christened “DC Entertainment” to abandon Batwoman.

In today’s society, one has to cater to the most ignorant and least intelligent for they always seem to scream the loudest.

You seem like the comic book equivalent of a teabagger – whining about something you know nothing about based only on stereotypes and prejudices.

What a fool you are.

ALL kinds of characters being in comments. Some of you people are repulsive.

*looks around*

Maybe Gail Simone can write her…..?

I’m neither a fan of prejudice or presumption. Depressing how Batwoman can bring out homophobia on one hand and persecution paranoia on the other. Neither side will budge in their perspective but also little chance of either converting very many to their viewpoint who don’t already share it. Not surprised DC is keeping mum on their plans and proceeding carefully when they do. The paranoids will scream that this caution IS an example of corporate homophobia and the actual homophobes will be paranoid about the corporation’s plan to corrupt this nation’s youth and/or its values. Both sides presenting that the publication, or the lack thereof, of Batwoman is a sign of how the present is screwed up and the future is just downhill from here. Little chance of civil discourse here…

A_M_D: I’m pretty sure in one of those stories I linked to that it said Rucka did has not had an exclusive contract with DC for several years (3 perhaps?) so it’s likely he can go wherever he wants. I think he IS going wherever he wants by not going to Marvel and returning to more independent work…which I applaud (and I’ll follow him wherever he goes).

That said, if his reason for leaving DC is really that he “can’t tell the stories he wants to tell” then I’m sure it would be unlikely for him to look Marvel’s way either. Even with the ICON imprint in place, it sounds to me that he’s a little burned out on working for ‘the man’ and it’s hard to blame him.

I just fear for The Big Two’s evolution and inability to hold onto great writers/storytellers like Rucka…I always want Marvel and DC to be better…but they’re not going to get better with people like Rucka jumping ship. Hopefully the alternative is that as big talents like Rucka continue to jump ship, the independent market thrives and perhaps eventually forces the big two to tell better stories in order to compete with it.

@Jerry Baldwin
I happen to disagree with Will Roberts on the issue of homosexuality in super-heroes and their marketing.

However I disagree with you on your blanket statement on “teabaggers”. First of all it’s the Tea Part Movement and you appear to be whining about something you know nothingabout( the motivations, hearts, and minds of those who are in the movement or support it’s basic tenets) based only on stereotypes and prejudices.

If the Batwomen character is written with respect it wont’ matter whether Rucka writes her or if she is portrayed as a open lesbian.

Williams is what made the Batwoman run on Tec’ for me. Rucka – while obviously insanely talented, I can take him or leave him. Besides the Batwoman and Question stuff I wasn’t a diehard over any of his DC work. Even his Wonder Woman run left me cold. As long as Williams stays on Batwoman and they give us a writer of equal skill, I wish Rucka the best. If they employ Winnick or the like as the Batwoman writer – then I will curse Rucka in my sleep…

I’m going to go a little counter to the current industry trend, even counter to many books I very much enjoy and say that I think this really should be a sign that the editorially driven megastory needs to go away.

As much as I love Blackest Night for how it has built up over the last few years, and as much as I love World of New Krypton and the Death of Bruce Wayne…they are extremely limiting stories when you look at the full line of books DC is offering.

I say limiting in that (less so for Green Lantern, probably because it is the most organically grown storythread of the three I stated), for all intents and purposes there are main characters that are essentially taken off the table and cannot be used. This does nothing but limit the world and lock it down, requiring strict editorial control just to avoid contradicting basic events. This also leads to situations where writers have less freedom to tell stories they might want to because everything has to run through about five filters.

I can imagine how the constraints can become too much of a problem to deal with.

And I was just giving DC examples. Don’t get me started on Marvel where the writing of a creator driven tale that doesn’t get derailed by their now annually required event series throws everything out of whack. Just look at Spider-man from just before Civil War onward. All of the stories were reactionary.

I think ultimately we need to see comics move back towards self contained storylines. Less book crossing epics. More one-two shot short stories. Less WORLD SHAKING TURNING POINTS and more interesting tales. Drama in comics is something that all too often becomes forced with ongoing promises that “NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME!” … yet one of the best comics in the last 10 years was Paul Dini’s run on Detective comics and the collection of one-two part stories. No sweeping changes happened, but they were well written, entertaining, and classic Batman & Robin stories. Many of which were much more memorable than a good portion of the longer tales.

Perhaps we should be seeing more books like that, and less like Siege.

As a friend of mine said when I discussed this with him, “It won’t be too long from now before Batwoman is either raped or crippled or dies.” Which seems to be the unfortunate fad/black mark in the DC comics world. Not that it doesn’t happen in Marvel, but it usually seems female characters are assigned to people who don’t know how to write for female characters, and then something terrible happens to them.

I’m surprised no mention of “The Question” was brought up, considering that’s the equally enjoyable back-up feature in Detective Comics.

I’m afraid Will won’t be joining us anymore. He was unable to even maintain the fairly low level of his original discourse.

With response to six year olds picking up comic books to read – I honestly don’t think mainstream Batman or Ironman books are appropriate for small children, regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the characters presented.

I handed my five year old nephew, who is obsessed with comic book characters, a free Ironman issue I picked up at my local comic book shop and after looking through it, he put it back down and said it was too scary. I honestly hadn’t even looked through it, but I did after that. It was absolutely NOT appropriate for small children.

The level of violence and adult content in mainstream books should be the real reason that six year olds don’t read them. NOT a lesbian character. Batwoman, X-Men, etc are not written for small children. Nor should they be.

The validity of arguing that sexual immorality outweighs the immorality of violent imagery presented in most comic books is questionable at best. To me, it’s the age old argument that happens in America, which goes something like this:
It’s OK to show folks mowing down an acre of “bad guys” with machine guns, but flash some T&A on the screen, or include a gay character – and people freak out.

But at least my five year old nephew can self-screen and determine what’s appropriate content for his age and himself. If only we all had that much faith in our children and others. Maybe we could be open-minded about gay and lesbian characters in comic books, choosing not to read them – rather than ranting about how angry we are that others do.

@Brian: What a horrible horrible terrible shame.

More seriously, thanks for taking care of that…I was about to step in, but wasn’t sure how best to stop it without making it worse.

Unfortunately, underneath the bile, he had the beginnings of a point. It’s hard to have gay characters without dealing with sexual identity to some extent. And is that kind of discussion appropriate in decades old franchise super-hero comic books that 90% of the rest of the United States still think are written for 12-year-old boys?

I know I’m getting WAY off topic here, but I thought it was worth bringing up.

@Wesley Smith: Yes, because no 12-year-old boy (or girl? or are comics for guys only?) could possibly be dealing with sexual identity. [rolls eyes]

But that said, I don’t think that was even really the case for Batwoman. I think one of the things that was so good about Kate Kane was that being a lesbian did not define her. In the detective run, there was – what? one issue? – where her sexual orientation was a big factor in the narrative. Otherwise, she was gay, and then story went on, rather than she was gay and that _was_ the story.

Moreover, are these comics really for children? That most recent arc with the cutter character was pretty disturbing. Unless you’re thinking MPAA style, where depraved violence is fine but sex is a no-no.

On an entirely separate note, I’m pretty sure the Stumptown delays are from the artist rather than Rucka, which wouldn’t be reason for him to leave. I do certainly hope they maintain some semblance of regularity soon.

You know, I have zero interest in Batwoman, and no writer or artist can get me interested in this patchwork character, but Rucka’s departure is practically the same thing that happened to Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner on Power Girl.

My feeling is that DC’s editorial plan involves something horrible happening to these characters either in their books or in the next Big Stupid Event and the creative teams just decided they could not in all good conscience be party to these plans.

I’d wager that this is also reflective of Darwyn Cooke’s statements regarding the Catwoman rewrite, but in that case Cooke won out and ended his run of Catwoman on a high, optimistic note..

Ray

It’s challenging to believe that the formation of DC Entertainment had nothing to do with the Batwoman situation.

The comics division has long been ignored by Warner Bros. and is now viewed as a potential cash cow. The last thing a conservative board of directors wants is a group of homophobic teabaggers protesting their studios and movies because they have a gay character headlining a book. That type of attention doesn’t make stock holders happy.

Yes, DC Comics approved Batwoman and put her in Detective Comics. DC Entertainment is an entirely different beast, though.

Oh well. I’m sure she’ll bite it in the next “Crisis.”

Time to move on I guess.

Why not?
You think comicbooks will be turning “12-year-old boys” into gay people?

No, you can’t possibly be such a bigot. Honestly where are people like you and Will creeping out of in the year 2010?

A word to all those believing a comic book can ‘turn” someone gay.

Sexuality, whatever it may be, is pretty hard wired. Ask yourself this: assuming you’re a straight man/woman, what type of entertainment or fictional character could possibly sway you into homosexuality? If you’re truly heterosexual, nothing could make you sway from what you are.

That’s what’s always so curious about those looking to “protect” others from falling into the “trap” of turning gay. It seems as if they have doubts about their own sexual constitution and how flexible it might be. That’s why they’re so worried about “other” people; nothing to do with themselves.

And, please, enough with the straw man “children” argument. No comic company is going to portray hardcore gay sex in a mainstream comic any more than they would show hetero sex. It’s still a mainstream comic.

Being gay isn’t just about sex any more than being straight is. Gay people take out the trash, cook dinner, pay bills, wash the car and spend the majority of their time dingo all the same mundane duties everyone else does. Any stereotypes, especially those bordering on fantasy, are just that.

The world is diverse and ideally it all should be reflected in popular entertainment.

Essentially: get your mind out of the gutter.

Alright, just to clarify:

I didn’t say that anything a person reads will turn them gay. That’s just silly.

Looking back at what I wrote, I guess I can see how someone might take that away. What I was attempting to say is that that I’m not sure a discussion on sexuality–whether gay, straight or other–is something that should be discussed in a Comic Code Authority, all-ages title. Not because it’ll “turn” anyone gay, but because that discussion is obviously very important, and I think too many writers tend to trivialize it. (I love Warren Ellis’ run on The Authority just as much as anyone else, but the relationship between Apollo and The Midnighter was clearly put in there for shock value.)

And also wasn’t trying to say that there shouldn’t be any gay characters or couples in mainstream super-hero comics, just that I think it’s hard to do well. Like Jerry just mentioned, gays are just as able as any other person. But the majority that I see portrayed by DC or Marvel aren’t defined by their ability, they’re defined by their sexuality. They’re not written as “heroes,” they’re written as “gay heroes,” and the fact that they’re gay becomes more important than other aspects of how people view them, like their heroism.

For the record, I do think that Rucka is able to walk that tightrope better than 90% of the writers currently writing for DC or Marvel. The revelation of Rene Montoya’s homosexuality was handled remarkably well, and obviously his run on Detective was outstanding.

I’m just saying it’s difficult to deal with issues of sexuality in mainstream super-hero comics without it turning into a hack job, that’s all.

Kelly: What’s wrong with the corporate dominances of the industry finally withering away? Why are you so concerned about their success?

UberHobo: This is the second comment of yours that seems to be totally misunderstanding my position.

I’m NOT wildly concerned with the success (or failure) of the big two. If that’s your sole take on the article, I suggest you read it again and look for what I’m actually talking about, rather than what you seem to think (or wish?) I was talking about.

I just want to read great comics. I think it’s a problem when the big two (that dominate the market to an insane degree at this point in time) don’t seem to care about losing talent like Rucka. I think it spells trouble (and it makes me sad) and since I don’t see the big two going anywhere anytime soon, I’d rather advocate for (and try to start a discussion) about what I think would be positive change so that great creators like Rucka don’t feel like they HAVE to leave mainstream comics in order to do the work they want to do, than cry out “DIE CORPORATE ENTITIES, DIE!”

@UberHobo:

I don’t think, and this is just from my extrapolation of the article, that Kelly was advocating for corporate dominance explicitly. And I don’t think that this is exactly the issue. Though there is a case for going down that avenue.

I think many of us love the corporate owned superheroes like Batman and co and love the stories told about them. And we like our stories to be told well and by talented authors and illustrators. If the talent pool keeps going off to do their own indy stuff our beloved characters are going to have sucky stories.

I think this is the issue. Why can’t the Big Two keep these guys on a title for any period of time and why can’t they keep their talent from running off and doing their own thing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my indy comics as much as the next guy. But I also think that corporate owned characters deserve to be read and enjoyed and talked about too. It seems to me that you are invalidating Kelly’s entire article on the basis that corporate comics suck. Did I miss read you?

Well it looks like I was too late. Kelly did a perfectly good job of defending herself. I must write too slow…

:/

@Daniel: It’s the thought that counts :)

lol. Thanks. :)

@Wesley: That was an exceptionally erudite and reasoned response. Were that all internet comments so.

A few responses regardless: first, though I don’t think you were suggesting that gay characters can turn people gay, it’s not an uncommon sentiment – that the more you show the “gay lifestyle” the more it’s effects can spread. That thinking was alluded to here in some comments and is explicit elsewhere.

I’d challenge rather Detective Comics is a comic that is meant to be all-ages and kid friendly, or if so, whether outside of a few younger readers oriented comics, the Batman universe should be aimed at and catering to young readers. It deals with dark and mature themes. I think there’s a few completely different debates that could spin out of that, (kids can handle dark stuff, gearing comics to aging fanboys, non-continuity vs. continuity etc.) but that’s a debate for somewhere else (like here: http://comics212.net/2009/11/22/the-myth-of-all-ages/)

There’s an argument that would say that superhero comics are ill-equipped to deal with a variety of serious issues, sexuality included, by their very nature. That’s not saying that it can’t be done, but that overriding structure of superpeople beating the crap out of each other is not well suited to these more nuanced ideas.

The alternative has to be that the writers who do superhero comics are exceptionally poor at depicting these issues. Either way though, I agree with you completely that most stories elevate heroes who are gay into “gay heroes” as if to fulfill a mandatory diversity check. That’s what makes the end of Rucka’s run on detective comics such a shame: Kate Kane was Batwoman, full stop. Sexual preference not required.

I’m not going to lie. I think that Rucka leaving DC is the best thing he can do for his writing career. As a fan of pretty much everything he’s done outside DC and Marvel, Rucka is a far stronger writer on the projects he creates from the ground up. To see Stumptown on a regular basis, a new Queen & Country series, and whatever else he wants to get on the market, is well worth him stepping free from DC.

The problem isn’t with his decision to do so; it is more with the fans that fear having to actually put some effort in to finding his work. It seems to me he is only following the path that Robert Kirkman took a couple years back, that Mark Waid seems to be moving in to with Boom. He’s leaving to do what he wants with comics. He’s in a good place to do it, I suspect.

More power to him.

I have read the article and your following comments over a few times. We agree on a lot of things, but, to me, this line gave the impression that you thought the industry IS Marvel and DC, and the rest are just mere footsteps towards being part of it.

“But this isn’t intended to be some rant about how Marvel and DC are big bad corporate entities that must be stopped…it’s intended to be an open dialogue…what can change in the industry to keep real talent like Rucka around?”

Sorry if I misunderstood you (and if I still do) but that line still comes off that way to me. You seem to have a big concern of Marvel and DC losing their positions. That you want them to be on top. Always.

“I just fear for The Big Two’s evolution and inability to hold onto great writers/storytellers like Rucka…I always want Marvel and DC to be better…but they’re not going to get better with people like Rucka jumping ship. Hopefully the alternative is that as big talents like Rucka continue to jump ship, the independent market thrives and perhaps eventually forces the big two to tell better stories in order to compete with it.”

As well as the response you gave me. You came off somewhat defeated, but willing to work past that and facilitate discussion to find ways Marvel or DC can hold onto creators and stay ahead of the game. I find such logic baffling.

DC or Marvel will always have a certain way (that they’re not going to change) of having their stories put out, a way a lot of people are uncomfortable with. With more high profile people jumping ship to different publishers, telling their own stories, the industry can finally move it’s focus away from superheroes (and comics) to just comics, fully exploiting what the medium has to offer without limitations.

But, that doesn’t mean the two will always be scrambling for talent. for every Rucka that leaves, there will always be a Simone, Morrison, Azzarello, Lapham, or Milligan that stays. Or a fresh faced Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen or Andy Diggle to fill his place. The Big Two pay the most, so some people are willing to work by the rules because the money’s good or they just enjoy the characters. Some aren’t. It’s pretty simple. I don’t know why it’s sad that the Two can’t hold on to a writer, when there are plenty of others working or new ones equally capable already in place. The “mainstream” will always have talent.

Personally, I just don’t like the notion of “mainstream.” It’s uncomfortable and limiting. I wished it didn’t mostly mean comics from Marvel or DC or some licensed ones based on canceled TV shows.

Oh, and I do love all the work from Marvel and DC by the writers I’ve mentioned.

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Uber Hobo: I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to take one sentence of a 1500 word article and claim that it undoes all the other sentences there…I guess that’s your prerogative.

I just want to read good comics. Currently DC and Marvel make most of the comics and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. So to me 1 + 1 = 2. if I want the bulk of my comics to be better, I need the people who make the bulk of comics to be better. And so I think it’s a bad sign when the people who make most of the comics can’t hold onto talent. As I said in the article, I’m delighted to see what Rucka gives us elsewhere, and odds are, because I’m someone that generally prefers independent stuff, I’ll like it even more than his mainstream stuff. But I still think it doesn’t bode well for the bulk of the industry (which is mainstream) that they can’t hold onto him (and others before him).

I think it would be idealistic and naive to act like the big two are going to go down (for lack of quality or any other reason) in the near future – especially now that the big two are even bigger since they are effectively Disney and DC Entertainment and because Hollywood has their hooks in them both pretty deep at this point and as we all know there is way more money in film than in comics. Is that defeatist? I suppose it is to a degree…I read a lot of really crappy comics…and I wish it didn’t have to be that way. But as much as I’d love to pretend that the independent market is going to make some herculean move forward and suddenly challenge the big two for all comics readers (thus forcing the big two to either fold or get better) I think that’s wildly unrealistic. So I’d rather talk about ideas (and hear about ideas) that maybe have a chance in hell of changing the mainstream comics industry for the better.

Specifically, I find it sad because of the reason Rucka gave for leaving “have to be able to tell my own stories”. So, if that statement is accurate, he’s leaving because he’s got a lot of great ideas and he can’t do them with DC (he also probably can’t hold onto rights and things, which is a big dealbreaker – and rightly so – for creators). So if Rucka – a hugely respected talent in the field can’t ‘tell his own stories’ what do you think that says about other writers at the big two – less powerful than Rucka at this point in their careers – it suggests to me that they probably feel similarly, but can’t leave yet. But if I had to guess I’d say they will eventually. It’s not like Rucka is the first (or the last) to leave the big two. It happens all the time…and sometimes they come back and sometimes they don’t.

As for the big two never changing. They do sometimes change. Vertigo seems like change to me for DC. It’s a lot of non-continuity stuff, some creator owned stuff. Vertigo is how you get a great series like Fables. ICON is change of a sort for Marvel – it’s how you get Powers. So I guess I see it as more possible that “mainstream” comics CAN be flexible and change if they feel they HAVE to, than it is that they are going to suddenly go down in flames defeated by what…? The quality of independent comics? Seems unlikely.

And what Daniel said above is also true. I don’t know why I have to give up on Batman in order to have quality. Why can’t I have Batman AND great comics? If I call for the destruction of all things Marvel and DC, I’m also calling for the destruction of Batman. But I love Batman.

Kelly in a way that is the paradox….for instance last week Spider-Man Fever came out. The creator (who’s name escapes me right now) is a loved indie creator, especially here in NY…but when my friend who works the shop asked the Indie Lovers if they would be interested in checking it out….he got at least 80% of them saying no…

The overriding response was that the creator went over to “the enemy” for doing his version of Spider-Man.

Now this reason I find irrational and is the reason that this industry doesn’t grow more.

Spinning off of what Daryll B has said: I see this attitude in the music industry and in the film industry. Indie fans feel like they can’t participate in enjoying mainstream work. And I think that there is a kind of reverse to this notion in that many people who enjoy main stream entertainment feel wary of independent stuff.

And this, to me, doesn’t seem to be something that will ever change. People like what they like and they are often very hostile to try new things. Though I have to add that in the comics world I think many fans are more egalitarian in their tastes than music or film buffs.

Most newly minted comic fans show up for the main stream stuff (for Batman or Wolverine etc.) then, by following the good stories, dig deeper into the indie world. But its not like they ever abandon the things they liked when they first started reading. Mainstream is where people start. New readers show up to read superhero comics. If we keep superhero comics good (or, help them grow, which I think needs to happen) then we get more fans. And I think everyone can agree that more comic fans is better for everybody right?

And back to the topic (I get carried away). The Rucka/JHW3 run was fantastic. And it was EXACTLY the kind of thing that hooks new readers and changes them into comics fans. It was new. It was relevant. It was gorgeous. I wasn’t continuity heavy. It treated women fairly. It was cool as all hell. We need more of this in our mainstream books. But it won’t happen if DC and Marvel doesn’t create an environment where creators can do stuff like that.

:(

[…] was successful enough that DC planned a new monthly title under Rucka and Williams. But now Rucka has left DC. Williams will do both the writing and art for Batwoman 0, which comes out this month. But even […]

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