The Batwoman That Dare Not Speak Its Name

lbat3How hard can it be go sell "Lesbian Batman" to the mass media?

A few years ago, I broke the story that the new Batwoman in the DC Comics line of Batman comics was going to be the sixties Batwoman character Kathy Kane. And that in this new incarnation, she was going to be  a gay woman.

At the time Devin Grayson was originally hired to write a series to launch her. As an out bisexual woman and a Batbook writer, she was certainly a more relevant choice than many. But problems set in and the next we knew of it, crime novelist Greg Rucka and Promethea artist JH Williams were working on the book. Straight men, but certainly with a history of LGBT friendly work. And that's when the mass media hit. Acres of press, TV, radio and online coverage were generated for this upcoming series with a few pertinent quotes by DC executive Dan DiDio. And we waited. And waited. And heard of more problems within DC about how this character had played out to the press. And waited again.

lbatFinally it was announced that the Batwoman series would appear as part of the ongoing Batman comic book, Detective Comics from issue 854. And a few months ago there was more press. Almost as if the original press had never happened. And finally, the book shipped yesterday.

And… nothing.

No one noticed. Well, the book received immense praise from a number of comic book reviewers, but no mention in the mass media who covered the news of her existence so prevalently. It seems there has been a bit of a press clampdown on the release of this title to anyone who might generate some publicity about this book.

lbat2It is true that DC Comics has shown great care regarding who gets to talk about their comic books and in what context. And twice of late DC has received some extremely embarassing press regarding two of their Batbooks, the All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder comic with unsuccessfully blacked out swear words, and recently a nude fight scene between a non-lesbian Catwoman and a non-lesbian Batgirl in the middle of a hedonist orgy causing concern to parents.

So there are some at DC who right now think the last thing they need is a Lesbian Batman headline.

lbat4I don't know if they're right. The two mentioned examples may be embarrassing, but a lesbian lead character should not. Publicity equals readers right now and, whatever their motives, the more people reading popular fiction with a lesbian lead, especially of the quality of Detective Comics 854, a clever, touching and gorgeous comic book that dazzles and excites far more than it could titllate, the better.

So, if you know a journalist, buy them a copy of Detective Comics 854. Answser questions they may have. If they get a rebuffed by DC press offices, don't worry, they're in a bit of a difficult place right now. It may be late, it may be hidden, it may be ignored but the fact that they are publishing this title at all is a step up. And DC should be congratulated, even if they're embarrassed to accept the compliment.

Detective 857 is a clever non-gratuitous comic book that happens to feature a lead character who happens to be a lesbian, and who happens to be Jewish.

And nothing like this scene in Batman Confidential that caused such a ruckus.


Images copyright DC Comics. Detective Comics 854 shipped yesterday.

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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