IS DC COMICS WAGING A WAR ON SUPERHERO MARRIAGE IN THE NEW 52?

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Batwoman’s current creative team stepped down last week after DC Comics decided not to let them depict a lesbian marriage between the titular character and her fiancée. This story exploded across the internet with allegations that the decision was homophobic in nature.

This past weekend, though, Dan DiDio was widely quoted as having said, “Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives. They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests.”

Actually, the quote is inaccurate and taken out of context. He wasn’t talking about all superheroes, just members of the Bat family. However, the general consensus now is that DC is not opposed to same-sex marriage, just superhero marriage. In fact, it was recently reported by Bleeding Cool that Aquaman and Mera have actually not been married since DC’s reboot in 2011, even though their relationship seems just the same as it did before.

Is DC waging a war on superhero marriage in the Nu52? Let’s take a look at some of their high-profile couples.

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Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer

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While stepping down, J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman reported that they were constantly fighting for creative control over the character. Unfortunately, the straw that broke the camel’s back was DC’s decision to not allow Kate Kane (Batwoman) to marry her fiancée, detective Maggie Sawyer.

Since same-sex marriage is still a hot button issue and not legal in most states, many people suspected DC’s decision was homophobic in nature. DC’s co-publisher and vice president, Dan DiDio attempted to dispel the notion that they are in any way homophobic and the decision to nix the lesbian marriage had more to do with the tone DC is trying to set for the Bat books:

“When we went out with the New 52, and even before the New 52, we had one very clear idea on [indecipherable]Batman group: they shouldn’t have happy personal lives. They shouldn’t. They put on a cape and a cowl for a reason. They are committed to being that person. They are committed to defending others at the sacrifice all their own personal instincts. And for me, that’s a very important statement to make. Because, if you look at every one of the characters in the Batman Family, their personal lives kind of suck.” – Dan DiDio at Baltimore Comic Con, September 7 2013

So basically they want to turn Kate Kane into a depressive workaholic afraid of intimacy, just like Bruce Wayne. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to reintroduce Holly Robinson to come back as lesbian Catwoman to tease and flirt with Batwoman on the rooftops. After all, they seem to want an exact lesbian carbon copy of Batman. Screw originality!

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Barry Allen and Iris West

You are not forgotten, Wally!

Perhaps the hero most deserving of having his marriage broken up was Barry Allen, the original Flash of the Silver Age, since it was his meddling with the time stream that created the Nu52.

He is currently dating co-worker Patty Spivot but seems to still be pining over his beloved Iris West. Of course, Barry got off easy compared to his happily married protégé, Wally West. That poor guy was seemingly erased from history all together.

That means that Wally’s children, Iris and Barry’s grandnephew and grandniece, were also erased from history.

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Clark Kent and Lois Lane

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Superman’s human alter ego, Clark Kent, spent several decades crushing hard on his coworker, Lois Lane, before finally marrying her in 1996. Now the Man of Steel is a bachelor and he’s involved with fellow Justice Leaguer, Wonder Woman.

While we might be happy for Superman that he finally has a sexual partner who can match his strength, it’s all part of a disturbing trend: DC is further isolating Superman from the rest of humanity. In the current continuity, Clark’s adoptive earth parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, died before Clark moved to Metropolis and took up the mantle of Superman. He also quit his job at the Daily Planet so he could concentrate on an independent career as a blogger.

Let’s recap:

  • No human love interest
  • No human relatives
  • No human coworkers outside the Justice League

One of the things that made pre-Nu52 Superman so amazing is that he could have effortlessly given up his humanity altogether. Instead, he made the conscious effort to spend several hours a day walking in our shoes to better understand the people he’s supposed to protect and inspire. These days he seems to be spending most of his time alone or rubbing elbows—and other parts (in the case of Wonder Woman)—exclusively with other superheroes. Superman’s humanity, ironically enough, is what has made him endure 75 years as an icon. His relationship with Lois, whether she was his wife or workplace crush, has been a crucial part of that.

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Buddy Baker and Ellen Baker

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Perhaps Buddy and Ellen Baker had the most high-profile marriage in the Nu52. Unfortunately, it was a marriage strained by Buddy’s responsibilities as Animal Man that ultimately broke up after their son Cliff’s death. All this happened during the month following another DC child’s death, that of Damian Wayne.

The Nu52 is certainly not a safe place to raise a family.

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Arthur Curry and Mera

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So are these two married or not? I’ve thought so since reading Aquaman since September 2011. They’ve shared living quarters, stayed monogamous to the best of my knowledge, and currently own a dog together. But then again, many young unmarried couples fit that profile these days.

According to a recent article  from Bleeding Cool, an unnamed senior DC executive confirmed that the two are not married in the Nu52 continuity, and when he refers to Mera as his “queen,” it’s not an official title, it’s a synonym for his “boo-snacks.” However, DC’s online profile of Mera refers to Aquaman as Mera’s “husband.”

But really, who cares if they’re married or they’re living in sin? Either way, it shows that being in a committed relationship does not make the lead character immune to drama and suffering. Seriously, Aquaman’s really cool these days.

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DC hasn’t released any official statement against superhero marriages, but they certainly have worked hard to undo many preexisting marriages and prevent others from coming into being. What seems unanimous among all my comic book friends is that the marriage between Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer should have been allowed to happen. Not only would it be a great milestone for LGBT representation in DC Comics, it would have also been refreshing to see a member of the Bat family get married, whether or not Dan DiDio thinks they deserve happiness.

The “very important statement” Dan DiDio is trying to make concerning the Bat family, and possibly the entire Nu52, is a dismal one: you can either make a difference or find happiness in your personal life, but not both. It dismantles the very idea of superheroes, who are supposed to fill us with hope, not despair.

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About Author

Paul de Vries

Paul de Vries was raised by a pack of wild Dutch immigrants in pastoral Western Massachusetts. Having trouble connecting with the other kids in his neighborhood, he sought refuge in Greek Mythology. As he matured, superheroes started replacing gods and now he observes each new comic book day religiously. He currently lives in New York City where he performs stand up comedy.