Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Batwoman...I don't get it...


Dear Batwoman...

We need to talk. About you, about me...about us. This...this isn't working. I'd like to say that it isn't you, that it's me...but we both know that isn't true. It's you.

You flew into the public eye looking completely beautiful and wrapped in a pre-fabricated controversy. You were a lesbian. Good, good for you. That pissed off certain people and got others excited about a character debut that normally wouldn't be newsworthy at all. Unfortunately, that seemed to be about all you were able to bring to the table that made you worth noticing.

You were introduced in 52, and if I didn't know better, I'd almost think you were meant to die in that series as well; saved only by a last minute change of heart. Sure there's not anything to back that up, but with all the publicity you got before you even started appearing in comics, one would imagine DC would have had...well...SOMETHING lined up for you after that series ended but you got nothing at all. And by the time your star turn in DETECTIVE COMICS started, I had stopped caring all together about the pretty new toy that DC had trotted out in front of the mainstream press.

I gave your series a chance this September because I had seen some preview art and it was gorgeous...I also felt it was important to support your book for two reasons: 1.) You would be only the second LGBT character to headline a mainstream comic; and 2.) you were a woman headlining her own comic as well. Both of those ranks need swelling and if my dollar bills meant your book found success then so be it.

Your first issue was pretty...oh so pretty, and if I were one of those who was more captivated by art than story I would be buying multiple copies of your book each month so I could conversely collect it and wallpaper my rooms with it. But I'm not...and your story left a lot to be desired.

Your most vocal fans told me to go pick up "Elegy" and BATWOMAN #0 and that once I read those I would understand how wonderful BATWOMAN #1 was. It was a request that at first I took issue with; after all, shouldn't I have been able to pick up issue #1 and fully understand and appreciate it? Isn't that what the whole "New 52" was all about?

For almost a month I resisted buying these back issues. Then one day, on a whim, I picked up the MADAME XANADU: DISENCHANTED trade paper back and fell in love with the art by Amy Reeder. Someone told me that she was going to be drawing you in your second arc, and that she had illustrated part of BATWOMAN #0 previously. Based on that I acquiesced and hunted down a copy of that book to see if it would help me understand the glory that others find in you but that had since evaded my eye...and while I was buying that, I picked up those fabled four issues of DETECTIVE COMICS as well so I could read this "Elegy" storyline that so many voices have acclaimed.

And so on Sunday night last I curled up in bed, 6 comics lay beside me. The issues of "Elegy" and the issues 0 and 1 of your eponymous title. I thought for sure that when I was done I would finally 'understand'. Sadly, I don't.

I get that you have 'daddy issues'. Your father was your friend and your confidant, and then later you discovered that he lied to you. I've seen that before. I've seen it better. I'm a Polaris fan and a Scarlet Witch fan...the super heroine with father problems is old-hat to me.

You're being hunted by a cult who worships crime...every character worth holding their own title has an arch-nemesis, but this "Religion of Crime" was after you in 52 back in 2006 and is still after you today. You ask them "Why" and I find myself asking the same thing. One would think that after 4+ years we'd have some idea why they have such an obsession with "The Twice Named" (as an aside...what the hell does *that* even mean?!?)...we don't.

And then there's the immediate plot to this acclaimed Elegy story. The Religion of Crime finds Gotham to be their Holy City yet they keep trying to destroy it. Is that even supposed to make any sense? You'd think if that's the way it worked, the entire Jew vs. Muslim conflict would be over rather quickly, no?

So that brings us to the whole 'lesbian' thing. Like I said, good for you. I like lesbians, they're cool. But I'm starting to think that's the only thing you have going for you. Like...people like you because you're a lesbian, or are afraid to point out that your stories are rather, shall we say "Substance Free" because you're an LGBT character and their worried that criticizing the book will turn into and argument about perceived homophobia. But I'm beginning to think that's what people 'see' in you.

I don't say this to be rude or condescending. I don't say this to take away from the fact that only you and Marvel Comics' Daken can lay claim to being LGBT characters with their own books...and I don't say this because I want your book to fail. I say it because...well, you and I just aren't meant to be together.

I wish you luck in the future, both as a super-hero and as a pioneer. But for me, you're not a ground breaking lesbian, you're just no-substance wrapped in a pretty exterior...which, I guess, makes you more like a young circuit queen gay boy.

Yours Truly,
RJD