W. Haden Blackman
“Batwoman” #24 hit stores this week, and it’s the final issue by J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman. After the duo stated they would leave “Batwoman” due to editorial interference, DC Comics announced that incoming series writer Marc Andreyko would take over with “Batwoman” #25, a full two issues before Williams and Blackman’s intended exit. (This was later confirmed with a revised December solicitation for “Batwoman” #26.) On Williams’ personal blog, the “Batwoman” writer/artist expressed his dismay that the creative team’s closing arc of the story was cut short.
“I’m depressed over this a bit. And frustratingly the issue will give no arc conclusion, or conclusion to our run,” Williams said via his blog. “We apologize to you readers for that. It wasn’t what we wanted to happen.”
Batwoman Vol. 3: World’s Finest (DC Comics): It’s difficult to talk about this comic without also discussing the announced departure of its creative team which, like several others that have worked on DC’s New 52, left amid quite public complaints of editorial interference.
As an auteur-driven book starring a relatively new character that’s barely been drawn by anyone other than artist and co-writer J.H. Williams III, the whole affair strikes me as strange, as Williams seems to be at least as big a factor in the book’s continued existence as the word “Bat” in its title. And it’s stranger still he and co-writer W. Haden Blackman are only now reaching the breaking point, as from a reader’s perspective, DC appeared to have pretty much left them alone to do their own thing; like Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated and the Geoff Johns-written portions of Green Lantern, this book seems set in its own universe and is sort of impossible to integrate into the New 52 if one thinks about it for too long (with “too long” being “about 45 seconds”).
Regularly cited as one of the best of DC’s current crop of comics, Batwoman is definitely the company’s best-looking, and most intricately, even baroquely designed and illustrated. As for the word half of the story equation, I found Batwoman — and this volume in particular — to be extremely strange, even weird, more than I found it to be good.
DC Comics hasn’t had a particularly good run of things lately. To be frank, the publisher has done blown it a number of times over the past few years. But don’t worry, DC fans — I’m sure it’ll soon be Marvel’s turn, as the two rivals seem to trade off every five years or so.
I’ve been calling out DC for the past couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean everything it does strikes me as wrong. It’s important to declare shenanigans, but it’s also important to recognize when a publisher does something that’s good for comics.
So here are six things DC is doing right:
1. Digital comics: Legends of the Dark Knight and Adventures of Superman are digital-first anthology series that feature some excellent creators (from Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee to J.M. DeMatteis and Jeff Lemire) producing completely accessible and entertaining stories that stand on their own; no college course on the New 52 or Crisis on Infinite Earths required. Yes, these stories are out of continuity — so for a percentage of readers, they don’t count. That’s a mistake, because there’s nothing wrong with a straight-up superhero tale that exists on its own terms. These two anthologies are the gems of DC’s digital-first line-up, but Batman ’66 and Batman: Li’l Gotham also offer fantastical takes on the iconic Caped Crusader that are bright and fun. For those exhausted by the angsty versions of serious stories, you owe it to yourself to check these out.
“The circumstances could be more pleasant. You never want to take over a book when people leave on not the best terms, but the character is so rich and I’m such a huge fan of everything Greg [Rucka] and Haden and J.H. — especially J.H. — have done on that book, that I’m not going in to rearrange everything and say, ‘Everything that went on before is bad. I’m going to fix it.’ I want to do right by the character, and the character that they have done … I’ve got to say, the reaction on the Internet — I expected to be vilified, and drawn and quartered, and I’ve only been called ‘gay Uncle Tom’ by about three websites, so statistically, I’m ahead of the game. Statistically, the Internet’s been great to me.”
– writer Marc Andreyko, in an interview with CBR TV, discussing taking the reins on DC’s Batwoman following the sudden departure of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
DC Entertainment may not have planned it this way — “planning” being something with which DC may be only tangentially familiar — but I doubt its high-ups wanted to release these December solicitations the Monday after what had to be a pretty rough weekend. When you’ve just had to deal with a celebrated creative team walking off a fairly successful book — citing “editorial interference,” and reminding people that the character’s original writer also left after increasing frustration with DC — you might not want to follow that up by calling attention to all the other changes coming before the end of the year.
And don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of Batwoman and “sucky personal life” talk before we’re done. Solicits first, though …
If the first week of Villains Month is any indication, a good bit of the decimal-point issues will feature stories set in the early stages of the Crime Syndicate’s takeover. This wasn’t that apparent from the September solicits, and subsequent months also appeared light on explicit crossovers. December is about the same, with Teen Titans dropping out of the crossover lineup, and Pandora and Phantom Stranger joining the three Justice League books, the three Forever Evil [Colon] miniseries, and Suicide Squad.
I’m still kind of flummoxed by Dan DiDio’s comments last weekend at Baltimore Comic-Con explaining why Batwoman can’t marry her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer. “Heroes shouldn’t have happy personal lives,” he said at the start of the DC Nation panel, according to several sources. “They are committed to being that person and committed to defending others at the sacrifice of their own personal interests. It’s wonderful that they try to establish personal lives, but it’s equally important that they set them aside. That is our mandate, that is our edict and that is our stand with our characters.”
I don’t disagree with the idea that main characters ought to struggle. A sunny walk through the park doesn’t make for much of a gripping adventure yarn. That is pretty basic writing strategy for drama: Put your characters through hell and watch them climb out. Serialized superhero stories, and in fact most Western narratives, are structured around that up and down of going from seeming defeat to triumph. It’s particularly appropriate for Batman and his family of books: The Dark Knight is built around tragedy, and his obsession over fixing that tragedy is what drives him. Bruce Wayne continually sacrifices his personal life in his constant pursuit to make sure what happened to him won’t happen to anyone else. It’s that drive that’s turned him into something of a social misfit — he can play the part of Mr. Debonair but getting emotionally close to him is almost impossible.
So on that level, I don’t disagree with DiDio.
Welcome to “Report Card,” our week-in-review feature. If “Cheat Sheet” is your guide to the week ahead, “Report Card” is typically a look back at the top news stories of the previous week, as well as a look at the Robot 6 team’s favorite comics that we read.
So find out what we thought about Waluk, Superior Spider-Man and more.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where the Robot 6 crew shares their picks for the Royal Rumble … I mean, talks about what comics we’ve read recently. Today our special guest is Landry Walker, writer of Danger Club, Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Little Gloomy, Tron and more.
To smell what Landry and the Robot 6 crew are cookin’, click below.
Batwoman, by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, won the GLAAD Media Award for “Outstanding Comic Book.” The award was announced last night in New York.
“This is extremely gratifying, because we’ve been working very hard to make this character multifaceted and someone to believe in, while showing her develop realistic personal relationships over time,” Williams wrote on his blog. “So the recognition from the GLAAD awards bolsters us greatly. And thank you for all of the support the series has been getting from you all, the comics readership community.”
The awards honor outstanding portrayals of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in various media. Other comics that were nominated in the category included Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, by Allan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung; Secret Six, by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore; Veronica Presents: Kevin Keller, by Dan Parent; and X-Factor, by Peter David, Emanuela Lupacchino, Valentine De Landro and others.
You can find the complete list of winners on the GLAAD site.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at the comics, books and other things we’ve read this week. Today our special guest is Jason Green.
Jason Green is the editor of comics coverage for the St. Louis-based pop culture website PLAYBACK:stl, and a writer and editor for the comics collective Ink and Drink Comics, whose fourth release (a Western anthology titled Off the Wagon) will debut at this year’s C2E2.
To see what Jason and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Retailing | Rumors have begun to swirl that online retail giant Amazon plans to open a brick-and-mortar store in Seattle within the next few months to help gauge the profitability of a chain. The store reportedly won’t just sell e-readers and tablets, but also books from Amazon’s newly launched publishing division. [Good E-Reader, Gawker]
Publishing | Japanese publisher Shueisha Inc. released the 65th volume of Eiichiro Oda’s pirate manga One Piece last week with a first printing of 4 million copies, tying the record set in November by the previous volume. [The Mainichi Daily News]
Retailing | Howard Ackler writes about the final days of Dragon Lady Comics, the Toronto retailer that closed last week after 33 years in business. [National Post]
Isotope Comics in San Francisco will host DC Comics’ traveling New 52 Art Tour in December, as all month long they’ll display six 11×17 sets of artwork (from script to inks to the final full-color production pages), along with every page from Batwoman #3.
And to kick it off, they’re planning a pair of events to kick it off on Saturday, Dec. 3. During the day they’ll host an all-ages autograph signing with Batwoman‘s JH Williams III and W. Haden Blackman, followed that night by an afterparty with both creators, Batwoman-themed cocktails and special highball glasses designed by Williams. The afterparty is a ticketed event, and you buy tickets here.
You can find an image of the glass after the jump.
J.H. Williams III has commented on last week’s news that DC Comics is again postponing the debut of the eagerly anticipated Batwoman, saying, “This was not our choice, and as to why, I’m not at liberty to really discuss.”
The series, by Williams, W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder, previously had been set to premiere in February. However, in January the publisher rescheduled the first issue for April, the date that appeared in the sneak peek included in last week’s comics. But even as those books arrived in stores, the publisher was canceling solicitations for Batwoman #1-2.
“It’s a bit ironic that the release has been pushed back again considering that DC decided to show preview pages this same week,” Williams wrote Saturday on his blog, where he also previewed the cover for Issue 3.
He assured fans that “work is still commencing,” with the latest delay allowing the creators to complete more work: “The only real downside is that solicits were pulled on us twice, making readers heads spin, wish that didn’t happen, but it has, let’s just make the best of it. I’m fast approaching the middle of issue 3’s interior art, Haden and I’ve started working on script for issue 8, the first 5 covers are done, and Dave [Stewart] has had issue 2 in his hands for his special magic touch.”
DC has yet to announce a new release date for Batwoman #1.
Even as DC Comics previewed Batwoman #1 on Wednesday, word circulated online that the publisher has again canceled orders for the first two issues for resolicitation at a later date.
The move, revealed Tuesday in an email to retailers and confirmed by Comics on the Green and The Launchpad, marks the second delay in as many months. The highly anticipated series, by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder, previously had been set to debut in February. But in January, the publisher rescheduled the first issue for April — a date that appears in sneak peek included in this week’s DC titles.
Although Batwoman, which spins out of Williams and Greg Rucka’s acclaimed run on Detective Comics, was widely expected to debut last summer, Williams explained in January that was never the case.
“February had been decided on the launch date by the company with reservations about that from me,” he wrote on his blog. “I felt that was a bit too soon in a realistic look at work progression. One of the reasons for this was that I had been seriously committed to making appearances around the world over this past year. I think maybe 3 months or more of work loss occurred during that time. I kept trying to point this out whenever discussions about schedule came up. When first discussing the launch date earlier last year we had originally wanted April 2011, and now ironically that is what we have. Only after solicits stating otherwise, causing some unnecessary frustrations.”
As DC Comics’ solicitations confirmed yesterday, the much-anticipated debut of the Batwoman series has been moved from February to April — the date that writer-artist J.H. Williams III notes he originally wanted.
“Some think that this book was to launch last July,” the award-winning artist writes on his blog, “this was never the case, this was speculation on the part of some. The book was also never to launch in November either. The zero issue which came out at that time was never in the original plans, but was done as a bit of a reminder as requested by DC, and to set the stage, this of course took out time of the work already in progress. February had been decided on the launch date by the company with reservations about that from me. I felt that was a bit too soon in a realistic look at work progression. One of the reasons for this was that I had been seriously committed to making appearances around the world over this past year. I think maybe 3 months or more of work loss occurred during that time. I kept trying to point this out whenever discussions about schedule came up. When first discussing the launch date earlier last year we had originally wanted April 2011, and now ironically that is what we have. Only after solicits stating otherwise, causing some unnecessary frustrations.”
Williams, who’s collaborating on Batwoman with W. Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder, says his schedule was further complicated by the addition of the covers for the high-profile Batman Inc. (He’s since bowed out of that assignment, with the cover for Issue 5 being his last.)
“Even though there has been issues raised in the scheduling and plans being jumped the gun on, DC acknowledges for the greater good of the project we need more time,” he continues. “I’m glad that they saw this was a good idea, this will help maintain a certain standard that we’ve already set in place.”
Visit Williams’ blog for more of his comments, and to see his covers for Batman Inc. Batwoman #1 is set to debut on April 27, according to the DC Comics website (the solicitations released yesterday say April 6).