I’ll tell you two reasons why I’m a little heartbroken by the news that Greg Rucka will be leaving DC comics, and thus the Batwoman character. One, he knows how to write strong women, and so very few writers have this ability. And two, despite the heaps of praise given to this book by myself and other rabid fans, it has yet to gain the amount of accolades it deserves. Maybe another year with this creative team working on a Batwoman title could have gained it a wider audience and perhaps then the folks running the Eisner awards would see fit to recognize Mr. Rucka’s efforts with this character (how they could nominate Wolverine’s Old Man Logan and not Detective’s Elegy storyline is truly mind boggling). Maybe then DC and Marvel would recognize that well-written titular female character books better serve their audience in the long term than say a second or third Deadpool ongoing.
There is still hope that DC won’t abandon the Batwoman title altogether, and the editors have stated as much; but with the architect of this character leaving her in the hands of fate, her future is uncertain. I hope for the sake of Batwoman’s young legacy that she will be left in capable hands. But if history proves as any indicator, the odds are stacked against her. Female headlined comics don’t fail because the audience doesn’t demand them, and not even because editors don’t have faith in them (though books with male leads tend to die slower deaths). It’s not even that there aren’t enough comics with female lead characters in them. The problem is that there aren’t enough good comic books with female lead characters in them. There aren’t enough writers that know how to show the strength of a female character in the face of adversity without showing a character in need of rescuing or incapable of escaping clichéd fates. Why is it so hard to explore the complexities of a female character without some form of sexual abuse being her motivation?
In conclusion of my lamentations, I leave you with a prime example of why Greg Rucka will be sorely missed, and why he will be so hard to replace on this title. Below is a page from Batwoman’s origin story and includes her first interaction with Batman. After being kicked out of West Point Academy, Kate has become reckless, driven away her loved ones, and is left wondering directionless through life. She is left deprived of one of her most defining aspects: that of being a soldier. In this short interaction, she realizes that she may not wear the uniform, but she could don another symbol of justice. This epiphany doesn’t come from being rescued by Batman, but in him witnessing her ability to swiftly put down her would-be attacker. “I’m a goddamn soldier” never sounded so cool.So thank you, Mr. Rucka for giving this character a wonderful beginning, and giving us a female character to admire. Even if future writers don’t do this character justice, as is almost guaranteed for anyone following such a tremendous introduction, we will always have your vision to remind us that, yes, good storytelling and strong female leads indeed go hand in hand.