Batwoman #26 will be the final issue by J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman. The December 2013 issue will be their final one, according to the writers, due to "editorial decisions [that] came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting," and prevented them from having the book's star Kate Kane and her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer from getting married, amongst other plans.
This marks the second high-profile departure from the book due to creative differences and editorial interference, as writer Greg Rucka cited the same when he left just prior to the New 52 reboot.
The New 52 did not affect the direction of Batwoman much. With Kate's backstory still relatively new at that point, not much had to be changed or scrapped to continue it on. Blackman and Williams, in an open letter to fans posted on both their websites (you can find it on Blackman's, but Williams' site is currently down, likely due to traffic), gave several examples of specific changes. They had an origin for Killer Croc that was nixed, and had to change their current storyarc's ending - again, all reportedly at the last minute - their real problem.
"We’ve always understood that, as much as we love the character, Batwoman ultimately belongs to DC," the pair wrote. "However, the eleventh-hour nature of these changes left us frustrated and angry — because they prevent us from telling the best stories we can. So, after a lot of soul-searching, we’ve decided to leave the book after Issue 26."
Interestingly, further in the letter, they directly thank every editor who worked on the book, all the way up to Batman senior group editor Mike Marts, seemingly indicating that the last-minute changes were coming from above Marts and their actual book editors' levels.
Despite the eye-catching nature of DC Comics preventing their highest-profile (and award-winning) lesbian character to get married, Williams clarified on twitter that it wasn't the "gay" marriage they were preventing, but the marriage part at all.
"Not wanting to be inflammatory, only factual- We fought to get them engaged, but were told emphatically no marriage can result. But must clarify- was never put to us as being anti-gay marriage," Williams wrote when asked about the issue.
This may come as little surprise to DC fans, as several marriages were retroactively removed from history when the New 52 reboot hit two years ago. Clark Kent (Superman) was no longer, and had never been, married to Lois Lane, and Barry Allen, the Flash, had never married Iris West when the new continuity began (heck, his protégé, Wally West, Iris's nephew, had a wife and two kids in the old DC Universe - and none of them seem to even exist in this one). This all follows Marvel's "Spider-Man: One More Day" storyline, which wiped out Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson's marriage. Higher-ups at both publishers have said that marriage immediately ages characters. Marvel has however since allowed a marriage of one of their heroes: the openly gay X-Men character Northstar married his boyfriend last year. Even Archie Comics has had a gay wedding, with their character Kevin Keller moving forward (and down the aisle) in one of their books.
Regardless, the fact that she is a high-profile character in a GLAAD Award-winning book does make the exclusion more poignant to fans and the pair of writers, who simply wanted to "show this subject in its best light," as Williams said on twitter.
The Beat reports that the departure from Batwoman will not affect J.H. Williams III's upcoming work on Sandman: Overture as artist with writer Neil Gaiman, however. When asked by The Beat's Steve Morris if he'd still be on the book, he replied, "Absolutely yes. This problem has nothing to do with anything involving Sandman or Vertigo."