That discussion had been set off by a comment from Dan DiDio, co-publisher of DC Comics, about why he hadn’t approved a storyline about Batwoman marrying her girlfriend: “It’s wonderful that they [superheroes] 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.” That’s partly a matter of heroics—heroes are expected to sacrifice for a greater good—and partly, I think a matter of economics.
Gavin Jasper summed up DiDio’s comment as: “DC Comics appears to simply hate marriage, whether it be straight or gay.” Which is typical of internet comics fandom, expressing corporate policy as personal antipathy.
DC Entertainment doesn’t hate anything except declining sales and profits. If superhero marriage could make sales go up, then we’d see more marriages. Indeed, over many years wedding issues did make sales go up, and they were often reserved for landmark issues. But family life? That’s another story.
Was that a reaction to Identity Crisis, a 2004 crossover story that had destroyed DC’s oldest superhero marriage (Ralph and Due Dibney), plumbed the deep dark side of another (Ray Palmer and Jean Loring), and killed the first Tim Drake’s father?
Or was it an attempt to appeal to older comics readers who were becoming parents themselves, and might identify with those new challenges for Superman, the Flash, and Batman? I certainly see story potential in Wally West as the Flash trying to find reliable babysitters or rushing to keep up with his kids’ after-school activities. Caring for a kid did take the Clark Kent/Lois Lane relationship in a new direction.
The only child who stuck around was Damian Wayne, and he was the least conventional of those children. (Which says a lot about Damian, given how most of the others had superpowers.)
The market had spoken. Indeed, we might say it had given DC’s leaders a “mandate.” The only DC superhero to have a spouse and kids would remain Animal Man, a third-tier hero whom Grant Morrison had established as fodder for wild experiments years before. (The latest Animal Man series is just ending, critically acclaimed but earning only mediocre sales.)
A couple of years later, another crossover story ended with the death of Lian Harper, daughter of Roy Harper (Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow/Arsenal), who had come on the scene as a baby in the late 1980s, as shown above. That might have been a step too far in the other direction; few people praised that series, and it was followed rather quickly by a total reboot of the DC Universe.
But it seems significant that in the “New 52” none of DC’s top-tier heroes restarted with a spouse or child (once again with the exception of Damian Wayne, now dead). That’s not because DC hates marriages and family life; it’s because most superhero-comics readers today have shown themselves to be uninterested in reading about those topics.