Monday, March 25, 2013

DC Goodbye and Good Night – Writer Merry Go Round Part 1 of 2 – The Week of March 20 in Review Part 1 of 3

Shawn and I have lamenting how badly DC is handling things for a long time and this week the sh*t hit the fan. So instead of the week in review it will by the The DC Writer Merry Go Round Part 1 and Part 2. Part 3 will have some short commentary on the books I managed to read on Tuesday afternoon

Before we jump into the fire first here is the Cosmic Comic list and the Midtown Comic list. The top five books on my list are Legend of Luther Strode, Think Tank, The Answer, Battlefields and Batman Inc. Now let see what Shawn and I had to say about DC.

Not Andy Bridges - Is Andy Diggle
Jim: The Diggle and Fialkov firing, quitting whatever is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me with DC. Whether I buy a comic or not depends on characters, writers and artists. Each element carries weight for me. I love the DC characters and have stayed on many books way too long. With the advent of the new DCU many of the characters are not who I know at all but I have tried out a lot of books and wanted to be open minded.  Even with all the crap going on DC I hoped that the creative summit was a good idea. It seemed to be trying to get things back to the right way of doing things. Deep in my heart I knew that Harras and Didio couldn’t fix what they are and that is the true problem. Within less than a month since the summit changes that I was looking forward to are now over. Even if I like a writer, like Andy and Josh, I can’t sign up for a book because they will be gone. I have no reason to trust DC with anything anymore. Outside of Batman and Wonder Woman the stuff is changing fast and furious. How can I get excited about LOSH again when Giffen is gone in two issues? I’m off Action, GL and GL Corps after issue #20 and will continue to drop more and more titles. I think I can pare it down to Batman and Wonder Woman. Can this mess be fixed?

And Changing in May
Shawn: This news definitely seemed to undercut the rumors of DC Editorial trying to make nice with the talent at their recent creative summit. The problems are the same that have been plaguing the company for some time now: editorial interference in the stories, asking writers to change things AFTER the stories had been cleared by Editorial. Both Diggle and Fialkov were exceptionally gracious in their official responses, but both agree it comes down to creative differences between them as writers and where the editors wanted to take the book. You and I had a discussion not too long ago where I stated that maybe DC Comics just didn’t want me as a reader. Regardless of where you come down on the argument of what is more important – the character or creator – alienating good talent is never a smart business decision. The only consistent good titles are Wonder Woman, some of the Bat-books, and Fialkov’s I, Vampire which is almost over. You have a couple interesting books like Green Arrow just starting a new direction and perhaps Animal Man and Swamp Thing coming back from arcs that ran far too long, but DC is a bit of a mess right now, and I agree that as a company they do not exude confidence for their longtime readers to hang in there.  

Old Green Arrow
Jim: I see no point in reading any DC book right now. Wonder Woman is good, Snyder’s Batman is decent, but his Detective work before the new DCU was better. Lemire’s take on Green Arrow is interesting, but it wiped out the entire first 18 months and started over. Nightwing built up a new status quo and 18 months later burnt it to the ground and now he is starting all over. I loved Bart Allen before, now who is he? Vibe is a character you are betting on?

My concern is DC is so screwed up it can’t be fixed. First and foremost the person that needs to go is Dan Didio. He has always been fast and loose with making changes on the fly. Starting with the death and then not killing Nightwing. Infinite Crisis never had any true oomph to it. Bringing in Bob Harras was a huge mistake. The man was running Marvel during a bad time, but almost every book under his tenure was crappy.

When you look at DC the entire line is in disarray. It all stems from the new DCU being planned way too fast and continues with the constant changes making even the new continuity feel like quicksand.

New Green Arrow for about 17 months
As a comic fan, if I want to follow just a character (and I no longer feel that way about any character) there needs to at least be a consistency of the portrayal within the book. DC has none of that anymore because the writers who think they have a handle on a character are being over ridden by editors.

DC is now gimmick ridden and marketing driven. Under Levitz and Kahn they were story driven, like Marvel is now. I know Fraction, Aaron, Bendis, Gillen, Hickman, Slott, Remender and Parker are going to be on a book for at least a couple of years. I know that the direction of the book was discussed and set out with editorial and approved long before the final scripts were written. I know that if sales tank that they may reassess, but not like DC.

Cross-over, 52 variants, tie-ins to Batman, zero issues, and gatefold covers are not a substitute for strong stories and great art.

The only way to start to fix this is to fire Didio, Harras and throw Chase out with them. Heck get rid of Jim Lee who seems to be behind the house art style. Look at Marvel, there is no house style.  

Shawn: You covered all kinds of ground. Let me try picking some of your points apart, not because I want to disagree, but because they are worth closer scrutiny. We could debate Lemire, Azzarello, and Snyder’s current output, but they are not the problem. (Though there is a case to be made for taxing your talent too much. They cannot write everything.) DC Comics does not have a deep bench of proven and popular writers. Do they currently have a crop of gifted indie talent? Yes; however, one thing that has become apparent is that DC does not know how to cultivate young talent. Not in the current editorial climate at the very least.

Wally Where Are You?
As much as I dislike aspects of the New52 (*cough*where the hell is Wally West?! * cough*), I think the overall editorial vision of the relaunch fails not because of poor planning, but because they never truly owned their relaunch. What I mean by that is that DC has been largely reactionary since the launch. Eight months in? The first wave of axing and replacing began. Creative shifts have moved closer together and books come and go faster than you can keep track of. DC has little faith in their product, and unless it falls under the Bat-umbrella or are one of the very few exceptions, the editors are second-guessing their directions for their books. The overall complaints writers have had, whether they leave graciously or loudly, are the changes editors want to force on their books AFTER stories have been approved and the writers have written their stories.

Jim: This is evidence by George Perez whose six issues on Superman to start the book was constantly being revised. Remember this is the flagship character of DC and they have not had a vision for him in forever. Batman is now the foundation and core of the DCU.

Part 2 Tomorrow.


  1. I wanted to mention some of the exceptions I think about when talking about DC Comics as a whole. These exceptions are books I really enjoy. They are: Wonder Woman, Batman, Batman and Robin (or whatever it is now), Detective Comics, Nightwing, Batwoman, All-Star Western, Batman Inc, the new run of Green Arrow, I, Vampire, Earth 2, World's Finest, and Smallville Season 11. That's thirteen books, and one of them isn't part of the New52, and another is ending.

    I have enjoyed books like JL Dark, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Justice League of America, but not enough to really say I love them.

    I love the Vertigo catalog. Am looking forward to their new Snyder and Lemire books.

    But the only new creative announcement I am excited for is Superman Unchained. The GL announcement has left me cold with the changes this passed week. DC has no buzz. Their new books have no buzz. As a longtime DC fan, this breaks my fanboy heart.

  2. Agreed. I was reading about the new Batwing creative team coming on the book with issue #19, Palmiotti and Gray are a good writing team, but do I want to give Batwing another try? Even a month ago I would have said yes, now I won't. I have no feeling DC will not interfere, cancel it or whatever so if DC has no faith neither do I.

    As for what is good from DC that I'm getting it is Batman, WW, Batman and TBD, Batman Inc and Detective. Nothing else is long term (which includes Inc), either it is cancelled, about to be cancelled or I'm dropping it. I have no desire to waste my time and money on DC at this point. I have dropped Aquaman, Flash, LOSH, Nightwing, Batwoman, Birds of Prey in the last month and plan to drop GL and GL Corps after issue #20.

    If anything is great and I miss it I can catch up with a trade. Otherwise FU DC.

  3. great post, I'm down to reading just the Morrison books at DC and I probably won't pick up another book after he's done until Multiversity comes out

  4. I have a sneaky feeling Multiversity and Earth 2 are going to end up being better universes than the New52. There are many borderline DC books that started well, but fizzled or just drew out stories longer than they should have. I like arcs, one-shots, with perhaps subplots running throughout the creative team's run. Many of the lesser DC books can't or won't do subtle subplots because there are constant changes on the directions of titles.

    I lasted longer than I should have on the GL books, but the horrible "Wrath of the First Lantern" was my breaking point. Was actually excited for all the new teams until they reshuffled again.

    Jim: I'd actually say give Batwing a shot simply because I really like Palmiotti and Gray's work. Even if they cancel the title, we'll get a good arc out of it. But you are right, it is hard to trust what comes next.

    Tom: Morrison's stuff hasn't been his best but I have faith in Multiversity. I highly recommend I, Vampire. You might also enjoy WW.

    I keep hoping DC turns it all around. I would love them to.

    PS - They really need me writing Flash. I already know how I'd bring back Wally West. And its goddamn brilliant.

  5. I'm sick of being let down by the changes too. They hadn't even changed the cover credits for last week's Supergirl. So I thought I was still getting one more issue by the old (and very consistent) creative team. Nope, people I've never heard of and an unrecognizable tattooed Lex Luthor PLUS a major story element totally changing Kara occurred during the abysmal cross-over. What a waste of $3. Actually, I should have left the title 6 months ago. That just leaves Batman, which I'm only getting to sell, Detective (also hope to sell), World's Finest (which I may drop when Maguire leaves) and Green Arrow (interesting but I don't really need it). Oh, and I'm finishing up Firestorm just for the love of the character, but I shouldn't have bothered. It's all moot now anyway. I still get Arrow and Smallville, but I file them in a different category. I'm not really excited about the Synder Superman or the Superman/Batman title, because I don't like the New 52 Superman. If I want to read a Superman that I love I'll read either the post-Crisis or pre-Crisis one.

  6. Newsarama had an interesting article asking creators about the creative changes here:

    Some Anonymous creators questioned had some interesting insights:

    "Then patterns started where rewrites and new art were being requested, almost entirely without pay. There was an expression that used to be used internally: "combat pay." It meant that if you had work approved and completed, but editorial decided to make a major shift, there was an expectation that you'd be paid for your time. That stopped. Many, many rewrites and redraws were requested."

    "Everyone was working really hard to make the New 52 great, and it worked. The sales were off the charts. But after that, DC fell into old bad habits. They weren't sure what they wanted. They were asking for multiple rewrites, and with the new tighter deadlines, things were getting so tight for the creative teams that it was difficult to put out your best work. Some people could handle it, but some people couldn't. And some people just started walking away."

    "I debated giving a detailed answer with specific examples, but the short answer is that what's happening at DC right now is an unprecedented clusterf**k of epic proportions. Everyone in the industry knows it and can't really believe what's going on. On the other hand, it doesn't seem like DC is running out of people willing to deal with the bulls**t, and most fans don't seem to care. So more power to 'em."

    Interesting food for thought.