Welcome to Comical Musings. We are excited to bring you the next entry in our “On Trial” column where each month, we will be taking a character or concept from comic books and putting it “On Trial.” We will state who or what is on trial and why and then your favorite Writer’s Blok writers will weigh in with their opinions on the side of the prosecution or the defense. Once you have finished reading the report, you will decide by voting on the poll and hashing out your feelings in the comments section. Through all of this, we will establish if the accused is really guilty. A little over 1 year ago, DC Comics rebooted their whole universe. Sales went up and DC looked strong coming into 2012, but something seems to have happened. Long-time contributors and executives are jumping ship. New creators’ titles are getting cancelled before they even take control of them. It seems as though Batman is still good, while many other properties languish. Behind the scenes, editorial seems to be more powerful than story or vision. All the while, Image Comics is putting out top of the line books and Marvel NOW! is successfully refining their brands by taking chances. So, is DC Comics in a decline? We are putting them On Trial for under-achieving in today’s market.
DC is ****ed. With the unsuccessful “hard reboot” of Nu52, the major publisher has put out piles and piles of crap. A lingering few of the company’s titles have delivered on the promise of fresh perspectives: Batman, though the recent “Death of the Family” arc has alienated a number of readers. Wonder Woman, which Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang have piloted in the direction of relevance. Batman, Incorporated, which survived the purging of the more continuity-heavy books through Grant Morrison’s awesome force of will.
In the meantime, few titles can maintain a singular artistic vision for any length of time. Writers chance. Illustrators rotate out. A billion Bat-Books muscle other, more ambitious titles out of the way. No more Frankenstein. No more I, Vampire.
A seemingly infinite number of editorial missteps seem to constantly put DC in the spotlight, and not in a good way: the hiring of Orson Scott Card, despite his notorious bigotry. The firing and re-hiring of Gail Simone over the course of what felt like six hours. The seemingly spurious (or at least superficial) re-tokening of alternate universe Green Lantern Alan Scott as homosexual, then the immediate shuffling-away from the topic. None of these look like DC doing the right thing.
Compare this to the highly successful Marvel Now! Initiative, in which fresh creators and established veterans create exciting works in titles that had become relatively stagnant. For further evidence, check out Mark Waid’s Daredevil or Indestructible Hulk. Or any number of X-Titles, including the new All-Female team. Or Jonathan Hickman’s ethnically and sexually diverse team of Avengers. These folks make it look easy.
Learn your lesson, DC. Be bold, but place priority on the people that create your product. Let them do their work, let them be ambitious, and the business will follow.
~ JK Leo ~