Trade Perspective: DiDio and the State of the DCU Wrap-Up

Saturday, June 28, 2008

[Contributions can be made in Michael Turner's name to The American Cancer Society.]

My post the other day on what Dan DiDio's done right at DC Comics brought in a lot of great comments both here and at some of my favorite blogs, and it's given me a lot to think about regarding the state of DC Comics.

At Siskoid's Blog of Geekery, Siskoid notes quite a number of things he would do if he were editor of DC Comics. One suggestion that struck me was to tie creators more closely with their trademark books. Indeed we've seen a change in quality and tone when Gail Simone left All-New Atom or when Geoff Johns left Teen Titans, and I don't mind Siskoid's suggestion of making these titles mini-series rather than letting another team run a book into the ground.

This goes along with a number of frustrations that Kelson posted at Speed Force, including how DC mis-handled The Flash. In retrospect, if DC had just let the Flash property sit after Geoff Johns left, resurrecting it perhaps with Rogues Revenge, we'd be a lot better off than the black mark of the sub-par beginning issues of Flash: The Fastest Man Alive.

I know DC Comics is a business, but part of the problem is that there are times when I think DC should just leave the money on the table instead of going for every money-making outlet, and they don't. Kelson notes he's tired of mega-crossovers, and one of our anonymous commentators mentions they feel Final Crisis has been over-promoted. Infinite Crisis had its tie-ins, sure, but those began six months, not a year, before the crossover, and they were far more limited; even before that, Identity Crisis seemed to have no planned crossovers until it started doing well. Even as I believe that Dan DiDio puts an emphasis on good stories, DC needs to understand that sometimes keeping a story good means not merchandising the heck out of it.

For example, "Sinestro Corps" has been held up as a model for crossovers in that it was relatively self-contained and still an "event." DC has promised more stories in that vein, but already their "Batman RIP" story is spinning wildly out of control in terms of offshoots. If DC wants a self-contained crossover, limit it to two books, like Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, Batman and Detective, or Superman and Action; let other titles reflect the events, but don't make them "part" of the crossover. It's far too easy for things to get very bloated.

At the same time, we're not exactly thrilled when DC tries to do things right, either. Jeffrey points out his own indecision on DC's handling of delays, an indecision I share; we don't like when stories like Last Son are held back in order to complete with one artist, but we also don't like when a book like Final Crisis gets a second artist in order to stay on schedule.

Some fans have suggested that the solution is as simple as having artists who're consistently on time, but I don't think it's that easy; I think delays are inevitable in any publishing business, and the more important thing is how they're handled, not that they happen. As Mr. Fob notes, failures mean that at least DC's taking risks and trying new things. Then again, is it false advertising of a mini-series is advertised with art by J.G. Jones but months later it's ended by Carlos Pacheco? I'm not sure.

Finally, another anonymous poster mentioned that a lot of times DC's problem is that they're being judged too harshly in comparison to Marvel. I read a blog post the other day (wish I could remember where) that talked about how Marvel doesn't really have continuity, or at least not reboots like DC does (until "One More Day"), and I think it's a good point. One thing I liked about Identity Crisis is that while it changed some continuity, it didn't make a gigantic reboot like Infinite Crisis nor work to explain past continuity errors.

If there's one wish I could have for DC Comics, it's that they stop trying to make mistakes of the past make sense, and just move forward. Stop writing big events entrenched in stories that may or may not have taken place, and move forward with stories that deal with the here and now. It's a recipe, I think, that would benefit a DC Comics moving on in to the future.

Thanks for reading. New reviews coming Monday!
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