I wasn’t planning to use Jake & Leon as an opener twice in a row but there you go.
With Dan Didio no longer a publisher at DC Comics fans rejoiced. I however wait to see the results because at this point even when creators and publishers talk like they know what they’re doing the results prove otherwise. At any rate this leaves former co-publisher Jim Lee the sole publisher of DC Comics and the question is whether or not he’s up to the task or will fix the direction the DC Universe has gone as of late. Lee joined the DC family after taking his WildStorm studio out of Image comics, considered working with Marvel, but ultimately signing up with DC Comics. Since the New 52 the WildStorm brand has been mostly dormant. A new WildStorm continuity was announced and may even be running by now. I never really followed WildStorm. Meanwhile, the WildCATS and Stormwatch teams (as well as Helspont, the WildCATS main enemy) have shown up in the DC Universe, and done little if anything since. It’s not all that promising, but maybe recent comments will fix that.
Somehow in the midst of the overblown fear of the coronavirus C2E2 happened in Chicago. (I’m not saying don’t be concerned by the outbreak but remember when SARS and the avian flu were supposed to wipe out humanity? I’m surprised there weren’t comics and movies made around that premise. I guess they figured we’d all be to dead to read or watch it by the time it was done?) While the publisher panel was canceled due to Didio’s departure Jim Lee did have a personal panel scheduled so he took some time out of that to address the rumors and discuss some of his intentions since it’s too early to talk about a lot of stuff in production. I have the highlights from a few different sites because only Newsarama had the full “real-time” comments and that site loads a ton of crap besides ads and it’s a pain to load. (I wish my host would stop that white bar thing that seems to be the new hotness for site ads and it’s not because I don’t see a penny of it. It’s because it’s annoying when you try to read an article. At least they don’t have that annoying browser-slowing video that follows you even though you scrolled past it FOR A @#$@#%$ REASON, WEBMASTER!) So we at least know what plans Lee has announced.
One of the things I saw was a quick gag about rumors that WarnerMedia was going to sell DC Comics, or at least the publishing, to Marvel. Given that Marvel is outsourcing kids comics to IDW despite Disney cutting the license with Boom Studios to keep things in-house I find that just plain foolish to believe. it was considered in the 1990s before DC started going up and Marvel started having tons of backstage problems with scum purchasers (Check SFDebris’s documentary on the comic industry in the 1990s, where a lot of the nonsense began.) He then addressed it directly but without going too far into it. From Comic Years:
“DC has been around for 85 years, and we’ll be around for another 85 years. I hope to be doing this panel in 85 years. I am a very optimistic guy. And, look, we’re a huge, important part of Warner Bros. We’ve been with Warner Bros. for decades, and ultimately when you look at DC, the actual strategy of DC is to put publishing in the center of everything that we do. It is the source material that drives the media engine. You know, all these movies and TV shows and animated movies. Video games and merchandise. All that kind of stuff…. So, it is my intent, really, going forward as the publisher to lean into the collective years of experience that are on my team.”
That would be a nice change of pace. I’ve been getting the feeling that the comic creators themselves see comics as being less than the media based on them. Didio came from television, where he did his anti-continuity darkening thing on shows like Beast Machines while Lee comes from comics and ended up working on TV shows and video games like DC Universe Online. That could be a positive sign. He also addressed 5G and concerns of yet another reboot of the DC Universe, or at least a huge push forward of the sliding timeline. From Bounding Into Comics:
Lee did confirm that the intention of the new 5G initiative will not be a linewide reboot.
“It’s hard to talk about things we haven’t announced. Intention not to do a line-wide reboot.”
But was this the original intention? Early in the same article the writer noted this:
However, one of the more recent rumors from Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston details that upcoming books are being significantly reworked. It’s unclear why they are being reworked, but Johnston speculates its due to changes being made to the previously announced DC Comics timeline revealed at New York Comic Con and believed to be called 5G. With DiDio’s exit, Johnston believes things aren’t as tied down as they might have previously been. In fact, he speculates that books that might have been prominent for 5G might now be released in a different context.
“To address some of the stuff that is out there, there’s rumors… speculation. I wouldn’t put any credence into it. DC has been around for 85 years, and we’ll be around for another 85 years. I hope to be doing this panel in 85 years.”
I think that quote was from Lee, discussing the rumors of DC’s death that I also didn’t believe. I’d quote from Johnston’s article but that website is as bad as Newsarama in how it’s set up, maybe worse. Granted Bounding Into Comics has that annoying “watch me daddy” video nonsense and the white bar but it loads in less than five years. Anyway, despite Johnston’s recent insistence on letting politics cloud his judgement his rumors are usually spot on, so maybe Didio planned to make it another reboot because he loves clearing the slate to suit his storytelling agendas and Lee is just adjusting it to a more interesting event or even a new imprint. From The Comics Beat:
Before moving onto audience questions, he laid out his vision for the line: one size doesn’t fit all, and he knows they have a varied audience. To me, that sounds like he understands the value of these multiple imprints like Black Label, Wonder Comics, and the line of kids and Young Adult comics they’ve been putting out like Teen Titans: Raven.
So did Lee not have any authority as CO-publisher? Remember when they wanted to restructure their imprints and canceled Vertigo after giving it to Zoe Quinn? I don’t think dropping Wonder Comics would be a total loss and while I have no problem with Young Adult comics I would like superhero comics to be about superheroes fighting villains and supervillains, not some dojinshi type re-imaging where the Batman cast are just ordinary high school students. (No offense to the Gotham High fan stuff that came out long before Catwoman: Under The Moon.) Black Label I’m kind of neutral on if it keep the main DC universe from falling into that level of “dark realism”. I actually liked the imprint restructure they had in mind so is Lee going to go along with that or has he been that powerless from Didio’s reign of terror? going back to the earlier statement Comic Years had:
This seems to be a thinly-veiled reference to the new management style in the offices. Jim Lee sees the future of DC Comics as more collaborative, perhaps, than Dan Didio did. Rumors have persisted that Didio’s style was one of micromanagement. Lee used his comments to show that he’s involved, but also that he trusts the storytellers working for him.
It’s not just rumor. Ask the late Dwayne McDuffie or the retired-in-disgust George Lopez, both beloved creators. McDuffie was screwed over by Didio’s Eventitis while Lopez was hampered by the New 52 catering to Grant Morrison’s revised Superman history while keeping the present day Superman writer in the dark. And how many writers lost their stories to Didio’s sudden decision to create the New 52 out of Flashpoint? Not all of them as favored writers like Morrison and Geoff Johns got to somehow continue their stories. Then Didio brings in Brian Michael Bendis to screw up everything people liked about Rebirth Superman and son and Tom King to make Mister Miracle suicidal, the pre-52 Wally West a murderer, and Batman a mental wreck. After hearing how Didio forced the Beast Machines writers to ignore everything about Transformers to that point, including the series it directly spun off from, this is just par for the course and it sounds like Lee really didn’t have any input if the changes are really drastic.
My opinion remains the same. Until we see the DC Universe lighten up, Bendis off of Superman in favor of someone who likes the character and can find a way to believably restore Jon Kent’s age (I have a few ideas without totally breaking logic–write me better writer who hopefully replaced Bendis), and creators free to tell their stories while still respecting the characters and continuity they’re taking over I am still not ready to celebrate. I’ve been stung too many times by Marvel. Show me a better DC Universe a la Rebirth and then I’ll start celebrating. Until then I remain unconvinced.