Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MAUK TRIAL: Senioritis at DC? [UPDATED]

There are a couple odd moves from DC that I saw hitting the web today that I can't help but voice my opinion over.

(Though I feel a little bad that this post will be following Robb's Green Lantern review because it will seem like we're picking on DC today... But Comicbook Crossfire is here to opine and discuss and these are the things that're weighing on our minds)

Bleeding Cool has gone over some really odd and downright clumsy edits to the Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search For Swamp Thing #1. They changed the large, goatee'd gentleman from the preview pages that ran in the backs of most of DC's comics to this much more slender looking fellow now named Chas. I don't know if Chas is a Hellblazer character, nor do I really know much of anything about Constantine, outside of the Keanu movie (which clearly doesn't count) and his appearance in a Paul Dini Zatanna one-shot from Vertigo, several years ago.

It just seems like an odd switch, particularly considering that those preview pages were running in last week's books. (or possibly just the week before) They also changed some of the captions to kind of awkwardly explain away Constantine's appearance at the end of Brightest Day and why he's back in the UK at the beginning of this issue. I'm not sure what the point of that is or why there's this really awkward confusion, contradiction, and downright bad editing going on.

Not to mention the weirdness with the disappearing and reappearing Zatanna on the cover, and just why it went from Hawkman's silhouette to Zatanna, back to Hawkman, and back to Zatanna. I realize she's a magician but that's an awkward trick to pull.

I can't help but wonder if this the result of editors spending more time worrying about the September books and less about what's currently on the plate.

I don't really intend to pick up this series, but I do wonder just what the point of it is, at this juncture and whether it really is all that necessary or essential to Swamp Thing and Constantine's new status quos in September.

NEXT, Blog@Newsarama tell us there is, apparently, an entire issue of Superman's "Grounded" storyline that will go unpublished. I don't know how much if any work was done on it, but enough that Chris Roberson was interviewed about the character who was supposed to appear in it. [It has since been made known that the entire issue was completed and approved but got shelved just as the issue was to go to print] Newsarama suspects that the issue was shelved because of potential racial/religious issues or further patriotic backlash from the Superman books. Which is just silly because it seems like the whole intent of Grounded, regardless of how well it actually played out, was to have Superman address real issues that the country faces. So INSTEAD, we're getting the Krypto issue that was meant to be in Kurt Busiek's run, long ago, but was shelved for a reason I can no longer remember. So I guess I'll actually be buying Superman this week because I was pretty curious about this Krypto story that Kurt wrote for Rick Leonardi that was supposed to address the death of Superboy during Infinite Crisis.

It might seem kind of awkward if the story relies that heavily on referencing Infinite Crisis but, again, maybe nobody actually cares at this point. It's a little hard to tell, the closer we get to the September relaunch.

UPDATE: More news has broken about the awkward little switcheroo DC pulled on Superman #712 this week and, unsurprisingly, Comics Alliance's Chris Sims absolutely nails it.

I was talking to a friend, the other day, about this feeling of "meh" that seem to be creeping into some of DC's books of late. I mentioned in my Pull List, yesterday, how I felt that DC just sort of saddled Paul Cornell with this Doomsday story that nobody really cared about and just lazily slid into Action Comics, dulling what was a spectacular run on the title. I've mentioned to Robb and others, recently, how the War of the Green Lanterns storyline has felt sort of tired and disinterested in itself, despite it killing off a major and much beloved character, the story still feels like it's spinning it's wheels a bit. Then you have Gail Simone unceremoniously exiting her beloved Birds of Prey-- introducing a follow-up story that will probably never happen-- to be followed up by a two issue fill in story by Marc Andreyko and Billy Tucci. I love Marc and their little Blackhawk story could still be a fun little romp, but I doubt it'll act as much of a send off to the years of work that Gail Simone put into the series.

On the flipside of that, I thought Judd Winick's final issue of Power Girl was so strong, I'm disappointed that it doesn't just end there. Again, Matt Sturges could have a couple fun little fill-in tales before the book (and, seemingly, character) is retired but I doubt there will be much pomp. And, again, it doesn't really NEED the final two issues because it felt like Judd just gave us a final issue. I'm not even entirely sure if I want to pick up these remaining filler issues if they're not meant to properly send off these characters or the creators who brought so much to them.

I equated all of this to what appeared to be a case of company-wide "senior-itis." Senioritis, if you're not familiar with the term, is the phenomenon experienced when a group of students, facing their final weeks before graduation, come to the conclusion that their actions no longer matter, that their grades are probably fixed at this point and their transition from student to graduate feels set in stone. So you goof off, you stop caring, and you drag your butts to class purely just to kill time before you never have to set foot in that building again. The teachers experience it too. You see them dole out pointless busywork and you end up watching movies in class. (or, in the case of my high school Science Fiction & Mythology course, you watch a bunch of episodes of The X-Files)

Not every student falls victim, nor every teacher, nor am I suggesting has every comic book or creative team or editor at DC. But I feel like that's what I'm starting to see in a lot of places. And it's hitting the fans, too. This feeling of "well, if it's all just getting relaunched or rebooted in September, why bother?" It's not a sentiment I agree with. Not you're talking about books that you've genuinely enjoyed reading. If I wind up jumping off of Power Girl or Birds of Prey early, it's because my love of those books and those characters relied heavily on the creators who brought so much love and care to them. Andreyko and Sturges' fill-ins could be harmless fun, and maybe I'll still gravitate to that, but it does feel a little hollow. On the other hand, I'm really hoping that Gail Simone had enough room in the schedule to be able to really give Secret Six the strong send off it deserves. Gail has come and gone on BoP a bit, but Secret Six has been her baby since Villains United. In spite of some lackluster feelings of late, I'm also still kind of excited to see Superboy Prime go up against the Teen Titans before that series wraps. Especially since it's probably the last time we'll see the Superboy Prime concept for a good long while, I hope that Krul really cut loose and had some fun with him.

I'd really like to see some strong goodbyes for these comics, characters, and creators before we start fresh in September but maybe I'm just being overly sentimental. But I think capitalizing on some sentimentality is about the only way you're going to get people to stay interested before the slate's wiped clean.


  1. I think sadly the last minute change of stories in Superman is due to preventing any kind of political blow back that could damage the relaunch. I know it's shitty but that is world we find ourselves. I mean the Action #900 reaction was stupid as all hell, but also remember the shit that flew with Nightrunner.

    Also the fill-ins sucks but it is also so the writers and artists don't fall behind on the new books. I know I have went on length about this before, but keeping deadlines is going to be a major thing for DC. In a lot of ways DC is going back to Silver Age when deadlines were king. Plus the fact that if a title doesn't work they will replace it with something new. I think this is another thing that we aren't seeing, I bet DC has a few new series outside the DCnU 52 ready to go for when certain titles fail to live up to expectations. So not only do some of the creators have known or soon to known projects, I bet more than a couple have some hidden back-up projects.

  2. It's sad that they feel they have to pull back stories like that where the writers may actually feel like they have something to say about the world, but I get it. I do. I saw the ridiculous blowback they got from Action #900. And goodness knows, if anyone of those headline chasing pundits had actually read the story, maybe they would've understood what was actually being said.

    I get why they're doing it. And it makes sense, in the face of the relaunch. It's just unfortunate.

    I understand that the fill-ins are there because the creators of those books all have relaunch titles due. Both Winick and Simone have multiple books. And the artists on PG and BoP are both on September titles as well. It makes absolute sense, publishing-wise.

    I just wish it had worked out to where their last issues were the actual last issues. The fill-ins just feel like time wasters at this point. But I understand that it would take away from their market share if they'd ended Birds of Prey, Power Girl and other titles early. I get the business side of it but looking at is as a reader and a fan, it just kind of takes the wind out of my sails a bit. But they know they're getting it back and then some, come September.

    I would just have liked to see a bit more fanfare with Gail's exit on BoP. Especially if it's the last time we see Barbara as Oracle.

    And Robb and I have talked about how it would be nice, if DC does negate the Clark/Lois marriage, that the two of them could get a nice big send-off.

    I won't lose any sleep over it, though. And I'll still be anxious to see just what they have in store for me in September and onward.

  3. This is just wild supposition on my part but down the line I could see DC putting out some annuals or specials that allow certain creators to give a send-off to certain characters. Plus I hate to be this guy, but we still don't know how exactly this relaunch is working with continuity. Also if the new BoP doesn't work it wouldn't be such a shock if Gail comes back to title as at least a co-writer.

    I think the finality that most people have with regards to the relaunch is bit premature. I think we need to get a better overall image of the new universe first before we draw any conclusions. DC is still holding back, probably to make a splash at SDCC. I think at SDCC we will get a better overall image of the new cosmology and some of the second wave titles.

  4. It wouldn't surprise me if we saw that kind of thing down the line. Sort of like the upcoming Retrospective books, but for much more recent comic runs.

    I agree that we don't know the complete nature of the relaunch nor the hows and whys of what stays and what goes. Batgirl/Barbara is still a huge question mark, particularly in light of comments that The Killing Joke is still in continuity, despite most of Moore's other contributions to the DCU having been wiped out recently. Thanks to interviews with creators and editorial, we know a lot more now than we did weeks ago, but it still paints a murky picture as to just how everything holds together in September.

    I would certainly never speak with any finality on the subject of the reboot. There's a lot that'll remain up in the air until we have the books in our hands. And maybe even a while after that.

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  6. ALSO, things have gotten a bit more awkward with the situation regarding the canning of the originally solicited Superman #712.