Longtime readers will recall how, about five weeks ago, DC Comics held a creators' retreat in Charlotte. Among the people there were co-publisher Dan DiDio and Miss Diane Nelson, the liaison from Warner Bros. to DC Comics. DiDio said, in front of God and everybody, that he was aware of the editorial disaster they were creating. The pitch process that creators didn't know was a pitch process. Micromanaging. Changing storylines after approval, sometimes just to squeeze in something at the last minute and requiring a complete rewrite (the upcoming Trinity War storyline has been through four revisions that I know of, and it's probably a lot more). Driving people crazy. Gail Simone being fired by email and rehired a few days later. So much talent has been walking, from Judd Winnick to George Perez bailing on one of the Superman books. He apologized with Nelson looking on, and said that was going to stop.
According to one industry vet who works for DC, that promise lasted approximately four days, then it was back to business as usual.
Lots of us had been hoping DC was sincere and would let the creators create. But no. It was quiet in the days after the retreat.
And starting this past Tuesday, the entire illusion was blown to shit.
It started on Tuesday night when the pro circles lit up like a Christmas tree. Andy Diggle and Tony Daniel were slated to take over Action Comics now that Grant Morrison is stepping down. Diggle was doing interviews about how great it was to be a part of Superman with the new movie coming out and the 75th anniversary and stuff.
On Tuesday, rumors started circulating that Diggle had walked off Action Comics. His first issue would be coming out the next day, Wednesday. He had only written the one issue, and Daniel would be taking over writing as well as art chores for the remaining two issues of what would have been Diggle's story. (Please don't think this was a slick move on Daniel's part. Everything points to him being handed the mess, not him trying to score additional credits.)
Wednesday, New Comic Day, rolls around. Besides the first and only issue of Action Comics that Diggle wrote, we also got the new issue of Supergirl. The issue was solicited with the credits of the regular creative team, Mike Johnson as writer and Mahmud Asrar as artist. The cover of the book even lists them. But inside the book, we have a different set of credits -- Frank Hannah (Oscar nominated writer of the movie The Cooler) is writer, Robson Rocha as penciler, and three -- count 'em, three! -- inkers, Oclair Albert, Julio Ferreira, and Mariah Benes. Johnson and Asrar are the creative team on the next three solicited issues, but Johnson is leaving the title (his replacement at the keys is Michael Alan Nelson with #20). How many issues that they did will see the light of day?
Before the halfway point of Wednesday hit, came further news. There's a fellow by the name of Joshua Hale Fialkov. Fialkov is a rising star in comic writing, starting off with a Doctor Who story for IDW and the critically acclaimed I, Vampire. He's currently doing the Alpha mini for Marvel and will be taking over a book in the Ultimates line. DC decided to give him two Green Lantern books to write Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns. Fialkov had turned in his storyline, editorial approved it, and he got to work.
And on Wednesday, before his first issue had even been printed, he walked from both books.
Fialkov tried taking the high road, not talking about what it was that made him walk other than "creative differences". But there are no secrets down here in the trenches, and a little digging by Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool brought up what happened.
Fialkov's story was going to be a change of pace. Instead of a space opera as per usual in the GL titles, it was going to be a mystery. A Green Lantern would be murdered, and they would be trying to find out whodunnit. All this was approved and set to go. And then Fialkov got a call from DC editorial instructing him to change the Green Lantern who gets killed.
Editorial wanted him to kill off John Stewart.
Stewart is the most prominent black superhero in the DC Universe and the only one they haven't fucked up (I'm looking at Static Shock right now). Stewart is best known as the Green Lantern on the Justice League animated series. Folks who don't read comics know him and not Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern -- when the GL movie was announced and that Ryan Reynolds had the lead, I heard from quite a few people asking why a white actor had been cast as a black character. Stewart isn't just known among the general populous -- Earth has five goddamn Green Lanterns (every other SECTOR has one, and here's a planet with five. Survey says, What the fuck?). Hal Jordan is a dick. Guy Gardner is an asshole. Kyle Rainer is still wet behind the ears. Baz has yet to demonstrate why a violent carjacker was chosen to be a galactic hero. John Stewart, however? He was a military guy who transitioned into a career as an architect when his service was done. His moral compass is almost equal to Superman's. If you had to choose just one Green Lantern to go into battle with, you pick him. He's the best Green Lantern.
(I'm not mentioning Alan Scott because, with the DCnu, he's on an alternate Earth. The others still exist in the "proper" continuity.)
Geoff Johns, the architect for Green Lantern, has never liked Stewart. When the Justice League cartoon was on and people were loving Stewart, Johns kept him in the background of the comics or just didn't feature him at all. Johns is now one of the three EIC's at DC. And he apparently decided to give John Stewart the Stephanie Brown treatment. It smacks of cheap exploitation because it is -- DC has few minority characters, and Stewart was not intended to be killed, but editorial decided to force the issue. Remember how in the movies the Brother Gets It First? That's this.
The comic boards lit up. Comic Book Resources took Johnston's article, looked into it, and verified it themselves that DC had instructed Fialkov to kill off Stewart in the murder mystery. Fans revolted, ready to swear off DC Comics. The totally awesome Jamal Igle wrote an open letter to DC on his Facebook page saying that, if DC kills off Stewart, he'll never work for them again.
DC has since backpedaled, saying they never intended to kill off Stewart and Robert Venditti and Alex Segura denying there was ever any plan, it was all unsubstantiated rumor. Bull fucking shit. Johnston verified the story. So did CBR. It is fact, and no amount of spin will change that.
I have just made an adjustment to my comic pull list.
I am keeping Worlds' Finest because I enjoy the chemistry between Peege and Huntress (although that series is on thin ice with me, not helped by the return of Power Girl's "classic" costume).
I am keeping Amethyst because it ends with #8.
I am keeping Superman Family Adventures because it ends next month with #12.
But I have dropped all other DC titles, including the mediocre Supergirl (#18 is the worst issue I've read).
In a few months, I will only be collecting one DC title, and I don't know if I will keep that one for long.
With all the behind the scenes bullshit, I just can't anymore.