Recently one of our many talented writers, Shane Kildea, posted something to Facebook about DC fanboys grumbling that they are getting fed up with DC’s direction for the New 52 and that they were considering giving up on all DC books outright. Though I didn’t read the article behind it, mainly because I didn’t want it to influence this piece, it did inspire me to write on the topic.
Though I grew up with Marvel mainly through cartoons, when it came to comics I was one of those DC fanboys. It’s not that I didn’t like Marvel or their characters; in fact Spidey and the X-Men are some of my favorites, but DC had a handle on something that Marvel was just not picking up on, story telling. As a writer one of things that had drawn me to DC was the way they seemed to value story telling and character growth over pure action and drama. Anyone who knows my comic origin knows Geoff Johns is the man who drew me into comics when he created a very full universe and mythology for Hal Jordan and his Green Lanterns to play in. Before Johns, Hal and company always seemed to be featured in straight forward stories that took you from A to B. Johns blew all that up by tossing C-Z in between the A to B. The result was one of the richest world building experiences in all of comics, especially for a character who already had a very full history behind dating back 50 years.
At the same time Marvel seemed to be focusing more on the special effects; the explosions, the fights, the action, but character development seemed to be the last of their worries. Wolverine goes in, kills a bunch of dudes, and then we move on to the next arc. Anyone who read events like Schism and especially Avengers vs. X-Men knows this to be true. These were perfect scenarios for setting up some really fascinating story telling, and instead what we got was lots of fights. While DC was busy being the J.J. Abrams of comics, Marvel seemed to be the Michael Bay. Hey, I love action as much as the next guy, but if you aren’t telling a good story to go with it, you essentially end up with gut rot like The Expendables.
Somewhere in the last year though all that seemed to change, a light came on at Marvel as someone said, “Hey guys, lets tell stories to go ALONG with our explosions.” All of the sudden there was an influx of great stories combined with interesting characters. Books that I never even considered reading in the past all of the sudden clawed their way to the top of my pulls. When before all I ever wanted was more Green Lantern and Batman, I now found myself waiting in anticipation for the next issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova and Superior Spider-Man. All of the sudden my pull list went from 80% DC to 80% Marvel. The things that Marvel is doing with their characters is simply amazing. A book like Guardians of the Galaxy, which had held no interest to me before, was all of the sudden one of my favorite books. I know past iterations of GotG were good, but now it’s one of the most fun books out. All it took was giving Peter Quill a bit of rougish charm, give the book a Star Wars galactic adventure feel to it, and there you have it, comic gold. Or Nova, a book I would NEVER had read before, all of the sudden watching Sam Alexander grasp being a galactic hero while still dealing with everyday life has me wanting more. Don’t get me started on Superior Spider-Man. What was once an idea that made every Peter Parker fan wince has turned into one of the most brilliant story telling ideas on the planet, a villain who must now try to be a better hero than the hero he has always despised.
This isn’t to say I would never read DC again, but dammit guys, get it together. There is so much turmoil going on behind the scenes over there and the only ones who are paying the price for it is we the readers. The constant shifting of creative teams means that a book you adored one month can become something totally different the next month. My heart broke when Johns left Green Lantern, and the things he’s done to elevate Aquaman into a viable commercial success deserve nothing short of an award, but what’s going on with the rest of the DCU. Scott Snyder kills it with Batman every month so I give him a pass, but across the board there are a lot of issues. Really good books are being cancelled all the time to make room for stuff that is just not up to par. The Green Team, really? Phantom Stranger isn’t rocking any bells, yet books like Amethyst fell to the wayside to make room for these. The sometimes very public spats between editors and creative are out of control. No one really cared about Hawkman anymore, but Rob Liefeld stepped up and did something about that with Savage Hawkman, all that did was set off a beef between him and DC causing him to exit in a very public fashion.
Other writers have been driven from the DC offices as well, and I’m sure it won’t stop anytime soon. Our man Shane wrote earlier about his issues with Suicide Squad and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, recently the creative teams for all the Green Lantern books were moved around and replaced.
I love DC, I will always love DC, I will always read DC, but guys, Marvel is coming up in your rearview mirrors fast. Marvel is pinning down a formula that is making for some awesome books, and that formula is working, I am proof that it’s working. If Marvel can get a guy like me to take notice of what they are doing now, I’m sure there are plenty of DC guys who are taking notice as well. One last note to Marvel though, please stop triple shipping all your damn books, following the X-Men should never bleed anyone dry.