New 52 General Conclusions
About timeline logic in the New 52 “universe,” Greygor said this:
Greygor commented on “DC Comics the New 52 – Part 2“:
The thing that’s confusing me in the Bat line is that Bruce Wayne has been Batman, he’s disappeared and Dick Grayson has taken the role. He’s now back to being Batman again.
In addition there have been 3 Robins, Grayson, Todd and now Damien (IIRC based on what I read in Batman #1, Detective #1 & Batman & Robin #1).
The #1’s are set 5 years after the appearance of Superman, Earth’s first superhero. So all the above happened in a 5 year period.
It’s not tracking for me.
Posted by Greygor to Jim Shooter at October 6, 2011 4:46 AM
Independently, techberry made an observation regarding inconsistent characters:
techberry commented on “DC Comics the New 52 – Part 3“:
This particular issue you reviewed highlights a lack of consistency that is rampant within The New 52 reboot.
You showed us a panel of Bruce Wayne surrounded by his ‘Robins’; Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Damian Wayne.
It drives me ‘batty’ that as a reader of many titles, I am supposed to accept that the prepubescent Dick Grayson shown in this panel is the same young “man” currently showcased in the Nightwing comic? Not buying it.
That the cherub of a lad Jason Todd shown here also the same Jason Todd shooting his way through Red Hood and the Outlaws? Not making that connection.
Only Damian seemed to fit his approximate age…
How hard is it to get these guys in a room and say, these are the characters, this is who they are, what they look like, and how they act. Nightwing as he is depicted in THIS book will be Nightwing as he is depicted in THAT book. And so on.
Also, the ‘consistency’ of Batman between different titles is all over the place. I have a hard time keeping him character because each title has its own vision of who he is…
Posted by techberry to Jim Shooter at October 6, 2011 10:42 PM
2 books I read were origin stories. None of them offered much if any explanation about the status quo they presented. By design, apparently.
bmcmolo clued me in:
bmcmolo commented on “DC Comics the New 52 – Part 2“:
Dear Jim – Not that it’s a particularly satisfying answer, but Dan DiDio’s intent with the “don’t bother filling in the backstory/ how people know each other, etc.” thing was, according to him, to allow room for later creators to fill in whatever they see fit. Like I said, I don’t think it’s particularly satisfying or sensible, but that’s his raison d’être for the lack of establishing captions/ backstory/ sketched-out causal connections, re-booting to five years in, etc.
Posted by bmcmolo to Jim Shooter at October 5, 2011 1:07 PM
All righty, then….
Great idea for a “precise entry point.” Start in the middle, explain nothing.
Why? Because the DC brain trust believes that we, the “existing readers” don’t care? Or, because they feel sure they’ve got us no matter what, and that the “new readers” they hope to attract don’t care? Or, because no one at DC cares? Or, because it’s too hard to think it all through and figure things out?
Continuity and consistency take a great deal of work. My most recent experience working at DC Comics is three years out of date, but DC Comics is still a DiDiocracy, it would appear. The DiDiots rise to the top, and no one wants to work too hard.
If this “initiative” bogs down or fails, well, so what? DC gets a substantial sales spike and goes along better than before, at least for a while. DiDio, Lee, Harras, Johns and the rest keep their phoney-baloney jobs, collect fat paychecks and big bonuses a little longer.
And in a couple of years, when things get hopelessly tangled up again and sales slide, no problem. Do a new New 52. Do it till it’s as worn out as the ol’ Crisis trick.
DC is like Lucy and we’re like Charlie Brown. DC keeps yanking the football away and we keep yelling Aaugh! and landing hard. They’re very sure we’ll keep coming back and try to kick the ball again. And, knowing some of the perps fairly well, I can assure you they’re pretty smug about it.
So far, they’re right.
Diane Nelson, are you really on board with this “strategy?”
I had high hopes for you.
The Lucy strategy will work until Marvel or some emerging contender does it the right way. Starts with a powerful concept, a creative vision. Puts in the work and the effort. Thinks it through. Produces good stories, well told. Builds something meaningful that fires peoples’ imaginations and invites them in the way, oh, say, Harry Potter did.
Lucky for your “brain trust” that Marvel is almost as rudderless. It will probably take a market/distribution paradigm shift that opens new opportunities for a new player to arise, either an upstart or a deep-pocketed entertainment industry contender.
Not bloody likely soon. DC can probably pull off two or three more New 52’s before any threats emerge.
On the other hand, there seemed to be no credible threats to DC on the horizon in 1961….
If and when a threat does emerge, the DC DiDiocracy and the old Lucy trick are going to seem as tired, pathetic and dated as DC Comics did in the sixties, when Marvel arose to take the lead.
There are some entertaining books among the New 52 and some with good things about them. There are many talented people among the creators working on the New 52, some trained and skilled, some less so.
Churchill said, “No one can guarantee success in war, but only deserve it.” That works for comics and most other endeavors, too. I hope success comes to the New 52 and creators thereof who deserve it.
The Secret Origin of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe – Part 1
It started here:
I wrote an eight-page second feature for that issue starring Shadow Lass and Night Girl entitled “Death Stroke at Dawn.” The issue came out in July 1975.
Shadow Lass, for you non-Legion-o-philes, “nullifies light,” that is, makes it dark. Night Girl is a wannabe Legionnaire who didn’t make the cut. She’s super-strong, but only at night or in darkness.
A super heroine who can be de-powered by flipping on a light switch is not ready for prime time.
In the course of the story, however, it occurs to Shadow Lass that the two of them working together could be dangerous. If Shady made it dark, Nighty could kick ass…. They both can see in the dark. Why not?
I wrote a scene in which Shadow Lass pulls up Night Girl’s dossier, kept on file by the Legion to check whether her power’s limitation was the only reason Nighty was rejected. I called for the dossier to appear on a large screen so we could all have a good look at it over Shady’s shoulder.
On the dossier we see what you’d expect—height, weight, planet of origin, etc. But we also see some futuristic data—courage quotient, reaction index, power level rating….
Editor Murray Boltinoff objected. He said that a dossier was as dull as a “railroad timetable.” It would remind kids of school. They’d hate it. He wanted the scene cut.
As it happened, Murray had originally commissioned the story as a ten-pager, then discovered (after I’d written it) that he’d miscounted and there was only room for an eight pager in that issue. I had to cut two pages of story. If you’re wondering whether I got paid for the extra work, the answer is no.
Toward the end of his career, Murray often had trouble keeping page counts and other things straight. But that’s a tale for another time.
Anyway, I cut two pages, including the dossier scene Murray loathed. But I loved the idea and kept it in mind.
Many years later, back at DC writing the Legion of Super-Heroes again, different editor, I finally got to use the idea, in this issue, on sale in October 2008:
Not quite the presentation I’d hoped for, but….
The script is posted for download, if you’d care to have a look. It’s got some fun stuff in it.
Somewhere in the middle, while I was Editor in Chief of Marvel, I brought up the dossier idea again. It grew like Topsy. It was an amazing evolution. Tell you all about it Monday.
SATURDAY: The Dead Can’t Pay the Paperboy
MONDAY: Jane’s Fighting Ships, The Marvel Encyclopedia and Where It Went From There
I'd been buying DC almost exclusively for the last five years or so but the reboot upset me enough that I stopped buying DC cold-turkey. I was planning to switch to Marvel but have yet to find a title that interests me the same way, say, LSH or Birds of Prey did. I didn't quit DC because of the story and character reboots – with the exception of one that I'll get to in a second. I quit because I was offended over the decision to end Action Comics and Detective Comics (and restarting the numbering to 1 is the same as ending the originals). Action and Detective represented the survival and longevity of print and of comics, and they turned their back on this history for the sake of a buck; this also effectively turned DC's back on the decades of history that you and others contributed to there. And then I heard of the decision to destroy the inspirational Oracle, robbing the disabled of a major role model; after reading on one forum a disabled person's "tearful" (you can't really cry on the Internet) plea for DC not to revert Oracle to Batgirl I decided that was it, I was through. I went from spending sometimes $40 at a shot on DCs to zero, and now I just buy the occasional independent and stuff like Farscape and Doctor Who (and I did buy the recent Star Trek/LSH crossover but that was an IDW comic, not a DC). I try to support my local comic ship by using the money I'm saving to buy things like Sideshow figurines and graphic novels, but it's not the same as it was when I followed about a dozen titles (most of which were cancelled in the reboot).
Mr. Shooter, I agree with every one of the criticisms that you and your bloggers on your site have presented. I read five of the DC Relaunch books after I dropped reading comics when Geoff John's Infinite Crisis completed. The dialogue was so laughable, I was wondering why this guy still had a job. I still wonder especially with Justice League 1 turning out the way it did with terrible dialogue, poor layouts (by Jim Lee) and muddy coloring, not to mention that awful typeset lettering where the words are so small and close together that they are unreadable. I found the DC costume redesigns very ugly especially Superman who looks more like Prince Planet. Writers and artists need to be edited, and these books present what happens when they are run like fan publications with huge budgets. I can only hope DC Comics comes to their senses, and throws this away. What is the use of rebooting when Lucky Charms comics (free inside the cereal) feature the old costumes by Garcia-Lopez which look much more professionally drawn. Writers shoul learn how to present a story with characters with whom we can empathize. Artists should draw to a professional level. I blame Marvel Comics during the DeFalco days why these hack, Liefeld, MacFarlane and Lee got work ven though DC found some of them first. Though the '80s though it presented a lot of good artists, also had a lot of fan artists that couldn't draw that are working right now. Image reigns Supreme, he says sarcastically. Too bad no one would hire a Sal Buscema or a Jim Shooter to keep a book on time.
VALIANT started publishing in 1990. The name of the company you're referring to was "Valiant Effort." Odd name, because a valiant effort is, of course a failure, a nice try. We at VALIANT found out about them because Capital Distributors sent our first checks to them. That would have almost had to have been a deliberate "mistake," by the way, meant to inconvenience us, which it did. Hard to imagine it happening by accident. Nobody's that dumb. The Capital guys were not big fans of mine, and demonstrated it again and again in various ways. Anyway, Massarsky got in touch with the Valiant Effort people and tried to work something out. After some minor thrashing around, them demanding that we pay them vast amounts of money, etc., we finally made an agreement with them for a reasonable sum. They changed their name, or simply stopped publishing, I don't know which.
VEI would have to do a lot of making up for me to work for them again.
Hey Jim, do you know anything about the 2 Valiant Efforts comics that came out from a company in California calling itself "Valiant Comics" around the same time you were getting Valiant going(1991)?
And, at this point, is there any chance you would work with the new Valiant again, if they tried to make things right?
You forgot about the Astonishing Scar-Man! 😀
On the subject of VEI, they tweeted on Tuesday that "The first official sketch of a much loved #Valiant character has just come in and it is AWESOME. Can't say who, but he has LOTS of scars." That doesn't bode well as far as I'm concerned. I don't recall any Valiant protagonist being drawn with multiple scars.
I believe Atomic Robo (part of Red 5 comics) can eventually pose a threat. They're getting more and more support every year, and quite frankly, they deserve it. It comes quite close to being a superhero comic book, and its the best one out there, hands down.
"Neal Adams claimed in a CerebusTV interview that he is poised to relaunch his Continuity titles with a company."
[MikeAnon:] Sorry, but even if I wasn't resigned to getting just trades from now on, I would never again buy a monthly title from Neal Adams unless he promised to make all his stories "done in one." With all the Continuity stories that he left hanging and discarded (practically all the pre-Deathwatch 2000 titles, Deathwatch 2000, Rise of Magic), how has he not burned every bridge there is to burn with his fans? Even "Batman: Odyssey", which was supposed to be an 8-issue series, is now a six-issue "Vol. 1" with another volume to come, which leaves me thinking that whoever was sucker enough to pick up that book is about to get screwed again.
I mean, I'm not complaining about anyone's company going under, but if, for example, DEFIANT or BROADWAY were to magically reappear featuring the exact same characters — i.e., not a reboot, but *the exact same characters* — then I would expect to be told how those characters' unfinished stories turned out. I would want to know how Schism ended, how Knights Over Broadway turned out, etc. I would NOT be pleased with an approach of, "Now it's a year or so after all that stuff we were planning to do but didn't finish. Let's join our new adventures already in progress!" OH, no. Not unless you were going to do some serious recapping, or I would be wanting to do some serious kneecapping. I would be about as happy as, like, EVERYONE was after Quesada hit the Deal-with-the-Devil reset button on Spider-Man. [–MikeAnon]
"Tom Brevoort was definitely talking about me and the Korvac sequel. I have all of his e-mails, including those quoted, and all of mine. He didn't quote the ones of his I found offputting."
Yeah, despite the redactions, it was obvious. As I said in that thread:
"It can't be just anybody in or out of comics. Tom refers to his "many accomplishments in the field", and says "you know as well as anyone that it's the job of the editor to scrutinize the work". He also mentions that it's just an outline, which fits with what Shooter revealed when he went public complaining about Tom criticizing his character work in his outline."
I did ask him to share the original email, but maybe he didn't want to do so without your permission, so unless you decide to share it, we'll probably never know.
"To clear up some confusion about Batman's time as the Bat goes like this: Superman was the first publicly recognized costumed superhero in Action Comics #1 that the world had seen and debuted five years ago, however, DC is going with the angle that Batman operated in secret and was an urban myth for five years in Gotham previous to that. So though the public doesn't know it Batman has been around for Ten years and not Five."
[MikeAnon:] Absolutely correct. Also, Jason Todd is actually about the same age as Tim Drake chronologically, but he was aged by Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pit. So I would guess the timeline looks something like this:
10+ years ago: Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, works in secret, impregnates Talia al Ghul with Damian.
7+ years ago: Dick Grayson becomes Robin 1.
5 years ago: Superheroes revealed to the world.
4 years ago: Dick Grayson becomes Nightwing, Jason Todd becomes Robin 2 and soon dies.
3 years ago: Tim Drake becomes Robin 3.
2 years ago: Jason Todd resurrected and becomes Red Hood.
1 year ago: Batman "dies", Dick Grayson becomes Batman, Tim Drake becomes Red Robin, Damian becomes Robin 4.
That would put Dick Grayson around 20, Jason and Tim around 15, and Damian around 11.
Clear as mud? [–MikeAnon]
Do I think it's important that an editor also be a capable writer? Wow. It's case by case to me. Some outstanding writers make less than outstanding editors because they can only envision things their way. On the other hand, if you aren't steeped in the knowledge of the writer's craft, how are you going to see the weave? At Marvel, I generally required editorial candidates to demonstrate some skill as writers or artists. Milgrom was good with artists and I figured that I could help him dealing with writers. He did pretty well on his own, as it turned out. Macchio got promoted because I had passed him over so many times, it really came down to give him a chance or fire him. Should have fired him. Louise knew a lot about writing, clearly, though he hadn't written that much when I hired her. She went on to be a star.
In general, I think people with strong writing skills and an open mind make the best editors. Ezra Pound types, who can get the best out of the T.S. Eliot types.
Thanks for the interesting stuff.
Tom Brevoort was definitely talking about me and the Korvac sequel. I have all of his e-mails, including those quoted, and all of mine. He didn't quote the ones of his I found offputting.
RE: Colossus/Kitty Pryde: While conscious of Chris's venturing into dicey territory, that is, Kitty being presumably underage and Colossus being older, as I recall, I had no problem with Chris's handling of their relationship to that point. Dicey engenders conflict and conflict is a good thing. If Chris had tried to blatantly suggest that they were having sex, I wouldn't have allowed that, nor would his editor, I think. He didn't, did he? If I had "disapproved" of what Chris was doing, I would have simply told Chris and the editor to change it. No need to use Secret Wars to "put an end to it." I think Chris and I discussed Colossus's romance with whatsername on Battleworld. He might even have suggested/requested it. I'll ask him when I see him, or you guys can.
Axel Alonso is above Tom Brevoort, as Editor-in-Chief.
el cuarto de la rata
A professional editor's "writing" resume is irrelevant because much of your best work as one, is either uncredited (if you are ghosting) or it simply doesn't exist as such, at least not in a way that it can be attributed to them easily. Many talented authors in the print media feel a lot more confortable working with editors who don't pull nightshifts as authors themselves (for obvious reasons).
What exactly is the current editorial structure at Marvel? From Wikipedia, Tom Brevoort is both "Executive Editor" (since 2007) and "Senior Vice President of Publishing" (since 2011) for "Marvel Comics." Joe Quesada became "Chief Creative Officer" of "Marvel Entertainment" in 2010 but wasn't replaced as "Editor-in-Chief" of "Marvel Comics" until January 2011, by the then-current "Vice President, Executive Editor" Axel Alonso. It sounds like Quesada moved up outside of the comics division but I'm not clear as to whether Brevoort or Alonso holds a more senior position within the comics division now.
Jim, here is a question for you. Do you think it is important that an editor also be a capable writer? I personally believe that it's important to know how to do something before you try to tell others how to do it. Tom Brevoort is not a good writer, which he admits. I'm trying to think of Shooter era editors that weren't known for their own writing abilities. Jim Salicrup stands out as a good editor that didn't have a writing resume worth writing home about. Ralph Macchio and Mike Carlin qualify as editors who never distinguished themselves as writers.
Marvel doesn't have any editors who are capable writers now, and this could very well be why the writing quality has dropped and sales have dropped so hard. They also don't seem to want old school writers and/or editors. As I've mentioned, Tom Brevoort has clashed with many old school guys, and perhaps if he had his own writing credentials, the "know-it-all" attitude would carry more weight with the vets, while it doesn't bother current writers because it's the only system they've ever known.
Does an editor's own writing credentials come into play when they are critiquing storytelling of writers with much success without them?
Of course it'd be unrealistic to think some higher-up is going to snap his fingers, fire other people and put Jim in charge when he hasn't been working at Marvel in 20 years. But since even the current Marvel fans who are aware of who Jim is seem to regard his work positively, I think any new work he did for Marvel would get a good reception from the readers.
Maybe it could be an "Untold Tales" kind of series that could feature stories from the past of a rotating roster of characters. That could provide a subtle excuse to use a somewhat more "vintage"-looking style. It wouldn't have to interfere with current continuity. I'd frankly not want to have to worry about a series Jim was writing getting pulled into a mega-crossover that might require me to follow what's going on in other titles.
Some more quotes I found on Jim. First one: "Jim Shooter may have ruled with an iron fist, but he made sure that the entire M.U. 'fit' together and that sloppy confusing crap like this did not happen." And this next one from 2008 is a long one that sums up why Jim was responsible for "first rate product" at Marvel that he says they haven't had since at least the '90s.
The EiC role isn't what it used to be though; the EiC doesn't have anywhere near the power Jim had when he was in that position. While I think Marvel could benefit greatly from Jim's instincts in terms of publishing plans and so forth, I doubt there's a role in the company that would allow him to carry out his vision.
But then I run across a post bashing Chris Claremont's '80s X-Men comics because of "the need he seem to have to put as many words into one issue as possible." Then there's this opposing point-of-view from an Amazon review of Secret Wars. "Was it as well done as most modern comics? Absolutely not — comics have come a long way in the last 25 years, the writing, art, coloring, pacing, fight choreographay, intensity, level of sophistication, and production values are all dramatically better now — but this was still a fun read. I read both this and the latest Green Lantern collection this weekend (Green Lantern Secret Origin,) and that just highlighted how far comics have come in the last twenty five years (and how much better they are now on so many levels,) but that didn't stop me from enjoying this as well." I believe that noise is the collective readership of this blog's heads banging on the desk in unison. I guess there is a fanbase for modern comics, just much smaller than the one for '80s comics.
Of course, that doesn't entirely contradict what someone quotes Jim as saying in Wizard in 2008. "The art in comics is generally better than ever, the writing is often clever and glib, but in spite of that, Far too many comics are utterly UNREADABLE. Even HARDCORE FANS find many comics daunting to follow! The craft of comics storytelling is all but LOST. A who's who of industry bigshots have PRIVATELY AGREED with me when we've discussed exactly this subject, but it's a tough problem to fix, given the often HUGE EGOS of the CREATORS, general creative ANARCHY and LACK OF TRAINED EDITORIAL PEOPLE." Most of us "old school" types can probably agree there is still good work in the details of comics, but the companies have lost sight of the big picture.
The current fanboys do seem to love the fact that Jim supposedly cancelled the JLA/Avengers crossover because DC insisted that Superman beat Thor and Jim wasn't having ANY of that. If I recall Jim's blog correctly, that wasn't the problem at all, but this seems to be a win for Jim so maybe we should let the legend stick. 😉
Jim, this guy wrote a very nice comment about your work in a thread where he was posting Marvel fan-fiction. He wanted you to read his stuff. It looks like he has 60 posts in that thread with various fan-fiction mixed in (the Marvel forums put posts in reverse order, so the oldest post is on the last page).
This is kind of a strange blog post by Tom Brevoort from 2007 where he says he didn't like mid-'80s Marvel at the time and quit reading all of the books. Then he went back years later and thought they were "entertaining as hell" and better than some later issues. That I agree with, but I can't imagine how he could have disliked the Black Cat and the black costume at the time!
I also found a blog post from Tom in 2009 in which he posted an e-mail that he sent to an "unnamed creator" that some speculated was you, Jim, in regards to the Korvac sequel. No real bombshells there though.
On a side note, I read about a Colossus/Kitty Pryde controversy that I wasn't aware of but is chronicled on Wikipedia. Is it true, Jim, that you disapproved of their relationship because of the age difference and set out to put an end to it in Secret Wars?
I'm almost starting to get a Siegel/Shuster feel about this at this point. Jim was such a great contributor to Marvel Comics, it just isn't right for the company to not afford him a high level of respect now and find a place for him at the company. They wouldn't treat Stan Lee like that. Although Jim can't claim credit for a specific star character, everyone knows what Marvel's achievements were in the late '70s and '80s. If anyone can tell me what Marvel's great or lasting achievements were during the last 20 years, I'd like to hear them. Marvel should be ashamed to not be offering Jim a meaningful position at the company. I think I agree that as fans we need to let Marvel know we'd like to see new work from Jim. Is Mike Zeck really not working anymore as someone said? How about a one-shot or limited series from Jim and Mike? Maybe label it in a way that gives some indication that it might be taking an "old school" approach to things. Of course it doesn't need to be self-consciously retro.
I did a Google search for Jim's name on the official Marvel forums and it seems like we aren't the first people to want him back as editor-in-chief. The comments about Jim seem to be largely positive, with the occasional guy saying that he "heard Jim was mean." Someone said he ran a poll on the forum asking who Marvel's best EIC was and Jim got 42% of the vote after Stan Lee's 50%. In this thread about EICs someone says, "I think that readers vote for Stan Lee and Jim Shooter because both were not only excellent editors and knew how to surround themselves with the best talent and how to use them the most effectively, but both were/are also master storytellers."
One comment was extremely telling. I looked at this guy's history and he seems well-versed in all Marvel's recent sagas and lore. Yet he still wrote this, "Yes they should get rid of Joe 'Quesadilla', then get Jim Shooter back, all the trade paperbacks of stories I've read from his time have been the only stuff from Marvel I've truly enjoyed."
I think those words "truly enjoyed" are key. Much of the fan base of current comics don't seem to know what they're missing. They might enjoy seeing their favorite characters in action, they might get excited about some earth-shattering events in the story, but because people aren't "truly enjoying" these comics, the readership is stagnant at best. They have low expectations which are being met.
Fair nuff. I guess one man's reasonable feedback can be another man's lack of respect; you've mentioned times when you encountered that situation on the other side of the editorial table.
I "blew my top" approximately to the same degree I blew it in the answer you quote, for the reasons I stated. No histrionics. No confrontation, even. E-mail exchanges only. I finally sent a copy of all the exchanges to Quesada and asked him what next. Nothing, apparently. That was it.
"I don't know why Tom felt he had to treat me like a rookie, even admonishing me to introduce the characters. Me! I learned to introduce characters before Tom could spell his name. Whether he likes my writing or not, I would think that anyone who had read any of it could see that I know the basics."
I recall Tom at the time saying you blew your top at what he characterized as reasonable editorial feedback in your emails with him, and saying something to the effect of "That's not how it works at Marvel, and that's not even how it worked when Jim was in charge."
I think letters need to be written to Disney, online petitions need to be signed, and JayJay has to continue being JayJay, and there would be an honest chance to get Disney to consider Jim Shooter's ideas and history of success, and put the man back in charge of Marvel comics. The lack of a strong direction there now, and the disrespect shown by the people working at Marvel toward fans, DC, and classic creators, is not hard to notice, and I'll bet Disney wouldn't be too happy knowing about what has been going on for years at Marvel. Their brand of public relations has contributed to a lot of lost sales.
Something tells me if Jim was put back in charge, Stan Lee would have no problem with his name being associated with the books again and put the Stan Lee Presents: back where it belongs!
Have you ever thought of putting a book or 6 together and publishing them through Image comics, where you could have complete control of the work?
I think the clarity of storytelling your books bring (when you're overseeing them) is unequaled today and that readers would support the work.
I think they are going for a kind of feel good fantasy approach. Perhaps a reaction to all the grim & gritty realism that, tries to, pervade the likes of the New 52. It seems they're trying to conjure up the spirit of Errol Flynn, Fairbanks Jr, and Burt Lancaster, and encapsulate it in female form. This is the kind of strong, independant female that works best for me. Sexy, yet not sexist. Rick Burchett has worked in comics since the mid 80s (approx), he worked on the original Batman Adventures, and Blackhawk (with Mike Grell?), as much as my senile brain remembers these days. I guess they are experimenting with the format, and trying to feel their way. How did you get it to go full screen? I can't work that out. The whole scrolling thing is one of the things that's always put me off digital comics. If DC, or Marvel, or anyone else wants to suceed digitally, the traditional pamphlet format has to be the first thing that goes in the bin. Glad you liked it. I hope it's a success for them.
Jim, thanks for the explanation. There's no need to go any further into detail if it's going to invite any trouble for you. As a fan of your Valiant universe it's difficult to see you come so close to continuing what you started there yet remaining so far time after time. First Unity 2000, then VEI and now the end of Dark Horse's Gold Key titles. Part of me hopes VEI will get their act together or get new people in charge and make you the offer you deserve, but that doesn't sound likely. I'll definitely continue buying whatever other comic projects you work on.
David J., I read the web comic you linked to. It's definitely a nice presentation. What I like about their design the most is that they sized the pages to fit the standard monitor size (1024 x 768 I think). So when I hit the full screen button on my laptop, each page they did just about fills my screen perfectly. I'm not sure why they went double high on pages like this though. I think they should stick to the same size "page" consistently just like a real comic book has to. It also makes for smoother reading when I can click through to each new page and not have to scroll down.
The visual "reveal" on this page and the next of just where their location is was the best storytelling moment they had. This page, however, represents an experimental layout that failed for me. I can't understand what's going on and have to skip this page. But then over on this page they have a creative layout with non-standard panel borders that works splendidly. I can't think of a better way to show the character's movement in that scene. On the next page, though, we could have done with half the amount of panels to show the character's landing. Her landing on the net also needed to show her figure, not just the speed lines. I couldn't tell what was happening in that panel until I went back to look at it 10 minutes later to write this review. The reveal on the next page is very reminiscent of a scene from Back to the Future II, which just reminds me of how brilliant a director Robert Zemeckis can be.
Overall, the art and coloring is clean, crisp and dynamic and the layouts are generally effective. I think the artist needs to work on his facial likenesses more. Some of the characters look like entirely different people from panel to panel and their appearances shift from realistic to cartoony in an uncomfortable way.
Storywise, I don't think they're giving me enough dialogue and character to form a good introduction. What dialogue that's there is pretty generic and the main character's constant smiling doesn't add to the tension. We needed more "acting" like the last panel on this page, which is an effective moment.
In general I think the more fantasy-oriented a story's setting is, the harder the writer needs to work to convince me that the characters are real, thinking, feeling human beings. There's no other way to relate to a story like this other than through the characters. If I don't have that then I'm likely to remain detached from the story and laugh at the concepts in ways the writer didn't intend.
"I'm not up to anything.
I've been unemployed since March.
Since I walked away from the Korvac Saga sequel due to what I felt was a condescending, I'll-show-you-who's-boss attitude from the editor, Marvel has expressed no interest in my services in any capacity. Since the horribly frustrating, generally rotten experience writing the Legion that ended ugly in 2008, DC has expressed no interest in my services in any capacity. I don't think either of them want anything to do with me. And, really, I don't want anything to do with them unless things change a great deal or I am put in a position to effect change."
Jim, I said it before and I'll say it again. Disney needs to rehire you to run Marvel's publishing division. Heck, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they did just that in the next 2 years.
And if Disney doesn't rehire you to run Marvel, I suggest that you talk to Archie Comics. Archie is planning on relaunching their line of superhero comics (they have been planning on doing this for several years now). And I can't think of anyone better than you to head up the relaunch of their superhero line. I know Archie is very cheap when it comes to paying creators, but maybe you could convince them to raise the pay of creators and therefore allow them to hire experienced long time great creators like Hama,Priest,Stern,Louise and Walter Simonson, June Brigman,Claremont,Brett,Lim,Starlin,Frenz, Ollife,DeFalco (who is currently working for Archie),and Breyfogul (who is also working for Archie) to work on these books.
In the '90s, Marvel got the messaged garbled. What with Thunderstrike, Scarlet Spider, Fantastic Force and USAgent, they thought the mandate was to Reproduce the characters.
As a world leader in the art of pissing people off, I am not one to talk. It seems to me that sometimes when I say "hello," people snarl back "What do you mean by THAT?" And, when I've had to tell a creator something difficult, like "no," for instance, well…apparently I'm no Dale Carnegie. I guess I tend to tell people things the way I would like to be told, straight and without the child-psych sugar coating, please. Possibly not the best strategy….
I don't know why Tom felt he had to treat me like a rookie, even admonishing me to introduce the characters. Me! I learned to introduce characters before Tom could spell his name. Whether he likes my writing or not, I would think that anyone who had read any of it could see that I know the basics.
I'll end this with a sugar coating, sincere, not child-psych. I have heard a lot of good things about Tom and his work. He is highly regarded as an editor by many people whose opinions I respect. And he has been a gentleman when he has visited this blog. Too bad things didn't work out.
Fairy Kitsch said…
But we are going through a major paradigm shift. We're moving from the printed page to digital content.
Here's a great example of what CAN be achieved by two solid professionals. Nah, let's rephrase that… This is a hugely enjoyable romp with simply gorgeous art by Rick Burchett.
I learned early on that VEI's owners needed to resolve some personal character and integrity issues.
The floor plan to their office was online. Small and cramped would be an understatement.
Jim, I am sorry Tom Brevoort spoiled the party for you and the rest of us. I clash with him all the time, and am actually in an online fight with him now. He does condescend, not only to old school creators, but to customers. He thinks it's acceptable for him to say Marvel is a business, and profit is the #1 priority, but it's not okay for our reply to be that since that's the way it is, which is fair enough, then we are customers, and better be treated with respect at all times, regardless if we say something to him in a tone that isn't friendly. We're not friends, it's a business/customer relationship. The customer is always right in such relationships, but he expects us to act like friends while himself and Marvel act like a business, and one that we owe them an entitlement! lol
He's had the same issues with John Byrne the first and only time he ever worked with him, where he replaced Byrne's original editor on his 2nd Hulk run and shortly thereafter, fired Byrne. Jim Starlin left Marvel because of Brevoort. He's clashed online with Peter David and Bob Layton because of belittling comments. I don't get it with him sometimes. He grew up in an age when all of you should have been his comic creator heroes, but he doesn't seem to get along with or speak respectfully to enough of you that it raises an eyebrow. He never admits anything wrong he does, and defends unprofessional behavior from other editors and creators when they flat out insult a reader, so it has to make one question some things about his views on professional conduct. Even his professional conduct toward DC has closed that door to him should Marvel ever can him.
I don't dislike him, but he frustrates me. He needs to do some self inventory, which we all need to do from time to time. A change would do him a lot of good!
RE: VEI: I will soon tell the whole story of my working at VEI (secretly, at their insistence!) on staff for seven and a half months. Briefly: I took the job (after turning them down several times) because at the time, I needed a gig, any gig, and at first I actually thought there might be a future at VEI.
I was ordered to stay out of sight when visitors came to the office. I even had to hide in the men's room on one occasion. They said they wanted to save the revelation of my involvement for the launch.
I wrote some good stuff for them under difficult working conditions — working in a small room with as many as four other people who were talking all the time. P.S. the job I accepted wasn't supposed to involve writing. I was supposed to be Editor in Chief, directing writers, not writing the material myself. But from day one, I was ordered to write — film presentations, character developments, scripts….
Eventually, too much was too much. I quit because of the crap involved in that situation, called Mike Richardson and worked out a gig at Dark Horse.
Then came their spurious, meritless lawsuit — withdrawn, by the way, when it failed to compel Mike Richardson into making movie deals with them. Mike is not easily manipulated. Nice try, Fred Pierce, Jason and Dinesh.
Those weasels may sue me again after I tell the tale, but let them. I have documents and witnesses. Mike, for instance. They owe me accrued vacation pay, $4,000+, and reimbursement of the approximately $11,000 it cost to defend myself. They are scum.
Okay then, I'm glad we cleared that up…(I think).
And, it looks like Jim isn't in immediate danger of dying of starvation, and exposure, and possibly predation by hungry mountain lions…
But, I gotta wonder how his irons in the fire will pan out.
This will be most interesting.
Jim, speaking of potential future endeavors, is there any chance you'll be involved in the Valiant relaunch that was announced for 2012? Something that I don't think you've discussed has been the transition between you writing stories for the new Valiant company's hardcover collections and then writing the Gold Key stuff for Dark Horse. I'm not sure if this is still a sensitive topic due to Valiant's threatened lawsuit or for other reasons. But I'd be interested in hearing if you might work for them again or why it might not be in the cards now.
I noticed on the bottom of your Amazon author page where anyone could add missing titles to the list. I submitted every one of yours I found, except for the numerous individual comic book back issues. It sounds like there will be a period of processing time while they determine if they should be added to the list.
I have to second Matt's praise of "American Vampire". It's been going for about a year or so and it's pretty good (It's a Vertigo title).
While I'm at it, Red 5's "Atomic Robo" is a good title too (more humor oriented but entertaining in its own way).
I think he's just mentioned the sequel experience in comments. He hasn't done a whole post. Maybe one of these days.
I'll be happy to read it, thank you!
But, has Jim posted about the Korvac sequel experience in detail yet? Or the Legion of Superheroes 2008 nonsense?
If not, I know everyone would be interested in reading about it.
I'm not a people skills kind of person either, sometimes.
I blanched at your comments because I've been the recipient of people misinterpreting and twisting things I say, and having fun while doing so. When that happens, it's damned difficult to un-ring that bell when the distortion becomes fact in people's perceptions.
That's what makes me 'simmer up'.
Thanks for getting back to me, though. Us 'no people skills' goofballs gotta stick together.
Neal is a good friend and an all-time great. I'd be happy to work with him on something, his style my style or whatever if it ever came about. Maybe someday. Though I prefer a Russ Heath straightforward storytelling approach, I've worked in many different styles.
I can't call to mind anything of Josh's, but I don't doubt it's good.
The program blurb for the panel I'm participating in at NYCC has been posted, thanks for suggesting it. I'll also write a report afterwards.
The plot for Jim's sequel to the korvac saga is available for download. In the sidebar, way down the list, is a downloads section and that one is called Avengers Overview, Ill Begotten Son. Hope you enjoy it!
I'm sorry that you've not been employed, let alone for this amount of time.
The big unfairness about that is that editors will allow any artist with any kind of a name to do pretty much whatever it is they wish to do, because they are perceived to have some sort of 'artistic gravitas'. So they are allowed, even encouraged to do what they wish, the way they wish it. Same with some of the writers, too.
But your status in the industry seems to bristle certain people right out of the gate, as if you're some sort of loose cannon they have to reign in. If you're ever hired, it seems as if people think they – for whatever reason – should run roughshod over you. To 'tame' you, for lack of a better way to say it.
I just did a search for 'Korvac' on your site, and I see that you've eluded to the failed Korvac sequel, but I don't see where you've posted about the full story. I hope you do one day. I'm still looking for the post about your experience with the Legion of Superheroes in 2008.
I do believe you'd be just as bold to speak your mind. It just that as you have, I had a vicarious butt-clenching, knowing that if I ever did anything like that, I'd never get anymore work, ever again.
Mike Richardson is a good man. It sucks that the Gold Key books didn't happen as everybody had hoped they would.
I hope your irons in the fire work out. I especially hope that someone with some serious money recruits you to get a new company going.
Hang in there, Jim. All my good thoughts for you and your endeavors.
And by the way: someone with Jim Shooter's savvy, skill and talent should never be enemployed! Herman Cain to the contrary!
Thank you very much, sir. Roger wilco.
Two things of note.
1) Neal Adams claimed in a CerebusTV interview that he is poised to relaunch his Continuity titles with a company. Not sure if it's going to be a new company or one which already exists. I know you had a short lived stint working at Continuity. Any chance you could mesh your style of writing with Neal's "no boundaries" style of art and work for him again? I know Josh Adams needs a gig and he's got pretty decent art. Seems like a good opportunity to collaborate on something reminiscent of comics in their better days.
2) Any chance of a teaser promote to promote or set the stage for what you will be talking about at NYCC. Some of us (ME!) are very unlikely to trek thousands of miles to listen to your panel.
That Legion issue was also my introduction to the Legion and hooked me forever! I was a junior in high school. I found it in a Philippine reprint. It was easy to follow- I could tell everyone's powers. Matchups were natural. "Bad guys" should have won- their powers were better. Good guys win through teamwork and prove to be better people. Lesson learned! Shadow Lass and Night Girl- sexy and capable without being degrading. I am as sick as many are at the depiction of female heroes but look at what the MEN are wearing! It's the future!
My ONLY complaint- this is the first time I met Matter Eater Lad and he's leaving! What a guy! He invites a loser to take his place! Did you laugh when you were writing “All this fighting is making me hungry! Think I’ll take a bite of this tree!” That line still sticks with me after all this time and still makes me smile!
And thank you for creating my favorite characters ever- Karate Kid and Projectra. I only have so much sympathy for people who are complaining about the 52 reboot. We Legion fans have gone through so much more. Projectra was turned into a snake for Pete’s sake! And how many times has Giffen (bless him anyway!) killed KK?
I was having trouble posting in IE. Trying Firefox now…
That all sounds great, JayJay – I look forward to reading it. Keep us posted!
Ever get the impression that Didio is kind of the Anti-Shooter in the way he runs DC? While Jim oversaw rising sales and great product, Didio treats us to escalating messes, squandered opportunities, constant frustration and policies which seem to refelct nothing so much as sad desperation. It's really amusing since DiDio's One Year Later/52 trick was a pretty blatant copy of what Jim did with Secret Wars (showing the consequences in the regular titles while the series which caused the changes was ongoing through the course of the ensuing year). When he failed to pull that one off with Shooter's panache, he kind of went off the rails, trying one strange thing after another. Now he's started an (almost) entirely new continuity (Batman still died in Final Crisis but Flash never died-and thus never came back- because there was no Original Crisis??) and can't even keep that straight??? Didio's time will pass but the damage will linger for a long time. Dumbass.
I read O.M.A.C. last night. I liked some things about it. Some things bothered me. I'll write about it later, after I've read it again.
I haven't read American Vampire. Stephen King back ups? Cool. I'll try to make time to review more New 52 books, Matt, and the ones you suggest are oft-mentioned as candidates. Hawk and Dove, huh? I wonder if Ditko is getting any money for that. God, I hope so.
"I don't think you did that thinking you were doing anything wrong".
Then simmer down, yikes.
"I was in no way being disrespectful to Jim with my above questions, even though Diacanu has now made it seem that way".
I don't think so, the direction I went is the direction I went, and it's all on my goofy head.
I even mocked myself for it.
I'm not a big "people skills", person, I copped to that, and geez, I can't even cushion it by copping to it, you're still cheezed, to use your word.
I'm not up to anything.
I've been unemployed since March.
Since I walked away from the Korvac Saga sequel due to what I felt was a condescending, I'll-show-you-who's-boss attitude from the editor, Marvel has expressed no interest in my services in any capacity. Since the horribly frustrating, generally rotten experience writing the Legion that ended ugly in 2008, DC has expressed no interest in my services in any capacity. I don't think either of them want anything to do with me. And, really, I don't want anything to do with them unless things change a great deal or I am put in a position to effect change.
So, I wish the damn-the-torpedoes attitude regarding the opinions I express in my posts was proof of how bold and daring I am, but it really isn't risking anything. I wish it was. Whether or not there are torpedoes in the water, obviously, both Marvel and DC think I ain't worth a ship.
I could assure you that I would have the same attitude, and be just as honest and straightforward even if there was a possibility of work at either of the big two, but…who would believe me?
Dark Horse still might hire me again for something. To prove my courage I could assure you that I would criticize the hell out of Mike Richardson and Dark Horse if warranted…but I really have no beef with them. Yet.
So far, Mike has been true to his word.The editor I worked with there, Chris Warner, did the best he could under the circumstances. He is a skilled professional and a great guy.Overwhelmed, but good.
Their financial guy has been annoying sometimes. But it's his job to be annoying.
I have several irons in the fire. None of them involve a plan for a New Company, headed by me and backed by the vast resources of some mega-entity, meant to conquer the comic book business.
Any Mega-Entities interested feel free to give me a call.
I do still write, thanks for asking! I've actually had a few things go pretty well. A while I wrote a screen treatment that had some interest from a couple of places and I wrote the back story for a video game that has not come out yet. I also have a couple of projects that I plan to self publish digitally. I read a lot of independent writers' work on ibooks and kindle and I wanted to try that for myself. I also have written a comic book story for a horror anthology and I'm in the process of drawing it. The big guy helps me out a lot with his editing expertise. Jim, that is. ; )
"SATURDAY: The Dead Can’t Pay the Paperboy"
This really cracks me up, by the way. Is it a reference to something? A google search returned only "Better Off Dead" results, which may be what you're referring to, but maybe not.
Anyway, it's a funny title. And philosophical statement.
I was flipping through some Dark Dimensions last night. (I never know where to leave these random comments about Defiant or Valiant – my apologies if it annoys the flow of this-specific-blog commentary) Some great stuff in there. JayJay – do you still write at all? I hope your co-plotter Len Wein drops by these comments sections and weighs in sometime when these blogs eventually get to the Defiant days.
But we are going through a major paradigm shift. We're moving from the printed page to digital content.
I suspect DC and Marvel get "New Readers" all the time. But they don't touch the physical comics. Instead they get their copies by hitting the latest torrent. Download every release that week all in one bundle. While the main attraction is that it costs the reader nothing, another factor is that it's instant and convenient.
But there's a bigger change on the creation side. The Internet has made it so easy to self-publish that anyone can do it. That's such a liberating concept: Anyone Can Make Comics. If anyone can make a comic, why bother reading stuff from the Big Two? If anyone can make a comic, why not me? Not just liberating but also empowering.
A new player would have to fully embrace the digital aspect: new content regularly, able to read it on any device, back up purchases in the cloud. Trickier to do would be to capitalize on the Anyone Can Make Comics aspect. You'd probably have to take a community approach: supporting and encouraging newcomers, holding discussions that everyone can be involved in. Something where you'd nurture your readers because they might become your creators.
I don't think DC or Marvel have a chance.
HOLD ON. I NEVER SUGGESTED ANYTHING OF THE SORT, THAT JIM IS IN ANY KIND OF LIFE-AND-DEATH SITUATION.
Damned irresponsible of you Diacanu, to phrase ANYTHING I wrote that way. THIS is what I meant before, when I talked about the game of 'telephone', where someone says something, and instead of REPEATING EXACTLY WHAT WAS SAID OR WRITTEN, you give it a wild interpretive spin, twisting and changing the meaning into something completely different.
The really WORSE thing is that Diacanu had exactly what I wrote above to refer to, and he STILL went off in a totally boneheaded direction with it, COMPLETELY mischaracterizing my above post.
I don't think you did that thinking you were doing anything wrong. But imagine what someone who's a malicious asshole who decides to blow things out of proportion because he thought it'd be fun to start a rumor.
I was in no way being disrespectful to Jim with my above questions, even though Diacanu has now made it seem that way. I'm actually quite interested in whether my theory might have any truth to it, which is why I asked my questions respectfully.
Please don't twist what others have written like that anymore. I'm a bit cheesed because you take a wild leap of inaccuracy and interpretation, and it seems like I'm the one who started a shitty untrue rumor.
Geez, that's too much stuff!
Ahh, I'm effin with ya!
Dark Horse Gold Key Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom Volume 1 (Collects #1-4)
Dark Horse Gold Key Magnus, Robot Fighter Volume 1 (Collects #1-4)
Dark Horse Gold Key Turok, Son of Stone Volume 1: Aztlan (Collects #1-4)
Valiant Harbinger: The Beginning (Collects #0-7 recolored)
Valiant X-O Manowar: Birth (Collects #0-6 recolored)
Valiant Archer & Armstrong: First Impressions (Collects #0-6 recolored)
Valiant Solar, Man of the Atom: Alpha and Omega (Collects #1-10's backup stories)
Valiant Solar, Man of the Atom: Second Death (Collects #1-4)
Valiant Magnus, Robot Fighter: Steel Nation (Collects #1-4)
Valiant Magnus, Robot Fighter: Invasion (Collects #5-8)
Valiant Rai (Collects #1-4)
Valiant Harbinger: Children of the Eighth Day (Collects #1-4)
Valiant X-O Manowar Retribution (Collects #1-4)
Valiant Shadowman (Collects #1-3, 6)
Valiant Unity Saga Volume 1, 2, 3 & 4 (Collects Unity crossover)
Defiant Warriors of Plasm The Collected Edition (Collects Warriors of Plasm #0-4, Splatterball #1)
Broadway Comics Inherit the Earth (Collects Powers That Be #1, Shadow State #1-2, Fatale #1-6)
I certainly hope the rumors of Jim's impending death that Diacanu is attempting to start are greatly exaggerated!
I just compiled a list of links of Jim's trade paperbacks available on Amazon. I inserted Jim's affiliate link code so he should get full referral fees if you buy through these links.
Jim, Amazon also has this bibliography page with a form for you to make updates to it. It's missing most of your titles so you might want to update it and then you can link to it here. It might also be worth posting direct graphic links here to the pre-orders for the new Secret Wars I and II trade paperbacks.
Marvel Avengers: The Korvac Saga (Marvel Premiere Classic) (Collects Avengers #167-168, #170-177)
Marvel Secret Wars
Marvel Secret Wars II
Marvel Secret Wars Omnibus (Collects Secret Wars #1-12, Thor #383, She-Hulk #10)
Marvel Secret Wars Omnibus Alex Ross Variant Cover (Collects Secret Wars #1-12, Thor #383, She-Hulk #10)
Marvel 44 Years of the Fantastic Four DVD-ROM Collector's Edition (Collects #1-519, Annual #1-32, with ALL comic pages including all Bullpen Bulletins written by Jim)
Marvel New Universe Star Brand Classic – Volume 1 (v. 1) (Collects #1-7)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 5 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Adventure Comics #340-349)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 6 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Adventure Comics #350-358)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 7 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Adventure Comics #359-367, Jimmy Olsen #106)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 8 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Adventure Comics #368-376, Superboy #147)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 9 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Adventure Comics #377-380, Action Comics #378-387, #389-392)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 11 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Superboy #203-212)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes Archives, Vol. 12 (DC Archive Editions) (Collects stories from Superboy #213-223, Karate Kid #1)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes: Enemy Rising (Collects Vol. 4 #37-44)
DC Legion of Super-Heroes: Enemy Manifest (Collects Vol. 4 #45-50)
@Shawn– I share your love for all the old-school titles you mentioned, and think maybe Marvel could've pulled the trigger on replacing Joe Quesada a little earlier. That said, there have been some lengthy recent runs at the company– Matt Fraction's been writing Iron Man for about 42 issues or so, Jonathan Hickman's been on FANTASTIC FOUR for almost thirty, and Dan Slott's been writing SPIDER-MAN solo for about 24 (plus was part of a rotating set of writers on the book's two-year, three-times-a-month experiment between early 2008 and late 2010). Most impressively, Brian Michael Bendis has written all the issues of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, which number to (I think) 162. And Mark Waid looks like he's ready to settle into a long run on DAREDEVIL, if his audience is willing to take the leap into the new vision for the character he's offering.
And unsurprisingly, these are some of the best books Marvel's put out over the last ten years (I know folks like to bag on Bendis, and I'm not a fan of his AVENGERS work, but he's fantastic on single character books, and USM in all of its various titles and incarnations, has been superb). So I think your general point is right– the longer a writer has on a book, the greater chance he or she has to get to know the characters and take them somewhere interesting, and I'd only hope that Marvel would use these books as models for letting the writer do just that.
Jim, I looked again at the Batman cover and played along with you, looking for clues, and I think we can also see Two-Face and Killer Croc – not sure who the bald-headed guy is (Penguin?), can't make out the guy holding Batman's leg, and it looks like there's a girl squeezed in there with a ponytail?
I was very angry when I finally realized the Flash relaunch I had been trying to make sense of was nothing more than a lead-up to this New 52 nonsense, and I immediately canceled all my DC titles –
However, as to the lack of continuity, there is something in DC history which actually justifies it – I am referring to the Second Kingdom story, the sequel to Kingdom Come. It concluded with an introduction to the theory of hypertime, which means, in an infinite universe with infinite possibilities, it is possible for contradictory lifelines to co-exist (along with Superman's wink, which I've always taken to mean, come on, these are just stories), so along the lines of that theory we can have one book telling the story of nightwing and another telling the story of batman and his many robins – yeesh!
Based on that, I bought Batgirl # 1 and will probably get # 2, but overall I still don't like what they've done. I got JLA # 1 because a year ago I would have snapped it up without question, but I'm not going to buy # 2. (Chief Creative Officer? oh please) Yesterday I picked up LSH # 1, undecided about # 2.
I saw O.M.A.C., with Keith Giffen in charge, and I said, Wow! I've always been a Kirby fan! And I wasn't disappointed. I also thoroughly enjoyed # 2, and can't wait for # 3. It will probably be one of the first books canceled. Or maybe not, since DiDio is writing it. I don't know, I was trying to tell Jim that he should check this one out in his search to find one he likes, but the more I typed the more it seemed like I was giving him reasons to stay away . . .
oh well, make mine marvel
To clear up some confusion about Batman's time as the Bat goes like this: Superman was the first publicly recognized costumed superhero in Action Comics #1 that the world had seen and debuted five years ago, however, DC is going with the angle that Batman operated in secret and was an urban myth for five years in Gotham previous to that. So though the public doesn't know it Batman has been around for Ten years and not Five.
Now to make this whole damn thing even more confusing I don't recall this being said in any of the books (I did not read them all) just in the pre-launch interviews given by Dido and crew to hype the New 52.
Like that isn't still a mess but there it is Batman has been Bats for 10 years but as a reader if it doesn't take place in the damn books on the printed page it doesn't happen and how are we supposed to know? What a mess.
Um, gee, I hope Jim has something up his sleeve, but I hope you're not saying the end of the Gold Key thing might be part of that plan…cuz um…how to put this delicately,…um, I get the gist he needed that gig to um…not die.
*Looks at my post*
Yeah, that's not delicate at all, I'm not um…yeah, I'm not good.
Jim, since you like Scott Snyder's writing, have you tried American Vampire? The first five issues have back-up stories by Stephen King, to boot.
I'm curious to see what you think of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's Justice League since it's the flagship book of the launch. Or OMAC by Dan Didio and Keith Giffen. I figure you'll like George Perez's Superman, but maybe you could review one of the newer artists-turned-writers with Flash, Detective Comics, or Batman: The Dark Knight. You of course have history with the Legion of Superheroes, and it'd be interesting to hear what you think of Paul Levitz's return. And given your incisive art critiques, I'd pay money to hear your review of Hawk and Dove.
I started reading DC in 1989, and was primarily a DC loyalist, buying only one Image (The Maxx), a few Dark Horse, and some small press stuff. The early 90s were a heady time for me, some good, some bad. But through it all, I hung on. Into the new millenium. Enter Didio. The number of titles I bought dropped, faster and faster, until in 2007, at the end of the *last* 52, the weekly comic, Another Titans death-fest happened and I bowed out. This reboot certainly didn't give me any reason to want to come back.
Donna Troy and Wally West were nuked by this reboot, and a whole lot of Titans history went with them. Gee, thanks.
The idea of Earth-2 is appealing, if handled right. But of course, it won't be.
Others have commented on the Robins, including Tim Drake. I rather think Harry Potter has been as bad for wizards as Twilight has been for vampires. That said, I agree with the bulk of your argument here.
The #1s have sold well, and no surprise. We'll see what's when they reach #4s or so.
I just ordered a new ongoing comic for the first time last night–but it wasn't DC or Marvel. It was Dynamite Entertainment.
DC's relaunch will fall apart like all Marvel's 1997 relaunch fell apart in 2001. Once the acclaimed writers finish thir runs on the surviving titles and a less experinced secondary team of writers and artists take over, the books will crash and burn, forcing yet another series of reboots because writers and editors get no guidance from editorial that is either to inexperienced or incompetent to help them.
I find it crazy that over the past 10 years we've seen FOUR new #1 issues for some books like Iron Man, Daredevil, Hulk, Avengers, Wonder Woman and Flash. It's just lazy editing IMO. Instead of toughing out a rough period on a title, editiors just cancel and start over. I remember when publishers would take the time to do some fill-ins until they could find a new creative team that was a good fit for the title. Those fill in issues allowed old readers to keep reading the series and allowed new readers to come in and get started.
In today's world of cancellations and reboots I don't think we'd have an All-New-All different X-men, Micheline/Layton Iron Man, Frank Miller's Daredevil or Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man. Those guys would never get a chance to prove themselves in today's market where acclaimed artists and writers always get top priortity and secondary teams get no support.
Personally I feel Marvel and DC and both need strong leadership in the editorial department to get the ship right. There's nothing wrong with the characters, but thre's no one at the helm with the vision to get writers and artists focused in the right direction, and create content that appeals to a larger audience of readers.
As long as there are readers to keep the sales at the minimums, there will be no need for the industry to change. I've written about this in depth
:http://shawnsjames.blogspot.com/2011/08/sad-state-of-comic-book-fan.html and yeah, the analogy of Lucy with the football is the vicious cycle comic fans endure instead of walking away and forcing the change the industry desperately needs.
We don't need a new 52. DC just needs one good editor to lead the bullpen.
I have a question that has been bouncing around in my head about you, ever since I started reading your blog.
I'm quite happy you've taken to this blog so well. I enjoy reading about times past that I didn't know the full story on, or at least your take on them.
I also have come to know that you don't do anything without a plan. You've said as much on this blog.
It also seems quite impolitic to be giving such honest public reviews of books and companies that seemingly won't ever hire you again because of your blunt (but primarily correct, I believe) criticisms, assuming they were ever going to hire you again anyway. Certainly after you've called them out publicly.
The theme throughout a great deal of your blog posts have to do with how to properly structure a story. How to better compose a comics page. And you're now making the strong points that (and how specifically) the big companies' overall quality has severely lapsed, writing about the times when you pissed off everyone while holding your ground to keep a bad story from being published…
… you're up to something.
You said, "Lucky for your “brain trust” that Marvel is almost as rudderless. It will probably take a market/distribution paradigm shift that opens new opportunities for a new player to arise, either an upstart or a deep-pocketed entertainment industry contender. Not bloody likely soon."
Okay, how soon then?
If I'm just having a flight of fancy, then that's okay. I like the thought of you being able to build another company (this time without mistakes made, or anyone stabbing you in the back), giving readers a clear choice to read something distinctly different than a lot of what's published nowadays.
It just seems quite… interesting, you publicly poking Dan DiDio and others like this, which gains more and more attention for you and your blog. I believe your opinions have great merit, and never did you disparage anyone's heritage or say anything malicious.
However, me not knowing what you're currently writing (while also reading that the Gold Key characters have come to a halt at Dark Horse), makes it easier to believe you're not currently with comics assignments. This, compounded with you saying things that I can only imagine would make others swear never to hire you again, makes me think we're all closer to some sort of pending announcement from Jim Shooter's new company.
I hope this is the case, but maybe I'm just letting my mind go to places that aren't in the cards as of yet.
How full of wacky tobacky is my theory? And would you tell us now if you had something in the works?
The "New 52" is an exact rehash of the post-Crisis (COIE)era.
Some books restart continuity.
Some books continue continuity.
I'm just as confused right now as I was in 1987. Superman and Wonder Woman restarted completely with no reference to the past. But Batman's continuity all still counted. Worse, the new Justice League and Flash titles featured new characters but stood on the shoulders of the Silver Age continuity–you could not separate the new from the old. (What a headache that the old JLofA stories counted for Green Lantern and Green Arrow, but didn't for Supes, WW.)
The "New 52" reads as if all the old continuity still counts. So I scratch my head asking "why bother?"
The idea that all backstory is 5 years old was tried back with Zero Hour. And it didn't work.
These issues also read like it's another rehash of One Year Later. We've jumped to the middle of a future story and we're waiting for the gaps to eventually be filled in.
It was a yawner then, it's a yawner now.
DC's biggest failure is to admit the problem. They refuse to admit that there's nothing wrong with DC's characters. The problem is the TALENT. For my money, only Geoff Johns understands the characters enough to make them sell. Everybody else seems to need radical changes to garner interest–and that just means they are the WRONG people for the job.
"Dead and inactive", was pretty frikkin' sweet, but the one I still have in good shape, at hand, and I practically worship, is "weapons, hardware, and paraphernalia".
Doh! I stand corrected about the Robin thing. Sorry Jim and readers. I still say the consistancy and quality of books needs to step up though…
OHOTMU Book of the Dead and Inactive II: Marvel Boy to Zuras. <- I cannot even begin to tell how many hours I poured over this issue as a kid, reading and then rewriting my own stories and scribbling my own drawings. I still have it. The cover is tattered and barely hanging on.
DiDiots and rudderless Marvel – man it's rare to hear the truth told
Having 4 or 5 former Robins that even longtime readers can't keep track of in a brand new #1 issue sure doesn't sound like an entry point to me.
They probably had the idea of rebooting Superman for a while. Due to the Siegel/Shuster lawsuit, they're at risk of losing the rights to many aspects of Superman's origin. Editing them out of the story now might reduce their "value" and make it easier for them to make a settlement. They can say we don't need the original origin anymore, so you may as well let us have it for cheap, since it'll be worthless to anyone else.
As for why nothing else seems planned out, it's probably WB's fault. It sounds like they dictated that this reboot had to happen to tie into a digital comics push and/or the "Year of the Green Lantern." Of course that timing would have made more sense if the GL movie was a big hit, which it wasn't, but I think they set this in motion before they knew that. In retrospect, it would have made more sense to wait until next year's Batman movie and plan things out better.
There's also a sense of DC being unwilling to take risks and thus making a compromised product that won't please any part of the audience. They're afraid to alienate the old readers by wiping out all the continuity, so they're leaving it vague, not starting at the beginning and saying a bunch of the backstory still exists in some form.
By rushing out all 52 titles in the first month, they seem to have no faith the popularity will last very long. The confident approach would be to release 1 or 2 new titles a week and believe they're good enough that your readers will stick around for a year to see the universe take shape.
They might have been afraid to go with origin stories because, at the average decompressed pace, they might not have been able to get the superheroes into their traditional costumes for the first few issues. There are ways around that though, like starting the hero in the middle of his first adventure but quickly moving into a flashback of how he got there.
If Marvel did this right, they would definitely outsell DC, thanks to the natural advantage their characters already have. They would need to start all the titles at the very beginning and make some promises, like no more throwing out of established continuity, no more retcons (at least not after a year's time or by anyone other than the writer of the original story), no more renumbering. In fact I'd abandon numbering altogether. If month and year is good enough for Time magazine, it's good enough for comics.
End all the current series with a bang, deaths or other major events, because you rarely get the chance to do that. End the whole world for that matter. Then introduce only 1 or 2 titles a week, which should ensure that many people try every one, and stop at 24 ongoing titles. Limited series and one-shots are options after that. Bring the characters "back-to-basics," no change for the sake of change. Even Hollywood has stopped mucking up the basics of comic characters when brought to film. If you expect them to be faithful to your source material, shouldn't you be? I never understood the Ultimate universe…let's pre-empt bad Hollywood movie adaptations and bastardize our characters with arbitrary changes ourselves before Hollywood gets the chance?
It seems like independent competition for DC and Marvel has a tough road to hoe. All the people who are sick of DC and Marvel have left and probably wouldn't hear about a new universe, unless the startup had a big marketing budget. The comic fans who remain are loyal DC/Marvel fanboys who probably have their budgets maxed out on the massive amount of titles both companies put out.
The only pathway I'd be confident in for a startup would be to publish on the internet and try to get interest going through viral marketing. Print publication can certainly be added on later if online popularity is big enough to justify it.
I think you are completely correct about Mr. Didio and the crew over at DC.
I haven't bought anything since Final Crisis. Mr. Didio oversaw the mess that was Countdown to Final Crisis. He nor any editor did not seem to care to pay attention to detail and the resulting Countdown series failed to lead into Final Crisis in any kind of logical manner.
The whole Superman takes a walk around America, along with the brilliant idea of taking Superman out of his own books and putting others in his place was another nail in the coffin.
After Infinite Crisis, Mr. Johns was put on Superman with Mr. Busiek. And while Busiek managed to turn story after story out, Mr. John's run was interrupted during the first few issues resulting in a ridiculous delayed story that really was poorly thought out.
I think the major issue with DC is that there is nobody paying attention to detail, no editor in chief who does so nor any editor who cares to.
I love that a group of die hard comic book fans can come together to discuss the DC Universe reboot and even we can't keep all the different Robins straight and how they fit into the now condensed DC Universe.
If we can't understand how it's working what hope do casual/new readers have? I think DC may have overplayed their hand in the dumbing down of DC's history.
Heheh, "soft reboot", I hadn't heard that.
Y'know what happens when you "softly", hit reset on a Nintendo?
Nothing, and the shitty game stays stuck.
DC's biggest mistake with this relaunch was doing it with 52 new titles all at once. It's just too much for most people to process.
They should have started with about 10 core books with a strong and consistent editorial vision. The continuity of all these titles should have been very tightly related and melded into a recognizable and cohesive fictional universe.
For example they could have started with something like….
1. Action Comics
2. Detective Comics
5. Wonder Woman
6. Green Lantern
8. Justice League
10. Teen Titans
Then once these books had a chance to gain an audience, they could then start expanding the universe to include more titles.
Also, if they were going to commit to reinventing Superman so dramatically they should have done the same with Batman and the other major characters as well. This should have felt like the re-birth of the entire DCU. Something for new and old fans to get excited about and really be curious to check out.
Unfortunately that is not the case at all. It seems instead that DC is trying to have it's cake and eat it too. It's like they said with Superman… "This is a total reboot. Check it out! We've got Superboy wearing blue jeans and a cape!! The DC Universe is changing, we're reinventing our characters for a new generation and taking everything in an exciting new direction. Come along for the ride."
But with Batman they're saying… "Don't worry, old fans nothing has changed at all. This is the same old DC you've been reading forever. Look here are all four of the Robins you know and love, (that have impossibly existed for only 5 years). So stick around for more of the same old, same old."
It's a very schizophrenic message.
DC is calling it a "soft reboot", but I call it an ill-planned, disjointed mess with no real direction.
As I have said many, many times, ANYTHING can be done if you do it well. I got lucky with the Mordru story and it didn't hurt having Curt and Jack Abel on it. Nor did the Neal Adams cover.
The only DC character allowed to think/act that way was Ambush Bug, and because he was a comedy/satire character.
Maybe I think differently than others, but my biggest disappointment with the "new 52" is renumbering Action Comics with #1. A 73-year lineage… gone, just like that.
Action Comics #96, November 2019 will be the 1,000th issue of the Action Comics title – but it won't be the same, it won't be as special as Action Comics #1,000, November 2019, would have been. It's the comic book equivalent of tearing down the original Yankee Stadium and replacing it with the fake impostor that sits on the north side of 161st Street.
(And am I the only one to notice the irony that all of the "new 52" first issues are cover dated exactly 50 years after Fantastic Four #1?)
If they were going to fully throw continuity out the window, I would have gone with the more obvious choice: "I'm Batman, I've been around since FDR was president. I was around for Elvis, the Beatles, disco, break dancing, and rap. It's worked for Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny so deal with it. I'm a fictional character just like them and I can act contemporary in ANY era." Been waiting for this approach for ages now.
I wasn't a big fan of the "Official Handbook," but I remember leafing through the "Official book of the dead," and being surprised to learn that Bucky had belonged to no less than three teams during WW II, two of which he founded. Not bad for a dead teen sidekick….
Earth-2 is the best solution for the generation gap there is between Golden Age and Silver Age characters. Simply working with a JSA without 2nd World War is stupid.
In fact, I'd even go a bit further and have a brand new Earth with new DC from scratch and leave the past as another Earth.
I've enjoyed your takes on the past and the present in the form of your reviews of the New 52. Now I hope to see you write more about the future, and I don't just mean the LSH. Since you know "some of the perps fairly well," you're in a better position to make predictions than most of us.
I appreciate how you integrate reader contributions into your posts. We really are all on the same team.
The Peanuts cartoons cracked me up. Two panels. Too true. As for the third, I'm ignoring Lucy's siren song. I'm not wearing a yellow shirt.
Diane Nelson and Disney seem to have a hands-off approach toward comics as if they didn't want to harm their golden gooses. Trouble is, DC and Marvel are anything but golden judging from sales.
"On the other hand, there seemed to be no credible threats to DC on the horizon in 1961…."
Mort Weisinger would never have imagined Denny O'Neil's Superman revamp just ten years later. Or attempts to catch up with Marvel in the late 60s.
What black swans lie ahead for DC — and Marvel?
Marvel has become just as establishment as DC was in 1961. Stan Lee and his crew were underdogs fifty years ago, not unlike a certain successful startup twenty years ago. Smaller. Less conservative. More … DARING. (That word rings a bell. I wonder why …)
I had no idea that the OHOTMU idea went all the way back to the LSH!
I belong to the category your friend described. I started and stopped buying various Marvel and DC titles in the 80s, but I kept buying OHOTMU and Who's Who. Marvel Saga too — the comic book equivalent of Marvel's greatest hits. All the big moments fused into a seamless narrative. I hope Jim sheds some light on that series someday.
I enjoy superhero universes as bodies of mythology surveyed in titles like those, but am less enthused about a lot of the individual stories. Too much filler. Too many "change the world forever" stories that get retconned. I want to read a comic in which everything matters. No waste. Efficient. Entertaining. Better still, thought-provoking. And original.
I'm tired of what Zanazaz described as "rehashed, re-imagined, regurgitated." Where's the creativity? The DARING to do something different? Zanazaz, your rant speaks for me.
Jim, great stuff! An old friend of mine who runs a comics shop relates the anecdote that OHOTMU and Who's Who marked the beginning of the emerging subset of his clientele that doesn't buy comics – instead, they buy books about comics.
I haven't bought a copy of any of the "New 52" titles. From what I've seen on here, the already seem tired and pathetic. Not sure what I would rather read, something that looks like Rob Liefeld vomited on a page, or a New 52 title.
The art has to be good, and help tell the story. The story has to be good. The dialogue has to be good. There has to be continuity, both in characterization, and the history of the universe. If things change willy nilly, and I can't keep up, then you've lost me, a loyal reader and customer.
Changing things every two to three years WILL drive me away. I really doubt it attract new customers, it might attract speculators but this a bad thing.
Is all the excitement gone from comic books? None of this New 52 seems new or exciting. It's rehashed, re-imagined, regurgitated, and well, from what I've seen boring. Maybe there are good titles, but do I want to get invested in these titles only to have them change two years down the line? No.
I think the time is ripe for a new comic book publishing company. One that cares about their customers, not the bottom line. You care about your customers the bottom line will probably take care of itself.
I honestly want to understand the clusterfu– that is DC's new 52. I really and truly do. But the Batman books are the prime example of why I do not.
As has been mentioned, Bruce has only been Batman for like 5 years. In that time he has had four Robins, presumably in the same order as the original comics.
I can buy that to some degree. Maybe he feels that a year or so in the field is adequate training to set out on their own. Maybe they cannot take more than a year with him. Either way, it is plausible. I guess.
The first thing I cannot wrap my mind around is why Jason Todd looks and acts OLDER than Dick Grayson. I buy his rough character because it differentiates him from Dick, and seems appropriate seeing as he is the "middle child."
The second thing I cannot wrap my mind around is where Bruce is finding these kids in such short order? In the original universe, a lot of time passes between each adoption so it is a little more plausible. But adopting three and siring another so close in age?! Or was Bruce picking up these kids long before he was donning the cowl? Either way, it's creepy – especially because they look fairly similar to each other. There is a name for people that have a knack for that: serial killers. And is he consciously creating an army of underage soldiers for a larger purpose?
Bruce's death and return, as well as Dick's assumption of the Batman role SHOULD NEVER have been incorporated into this universe. Bruce's return to the old DC universe would have been a strong ending note as a symbol of hope. Here it is pointless and meaningless.
And that's just Batman, folks. I don't even know where to begin with the rest of the universe. Suffice it to say that my second favorite hero (GL – all of them) no longer holds any interest…
Shaking head. Picked up Huntress #1 last night. Let's see, 52 "new" titles last month and here's yet another #1.
It's a screwed up idea. One, it's a mini-series so it's a different kind of #1 than last month's extravaganza. But why is DC doing any mini-series so soon. Let's wait and see which titles get cancelled before shoving in series to fill in any volume commitments with the publisher.
Second, and I really, really hate this–it's a freaking Earth-2 story (the text page says there are more Earth-2 stories coming). If the goal is to simplify the DC universe, using Earth-2 doesn't cut it. Simplification means no Earth-2, no Elseworlds, and I'd even argue that having various titles like Action set 5 years ago is also a mistake.
That issue of S&LSH was the first one I ever bought. I enjoyed both stories. Still do, really. The Cockrum/Grell/Sherman-drawn era of the Legion is still my favorite.
The three Robins in Batman are Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Damien Wayne. Jason Todd is not in that picture and involves a more complicated story.
Thanks for correcting my brain freeze, Sara! The new52 does that to a person…
Dear Jerry Novick,
It's actually Jason Todd wearing the Red Hood costume. Tim Drake is called Red Robin.
Forgot to mention that sometimes starting in the middle works.
One of the first Legion stories I read was your "Mordru the Merciless." The story spends 3.5 pages on Mordru's history with the Legion. I was blissfully unaware that this was Mordru's first appearance and the referenced story did not exist…
From my fan perspective, the aspect that I liked from the various Who's Who series was the brief history of the character, not stats on strength, height or weight. The fictional height/weight always reminded me of Playboy centerfold data. A heavily muscled super-female at 5'10" and 110 pounds was laughable.
I think the earliest Who's Who type publication fans can point to was 1975's Amazing World of DC Comics #9. While fanzine oriented (it was originally an apazine) it had DC's approval as official and sold out quickly. I never understood why DC failed to reprint it.
Neal Pozner's ode to the Legion made me want to go back and read all the stories he talked about. It also made it much easier to keep up with the sprawling Legion where characters could go months and years between appearances.
I will admit, I liked your old writing trick of having a Legion story start with a crowd scene where the characters interacted, but you'd give thought balloons only to the ones who'd appear in the rest of the story. That gave us more of the Legion with a smooth transition to a short story focusing on just 2-3 of them.
A correction is in order.Greygor & Techberry mention the scene from Batman with the 3 Robins. Jason Todd is not among them. It's Damien, Dick Grayson, and Tim Drake.
And actually, the newDCU contains 4 "robins" – Tim Drake is now the Red Hood, but apparently his stint as Robin still exists.
So in 5 years, Batman has had 4 Robins, was gone for a year and replaced by Dick Grayson, who had a previous career as Nightwing that he now returns to.
Very busy 5 years!
Blok 4 Prez
While I agree in general with the "every comic could be someone's first so make it clear what's going on" idea. My first Legion issue was right at the start of the Great Darkness saga story and there were dozens of characters bouncing around and I had no idea who they were and what their relationship to one another was (not to mention I hadn't heard of the villain of the piece but could tell from the character's reaction he was a big deal.) And a lot of the fun was jumping in in and learning about the universe of the comic as I went along. To me it was exciting that there was this huge unknown universe to explore (who were the Heroes of Lallor who made an appearance? I had no idea but they looked cool and I wanted to find out.)
Granted Levitz's clear storytelling combined with Giffen's incredible artwork added to the enjoyment and excitement I was feeling, but I don't think jumping into an ongoing story in the middle is always a bad thing. It can be a lot of fun for the reader.
(Also, not sure why Marvel got slammed in your review of what DC is doing. Seemed out of left field.)