Monday, October 06, 2008

FanBoyWonder’s DC Nation Baltimore Invasion—The Exit Strategy

In our final installment of our DC Nation invasion during Baltimore Comic-Con, FanBoyWonder and Kemosabe partook in the question and answer portion of the program.

A little aside—we are writing this Friday evening thanks to the miracle of modern technology and the dumb luck your humble blog host as we remembered to take our laptop when Brianna The Girl Wonder half pleaded, half dragged us bodily to the cafetorium of Brianna’s school for PTA “movie night.”

So as Brianna is enjoying Finding Nemo with her some 50 of her friends, Grandpa FBW is thankfully at the grownups table occupying ourselves with this blog posting—at least for a long as the laptop battery holds. We pray the movie ends before the battery does.

Ok….on with the pain.

As we’ve noted, the DC nation panel featured Executive Editor Dan DiDio, along with Jimmy Palmiotti, DC’s uber writer Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates, Kemosabe’s favorite writer James Robinson, Sean McKeever and DC Comics Story Editor Ian Sattler.

John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad

When it came time for the Q&A, FanBoyWonder was feeling a little snarky. Our first time up at bat, we asked a question to which we already knew the answer.

To Dan DiDio, we praised the recent Suicide Squad mini-series as one of the best books they did this year and noted that writer John Ostrander is on record as saying he’s up for writing more Squad, so will there be a follow up Squad?

DD answered that despite pockets of dedicated fans, the book—Suicide Squad: From the Ashes (now available in trade paper back)—didn’t sell as well as they had hoped so there are no immediate plans for another Suicide Squad series.

However, DD did helpfully point everyone to Squad appearances in Manhunter and Secret Six and the Squad will continue to appear in other books throughout the DCU. If there’s demand, there will be another Suicide Squad book.

We followed up by asking if John Ostrander would be writing said hypothetical future Squad book.

That’s a scheduling issue,”
DiDio replied, which means “Don’t hold your breath.”

FanBoyWonder’s Take: While it’s lovely that the Suicide Squad characters are appearing throughout the DCU—it’s better than Limbo—it was John Ostrander’s golden pen that made those characters and the Squad special.

It’s not a surprise that the recent reunion mini-series Suicide Squad: From the Ashes (to repeat—now available in trade paper back) wasn’t a top seller.

Even back in the day, the original Suicide Squad struggled with sales throughout its entire five year, 66-issue run. However Ostrander (along with his late wife and writing partner Kim Yale) set the gold standard for super hero espionage/political storytelling.

Greg Rucka’s Checkmate and Gail Simone’s Secret Six can both trace their roots back directly to the trail blazed by Suicide Squad two decades ago.

This year’s Squad mini-series was not only just as good but even better than the original series—Ostrander’s experience and continued growth as a writer over the past two decades really showed up in the series.

So various members of the Squad may appear in other DCU titles but Suicide Squad without John Ostrander is like Justice League in Detroit—a shadow of its true self.

Green Lantern John Stewart—M.I.A.

A bit later during the Q&A, following a presentation of the Johnny DC titles Tiny Titans (a favorite of Brianna the Girl Wonder as is Super Friends), DiDio unveiled another new book in this line is “Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade,” which will be released in December.

We complemented Tea m DC for this—noting that our seven-year-old Girl Wonder loves these books and Grandpa FBW loves that they serve as a gateway to the DCU and to comics in general (without a Frank Miller “C” word to be had anywhere)—so we encouraged them to stay on this right track.

Yet, we just couldn’t help ourselves when we tweaked the panel and Geoff Johns in particular that just about the only place we can read Green Lantern John Stewart is in an issue of Brianna The Girl Wonder’s Super Friends comics—So how about that Geoff Johns?

He answered a tad defensive—not unjustified given our snarkyness—that John IS in Green Lantern and DiDio jumped in by noting that John Stewart is in Justice League of America so we must not be reading it.

We replied that JLA is unreadable but they didn’t hear or didn’t acknowledge my retort as they moved on to the next question.

FBW’s Take: Okay, we knew we were being ….prickly and we DID know that John Stewart was featured in the pages of JLA before we stopped reading it. But only AFTER current writer Dwayne McDuffie shoehorned JS into the line up at the start of his run.

That came AFTER the over-rated Brad Metzler pushed John Stewart out of the League to make room for Green Lantern Hal Jordan because Hal was part of Brad’s fanboy fantasy baseball line up.

Here’s the deal—Of the literally thousands of Green Lanterns, John Stewart is THE recognizable public face of Green Lantern thanks to being featured in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon. It’s John Stewart who is on the toys and in the Super Friends20comic and in a line up of elementary school age kids (like our girl wonder) John Stewart is THE Green Lantern.

Yet the nano-second that Justice League Unlimited went off the air, John Stewart was stuffed into a trunk out of sight. The aforementioned Dwayne McDuffie, formerly JLU producer, is the ONLY reason why John Stewart is regularly featured anywhere right now.

Worse, in this month’s Justice League of America #25, (we didn’t buy it, we viewed the preview pages on Newsarama), it features Green Lantern Hal Jordan AND John Stewart. Upstaged AGAIN.

In Green Lantern, scripted by Geoff Johns, John Stewart hasn’t been seen in months because of the current Secret Origin story arc—a.k.a. Hal Jordan Year One, a.k.a. Emerald Dawn: The Do-Over.

We can already here the reply to our complaint: “Well, Green Lantern is Hal’s book and John Stewart is just a supporting player.”

Okay. WHY? In the pages of Green Lantern Corps, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner—the former “Last Green Lantern” and emerald standard bearer for a decade—have carved out a home in that book yet John Stewart is perpetually the last one standing without a chair when the music stops.

Again why? Hal Jordan was dead. Okay. There was a significant anti-Kyle movement. Okay. So why not something daring and so safe—by elevating John Stewart in the main DCU to the status he enjoyed in the JLU universe as THE Earth GL.

It would have been the best of both worlds—a three decades old character but with a blank enough landscape to treat as new.

DC Management’s misguided revival of the Silver Age has resulted in bringing back a dead white guy to push aside the most high profile Green Lantern—who only happens to be a character of color and in our humble opinion a much more interesting character than Hal Jordan is or ever was—to reinstate the 1960s status quo.

John Stewart and his fans deserve better.
Ok….that’s off our chest and we feel better. Next.
Dr. Fate's Fate?

Kemosabe asked that given the brilliant yet tragic re-boot of the Dr. Fate character by the late Steve Gerber, what will be Fate’s fate in the DC Universe.

DiDio pointed out that Dr. Fate is currently in Reign in Hell (apparently this book is on it’s 3rd issue and we’ve never even heard of it—good job DC Marketing) and will be making supporting appearances throughout 2009, but DC felt that in the wake of Gerber’s untimely passing, it didn’t feel right to launch a new Dr. Fate series.

FBW’s Take: Meaning they don’t know what the hell to do with Dr. Fate right now and no one wants to try to top a dead man’s last work. Heck we can’t blame them. We’ll give DC a year to regroup before we expect to see a Dr. Fate series—but please guys, take your time and do it right.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t read it, pick up Dr. Fate: Countdown to Mystery trade paper back, featuring Steve Gerber’s final work. His final legacy is a new Dr. Fate that reminds us of the original but is breathtakingly original in his flaws and in his strengths. Check it out.

Final thoughts and Parting Shots

Okay…bit of a disconnect…FanBoyWonder is writing this closing section of our DC Nation posting on Monday afternoon on the train ride home. It turns out the movie ran out before our laptop battery but Grandpa had been busy ALL weekend long with babysitting duty…not just Brianna the Girl Wonder but nearly one-year old T.J. The Wonder Lad.

So now that we’ve gotten some rest at the office, we can end our tour of DC Nation with some overall observations.

After we left the DC Nation panel and for the more than week that we’ve had to chew on what we heard…and what we didn’t hear from DC Management, we can’t say that we are able to muster a lot of excitement for what DC has planed in 2009.

We like what’s going on the in Green Lantern part of the DCU—the near endless and unnecessary re-telling of Hal Jordan’s origin not withstanding—but we liked Green Lantern going in nothing new.

Also we are cautiously optimistic about the upcoming Power Girl series but feel that Justice Society of America needs a shot in the arm that only a co-plotter/co-writer can provide. As a title, JSA was strongest when there were two creative heads on board—right now the book has one talented but VERY overextended scribe.

In between child care duties, we had some time to think about what was most bothering us about the DC Nation panel and the state of the DCU in general. The make up of the Baltimore panel appeared to represent the state of DC Management—each creator up there was more or less talented (some more some less than others) but each is beholden in some manner to Executive Editor Dan DiDio—they’re all “Dan’s Guys.”

Geoff Johns is top dog in the kennel and he’s not so much beholden to DD it seems they have struck a partnership in which Johns gets the runs of the place as long as he can produce for DD.

Palmotti and Gates strike us as go-along guys who know they are at-will employees and DD is the boss. James Robinson is a slightly different creature. JR is every bit Johns’ peer in the talent department but he has the option of picking his ball and screwing if he doesn’t like the deal—he wants to be there but doesn’t NEED to be there.

The fact that a proven talent like John Ostrander can’t get regular work from DC but the DC Nation panel consists of all “young turks” beholden to their “Czar” says that DC Management enjoys like-mindedness. It’s tough to think outside the creative box in an echo chamber.

So we come back to Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns and the analogy that hit us—think New England Patriots Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

As soon as star quarterback Brady became injured and was out of the season, the Belichick Patriots went into the toilet.

At Team DC, so long as Geoff Johns can continue to toss storytelling missiles into the End Zone, all is well. But DC’s current Golden Boy Wonder has been the starting quarterback and the star for about 5 years now, he is showing obvious signs of fatigue and there is no one….NO ONE waiting in the wings to pick up his creative slack.

Winning coaches (and we use that term loosely as it’s a matter of debate whether DC has been a “winning team” lately) can only harness/exploit talent for as long as the talent can take to the field—and if you don’t have any other tools in the tool box, you’re screwed.

So let us close by reiterating our two words for Bill Belichick ….uh…that is to Dan DiDio—“Deeper Bench.”


Blogger The League said...

Well, you requested I read your post, and read it I did.

BTW, "The League" is a Google-driven pseudonym. This is Ryan from over at Comic Fodder.


I completely agree with your Patriots analogy, the Didio "yes men" and the short bench. I just don't like looking at the DC line and knowing so much of what I enjoy reading is coming from so few authors.

Didio has a loyal stable of writers, but not a stable of writers that I'm a huge fan of, or would follow. And some that I outright avoid (and am oft-stunned to hear others champion).

DC needs to start drawing in the Matt Fractions.

Wait... I feel a Comic Fodder post coming on...

Anyhoo, good for you for giving Didio heck over the end of Suicide Squad. Great series (as was Rucka's Checkmate). It's a danged shame DC doesn't know what to do with such a rich concept (and which was ultimately much better than Simone's Secret Six mini).

8:42 PM, October 06, 2008  
Blogger The League said...

And before I forget:

Yes. a 100x yes on a much higher profile for Stewart. I like the "buddy" idea, but Johns hasn't fleshed it out enough. John isn't getting enough coverage in JLA (no dig on Duffie... that's a lot of characters). So I'd like to see more of the character one way or another.

8:46 PM, October 06, 2008  
Blogger FanBoyWonder said...

Hey Ryan,
I knew it was you but I thought you were "in character" as The League.

DiDio's Yes Men speaks volumes about his style of leadership--that he dare not keep anyone on hand that knows more than he or that could possibly outshine him.

I was never a Legion fan but I find it hard to believe that Jim Shooter's Legion of Super Heroes--the same Shooter who was brought by DD's boss and the same Shooter who did DD's job at Marvel quite successfully--in other words a possible successor, had his book canceled.

But before it was canceled, Geoff Johns--DD's guy, writes a big Legion of 3 Worlds mini-series that shakes up the Legion status quo making Shooter's Legion book odd man out.

The future does not look bright at DC I'm afraid.

Thanks for reading,

6:47 PM, October 07, 2008  
Blogger The League said...

I try to separate personality of editorial from the comics, but.. man. Didio doesn't want the readers to do so, and with his seemingly constant presence on panels, you can't help but then see his fingerprints all over DC.

I still honestly believe things were worse just post OYL, but they barely improved and seem to improve only in spite of Didio. DCU Decisions, Countdown, Amazons Attack...

The point you made regarding Shooter made complete sense. Add in the lack of hype surrounding Shooter's return makes some sense. Some creepy sense.

8:57 PM, October 07, 2008  
Blogger George Morrow said...

Thanks for speaking up about John Stewart. I really like the character and feel that, despite DC's frequent claims otherwise, he's the least utilized of the Green Lanterns, but the one with the greatest recognition of the lot and rich with potential. I would say that's ironic, but I think DC is aware that for more people than have probably actually ever read a Green Lantern comic, John is THE Green Lantern. But still, because he wasn't the one they read as kids, he's merely a supporting player to Saint Hal.

Hopefully he'll be appearing in Green Lantern more, now that Geoff John's done erasing everything Hal Jordan's ever done that he disagrees with. I mean retelling his origin. John has been getting quite a bit of panel time in Trinity though, and even has a bit of a mystery subplot going on. The title is so-so, but Kurt Busiek's doing a good job with him.

Have a good day.
G Morrow

11:14 AM, October 14, 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
Online Universities