by Aaron Einhorn
I may be the only voice in the comic reading community that feels this way, but I am greatly disappointed with the recent news from DC Comics and J. Michael Straczynski regarding his work on Superman, Wonder Woman and Superman: Earth One. The announcement, made on DC Universe: The Source, is that Straczynski will be leaving his ongoing monthly titles in order to fast-track a sequel to Earth One.
Despite the fact that I was not personally overwhelmed by it (as you can read here), Superman: Earth One was a huge hit, attracting national notice, and topping The New York Times bestseller list for graphic novels. A quick sell-out and second printing all but guaranteed a sequel, as DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio explains, saying ““We were so pleased with the response to Superman: Earth One that it made sense to fast-track a sequel, and we definitely wanted to go back to the same amazing creative team.”
The bad news for readers of DC’s regular monthly series, especially Superman and Wonder Woman is that Straczynski is going to move away from those titles in order to write the sequel to Earth One.
Here’s what JMS had to say:
I’d originally come to DC to do the Superman: Earth One book which, at the time, was top secret so nobody knew about it, and filled out on Brave and the Bold for a while to have fun and get up to speed on the DCU. When I was done with SEO I took on the Superman and Wonder Woman monthlies on the theory that I’d have time to script the full 12 issues before bounding back onto Earth One. But when the huge numbers started coming in on Earth One, and the need to fastrack the next volumes became evident in order to keep the momentum going, I knew there was no way in god’s green earth that I could write that and the monthlies simultaneously. Since DC has had my notes and outlines from day one on both titles, so they’re still my stories, it makes sense to let Chris and Phil keep going from the story beats I’ve set up. I’ll dive in on occasion as needed for important story points. It’s still my story, I’m involved in both books, and they’re going to continue in the direction we set up. I’m looking forward to seeing what Chris and Phil have in store.
Meanwhile, I’m taking full advantage of the situation to take a one- to five-year sabbatical from writing monthlies in order to go exclusively into writing graphic novels like Superman: Earth One and Samaritan X, along with the occasional high-visibility minseries. I think that’s where the business is going, and creatively, limited series and graphic novels have always been my strong suit in that they let me tell cohesive stories with a beginning, middle and end. They can also be written and drawn before anything is ever announced or solicited, as was the case with Earth One, which has been one of the greatest and most creatively rewarding experience of my career. At some point I’m sure I’ll come back to monthlies — it’s just too darn much fun — but for the next one to five years, it’s strictly GNs and miniseries, with Superman: Earth One being the first priority, followed by Samaritan X.
Before I launch into my problems with JMS’ statement and position, it’s worth noting that the new creative team for Superman will be to have Chris Roberson (Cinderella) taking over the writing beginning with January’s Superman #707, while Phil Hester (Green Arrow, Nightwing) taking over for the Amazonian Princess starting with Wonder Woman #605.
So, my problem? Well, it’s mainly one of ego and commitment. And it pains me to write this, because I genuinely like JMS as a writer, and from what I’ve read from him in interviews, I suspect I would like him personally. But leaving two of the tentpole titles of the DC Universe, mid-storyline, strikes me as a poor choice. Consider that Superman’s “Grounded” storyline represented a major change for the character, and JMS had requested that Superman not appear much (if at all) in other titles during that storyline. He tabled one of the icons of the DC Universe, got rid of his flight, and created a massive event, and he isn’t seeing it through.
Similarly, in Wonder Woman, we need to remember that part of the reason for the costume change was the radical story reboot for Diana, also under JMS’ hand. This is another storyline that has major impacts on the DC Universe as a whole, and it also won’t be seen through by Straczynski.
Now, perhaps I’m being unfair. He does state that he has outlines and notes that the other writers will be working from. And in all likelihood, the decision to fast-track the Earth One sequel was probably not Straczynski’s alone. DiDio states “We knew we had to make some creative adjustments to the two ongoing books Joe was involved with to ensure his stories reached their natural conclusion and to also guarantee their arrival in stores in a timely manner. We firmly believe this plan is the strongest solution – it guarantees a fitting conclusion to two of the most historic and important storylines to ever involve Superman and Wonder Woman, while locking in another epic Superman: Earth One adventure.”
And you know what? I don’t blame DC for the decision. I don’t. The comic publishing business is a business, after all, and you need to make books that sell – which Earth One did. I get that. Again, even if I didn’t personally love Earth One, I know it was well-received, and it definitely sold.
But I hate seeing stories interrupted. I’m still waiting for the conclusion to The Twelve. And while Hester and Roberson are both great writers, and they will be using JMS’ outline, I still want to see him complete what he started. You don’t want your favorite baseball team to play 5 games of the World Series, and then have another team take their place – even if they are going to wear the original team’s uniforms and listen to their coach. (As a minor point, I do find Straczynski’s comment about “high-visibility” miniseries to be slightly egotistical as well, but I’ll let that one slide).
So, maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I should be excited. But I’m not. I feel let down, and this has killed much of the enthusiasm I had about not only the Superman and Wonder Woman monthlies, but also the Superman: Earth One sequel and to a lesser extent, Batman: Earth One.
(Source: DC Universe: The Source)
Underneath My Mask features thoughts, ideas and opinions about superheroes in all forms of media. These ideas belong to Aaron and no one else – and he frequently finds himself in arguments about the ideas put forth here. Feel free to offer up your own arguments in the comments below.