INTERVIEW: DiDio & Lee on "Dark Knight 3," Vertigo's Future & DC's Evolving Readership
In the swelling tide preceding Batman Incorporated #8, the promised death of the current Robin and the impending finale of Grant Morrison’s six-year opus, something jumped out at me about the writer’s previous work for hire: He has a propensity to kill the characters he introduces into the universes of Marvel and DC Comics before he leaves.
Think back to his first major mainstream superhero book, JLA. In it, Morrison and Howard Porter revived the team in a back-to-basics approach featuring the seven most popular and iconic members. But during that time Morrison also created (with Mark Millar and N. Steven Harris) the Mesoamerican hero Aztek. Launched in his own series — whose first issue teased his impending death — Aztek later joined Morrison’s JLA and was killed in JLA #41, the writer’s final issue.
You’d probably already heard that Robert Goodin’s excellent and influential blog Covered was in the business of winding down, but the final curtain has now come down. Since announcing on Sept. 16 that he was intending to end the blog, Goodin has run four entries by Steve Rude, and a couple by Art Adams. Now that’s how to go out in style.
Here in Memphis this week, September finally turned the corner into fall. High temperatures are mostly in the 70s, the air is getting crisper, and the sky is turning a paler blue. Unlike July or August, when October and November seem far in the future, a nice September makes December that much easier to imagine.
In September you start to settle into the routine which will take you through the winter — and that’s apparently true as well for the New 52 superhero books. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
MOVERS AND SHAKERS
Ivan Reis and Joe Prado head to Justice League with December’s Issue 15, and I for one am happy. Although I like Jim Lee fine, I think Reis is better-suited to big, multiple-character action. It’s hard for me to explain the distinction, so consider this: How would “Sinestro Corps” or Blackest Night have looked if Lee had drawn them? Reis manages crowds quite well, and Justice League should be crowded.
Also, while I’ve been rather down on Justice League of late, the expanded roster (teased over a year ago) and the Atlantis-centered storyline make me optimistic that the book is … well, doing what I’d like it to do, which is being a showcase for, and gateway to, the larger superhero universe. So, well done, solicitation!
Happy Father’s Day and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where each week we talk about what comics and other stuff have been on our reading piles. Today’s guests are two of the contributors to Skullkickers #18, which features several “Tavern Tales” short stories by different creative teams. Joining us today are Charles Soule of 27, Strange Attractors and Strongman fame, and Aubrey Sitterson, winner of the Skullkickers Tavern Tales Contest. He’s also the writer of Gear Monkey for Double Feature Comics and community manager for WWE Games.
To see what Charles, Aubrey and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
I found Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Scott Williams’ Justice League #1, the inaugural effort in DC’s “New 52″ effort, to be thunderously disappointing. Listening to three months of sustained, daily hype has a way of raising expectations, I guess, and as cynical as I remained about so many aspects of DC’s relaunch, and despite the fact that I took each new tidbit of information with a grain of salt, that much exposure to positive PR still managed to raise my expectations rather high. Particularly for this book, since it was the flagship one, and the one being written by the publisher’s chief creative officer and drawn by its co-publisher.
But the quality of the comic book just didn’t really meet those high expectations.
There are a variety of reasons for this, but one of the most obvious, and one I saw cited most often in the slew of reviews and reactions I’ve since seen online, is that it fails to meet even the most basic, vague promise of its own cover: It’s not a Justice League comic, as the logo says, and it doesn’t features the characters pictured on the front. Two of them star in the book, and two more cameo, but it read more like The Brave and The Bold featuring Batman and Green Lantern…albeit a theoretical version of The Brave and The Bold, perhaps written by Brian Michael Bendis for an eventual trade collection of the first six-issue arc, as DC’s various Brave and the Bold books almost always tell a complete story with a beginning, middle and end in each and every single issue.
One tagline for the big alien-invasion movie Independence Day cautioned, “Don’t make plans for August.” Well, perhaps the biggest news coming out of DC’s August solicitations is the pervasive sense of foreboding they have about September. Rich Johnston maintains that a whole crop of new No. 1 issues is on tap for the fall, but there are no “FINAL ISSUE!” blurbs to be found on any of the current ongoing series.
While that doesn’t rule out a line-wide relaunch, the solicits also seem to say that readers won’t have to worry about a line-wide reboot. As noted in this space a couple of weeks back, the degree of change will probably be different for different titles. Nevertheless, now that we have a better idea of how August will look, let’s see what it says about September….
[Last week I started a look back at DC’s ongoing series in a post-Crisis environment of annual line-wide events. Thanks as always to Mike’s Amazing World Of DC Comics for its invaluable data.]
The second half of the 1980s was, to put it mildly, a transitional period for DC. Beginning with the watershed Crisis On Infinite Earths, most high-profile titles were relaunched, book by book — not just to take characters like Superman and Batman “back to basics,” but to open them up to new creative possibilities. Building on Crisis’ success, the publisher also tried to launch new titles from line-wide events. By the early ‘90s, however, the speculator market was imposing its own will on the superhero books. …
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What do you do when handed the Holy Grail of mainstream superhero comics? How should you manage the scores of characters and decades of fictional history which it involves? Most importantly, how will you ensure that what makes it into print actually satisfies readers, from easily-overwhelmed rookies to expectation-stuffed fanatics?
Writer Kurt Busiek and artist George Perez made JLA/Avengers a love story.