The New DC Comics Universe Weak Link: The Creators

As the news of the DC Comics reboot hit last week, rumors and speculation began flying fast and furious.  But one thing that the majority of folks out there agreed on was the excitement around what was to come.  The potential of starting fresh with so many of the characters that we've known for so long is an exciting and optimistic opportunity to introduce something new to the comics indutry.

Then we began to hear the names and titles of the comics that would make up the new DC Comics universe.  With the announcements made last week and yesterday, we've seen DC Comics throw a lot of information our way. Upon reading these announcements, I was initially underwhelmed. Sure there were some highlights such as Cliff Chiang on Wonder Woman with Brian Azzarello and Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo on Batman, but as far as the rest of the announcements went, I was unimpressed. Names we've been familiar with just shuffling titles.  Nothing against the creators involved in these titles, but if anything these DC announcements have been just more of the same.

This got me thinking, as DC Comics gears up announce the rest of the titles, what would they need to do in order for me to not be underwhelmed with these creative teams?  We discussed this a bit on this week's podcast, but I felt it was worth discussing here.  I have no inside information, no insight to what DC Comics may announce, and all of these suggestions are my suggestions and mine alone, I'm totally just playing fantasy casting, so take it as you will.

Utilize Existing Talent

I understand that there's a certain stable of creators that DC will use on these bew books.  In some case, like the talented Scott Snyder, Pete Tomasi and Peter Milligan, that's cool, let them run with it.  But if we end up with numerous books by the yeomans of the stable, then well, this reboot kicks off with a whimper.

But then again, DC has got some amazing talent that I would love to see on any of the 52 new books.  Brian Wood, for example, has been quietly doing an amazing job on DMZ and Northlanders over at Vertigo and was the subject of superhero book rumors in the DCU.  DC has him under an exclusive contract, so why not let him take his pick of characters and give him a book or two?  We already saw his modern take on "superheroes" in the recent DV8 (before Wildstorm got shut down), I'm sure that Wood would deliver some quality on Supergirl, or any other book you give him.

Another person whose potential isn't being utilized by DC is Jeff Lemire.  Sure, he's been writing Superboy and Flashpoint: Frankenstein, but why not take a risk and let him write and draw a title? Now I know some believe his art style isn't "commercial" enough for superheroes, but I've seen his sketches of super heroes (like Mr. Miracle to the left)  and after the emotion expressed in his written and drawn books like Essex County and Sweet Tooth, I bet he might surprise you.  And pulling from Vertigo again, you've got Chris Roberson and Mike Allred working great together on iZombie.  Imagine a Roberson written, Allred drawn super-hero book like Doom Patrol? I would totally buy that. 

I just hope that as DC editorial looks at their current stable of talent, they don't fall for the trap of sticking to what they know and not pushing the envelope a bit.

Recruit from Outside & Independent Comics
If we've seen anything over the past few years from DC, it's that they've lost out on many of the top talent.  They had an opportunity with Jason Aaron (after setting up Scalped at Vertigo), but they lost him to Marvel Comics.  They let Mike Norton go from his exclusive (it is beyond me as to why he's not on any of these new titles), and most recently after everyone thought indie-wunderkind Nick Spencer was getting comfy at DC, we were shocked when we suddenly went exclusive to Marvel.

DC needs to turn this trend around and recruit some new and exciting creators who can breathe renewed life into some of their titles.  There are great creators at Image, Oni and some of the other independents that I hope they're looking to recruit while figuring out ways to challenge new talent with the vast library of DC Characters.  Someone like Nathan Edmondson, who's tearing it up on Who Is Jake Ellis? at Image is prime for stepping up to the big leagues, and DC needs to act before Marvel does.  Alex Grecian and Riley Rossmo just wrapped up Proof at Image and are an established creative team that could breathe life into a title. 

There's always someone who's got some buzz behind them and that DC is already working with, like Kelly Sue DeConnick.  An up and coming writer in her own right who DC Comics has had on a few issues of Supergirl. How sweet would it be to have the wife of the current writer of Marvel's main event book helping lead the charge for the new DC? Or someone like Cullen Bunn, who's been writing one of the best new series with The Sixth Gun from Oni Press and has been dipping his toe into the waters at Marvel.  Grab him and set him up with a great title and an opportunity to help his career and maybe you can keep him from signing that exclusive to Marvel and losing out yet again.

Basically, DC Comics needs to look at what Marvel's done and find a way to bridge that gap and get some new and fresh creators that fans can get excited about.  

Bring In A Big Gun
I realize that my comments up to this point are very insular to comics.  I also realize that much of the moves DC Comics has made have been to help drive new readers and expand their audience, as they should.  It's a tough position to be in, because you don't want to lose/alienate the fans currently reading DC Comics, which is where much of the above comes from.

But if you want to expand the comics audience you need to think outside of the box a bit. Starting within comics, bring back a name that will draw readers back to DC Comics.  Mark Waid has done some of his best work of his career at DC, on such books as Kingdom Come and The Flash. Since leaving DC, Waid has gone on to create one of the best, modern takes on super heroes with Irredeemable at BOOM! Studios. Mend whatever fences you need to and welcome him back and let him work his magic again. Put that encyclopedia knowledge of DC Comics history to work for you.

Back in 2009 when Neil Gaiman recently wrote two issues of Batman that even I picked up!  It was an event!  Think of what would happen if you could get Gaiman to return to monthly comics, even if only for 6 months or a year.  It would be an event again.  Gaiman is a powerhouse who helped build the Vertigo line into what it is today.  Why not go back to him and hope that his magic could work again.  You've recently reintroduced Swamp Thing and John Constantine back to the DC Universe, who better to usher him back than one of the godfathers of Vertigo? Everyone would be watching.

Now imagine if you could bring back one the generation's best writers.  Someone that we all grew to love very quicklly, only to have our hearts broken as we all thought he had abandoned comics for the greener pastures of Hollywood.  Yep, I'm talking about Brian K. Vaughan.  He wrote one of the best Vertigo series since Preacher with Y: The Last Man.  Imagine what he could do on just one book. He's already shown an ability to write smart comics (Ex Machina) as well as accessible/all ages comics (Runaways).  Get him on one book and you'd have comic fans lining up to get their hands on it.  (Nod to Matthew Rosenberg for the original suggestion of this on Twitter)

But those are known quantities.  If DC Comics is serious about expanding their audience and pulling people who haven't been reading comics, it's going to take a big move, with a name that has a loyal following that will flock to whatever they do.  Think back to the late 1990s, when Marvel got Kevin Smith to write Daredevil.  Fans of Smith's movies ran to the comic store to get his latest work because they just couldn't get enough.  Who today would deliver that sort of following?  Who is the Kevin Smith of today?

How about Entertainment Weekly's Geek God, Nathan Fillion? Already with a strong and loyal following (that appears to be an offshoot of the loyal Joss Whedon fans), and having voiced several characters in DC animation projects like the most recent Green Lantern: Emerald Knights DVD, Fillion can bring some of that Hollywood name and star power to the comics and attract the thousands of fans that line up just for a photo or an autograph.  Plus, it would be another great jab at Marvel, who are producing comics based on Fillion's television persona from Castle.  Seems like resurrecting the Vic Sage as The Question would be the perfect fit for the charismatic Fillion to make his mark with.

Why not go even broader and international and get Simon Pegg to write a book? He's written television (Spaced) and numerous films (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and the recent geek flick Paul, co-written with Nick Frost) and has a very strong following in both the U.S. and the U.K.  Pegg, a self-admitted geek and comic book fan, set his last movie, Paul, at the San Diego Comic-Con and featured the comics of Robert Kirkman prominently within that movie.  Offering Pegg a comic title to have fun writing would probably fulfill a dream of his, while getting tons of promotion from both Pegg and the entrainment industry. In looking at characters that would fit Pegg's sensibility, Plastic Man jumps out as something that could have that comedic feel that Pegg could deliver. 


And finally another untapped audience that could be attracted to DC Comics are the loyal legions of Doctor Who fans.  I've been surprised at con after con by the amount of Doctor Who fans that have emerged in the U.S. and you could capture them by welcoming one of their own in Steven Moffat. Moffat's stock has been rising since working on Doctor Who, leading to the successful Sherlock series and ultimately working with Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish to help write the upcoming Tintin movie.  DC Comics already has former Doctor Who writer Paul Cornell on staff who Moffat could team up with and create a rollicking sci-fi story.  I'm thinking Adam Strange would be perfect for this pair. 

No matter what way DC Comics goes with the creative teams, it's clear by the 26 books announced already that while the approach is fresh and new, the names are same.  As we make the run into the latter half of the 52 titles, I hope that DC has some surprises up their sleeve to give their comics the burst of energy that they sorely need.  You've got the stage DC, the spotlight is on you.  Wow us while you have the chance.

Oh, by the way, if one of those 52 books was a new Starman by James Robinson, I'd be totally okay with that too.


  1. I have to agree with you on all of your points and you offer some Great suggestions, I’d add one…how bout a Bat mini series or something written by Christopher Nolan or some of the other insanely talented and loved directors who work on superhero movies? A lot of them write and that could add to that outside talent splash that you were talking about. 

    Also on the art side, i’d love to see them try more experimental stuff with illustrators that aren’t necessarily from the comics world. Comic art especially at DC is getting stale and there is a sameness across the board save for a few exceptions. There IS SOOOOO much talent working in the commercial illustration world today and i’m sure you could find many pros who could bring something new and fresh to comics. (whether or not DC could afford to pay them is something else…)

    and we saw what kinds of things are possible on Dapper Men.  

  2. That is a pretty bold headline, and in my opinion very inaccurate.

  3. Amen!!

  4. While I agree that bringing in a big name person to write a book would be a great way to get those outside of comics to take a peek at what DC is about, i don’t think that utilizing any exisiting talent is going to bring too many new readers. Will it work for current readers who are looking to pick up a new book? Sure, but DC has a fanbase that will pick up these comics because of the characters more so than the creators, though there is onbiously people within our community who follow particualr creators around.

    And towards a point that you guys made on your podcast not to long ago when asked by a member how can artists live off of 10-12 issues or less a year, I think that writing more than two books can be a lot of work for some writers, plus i would imagine there are writers out there who are working on other things besides comics.

    I think the week link will come down to advertising and maketing, and whether or not DC will be able to sell this new shuffle and digitial packaging to new readers.

  5. @WeaklyRoll  –i agree. They need a MASSIVE ad and marketing campaign to really grab new readers and bring attention to what DC is doing…and i’m not talking traditional outdoor and print ads. Lots of social media, viral stuff that really connects with the targeted younger demos. They need to go outside of the box on this one. I hope they’ve hired a really good outside firm that has crazy ideas instead of doing the same in-house meh they’ve been relying on. 

  6. I think you’re reaching with the last part.  If they properly utilize who they have working for them now, I think they’ll do just fine.  I’m looking at around 15 books that I’ll be picking up thus far.  Now regarding people outside of the comic community, I’m not sure much will change.

  7. I’m not saying I don’t agree with some of these sentiments. But after today’s announcements with Snyder, Lemire, Milligan, and Cornell….I think the big name idea is a bit moot.

    I’m gonna buy those books in a heartbeat thanks to those guys. 

  8. Also, you bring up Neil Gaiman writing Batman…..Last time I checked you didn’t like the issues he worked on. Saying it was too silly because of the Goodnight Moon reference.

    So what do you want? Do you want a big name but it’s good FOR YOU only or just bring in a big name? Kinda flip flopping there ron. Also, again the article’s point of utilizing DC’s talent doesn’t work because of today’s announcement. 

  9. @TheNextChampion  re: first post.  My sentiments exactly!

  10. @wallythegreenmonster  The thing about those people who work in comics adaptations is that a lot of them, like Nolan specifically, do it because they’re allowed tro utilize those characters while not having to be bogged down to editorial demands and a shared continuity. Can you really imagine Nolan working a on book, even a Batbook, that has to sync up to what the guy writing Doom Patrol has to do or adhere to a gang of editiorial mandates when he’s used to running his own ship? I don’t think that’s gonna happen. At most you might get one of those guys to do a self-contained mini but that doesn’t jive with the new paradigm.

    What I really want to know is why this making no hay outside the comics media.  I know this isn’t the sexiest story but seriously DC and Warner didn’t think of getting themselves five to ten minutes of air time on CNN or the Today Show or something?  You don’t even have to go into details; leverage your movie success and say we’re refitting everything to give everyone who likes the characters but doesn’t know where to start a place to dip their toe in and what’s more is that we’re gonna be offering them to you digitally as well so you can read them on you iPads and iPhones – BOOM! Matt Lauer can pretend to be interested in that for four minutes.

  11. I agree, we need a lot more left field announcements.They should also open up what comics are, I know they said there are going to be westerns and things, but they should really consider hiring someone doing one o the numerous mega selling manga romance or reality (cooking, wine hunting!) comics too. DC should try to un-pigeonhole themselves as much as possible. 

  12. If you take anything from today’s announcements from DC, it’s that they are giving Snyder, and Lemire a bigger part of the DC puzzle, and that’s a good thing.

    Don’t forget you still have Morrison, and Johns in the DCU, and those guys are arguably the best creators in comics along with Bendis. If there’s anyone that can make Justice League, and Aquaman top tier books, it’s Johns.

  13. @vadamowens  that’s the whole point of the last section of the post – sure, you and I may be buying them – but from what I can tell, DC wants to expand beyond the 100k comic readers in the direct market – they’re not going to do that with Scott Lobdell

    @TheNextChampion  You’re not seeing the forest for the trees here bud.  Great that you’re buying, seriously awesome – but DC has made it pretty clear they want to expand beyond you to the guy next to on the bus who doesn’t read comics – hence the big names – you know I’m a fan of Snyder and Lemire and Cornell – but that’s not going to drive new readers

    As far as Gaiman goes – i never mentioned whether or not I liked the story or not (it was silly and fun to make fun of, but I don’t argue Gaiman’s skill as a writer, he’s just not for) – but the big example was I bought it – whether I liked it or not is irrelevant, it worked.  

    And finally, today’s announcements are great – but I don’t see Lemire drawing anything, nor do I see Brian Wood or Roberson or Allred or any other names that I could have listed.  Just because they made a few good calls on some books doesn’t make it invalid. Today was just more of the same. Again. 

  14. Couldn’t agree more, Ron. You basically read my mind on the subject.

  15. @ron  They’re not going to do it with Nathon Fillion either. I understand what you’re saying, I just don’t agree.

  16. Agree.  Good piece.

  17. Great ideas! Love what you would do with some of the creators.

    However, being a big Vic Sage fan I don’t know if I like Fillion connected with him. Not the Vic Sage I love anyway. I’d rather K. Vaughan handle a character like that or Swierczinski or whatever his name is.

  18. @vadamowens  I don’t think there’s anyone out there who appeals to their current market and a larger non-comics reading market that could fit the bill.  Maybe see if Gerard Way wants to write a DC book.

    Or get Lil Wayne.

  19. @Heroville  –Good point on the shared continuity, but if they have the ability to successfully navigate the bureaucracy that is Hollywood, i’m sure if someone like Nolan could do a good job on a comics run with some editorial supervision. If its too much of a challenge, give them an elseworlds or something kind of stand alone. I think new talent from outside the comics industry might be a key to getting new people in. 

    I think the reason why this is getting no press outside of the comics media is because its not a big story for most of the world. Maybe when they finally reveal the issues, you could get Superman and Batman #1’s on a morning show or something, but even then, thats the wrong audience. 

  20. Great article. I could also see Seth Meyers and Bill Hader working on a goofy title like Plastic Man (they’re both self-avowed fans and Spider-man Short Halloween was fun). Seth Rogan is supposedly a comics guy too. I’d definitely check out something by him or, bet yet, Jason Segel.

  21. I think DC is also in desperate need of some female voices in their books. Gail Simone is the only woman in the current line up. Forget the next Kevin Smith. We need a Tina Fey of comics.

  22. A book by Peyton Manning or Libron is the way to go. The sports enthusiast are an untapped demographic.

  23. @Ron: It’s your site and you are entitled to say and do whatever you want, but I think the title of this article is overly harsh.  You are insulting a lot of people in one fell swoop.  You have always struck me as a conscientious person, so I assume that wasn’t your intention. 

    Regardless of the above, I think your premise is both unfair and unrealistic.  Your central argument is that DC has failed to capitalize on the excitement of this relaunch by not bringing in new talent from outside of comics to breath new life into their titles.  First, DC never stated that the were going to bring interest to their comics by brining in new talent.  They said their approach to storytelling would be different, but they never claimed it would because they would have new writers or artists.  You have foisted your desires and expectations for this relaunch on to DC and then basically criticizing them for not living up to them.  That’s unfair.

    Second, DC has a stable of writers that are presumably under some sort of contract or general agreement.  What were they realistically going to do with them?  It seems only reasonable to assume that the existing creatives were going to get at least one or two titles to work on.  So, now you are basically left with the desire to see a *few* new people “peppered in” to draw the attention of people who are not reading comics today.  Well, we have not seen all the announcements yet. Perhaps they are saving the best for last?  Or, perhaps not. 

    Again, I don’t think DC sees anything wrong with the level of talent that they have.  I think they believe that by relaunching their line with all new #1s, by pushing day-and-date, that they will be able to pull in new eyes and keep them.  The list of writers and artists might disappoint you, a long time reader of comics, but most new readers don’t have any familiarity with the writers (outside of a few big names (e.g., Stan Lee).)  New readers generally follow characters, not writers or artists.  Given that, I don’t see anything wrong with DC’s approach.  

  24. @Ron–how successful have other publishers been with bringing in big name writers like Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Patterson etc? Are the numbers there for that kinda stuff? 

  25. Ron: “You’re not seeing the forest for the trees here bud.  Great that you’re buying, seriously awesome – but DC has made it pretty clear they want to expand beyond you to the guy next to on the bus who doesn’t read comics – hence the big names – you know I’m a fan of Snyder and Lemire and Cornell – but that’s not going to drive new readers”

    This is the point EXACTLY. A lot of comic fans don’t get it. The whole reason DC is doing this reboot and having it coincide with day & date digital is because the current comic book fan base isn’t enough. What appeals to us and what appeals to the girl whose only experience with reading comic books is Buffy the Vampire Slayer are two entirely different things.

    If DC really wants to pull off a successful relaunch, it needs to be doing things to get the attention of non-comic readers. Jeff Lemire is great to comic fans. But his name is not getting their attention like Joss Whedon would. That’s what Ron was getting at with the Nathan Fillion/Simon Pegg/Doctor Who suggestions. To try to tap in to pre-existing rabid fan bases. And as far as fan bases go, you can’t find more crazy fandom currently than Whedon-ites and Who-vians. Anyone on the internet should be aware of this.

  26. @j206  Well unless they gave Justin Bieber a book.

  27. Agree about the big name creators, it would have been nice to see a couple of really WOW type creative teams. 

    I think you’re reaching a bit with the rest of the article, I mean just because you like Aaron, Wood, Roberson or Allred doesn’t mean everyone does. 

    Frankly I think Aaron is mighty overated, I like some of Wood’s stuff (not all of it), Roberson did a steady job taking over JMS’s Superman (and iZombie has been petering out so much that I dropped it as of last issue) and Allred, although great, is a peculiar style that wouldn’t really fit many characters (although Doom Patrol is a good shout – albeit one that ain’t ever going to sell a lot).

    As I say, I think those creators that you like and list might make a difference to you but wouldn’t make much of a difference to sales. Frankly I’d much prefer a book by the so called DC ‘rank and file’ than I would any of those creators you listed. Personal taste and all that really…

  28. Here’s the thing about Creators. Even with all of Marvel’s A+ talent the industry is still declining in sales each year. New Readers aren’t coming aboard in droves despite the fact that some of the best work comics has ever seen is being done right now. There is tons of killer talent, and tons of killer books. The status quo isn’t enough. People who are big names within comics aren’t enough…major shakeups and risks are needed. 

  29. This is sort of what you were asking for Ron. Is it?

  30. One last point about creators…to Ron’s point about some thinking Lemire’s work isn’t mainstream enough for superhero fair…..i just dont’ get that. What if Lemire drew a mainstream DCU book in the same style as Essex county, The Nobody or Sweet Tooth? Yeah it would look odd at first, but it would also kick so much ass. It would be a fresh and exciting. The problem is comics fans don’t like anything that “radical” We like subtle variations of the same thing over and over again and that gets amplified when you get into mainstream superhero stuff. The differences in pencillers, colorists that so many of us fight over every week…it’s all working within a very narrow spectrum and i think thats an issue. 

  31. @wallythegreenmonster – I think you hit the nail on the head. DC could have pinched Bendis and Maleev from Marvel, stuck them on Batman and it still wouldn’t permeate the mass market (it would also be dull as hell watching the bat family sit round a table chatting for 70% of each issue).

    I mean, Bendis and Maleev are big names in the industry but the industry has a limited ceiling in terms of the number of books they can shift apparently.

    The only way comics are going to break through the ceiling and start permeating the mass market again is by employing big names from the entertainment industry that bring fans with them. Ridiculous example but… imagine a J.K. Rowling Teen Titans book or something similar. Most comic fans would probably be against the idea but I bet it would outsell any comic book in recent memory…

  32. @ron: I like how you say your a fan of those guys, but yet you denounce them in one fell swoop because they aren’t exciting enough for an announcement. Plus here’s a big thing:


    Brian Wood MIGHT be doing a book. Lemire MIGHT be drawing a book. There could be so much more in the next 15-20 announcements! But instead you’ve already dismissed this entire thing before it’s even over. What is wrong with you!? You and everyone else gives me crap for saying these type of things when books haven’t come out yet, or if all the facts aren’t out either. Your being too judgemental here buddy.

    Plus your saying about Gaiman doesn’t make sense. You want to have a big name creator but yet your not saying what book he should be on. You can’t just put anyone on a book right? You can’t just tell Gaiman to do like, Green Arrow, and think it’ll work. Fuck, how many people would buy a Green Arrow book if it had a big creator on it? Maybe an extra thousand or two?

    Today was nothing of the same. You got big creators on DC writing characters that haven’t been used in years. Hell I’ll stick up to digital here and say this will be even better once they go day and date. Someone is going to see these titles and give it a shot and hopefully tell others to read it too. Your condemning an entire relaunch just because YOU aren’t happy with it. 

  33. Plus putting big name creators on books don’t equal to good sales.

    I seriously doubt a Superboy book would sell incredibly well if Vaughan was the writer. Or if Allred did Plastic Man. It’s about the characters more then the creators in this case and how DC is going to advertise it. I’m excited for Swamp Thing and Synder being on it, but it’s up to DC to execute it’s advertising to make people buy it other then regular readers. 

  34. Where is Bryan Q Miller?
    He is IMHO writing the best DC title.

  35. To counteract @ctrosejr’s disappointment and criticism of Ron’s article, I wanted to voice my two cents. I find this piece entirely refreshing.

    Most of what I’ve read on the internet so far has been so glowingly positive and hopeful in it’s coverage that it almost feels as if it’s DC marketing through the fan sites. In a day and age when sites such as this are in tight with the publishers and creators, it’s nice to hear some actual critical and unbiased thinking.

    As a reader, personally I have little interest in reading sites that do nothing but praise the big publishers and act as their hype men in hopes of not losing their sponsorships or interview contacts. And for that reason, I very much appreciated Ron’s article, as well as the rather negative review of Fear Itself in the last podcast. Glad to see and hear that kind of stuff still coming from my favorite comic site.

  36. @TheNextChampion  Seriously?  You are the king of being judgmental (or at least on the ruling tribunal), and you are railing on about Ron rushing to judgment?

  37. I don’t understand why DC has been stuck in the 80’s in terms of writers lately.  Even when DiDio was in charge, he seemed to be bringing back old-school 80’s writers who just aren’t good anymore when compared to the more modern style of comic storytelling.  Now with Harras in charge it’s even worse, bringing in possibly one of the worst writers of all time, Lobdell.  I don’t care if he wrote Uncanny X-Men, so did Chuck Austen, that book sells no matter who writes it.  Get rid of Lobdell, Nicienza, Winnick, and even Dan Jurgens and the slew of artists they’ve allowed to write (keep them on art of course, but does anyone think Finch is a good writer?).  Bring in some better talent, be it new or established.  Along with loosing Aaron and Spencer to Marvel, DC also lost Andy Diggle, who I think could have done an awesome Suicide Squad or would be a much better fit for Green Arrow after his Year One mini.  I too have been underwhelmed.  I wonder if they think that their comics will have more appeal if they are simpler and dumbed down.  I totally think superhero comics should be all-ages, but that doesn’t mean they have to be poorly written.

  38. @MisterJ: I make that point in my last comment! I’m always judgmental before anything’s fully explained. But yet ron is doing the exact same thing and he’s getting praised for it? Come on guys, we don’t flip flop that badly do we?

  39. @JMann –!/bryanQmiller/status/77801685791154176

    @bryanQmiller Bryan Miller 
     “I have, thus far, not been approached to write any of the September relaunches.”

  40. They’d never be able to get Moffat but some of the other Doctor Who writers would.

  41. Shame about Bryan Q Miller – Batgirl was one of the best books on the stands at the moment…

  42. Moffat definitely wouldn’t write a comic book; but considering Paul Cornell was a writer on Who, it would be great to see some other staff writers from the show pop into comics.

  43. If we are going to write this article about DC, then I’m sure the Marvel article is next on deck.

    What is Marvel doing to attract the non-comic reader? Are there creators that much better? Do they have a deeper talent pool? I’d venture to say no. Yes Marvel does have a bigger Market Share, but for DC this isn’t about topping Marvel’s market share it’s about becoming mainstream.

    It’s irrelevant whether DC has Spencer, Aaaron, or Hickman instead of Cornell, Lemire, and Snyder because the non hardcore fan doesn’t know who these people are.

    I agree that a big name could get people to buy a new book; possibly Gaiman or Smith, but DC’s reboot isn’t based upon the current lack of talent or perceived lack thereof. It’s about making DC accessible to the new reader. The new reader isn’t buying the new Justice League book because Johns is writing it. He’s buying it because it has Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.

  44. Hasn’t Brain Wood made it known that he doesn’t want to do superhero work? And DV8 was an exception he had to push on them for something like 10 years before being greenlit.

  45. @TheNextChampion – I don’t get why you are so incensed, dude. All Ron did was write an article saying that if DC really wanted to make this reboot count, that they’re going to have to do something different than they have been doing. Sure, they’re swapping creators onto different books. But so far, halfway through the book announcements, it’s still the same batch of creative talent that has had DC mired in mediocrity and dwindling sales.

    It’s rad that you as a comic reader are stoked about Swamp Thing and Animal Man. But that doesn’t change much about the overall state of the company or their ability to tap into a new market with a big new relaunch. You and Ron are approaching this topic from two entirely different points. You are concerned with what YOU, the comic book reader you are, thinks about the announcements. Ron is looking at it from a much bigger perspective. If you can’t get outside of your own world and view of comics, you’re never going to understand the point that is being made with this article.

    Also, I agree with @wallythegreenmonster and @mattstev2000 in that even if DC signed Bendis, Aaron, Brubaker, Hickman, etc, it wouldn’t do anything in terms of making headway outside the industry. It would be a huge hit within it. But the sad fact is that the current comic community of readers only has so much reach. And that’s why I think Ron mixed a few different approaches in his article. The big name or fresh comic creators would be to make a wave within the community, and the Whedon/Dr Who type stuff for those outside it. And yeah, Matt is right. A JK Rowling penned comic would instantly outsell all comics. Possibly combined.

  46. @j206  Wow.  I am crestfallen over the news that Bryan Q Miller won’t be writing any of DCs new titles.

    By the way, critical analysis is always welcome.  But, if we are going to be critical, there should be some intellectual rigor.  Setting up “strawman” arguments isn’t fair.  Which isn’t to say that I didn’t like Ron’s suggestions.  I would love to see most of them come to fruition, as a long time reader myself.  I just didn’t agree with his premise, or starting point for those suggestions.

    Now, you may feel there is too much hype and positive buzz surronding the announcements. That’s fair too.  I think it has been fairly balanced both ways, but I can see your point.

  47. This news has hit hard in, what, the last 4, 5 days? And we arent even halfway through hearing about all stuff that will be different, right? It seems that DC is doing exactly what it has set out to do… get people talking/interested/conflicted(?) about comics. I’ve seen more activity on this website than I ever have for anything. So maybe they are doing something right and we should see what happens. If this raises the sales of a book 5k, 10k, shoot… 20k a month, spread out over 50 titles, isnt that a wonderful thing for everyone, including us. Maybe Lee and Johns have some idea about what they are doing over there.
    Let’s see how the creative teams pan out. Hell, what’s the average stay for a creative team anyways, a year? Maybe 2?

  48. @Etboo  It may raise sales by 5k or 10k spread out across 50 titles but that may only happen for a few mopnths after the initial re-launch. A Similar thing happened with one year later a couple of years ago where all the books got a big bump and then eventually lost a lot of that new readership. The point is they want to sustain that jump. As for seeing a lot of activity on this website I think you would since this is a comic book centric website. Besides Ent Weekly, I haven’t really seen this news being talked about anywhere else besides comic book websites.  We’ll see what happens.  I’m excited for a fair amount of the titles/creative teams announed and more than half the team/titles havent been announced yet.  You never see the news of creative team changes within comics and think brings up Ron’s point.  Getting Simon Pegg (for example)  to write Superman (for example) would that get wide media attention? Who knows. But the next few days should be interesting especially with The Superman announcements coming.   

  49. Where is this Simon Pegg talk coming from? First ron, and now I see a few others talking about it.

    Yeah Pegg might be a fan but I doubt he’ll take a HUGE paycut to write any comic. Maybe he’d do like a mini-series on the side of acting, if he wanted too, but to go right into an ongoing series? No way would he take that paycut. 

  50. I think it’s important for DC to at least have some of their regular creators involved in this.  I mean, don’t we want to have titles that we can recommend to non-comic fans based on our experience with reading?  Aren’t we going to be the “experts” that friends and familiy who are interested will turn to? 

    I agree to the extent that we haven’t seen something completely mind shattering when its come to creative teams, but then again, some of the titles have people we’ve never heard of, and I don’t see people falling all over themselves with joy at those.  At the same time, a lot of the creative pairings are interesting, and I think, as fans, we all have something (so far) to be excited about.

    It would be great to get a writer/artist that would be interesting, but at the end of the day, I just want people that will make good comics.  Good comics will drive the market, not someone writing a book that has recognition but is writing junk.

    Also, if Marvel was doing this, they would do the EXACT same thing with creators.  I mean, look at their “Architects.”  They have 5 guys basically writing every “important” book in the universe.  If they rebooted, I guarantee those are the guys they would put on their biggest books.

  51. @TheNextChampion  I was just using him as an example.

  52. @RocketRacoon  So if the creators don’t matter, then why isn’t this mythological ‘new reader’ becoming a comic fan now, i.e. why aren’t they already buying these books? A spectacular creator will sell a lot of issues, not to mention trades into infinitum.

    The other thing I’d like to see is for DC creators to have long runs on a book (outside of Morrison). What was the last great multi-year DC run? Johns on The Flash (the first time)?

  53. @Thursday  Yea I agree with you.  When was the last time you saw a book being written by a big name creator that sold poorly.  Maybe Millar on FF and I think it was a high seller until it had issues with lateness.

  54. I think this article is a bit premature. We still have over a 1/3 of the books yet to be announced. A lot of new titles and concepts out there are being announced. I’m sure all of this wouldn’t be published unless there were some really compelling storylines being plotted. I don’t know how comic creators think, but maybe some of the ones you suggested simply aren’t interested. 

    All I know is everyone is talking about DC right now. 

  55. Even the best writing talent won’t bring in new readers to comics. All DC can hope to do is get some new existing comics readers who aren’t reading DC, or bring back some former readers.

    It’s not the writing or the art that keeps new readers out of comics.

  56. nice article, Ron. Some of those suggestions would interest me enough to buy things i wouldnt ordinarily.

  57. Amen! I’ve been saying this all along! JT Krul and Tony Daniel are not going to save this company.

  58. I’d agree to a point Ron. We still have over half the books not announced, so I’d say let’s see what else DC does before declaring “Not enough” You mentioned Lemiere and minutes later it;’s announced that he has 2 reboot books. Abnett & Lanning are welcomed suprises, and I’m curious about Paul Cornell’s Demon. 

    If the rumors about Perez writing and drawing Superman are true, that has potential to me.  I’m betting Brian Wood, Cullen Bunn and other good names are going to be on the 2nd half of the 52 list. 

    While I do agree that the celeb names mentioned would be great GETS for DC, I’m not sure how realistic they are.

    Richard Donner co-writing Superman was easy because of his personal ties to Geoff JOhns, and Geoff did the heavy lifting. I’m not sure Chris Nolan has the time to do a comic right now. Steven Moffat is awesome but again way too busy to write comics (remember Damon Lindleoff during Lost?) 

    Same goes for actors like Simon Pegg & Nathan Fillion.  

  59. @Ron, from Brian Wood’s Tumblr last week.

    “So late 2011 and onwards, you will see a lot more company-owned work from me.  More than you might guess.”

    But, at the end,

    “I will also say that I am no longer DC exclusive.”

    And, of course there is the whole thing on Bleeding Cool about him being on and then off of Supergirl.

    So I’d guess he’ll be on a relaunched book but will probably be doing some Marvel work-for-hire in the near future as well.

  60. @Mustbedamned  Agreed, especially in Daniel’s case. Good art, bad writing.

    If I were DC, I would spend some big bucks (and kiss some butts if necessary). I like the Mark Waid suggestion a lot. Try to get Warren Ellis, bring back Brad Meltzer, Garth Ennis, put James Robinson on something he can knock out of the park (JLA is not bad, but it’s not a flagship book either). Patton Oswalt has written some comics, throw him a book.

  61. @wallythegreenmonster: Once again I agree with your response. Cheers.

    I also think it’s more about how well the books are executed than how well-known the creators are.

  62. It’s June, so by now all the creators are not only picked but their first issues should be finished and probably, given the scope of this project, the second or more of each of the new titles.  So the discussion is fun but it’s a matter of DC publicity scheduling the reveals.   And since we’re talking PR, there’s a good chance that the biggest announcements, the ones that would most attract new readers, would be revealed closer to press time for maximum impact.

    If they announced that John Stewart would be writing “All Star Squadron” or that Lady Gaga would be guiding the relaunch of “Fire and Ice” or any other celebrity that’s guaranteed to make the non comics readers curious, you’d want them available digitally on that same day.   It’s all about making an impulse buy.  Ideally the result of acting on that impulse is getting a great comic story.   So the biggest announcements might be weeks away… unless they’re still worried about brick and mortar ordering.


  63. A topic that Ron didn’t include: This is DC comics making a very strong statement that superhero comics are for adults.   I’m only going by covers but there’s no images that makes me thing that a dad who is inspired by the commotion to try comics again would find anything to share with his kids.

    If they’re talking about reaching outside of the LCS, shouldn’t their younger titles been part of the digital revolution?   Including the creation of some new action adventure titles? 

  64. of all the dc dudes I expected to see Jock front and center.  Did I read that list wrong or is he really not on any of these books

  65. So iFanboy won’t admit there is a “De-aging” happening?

    Even Augie DeBlicke said “It strikes me that what DC is doing here is exactly what people were afraid Marvel was going to do a decade ago: “Ultimatizing” their universe. Replace everything with less continuity, younger characters, new costumes, etc. Publish them in as many formats as possible to attract new readers. Modernize the works. Blame everything on Bill Jemas if it fails”

  66. @KickAss  Yup. That’s pretty clearly what they’re doing. What’s your point, and what does it have to do with this article?

  67. Like a lot of this relaunch, I think any proof of “de-aging” has yet to be revealed.

    And if the Bat-books can be taken as representative of the whole line (I don’t think so, but who knows) de-aging is definitely NOT a literal thing. Consider, if Damien is still a 10 year old, we’re dealing with a Bruce Wayne who is at least in his mid-30s, putting Dick in his mid-20s (wish they’d do something about that name since this is the twentifirst century and NO ONE named Richard of that age would choose to go by Dick for any reason).

    Which is pretty much what we’ve had for a while now.

    On the creator front, add Dustin Nguyen to the list of DC guys that haven’t had an announcement yet.

  68. I think the biggest problem with getting big names to write, like Pegg or Fillion or Nolan, wouldn’t neccesarily be that they wouldn’t have time to write at all but that they wouldn’t be able to write long-term. I think DC is hoping that a large majority of these 52 titles will be on-going titles, so they’re looking to find creative teams that can stay on for 20+ issues if possible. A famous actor or writer would probably only be able to stay on for 5-6 issues. Then another writer would have to take over and there’s a good chance the quality would go way down and they may have to cancel the book. 

    This may all have been said already but in my skimming through the comments I didn’t see it so I just thought I’d share.  

  69. Oh man o’ man!  I just read pipeline and i’m so pumped and mad I’m going to splooge rhetorical quotes that don’t apply!  You know, the shit you’ve already thought, but didn’t write down. But o’ man, theres this one dude, on this one site.  Yeah, he wrote that shit down.  You wanna know something you’ve already thought don’t you!?  Don’t you!?!?!  


    (I wanna think it went something like this.) 

  70. Forgive me if this has already been touched upon in the comments, I didn’t get through them all.  My first thought was, “does the hypothetical new reader even care about the creators?”  What we see as more of the same they are ignorant of.  It seems to me they need to be first sold on the idea of reading comics and then the concept of each individual comic.  Creator preferences will come later.  Grabbing up big names from other geek-related mediums might help, but how practical, possible, and long term is that?

    As a current reader who already reads more from DC than other publishers I’m going to be at least trying way more than I currently read from them.  If I write off about half the new titles as a dud because the characters or creators haven’t grabbed me in the past, good for me.  I don’t want to read the entire lineup.  I see the amount of new titles as the big mistake they may be making.  Are they going to overwhelm potential newbies with their library?  Are there even enough top tier creators to fill that many spots?

  71. @stasisbal  That’s a great point.

    My thoughts: there are two arguments for getting new creators. The first is the cross-over media grab that Ron talks about. As some have noted, I’m not sure how smart that is in the long run. I think it has to happen in a very specific way, like American Vampire started. That was Snyder’s book all the way, and King just came in and helped out for an arc. That way you get the star power, but then you have a strong narrative backbone from an emerging writer to keep you going.

    But there’s also another reason to pull the Jeff Lemires and Cullen Bunns up from the indies or the competition or wherever: NOT because they have heat behind their names, but because they’re GOOD CREATORS. Now I’ll admit, this isn’t the quick pay-off. And it’s not the flashiest strategy. But if you want longevity, it should be about DC editorial finding people in whose vision they truly believe — the same way, say, Joe Quesada saw Bendis at Caliber and said, “this guy’s a good writer! I want to work with him!”

    I personally HOPE that’s the story behind all the multiple pitches that have been rumored to have led up to this. DC Editorial should be taking in ideas from all creators and finding the creative teams who have bold, daring stories to tell. What editorial can offer is: a great starting point, an accessible character, and a rich, proven concept. Then it’s all about the creative team that can dazzle the readers who have wandered in out of curiousity — get ’em craving that next fix of the STORY… not through stunts or events or star power.

  72. @Heroville  lmao. Now that’s a book I would get.

  73. I agree with Ron (and I salute his balls for potentially burning bridges with that headline. I don’t think it’s unduly offensive to individuals though, and it’s certainly within the overall mandate of a comics news and criticism site to say this). 

    Others have touched upon it, but in addition to the overall mediocrity of the creatives, there is the tired nature of the properties themselves working against this. Of 52 ‘new’ books, how many are genuinely ‘new’? Is something like Justice League Dark, with its array of 20-50 year old characters in a team superhero setting, really new? From any kind of objective distance, it’s just another superhero book. It may look different if you’re on a steady diet of Green Lantern and the Avengers, but to the indie or manga fan, trust me, it looks like just another f**king superhero book. 

    Sadly we’ve seen many attempts at breaking this mold fail to reach much success at the Big Two. Fresh concepts like Scott Pilgrim, The Walking Dead or Hark, A Vagrant! seemingly need more creative freedom than DC can give them to get off the ground. And of course, who wants to give brand new IP to DC anyway? Where is their equivalent of the Icon line? (not that Icon makes any money for anybody, but it at least throws a bone towards the IP rights of creators). Are any of these creative teams able to do something so basic as to kill off a key character (ala Kirkman) without 3 meetings of the board? In books addressed primarily to adults, can they use the word ‘fuck’? Or show adults fucking? I think I could go on all day….

    As long as DC remains in this business of flogging decades-old IP (most of which is horribly dated, derivative and inflexible), the chances of any break-out, crossover hits occurring seem very very slim, IMHO. Using the same old creative teams just exacerbates that issue. 

  74. I think I’m definitely starting to be wowed.

    The only DC books I’ve been picking up for the last few years are the Batman books by Morrison, and now I’m planning on buying 6 new titles so far. So even though DC may not be reaching non-comic book readers, they’ll be reaching comic book readers they wouldn’t have before.

  75. @Cormac  The DC equivalent of the Icon line is Vertigo. And they were going to give JMS his own creator owned book set in the DCU with Samaritan X but that’s never gotten off the ground it seems.

  76. Yeah ok, but do we even know Vertigo is going to still exist? Is it going digital too, for example? Who knows. Vertigo is wildly more interesting than the mainstream DCU, but it is still pretty played out at this point too.

  77. I think they have a few good teams, but they are all very safe bets. I was looking for something like when they annouced Scott Snyder and Jock on Detective last year, but nothing’s been like that so far.

  78. So far the list of creator does not have me excited at all.  It seems same old song.  I was hoping for big announcements of new writers and artists pulled form Marvel or up and coming indie creators.  Or old stars returning in a big way (Like say Greg Rucka or Mark Waid).  But nope… same ole, same ole.  

    I’m trying desperately to stay optimistic about this. I really, really am, but each day it’s getting harder and harder. 

  79. Brian Wood update.
    Northlanders is cancelled and he “was not given a role in the recent DCU reboot after all but I think its an exciting idea and wish everyone the best.”
    Way to fail DC.

  80. @JKromer  Fuck! I love that series!

  81. There is a part of me that wants Brian Wood to hop across the street.

  82. Ron’s right. 

    What’s discouraging about these creators is that it demonstrates that DC doesn’t realize that it’s not only the way their comics are sold that have dug their grave in the direct market, it’s their approach to storytelling.  DC Comics have mainly been about DC Comics for nearly thirty years, and no casual reader unwilling to become a scholar in DC’s complicated backstory is going to keep up with them for very long.  Raining down fifty-two #1 issues in a month may attract new readers, but it won’t keep them coming back. That’s a lot of comics to keep up with, especially if the same character stars in four or more of them.  How is a new reader supposed to know which Batman book to get?  DC have learned nothing from being steamrolled by manga in the last decade.  They’re clearly waving the white flag in the direct market, and they don’t need to fight for shelf space online, so why flood the market with these number ones? 

  83. eh, Northlanders had a nice long run for such a niche title. I liked it but it always seem amazing that they were sticking with it. 

    New York Six as an ongoing for a dollar, marketed heavily on iTunes…now that might bring in a few new readers.  Maybe not enough to offset the ad cost, but I think DC is gonna have to take a big short-term loss if it wants new readers anyway.

  84. @ron  If Simon Pegg wrote ANYTHING for DC I would buy it. They should totally get him to do a Booster Gold/Blue Beetle book.

    Here’s another suggestion: remember when Bill Hader and Seth myers wrote that Spider-Man book for Marvel? Why not try to bring them in? that book was great!

  85. @Heroville  ICON does not equal VERTIGO. All of Marvel’s Icon titles are creator-owned, while some Vertigo titles are creator-owned and some are not.  Presumably, if a creator wanted to create an all-ages title under Icon, he could; while Vertigo is virtually defined by the “Mature Readers” label as well as the subject matter and tone.

  86. Well, OK, I grant you that NEW YORK FIVE is an exception for Vertigo, but it started out under the now-defunct Minx imprint, and they didn’t know where else to put it.

  87. Nathan Fillion doing Vic Sage?!  That’s the best idea ever.  It’s like you’ve read my soul and created a fan theory that will haunt me until it happens or I die.

    Also, I think it’s incredibly fair to suggest that the creative team at DC is their weak link.  It’s not necesssarily that DC writers are bad, there are just too few of them.  Last Thursday i was hanging out at my local comic shop and we were talking about DC, Marvel, the reboot etc. and my shop’s owner said that Marvel’s really good at giving new talent books to write. DC needs to jump on that concept.  The Reboot is a huge opportunity for them, but the way things stay fresh in the comic book universe without mega-reboots or crisises is by changing up the writers.  

  88. While I’m excited about the reboot, I don’t think it will bring in new readers. Comics haven’t pulled in many new readers for at least the last generation. I’m sure sales will increase becasue of the intrigue of the reboot but those sales will come from existing comics fans.

    Ron is onto something with bringing in new talent from outside the field. I don’t think Pegg, Fillion, Smith, or even Stephen King will bring in a entire new generation of comics readers but it’s a start. I think both Marvel and DC need to target younger readers. Most comics fans are in there 20’s and older. They need to go after the kids to ensure longevity. I bet most of us on this site picked up our first comics as a kid and began reading. Now is the perfect time to get kids into comics. With all the comics on the big screen it should be easier to get kids to pick up comics.

  89. Don’t knw if this question should be apart of this tread, but does any knows if DC went into Flashpoint knowing that they would reboot their entire line?  (I remember hearing first hearing about Flashpoint towards the end of Blackest Night.)  If so, isn’t that enough time to bring in some big names (Neil Gaiman, Brad Meltzer or whomever) onboard to help with the reboot?
  90. Well, I’m late to the discussion but the main drive of the article is right on the nose, it’s exactly what I feel looking at the list.  I’ll follow the likes of Scott Snyder to his new books, as he’s an interesting fresh talent, but most of the announcements feel like nothing more interesting than “more of the same.”  The Grifter announcement is interesting, but there’s nowhere near enough of that quirky, leftfield thinking, which kind of makes the whole thing seem a little hollow. 

  91. While I understand – and even agree – that new creators should be brought in (you HAVE to if  you want to keep the industry going), that in no way detracts from my excitement over an ever-growing number of titles… and excitment that is fueled, in part, by the creative teams involved.

    Why? Because there are creative teams doing very different books, or books they seem to have a real personal passion or excitement about. I feel like that is going to translate into their work.

    And keep in mind that yes, DC does indeed have to be concerned about alienating their current buyers. Look around and you’ll find as much skepticism and negativity about the relaunch as you will positive thoughts. But having some people on a book who know the DCU, who have proven themselves as skilled creators and whom fans do love will (hopefully) soften the blow a little. That’s not a bad strategy at all, IMO.

  92. Ask and ye shall receive Ron. Nathan Edmondson on Grifter #1.

  93. @positronic  Joe The Barbarian was even more of an all ages book than NY5.

  94. None of this is really about what creative teams appeal to us.

    This is about creating new entry point for the new distribution model.

    By sheer availability numbers will increase.

    That being said I am about 50% pleased with the creative announcements so far.

  95. @Metamorphic I strongly disagree that DC has to be ‘concerned about alienating their current buyers’. 

    I agree that there is visible discontent among that group. No argument there. I disagree that DC should be worrying about it. The direct market has proven incapable of anything more than keeping DC comics on life support. Low 6 figure sales (and mostly 5 figure…) may appear better than nothing in the short term, but over the long term, that isn’t enough to sustain them. And sales are dropping at a rate that frankly terrifies anyone who cares enough to look at them. DC needs to forget about the wants of that market, therefore, and try to build a new market.  Can’t make an omelette…etc. 

  96. @el355 

    Geoff Johns has been quoted in interviews for months, saying (I’m paraphrasing, here) “The first rule of FLASHPOINT is you don’t talk about what comes after FLASHPOINT”.

    So yeah, it was definitely planned well ahead of time — and amazingly, they did manage to keep it Top Secret until the first shipping week of FLASHPOINT miniseries.

  97. There were rumors for about a month before the news dropped, however, if I recall correctly.  I think Rich Johnson was theorizing this over on

  98. @Cormac  I agree… to a certain extent.

    You are absolutley right about long-term sustainability versus short term sustainability. It’s something I think pretty much all comics fans recognize (heck, I know I’m not getting any younger.) That said, to build, you need a foundation. And while there may not be enough existing fans to keep the company going over the long haul, it wouldn’t be smart to simply dismiss those current buyers. To do so only serves to start you off with even fewer customers and an even bigger hill to climb.

    And what I’m talking about isn’t really about catering to those buyers. It’s about easing the transition – which I think a lot of these creative teams will help do.