In the aftermath of Killing Damian Wayne the fourth Robin the Boy wonder, DC Comic is now planning on killing John Stewart the first Black Green Lantern.
There was so much outrage to this plan Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov Quit writing Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns.
I have to commend Mr. Fialkov for his integrity. It’s clear he cares more for the characters than DC Comics editorial these days. To them DC’s characters aren’t heroes that inspire their readers, they’re nothing more than cannon fodder to fuel their dysfunctional shock-and-awe model of storytelling.
I’d be outraged about this latest planned death of a comic book character, but unfortunately, this is par for the course at DC Comics these days. Insecure editors like Dan Didio and Bob Harras believe that gimmicks sell comics rather than great stories. They don’t have faith in their writers and artists to create quality stories with those characters that readers will discover and enjoy on their own.
And that’s the sad part about this. Over the course of thirteen years John Stewart has built up quite the following. Among the younger generation of kids who grew up watching Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Static Shock and reading DC Super Friends I can read books he IS Green Lantern.
There was an opportunity for a new writer to take John Stewart and give him the push comparable to the one he got in mainstream media. But DC editorial wants a gimmick to divert people’s attention from the fact that Goeff Johns is leaving the main Green Lantern series after a nine-year run with the characters.
Moreover, they want to deflect attention from the fact that DC’s editors have no plans on where to go with the Green Lantern series. DC’s editorial like the editorial of comic book publishers since the l990’s never plans for the departure of one star writer by preparing for their replacement with a comparable writer or creative team when their run finishes.
As I’ve stated before in Why Comic book reboots fail, this lack of editorial preparation is the main reason why comic titles plummet in sales. As the blockbuster writing and art team leaves and a new one departs readers drop the title.
And the reason why they depart is due to the poor planning and poor communication between both writing and art teams. Without editorial to bridge the gap between them, the new writer and artist have no idea on where to pick up where the old writer left off. This leads to a series of poorly written poorly drawn comics readers find to be frustrating to read.
DC’s plan to stave off plummeting sales on Green Lantern in the aftermath of Goeff John’s departure was to kill off the popular John Stewart. But they didn’t need a gimmick to save Green Lantern from a sales drop. All they needed was some careful planning for the future.
A smart editor plans for the departure of a comic book writer at least two years in advance. That’s so they can smoothly transition between writers and artists so the ongoing story never skips a beat and continues to flow smoothly. Traditionally, when one writer puts down his pen, he’s supposed to pass it on to the next man so he can pick up where he left off.
In that time they have other writers and artists do fill-in issues or annuals give their regular writers and artists breathing room and to gauge reader response to the new writers and artists’ work. If that response is positive and readers connect with that writer or artist, they bring those writers and artists in for a longer run on a series when the old writer and artist finally decides to take a break.
With those smooth transitions books don’t suffer huge drops in sales. In fact, more readers tend to pick up the title in these periods. Examples of this can easily be seen in when Mark Waid took over for Bill Messner Loebs on the Wally west run of Flash. In between Loebs and Waid, the transition was so smooth Wally’s voice never changed as his character raced out of the shadow of Barry Allen.
I know everyone is going to protest the John Stewart’s planned death the same way they planned to protest Dan Didio’s plan to kill Dick Grayson in 2007 at the end of Infinite Crisis. But that’s just attacking a symptom of the problem. If one objectively looks at the situation the problem has been the same at DC since 2002: Dan Didio just doesn’t know how to run DC Comics.
The main problem at DC Comics is that they lack an editor with the publishing experience to lead the DC bullpen and give guidance and support to the writers and artists who work there. DC desperately needs someone at the helm with an understanding of how publishing works, how comic books work and the willingness to work with creators towards crafting the best stories possible.
Until the suits at Time Warner come to an understanding that Dan Didio just isn’t fit to lead DC Comics Division and his regime of Jim Lee and Bob Harras are only enabling Didio’s dysfunctional management style, nothing is going to change. The only way to get the attention of everyone at DC is for comic fans to just vote with their wallets. There are a ton of great comics, eBooks and paperbacks out there, give them your time money and support instead of wasting it with DC.
If only Shawn James could become Editor in Chief at DC Comics. Maybe things could change for the better…