Wednesday Comments – DC’s Latest Crisis

I like DC Comics. I’ve been supporting their products for decades. I’ve got dozens of DC Direct figures. I’ve got a few of the DC Direct Green Lantern Power Battery Props. Basically, I dig DC Comics.

That said, DC has been consistently mucking up the whole “ground level universe” royally. For the past six years DC has floundered while trying to create entry level universes and grab new readers.

When Marvel launched the Ultimate Universe and it was a resounding success many people wondered what DC’s response would be. DC is as well known for their convoluted continuity as they are for their iconic characters, so a line of books featuring their characters free of cluttering continuity seemed like a good move, especially considering the success of the Ultimate Line.

Finally in 2006, DC countered with their All-Star line. They specifically pointed out that it was not an “Ultimate” knockoff, but rather a line of books that allowed for creators to work on DC’s icons and not have to worry about continuity. It was supposed to be big name creators working on big time characters.

Naturally they started with Superman and Batman. All-Star Superman was by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly, while All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder was by Frank Miller and Jim Lee. Both were immediate financial success.

Morrison and Quietly’s Superman seemed to embody everything grand about the character. It was critically acclaimed and nominated for a plethora of awards. Miller and Lee’s Batman, on the other hand, seemed to exemplify everything wrong with Miller’s work as of late. It was ridiculed by fans and spouted some popular internet memes.

Still, fans were curious what else DC was going to offer with the All-Star line. Two subsequent books were announced; All-Star Wonder Woman (by Adam Hughes) and All-Star Batgirl (by Geoff Johns and J.G. Jones.) Neither book was ever published. And while All-Star Superman completed it’s twelve issue run, All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder remains incomplete.

So DC totally bungled the All-Star line. That’s why I was skeptical when in 2010 the buzz began to build around DC’s Earth One graphic novels. My first thought was “what’s up with the All-Star line?” My second thought was “how are they going to screw this one up?”

Earth One was different in couple of ways. First, Earth One wasn’t going to be a monthly (or bi-monthly) comic, it was going to be a graphic novel, which would then be serialized into six comic issues at a later date. At least I think that’s how it was supposed to play out. I recall there were a few different announcements about how it worked and even JMS, the guy who wrote it was unclear.

Another difference was that this was designed to be the retelling of the origin of the characters, in the modern world. So Superman was to be very much a modern young man, with modern young man issues.

Well things started off on a strong note with the arrival of Superman: Earth One. Again, it was a huge success, selling out and attracting mainstream attention. It was such a success that JMS dropped out of his monthly writing gigs on both Superman and Wonder Woman, partway through year long storylines. It caused a minor outrage.

Of course that was in 2010. And while Batman: Earth One had been announced, 2011 saw no new Earth One products from DC hit the shelves. However 2011 did see Marvel announcing the similarly themed Season One line of graphic novels, featuring the origins of their most well known characters.

So not only does DC fumble the Earth One project, but they’ve allowed Marvel to steal their thunder and momentum. There’s clearly a crisis going on at DC. I don’t know if it’s an editorial fumble, where the projects are being put on the backburner because of the DC Comics Relaunch or if it’s a problem with creators (JMS is a highly controversial creators and Geoff Johns follow-through is suspect at best) but the end result is that where DC was once a pioneer, they’re about to get lapped.

Don’t get me wrong; the DC Comics Relaunch is a success. The entire line is reinvigorated and the industry is looking better. But there are still some of us who remember the things we were promised like All-Star Wonder Woman, All-Star Batgirl, Batman: Earth One, Who’s Who and Samaritan X.

Oh well, at least I get to enjoy OMAC, Static Shock and Mister Terrific. Oh wait, they’re been cancelled.

Maybe I’ll be less grumpy next week. In the meantime, go and enjoy some fresh new comic books. It is Wednesday!

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