Around this time last year, we saw many groundbreaking changes occur for the major comic book publishers. Marvel, of course, grabbed the bigger spotlight with the news of their purchase by Disney for $4 billion.
DC, however, had made it a point to slowly show its hand by first unveiling the new division known as DC Entertainment. Rumors came about the rest of the year of new positions and changes that would involve putting more focus on the creative direction of its TV and movie properties. As 2010 dawned, we then came to learn those changes involved Diane Nelson heading up DCE, Paul Levitz stepping down as president, Dan DiDio and Jim Lee as co-publishers, and Geoff Johns as Chief Creative Officer. DC and Warner Bros. were making it a point to mean business when it came to making the most of the many years of characters and storylines they had under their belt.
Then yesterday, the kid gloves came off:
1) DC first announced a bi-coastal move that involves relocating the multimedia portion of their business to Los Angeles while keeping their comic publishing division in New York City. Says Nelson, “Our two offices will stretch and build their respective areas of focus, while prioritizing and aggressively striving to connect and cooperate more strongly than ever before between them and with their colleagues at Warner Bros.”
2) We then learned that Wildstorm, the long-standing studio that helped get Image off the ground running in ’92 and was then purchased by DC in ’99, would close shop by the end of the year and fold into the DC Comics imprint.
3) Lastly, as one would expect from a big move to LA and shutting down one of its studios, there’s talk of an estimated 20% layoff in DC’s divisions. Whether this includes the predicted current employees who would not want or be able to make the trip to the West Coast remains to be seen.
My two cents? It’s no surprise it would come to this. Re-structuring always involves shifting positions and studios and unfortunately also means layoffs. The minute we heard DC Entertainment was created last year, this was bound to happen. One will only hope this results in a more focused direction for its TV, film, and, of course, the comic properties. TV is definitely not an issue if you look at how well their DC animated offerings have been as of late and you can make a case that Smallville has had somewhat of a mini-revival after Geoff Johns put his influence into play.
Films are a different matter. The Green Lantern film coming next summer might change the perception that DC and Warner Bros. can only do Batman flicks as of late, but we’ve known for the longest time that the focus was lacking on what else they could turn into film properties. Marvel is definitely ahead in that chess match, but if you hear what Nelson has to say about the competition, there doesn’t appear to be one. Probably the best thing to say at this point.
As for Wildstorm? I’ll confess to not being well-versed in that universe, so it’s hard for me to judge whether I’ll be missing out on anything. Its early days gave us Alan Moore’s imprint, America’s Best Comics, which had a great impact in the beginning with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Tom Strong, and Promothea. It also brought The Authority and a more adult tone to the superhero team-up book. Warren Ellis and John Cassady’s Planetary explored a great deal of comic book history and pop culture. In recent years though, I can only recall Ex Machina as the one book that stood out to me. Granted, this doesn’t mean Wildstorm’s characters will go away forever, but it’s hard pressed to say how much can be done to create interest for future generations.
One thing’s for sure – I’m sad to see much amazing talent be let go. I wish them the best in finding future work and hope the gifts and skills they bring to the industry overall will not go unnoticed.
What’s your thoughts on all the changes?
We’ve hit the end of August with some intriguing books on the market:
– I gave Avengers another shot with issue #4, but it still didn’t gel with me. Too much funny dialogue detracts from the story and whatever it is, John Romita Jr’s art is lacking in detail in some areas.
– Action Comics #892 continues Luthor’s quest for the Black Lantern energy. A continually good character study of the popular DC villain from Paul Cornell, although Pete Woods’ art took away from some of the action scenes. I expect more when you have Deathstroke as a guest star.
– Superman/Batman #75 gets a super-sized special and while the main story from Levitz is decent enough, it’s the back-up pieces that steal the show. Anybody who’s read the Luthor/Joker 2-page short here knows what I’m talking about.
But when it’s all said and done, Justice League Generation Lost #8 is the clear winner. Judd Winick and company has made a believer out of me with this series of many former Justice League Int’l alumni banding together to pursue and capture Maxwell Lord. Each character gets standout moments and the dialogue between them is laugh out loud hilarious. It says something when this bi-weekly series has enough chops to compete with the main Brightest Day book (and sometimes surpass it).
It’s a great day for me when DC decides to officially introduce one of my favorite cartoons into the DC universe. Paul Levitz is tasked with integrating Terry McGinnis into comic book land and does so with style – a testament to the overall work he’s been doing since returning to his writing duties after a good lengthy run as DC Publisher. It only gets me more hyped up when the 6-part mini-series gets rolling this month.
Now can somebody call Bruce Timm please and tell him a new Batman Beyond movie is a great idea?