DC Editorial is a Mess

DC editorial seems to be taking a lot of heat right now. First, it was Grant Morrison blasting them by revealing that the conflicting nature of Final Crisis #1 was a result of poor coordination between DC editorial.

NRAMA: Within a few pages of issue #1, you’ve shown us that you’re building upon the foundation that was laid by everything from Identity Crisis through Countdown. In regards to the more recent material, such as Countdown, did you have a hand in planning that out, did you tell editorial where you needed things to be for the start of your story, or did you modify Final Crisis to pick up from where things were?

GM: Well, the way it worked out was that I started writing Final Crisis #1 in early 2006, around the same time as the 52 series was starting to come out, so Final Crisis was more a continuation of plot threads from Seven Soldiers and 52 than anything else. Final Crisis was partly-written and broken down into rough issue-by-issue plots before Countdown was even conceived, let alone written. And J.G. was already working on designs and early layouts by the time Countdown started. There wasn’t really much opportunity, or desire, to modify our content at that stage.

Although the 52 writing team was asked to contribute to Countdown, we were all seriously burned-out by the demands of the weekly schedule and I think we all wanted to concentrate on our own monthly titles for a while, so whenCountdown was originally being discussed, it was just a case of me saying ‘Here’s issue 1 of Final Crisis and a rough breakdown of the following six issues. As long as you guys leave things off where Final Crisis begins, we‘ll be fine.’ Obviously, I would have preferred it if the New Gods hadn’’t been spotlighted at all, let alone quite so intensively before I got a chance to bring them back but I don’t run DC and don’t make the decisions as to how and where the characters are deployed.

NRAMA: So. So in essence, you were handed a plate where between Death of the New Gods and Countdown, Orion appeared to have died twice. Picking up with him here, did he wander to the docks from the battle in Countdown #1, or are his terminal injuries from something else?

GM: Again, bear in mind thatCountdown only finished last month so Final Crisis was already well underway long before Countdown and although I’ve tried to avoid contradicting much of the twists and turns of that book as I can with the current Final Crisis scripts, the truth is, we were too far down the road of our own book to reflect everything that went on in Countdown, hence the disconnects that online commentators, sadly, seem to find more fascinating than the stories themselves.

Orion’s appearance on the docks and the Guardians’ response in Final Crisis #1 was written and drawn first. Jim Starlin then created Orion’s death scene in Death Of The New Gods to lead into the War God’s appearance in Final Crisis #1, so we refer back to Jim’s scene in Final Crisis #3. When I wrote that scene, Orion’s terminal injuries were a result of the mysterious bolt of light which Jim hit him with in Death Of The New Gods #6. By the time Countdown #1 came out, I was working on Final Crisis #4 and #5 and JG was drawing #3, so we were already well into our own story and unable to change it to match Countdown.

NRAMA: And so you were left with a handful of continuity issues as result – – why didn’t the Guardians call a 1011 when all the other New Gods died? Why didn’t Superman recount his experiences in Death of the New Gods when he was talking about the New Gods to the JLA? How did the villains capture J’onn? Obviously, if you dealt in all the minutia of every storyline since Identity Crisis or earlier, you’d go nuts – so what was your personal line in the sand that you used in writing Final Crisis in regards to what “mattered” and what didn’t?

GM: What mattered to me was what had already been written, drawn or plotted in Final Crisis. The Guardians didn’t call 1011 when Lightray and the other gods died in Countdown because, again, Final Crisis was already underway before Countdown came out.

Why didn’t Superman recount his experiences from DOTNG ? Because those experiences hadn’t been thought up or written when I completed Final Crisis #1. If there was only me involved, Orion would have been the first dead New God we saw in a DC comic, starting off the chain of events that we see in Final Crisis. As it is, the best I can do is suggest that the somewhat contradictory depictions of Orion and Darkseid’s last-last-last battle that we witnessed in Countdown and DOTNG recently were apocryphal attempts to describe an indescribable cosmic event.

To reiterate, hopefully for the last time, when we started work on Final Crisis, J.G. and I had no idea what was going to happen in Countdown or Death Of The New Gods because neither of those books existed at that point. The Countdown writers were later asked to ‘seed’ material from Final Crisis and in some cases, probably due to the pressure of filling the pages of a weekly book, that seeding amounted to entire plotlines veering off in directions I had never envisaged, anticipated or planned for in Final Crisis.

The way I see it readers can choose to spend the rest of the year fixating on the plot quirks of a series which has ended, or they can breathe a sight of relief, settle back and enjoy the shiny new DC universe status quo we’re setting up in the pages of Final Crisis and its satellite books. I’m sure both of these paths to enlightenment will find adherents of different temperaments.

And now Chuck Dixon reveals that he does not work in any capacity in DC anymore. Which is sad because his Robin was good.

I did not quit.
I do not believe it had anything to do with politics.
My involvement with Robin ends with issue 174.
I think my BATO run is over with #10.
My Booster two-parter will still be appearing.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Storming Paradise continues on schedule.
For those keep score, yes, I was way ahead on both of my monthlies. Down the road perhaps I’ll offer those scripts and you folks can help out Books for Soldiers as you so generously have before.

And while Dixon doesn’t blame DC editorial, he apparently has problems with the way DC is being run.

Don’t blame my editors.

DC, currently, is run from the top down in a way that makes Jim Shooter’s aegis at Marvel look like a hippie commune.

Ouch. I know Shooter’s run as Marvel EIC was infamous and being compared to that can’t be good. It’s like being compared to Tom Cruise, only you’re crazier.

Shooter was very dictatorial with strict rules for writing and drawing superheroes.

The difference between his reign at Marvel and the current one at DC is that Shooter was successful at raising circulation and longterm planning.

And just in case you still don’t know who he’s referring to (clue: his last name starts with a D and ends with an idio) Dixon makes it awfully clear.

Not at Paul.

Warners? The geniuses who merged with a company that was billions in the red? Trust me, most days they don’t even KNOW they own a comic company much less take an interest in running it.

On the Shooter front—

Though I saw Shooter in full fledge psychotic editorial rage a couple of times, he did provide leadership at Marvel and didn’t change the company’s direction five times in one day. And the company climbed out of the red and became vital again under his stewardship. I disagreed with many of his ideas when it came to continuity but he was at least consistant and you knew where you stood. And merit was rewarded back then. If you sold well and handed the stuff in on time you’d never go without work.

And I guess after his last comment we won’t be seeing him work for DC at least while the current regime is in place.

I’ve worked under tyrants and I can say that I’d prefer to work under a talented, knowledgeable tyrant with a successful plan than a directionless gladhander with a ouija board any day of the week.

For a company that exerts a lot of effort in streamlining continuity, DC seems to be really doing a bad job. I don’t care much for continuity as long as we get good stories but glaring mistakes like the ones in Final Crisis can really take you out of the story especially if the contradiction comes from a series that apparently has no idea what it was counting down to. And while I get a sense that DC comics isn’t as editorially controlled in some books (e.g. Action Comics, Green Lantern, Batman) I can see how peripheral books like Robin can be affected by forcing it to tie-in to Batman R.I.P (which is awesome by the way) and how it will affect a writer’s direction, especially a writer like Dixon who plots in advance.

And really, would it be so hard to coordinate with other editors so mistakes like the one in Final Crisis are avoided? Aren’t the general direction of books set well in advance, as we are lead to believe, so the writers can adjust their plots properly and not have their work go to waste? Isn’t it the editors’ job to coordinate between themselves so there would be no conflict with their respective books? Please DC, shape up.


2 Responses to “DC Editorial is a Mess”

  1. Countdown was a mess because there seemed to be no apparent direction other than to lead-in to Final Crisis. The countless tie-ins didn’t help either. It’s pretty clear that DC acknowledges the success of the Sinestro Corps War and the way it was contained to a select few books. The Batman RIP crossover stories on the other Bat-books just seem rushed, serving only to increase sales for those books.

    It’s also quite sad that Final Crisis will require a fill-in artist starting on issue #4. Previous reports indicated that JG Jones was on schedule, only to have this bombshell that Carlos Pacheco will share part of the art duties in the coming issues. Dan Didio needs to fix this clusterfuck because DC is getting punked right now.

  2. I have no problems with Carlos Pacheco because he’s awesome but it would’ve been nice if JG Jones was able to finish the series by himself.

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