So the funnybook world has been abuzz the last few days with shocking revelations and their accompanying outrage (because nothing ever happens in comics without somebody getting their panties in a bunch about it).
The biggest story, I guess, is Geoff Johns’ declaration that Dr. Manhattan is responsible for all the dirty, bad, awful, unhappy things that have happened to the DC Comics stable of characters since the “New 52” relaunch of a few years ago.
That’s right. Dr. Manhattan. Not Jim Lee or Dan Didio or Bob Harras or Johns himself. You know. The guys in charge of deciding that all those dirty, bad, awful, unhappy things were going to happen. Nope. They are, as it turns out, completely free of blame for… whatever it is that Johns thinks shouldn’t have happened with the DC characters.
Which… I’m not entirely clear on what that is. I mean, I was under the impression that what shouldn’t have happened to them was bad redesigns and slipshod editorial practices that lead to the company not being able to hire the better talent anymore. And I don’t see how a fictional character could be responsible for any of that.
Unless… Hmm… Maybe Johns was speaking metaphorically. He IS a writer of some note, after all, and writers of note have been known to use metaphors. So maybe he meant that Dr. Manhattan is responsible for the ills of DC’s corporate-owned characters because of what he represents. And what Dr. Manhattan represents, of course, is the way DC Comics screwed Alan Moore over on the Watchmen deal.
Yes. Yes, of course. That must be what he meant. Because if they hadn’t stuck to the letter of that contract while betraying the intent of it, Moore might have kept working with them. And if Moore had kept working with them, their comics over the last 30 years would have undoubtedly been a whole lot better than they were. And if they’d been producing better comics, they might not have needed this continual string of relaunch gimmicks to spark sales. And if sales had been better, they wouldn’t have been so desperate as to think that hiring the people who presided over one of the most creatively-bankrupt periods in comics history was a good idea. None of those bad redesigns would have happened, and they might have been able to continue employing editors who worked well with the talent. So they’d still be able to attract top-shelf creative teams to perpetuate their copyrights, and everything would be right with the DC world.
Yes. That must be what he meant. Because, I mean… The only other possibility would be that he thinks Watchmen is a cynical work that infected the company and its characters with its vile and insidious lack of heart.
And he couldn’t possibly think that. I mean… That would indicate that he completely missed the point of one of the cornerstones of the super hero genre. And a writer with as many super hero books to his credit as Johns would have to understand such a major work! He wouldn’t be very good at his job if he didn’t!
Of course, if he did mean that whole thing about Watchmen being an inherently nihilistic work that’s the evil antithesis of everything wholesome old DC Comics stood for prior to 1986…
…that might also imply that he was somehow taking a metaphorical potshot at Alan Moore in the story. Bear with me as I puzzle this out. If I understand this right, it’s implied that the New 52 Universe is what Dr. Manhattan made when he went off at the end of Watchmen to create life. But it’s also revealed that the New 52 was not in fact new life, but some weird hybrid thing that took the old DC heroes and changed them, stealing ten years of their lives that they’ve since forgotten. Which would imply that Dr. Manhattan can’t create anything of his own, but instead has to warp previously-existing life for his “creations.”
Which might be construed as some kind of jab at Alan Moore’s penchant for using pre-existing characters in books like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Lost Girls. But that can’t be right. It would mean that Johns is ignoring Moore’s rather large body of wholly original works like V for Vendetta, From Hell, Tom Strong, Promethea, Top Ten, Voice of the Fire, and others I’m sure I’m forgetting. It would also be a supreme irony, considering Moore’s (admittedly unfair but not entirely inaccurate) suggestion that DC Comics can’t seem to stop strip-mining the work he did for them, and has failed to inspire their talent to come up with much original work of their own in a very long time. A failure that includes, now that I think of it, this “Rebirth” comic in which all this Dr. Manhattan business is happening.
So, no. No, Johns couldn’t possibly have been going there. That would be stupid and self-defeating. He obviously meant the “keep the talent happy so your comics don’t suck” thing.
It’s the only reading that makes sense.
I’m glad that’s settled.
But in other news…
Fanboys have been issuing death threats to writer Nick Spencer over his new Captain America comic, in which Steve Rogers is revealed to have been a Hydra sleeper agent since childhood.
And well they should! Because of course we all know that the first chapter of any story reveals everything we need to know about it. And that such obvious retcons never, ever get undone. And that Marvel Comics is stupid enough to turn one of their most popular characters into a murderous villain for ever and ever, staining his heroic legacy so deeply that no one can ever write him as a paragon of virtue ever again. Just like when he died! They never undid that, either!
So you keep right on with those anonymous, cowardly internet death threats, gentlemen. Nothing like good old-fashioned terrorism to get things done! It’s what Cap would want. Especially Hydra-Cap. From what I’ve heard, he would particularly like it.
This has been the news.
Thank you, Funnybook America.
And good night.