So, usually here on What Were They Thinking (the series where we take a look at the stupidest and most ill-advised things to happen in comics history) we tend to look at storylines, what actually happens on the page. We might blame the people behind the scenes for their terribleness, but we've never actually called out the guys behind the scenes for being terrible. But today, we're going to be taking a look at Detective Comics Comics Inc. (yes, that it actually the full name of DC Comics) and the... lets just say interesting time they've had in recent years.
So, let's start off with a small one shall we. In case you weren't aware, the current Batwoman is gay. I mean that is kinda a big thing, a she is the most high profile lesbian character in comics at the moment and there are still people who are resistant to that fact, or to the fact homosexuality exists at all. And back in 2013, the writers wanted to capitalise on that fact by having her marry her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer. Hell, they even got as far as doing the proposal. But of course an editorial decision got passed down from Mr Dan Didio (can anyone tell me how to pronounce that please, it's a complete stutter-fest of a name), who is co-publisher of DC, that the marriage shouldn't go ahead. And what was the reason? It wasn't fear of fan or media backlash and fortunately it wasn't because of homophobia on Mr Dedede's part, although I kinda wish it was because the real reason is twice as stupid. The actual reason was because, and I quote- "heroes shouldn't have happy personal lives." Oh and then the writers, J.H Williams and W. Haden Blackman, left the series because of conflicts with management over storylines. And then a year later the series was cancelled.
Well done Mr Dedeino, you're an idiot.
I mean, it's not like around that time the company had hired Enders Game writer and renowned homophobe and vocal opponent to same sex marriage, Orson Scott Card (which in its self was a bad idea. I know Marvel had him on the books at one point, but still, their timing wasn't that bad and they got rid of him pretty quickly). It's not like any of this could be misread in any way, shape or form is there. You know you've bad some bad choices when the artist you have lined up for the project refuses to work on it and the series eventually never gets published due to the bad publicity and threat of boycotts. But I digress.
Let's now move on to something worse, because the Batwoman writers aren't the only writers that DC have absolutely shafted in recent years. Nick Spencer, the original writer for the newest Supergirl series, was fired before the first issue was released and he was only given co-writer credit on the issue by the way. Chris Roberson, the writer for Fables, Superman and iZombie, left the company and went on record calling the company "unethical" in the way they treat their creators and their general business practices. The creative team behind Superman Family Adventures weren't even told their series was being cancelled, instead finding out through a press-release that said that the 12th issue would be the finale. And going back to the Bat-family, Batgirl writer Gail Simone was fired from DC for no apparent reason without the series being cancelled, but was reinstated after fan backlash. Oh, and this is the company that got George Perez to quit because they wouldn't stop meddling with his work. That's THE George Perez, the guy who worked on Crisis On Infinite Earths and the 80's Wonder Woman reboot, the guy who made the Teen Titans the most popular superhero team of the 80's and the guy who has worked on practically every major character in both the DC and Marvel pantheons. On his way out he also criticised the editors for not even knowing what the New 52 status quo was meant to be (which explains a lot, because nobody else knew either), the amount of rewrites of his material and the inconsistency of said rewrites and the fact that his work on Superman HAD to be consistent with Action Comics, which was set five years prior and whose writer, Grant Morrison, would not share information on future storyline plans. In total there's a list of some 40 writers, artists and other creative staff leaving DC since 2009 due to any mixture of being fired, behind-the-scenes issues or series being cancelled without warning. And this company managed to get Rob Liefeld to quit because they were screwing with his material (which could possibly have been a good thing?) and the artist they gave him apparently couldn't art (Rob Liefeld calling someone out on their art? What is the world coming to? Oh well, I mean old Rob always was an utter hypocrite). I mean, when you're getting Captain Creatively-Bankrupt to leave because you're stifling creativity, you're doing something wrong. And considering that the industry heavily relies on free-lance writers and artists now, you've got to wonder, what the hell are DC doing? Well, what ever it is, they're doing it wrong obviously, or I wouldn't have said that they were doing something wrong in the previous sentence. But anyway.
Then you have the controversy surrounding the lack of female creators on the launch of the New 52, which dropped from 12% of the staff to just 1% (being Gail Simone and one of the alternating artists for Batwoman, Amy Reeder) and the sexist reboots of various female characters, Catwoman and Starfire in-particular (which we may well cover in the future), which don't paint DC in this period in any sort of good light at all.
So, basically DC wasn't the best place to be over the last few years, and probably will remain as such. It probably doesn't help that DC have been going through what can only be described as a second DC Implosion. The first happened back in 1978, I'm sure there are a few people who remember it, where DC started publishing around 20 new titles and then ended up cancelling the majority of them due to poor sales. Well, this has happened again with the New 52, proving that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Six new series were cancelled after the first year of the New 52 (2011), 10 after the second year (2012), a staggering 16 comics were cancelled after the third year (2013) and then in 2014 the company went mad and cancelled 20 titles, including some Batman, Superman and Justice League titles, the Teen Titans title and Nightwings solo comic. And because DC love to outdo themselves, 2015 saw the cancellation of 33 titles, including most of the Green Lantern centric titles, Supergirl's solo comic and an Aquaman title. That is THIRTY THREE titles in a single year that either ended or got cancelled. That is quite literally banana pants mental. Over the 5 years the New 52 was going on, DC published 135 new or rebooted issue #1's for their titles. Of those 135 unique titles, 85 were cancelled by April this year. That is ridiculous, it's something like 65% of their titles (I'm not that great at math, if someone could actually work that out for me, I'd be very grateful). What are you doing DC? No wonder you can't get a cinematic universe to work, you can't even do being a comic book publisher right. You might actually have taken Marvel's title of being the best at being the absolute worst away.
Personally, I blame Dan Dadano for having such a stupid name that it's put everyone else in the office off their work whilst they try to work it out. It's the only logical explanation. Either that or Dan Dededelewooop is secretly the Joker in disguise.