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Thursday, May 15, 2014 

Storylines scuttled by editorial fiats

What Culture gave ten examples of stories that were wrecked by editorial interference. One of the examples they bring up, interestingly, comes from Image in their early days:
After its successful debut as an independent publishing company in 1992, Image Comics hired an executive director to oversee financial affairs and to make sure creators were more reliable in meeting their deadlines. One of the titles that was jettisoned as a result of Image’s tighter ship was Todd Johnson and Larry Stroman’s Tribe. Tribe #1, which sold more than one million copies, was noteworthy for being the best selling comic to be produced by African America creators.
Whoever that director was, he obviously didn't do a good job, if he was more concerned with Johnson and Stroman's work than an embarrassment like Rob Liefeld, who didn't get his own work done on time, and wasn't a good scriptwriter any more than an artist. As I may have said before, it's people like Liefeld who cast a terrible shadow over Image, and hurt whatever gems they might've had at the beginning, since his kind of work stuck out like a sore thumb, taking most of the attention away from anything better.

When they get to the part about One More Day in Spider-Man, however, they really begin to fumble:
Peter Parker, aka, Spider-Man’s marriage to supermodel girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson, had long been a polarizing development within Marvel’s circle of creators and editors. Some thought it made the character more relatable, while others thought it was harder to identity with a middle age-ish superhero with husbandly responsibilities. Regardless, the Peter/MJ dynamic was at its very best when written by Amazing Spider-Man scribe J. Michael Straczynski, who reunited the couple after a multi-year separation in the early 2000s. But despite all of the excellent Peter/MJ stories, JMS was tasked by Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada with breaking them up for good.

Straczynski was reluctant to do the story, dubbed “One More Day,” and even asked to have his name taken off the comic in protest, but later backed off so as not to sabotage Marvel or Quesada. Quesada remained very adamant that the Spider-Man series would be better off without Peter’s marriage to MJ, so the story went forward, and ended up being what many consider to be one of the worst Spidey stories of all time.
Sigh. There's just so much more they're missing, and their failure to bring up Sins Past only proves how incompetent they are. Since when was Peter Parker ever aged to 60 years old in the 616 universe proper? He and MJ have remained perpetually early 20s protagonists, so I don't get their use of "middle age-ish". They're only parroting what Quesada says, that the marriage and having children "ages" the hero, when there's been only so many superhero tales where it doesn't happen. And the separation after the 1998 relaunch was only about a year, not "multi" as they insinuate. Nor were Stracynski's stories excellent. The reunion between Peter and MJ was drowned out by a story featuring Doctor Doom that was made to look like an anti-war screed, with Doom serving as a metaphor for Saddam.

I've never bought Stracynski's defense he wasn't in favor of this editorial fiat, and if he'd wanted to, he could've backed out, yet as much as many must wish it would happen, it's unlikely Marvel and Quesada would've been foiled by Stracynski's departure, and clearly, they weren't. If anything, what this whole sordid affair tells is that JMS has very weak resolve.

At the end, they bring up DC's Batwoman-as-lesbian controversy:
...the biggest controversy came last September when Batwoman creators J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman announced via Twitter that they had quit the book citing massive editorial interference. Earlier last year, Batwoman, Kate Kane, had proposed to her girlfriend Maggie Sawyer in what would have been the industry’s first lesbian marriage. However, DC editorial told Williams and Blackman “no marriage can result.”

Williams said the decision wasn’t meant to be anti-gay but instead driven by the fact that publisher didn’t want any of its characters to be married. Regardless, the Batwoman interference blew up into a PR nightmare for DC that still reverberates today.
Well they got that right; DC's staff is so overrun with leftism today, I doubt cold feet over a lesbian marriage was the reason they backed away from that. Nevertheless, their anti-marriage stance - much like their shameless belief they should be pandering exclusively to 40-year-olds - was so incredibly stupid, reflective of the worst in Hollywood culture, that any embarrassment they faced was richly deserved.

Surprisingly, they didn't bring up one of DC's most notorious scandals from the 1990s in this article, the mandates that led to Emerald Twilight and Gerard Jones getting thrown off Green Lantern by Kevin Dooley. Then again, judging from all the left-wing biases and other sloppy research this magazine's plagued with, maybe it's not such a big deal they didn't. They probably would've screwed up their coverage anyway.

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