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Wednesday, December 12, 2007 

They can weather a bad story...but for how long?

The New York Sun (via Newsarama blog) writes about how DC botched it with Wonder Woman during the past year. They're a paper far better than the NY Times, but even so, I'm still sad that they won't go in deeper about what a monstrosity Amazons Attack was, for example, or how Dan DiDio has made a lot of people angry with his astounding editorial edictions. For starters, they say:
But the Heinberg relaunch rapidly went off the scheduling rails, and by 2007 he'd only delivered four issues. Ms. Picoult's five issues hemorrhaged readers faster than "Jonah Hex," DC's lone cowboy title, and "Amazons Attack," a miniseries commissioned to fill a hole in the book's publishing schedule caused by Mr. Heinberg's delays, was reviled by fans who decried it as an abomination. No movie. Declining readership. Angry fans.
First, why don't they just delve in deeper, and explain how Amazons Attack has been construed as character assassination, and as sexist? A long-running problem with the press, that they won't make an effort to gather clearer info as to why. Second, this is new to me: was Amazons Attack really done as a special filler? I think that's where they got it wrong. Picoult was assigned to fill the hole, and the fifth issue Heinberg wrote came out as part of an annual (a recently revived concept, I notice, after 6 years of dropping them).

And then, DiDio is quoted saying:
"These characters are not made of porcelain," Dan Didio, the executive editor of DC Comics, said. "They're made of diamond. They can weather a bad story."
But for how long? And just how long can they weather bad sales? And did DiDio ever stop to think about how he, as DC's chief editor, hasn't been able to weather a bad reputation for long?
Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman are the only characters to be continuously published by DC Comics since the company's inception in 1944, and all have achieved a pop culture recognition that transcends their creator and stretches far beyond the nerd-o-sphere. "I tell people I work for DC Comics and they scratch their heads," Mr. Didio said. "I tell them I work for the company that publishes Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman and they get excited."
I wonder just how excited they'd get if they knew just what he allowed to happen when Identity Crisis and the Batman War Games crossover were put out almost 4 years ago? I certainly wouldn't.

What do two people who've been at the writer's helm have to say about this:
"I think that's because of the lack of exposure," Ms. [Gail] Simone, the series' ongoing writer, said, acknowledging the catch-22 facing Wonder Woman. "She hasn't had a major motion picture. She's only had the one TV series, not several of them like Superman has."

Mr. Rucka offered another explanation.

"All along, there's been a feeling that they have to bring in more readers, they have to increase sales," he said. "What they haven't done is portray her consistently. They relaunch the series, they bring back her secret identity, they take it away, they bring it back, they make two Wonder Women, then three, then none, then one. At the end of the day, it's that inconsistency that hurts her the most."
I think I'm inclined to side with Rucka here. They all but tossed out some of WW's cast that George Perez, Greg Potter and Len Wein set up during the Iron Age, and certainly haven't made things better by writing that Cassie Sandsmark's mother fled to Greece to hide from the authorities who're targeting Amazon sympathisers, post Amazons Attack (one reason why that Wonder Girl miniseries has bombed in sales, I figure). I'm guessing that Rucka is probably sorry over being dropped as a writer for WW two years ago, and another reason why he's stopping his exclusive contract.

But there's also the problem of that either they don't try to promote WW's solo book, let alone a disastrous miniseries connected to it, or the MSM is not interested, unless it involves the kind of horrors that Identity Crisis had.

As for Simone, I'm sorry, but she used too easy an answer. Lack of major movies? In all due honesty, if they start relying on movies to market everything, they'll only spoil everything in the end, recalling how, when the 1976-79 TV show was first made, DC deliberately edicted that the series take place during WW2 on the Earth-2 plane. There may have been some good items to come out of that, but there was also a repugnant script penned by Martin Pasko and Alan Brennart in 1977 set in Egypt (to be discussed on a later occasion). No, it is the lack of true consistency that matters, ditto the lack of press coverage that's interested. Of course, Simone was the one who put down the Silver Age Atom as being "very much of its time", as if story plots involving bank robbers and gangsters are simply outmoded. And I can't say she - and they - are really honoring Ray Palmer's actions, history and fun sense, if they go along with his defamation. I came to realize some time ago that it doesn't pay to roll over for most writers and artists, and I'm decidedly not going to let Simone off the hook here either.

In fact...

Greg Rucka two years ago, along with Geoff Johns and Allen Heinberg, wrote some items that allegedly tried to improve upon the hideous errors made in Identity Crisis, such as the lack of a female viewpoint (a Superman story from the former, and JLA's "Crisis of Conscience" from the latter two). Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, and that it seemed almost deliberately arranged - different writers other than Meltzer may have been assigned to deal with the story holes - doesn't make IC any better, but shows just why it was bad to begin with.

No matter how talented Rucka is, and a few years ago he wrote some items that were quite good, WW among them, that he too went along with the editorial decisions made then only undermines his own position too.

Update: I think Rucka co-wrote Countdown to Infinite Crisis too, a "special" whose whole premise seemed to be showing Ted Kord dying without even fighting seriously. That's another demerit to his record.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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