Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No Direction Home

Over in the latest edition of "Lying in the Gutters," Rich Johnston has two big rumors relating to DC Comics editor Dan DiDio's management of the company's DC Universe line:

o Rumor No. 1: There are further delays for Final Crisis #7 looming, because DiDio has asked Grant Morrison for massive last-minute rewrites of the series' ending. As a result, a disenchanted Morrison may cut back on his future work for the DC Universe line, and work-in-progress on numerous spin-off and tie-in books was put on hold.

This one seems rather odd, given that DiDio emphasized in a recent Newsarama piece that "it’s essential for us to have the last issue of Final Crisis come out in the month of January. Therefore, we are moving heaven and earth to make the book come out in the month of January, because so much follows." That doesn't sound like DiDio's particularly open to the notion of meddling with the story's outcome, at this stage.

But then again, who knows. It's not exactly like DiDio's line has been characterized by stability or reliability in the last two years. And, of course, Morrison, against all expectations, is not writing Batman: Battle for the Cowl, a supposed major miniseries following up on the writer's successful "Batman RIP" event - and, evidently, meant to be written by Judd Winick at one point.

o Rumor No. 2: Writer James Robinson, who only recently took over Superman and has in interviews seemed enthusiastic about reviving the flagging franchise along with Action Comics writer Geoff Johns, is no longer working on the book - or on any other DC Universe titles - after an argument with DiDio. Well, I'll say this: DiDio didn't talk about much about the Superman line - or mention Robinson, for that matter - in either one of his two recent interviews at Newsarama and Hero Complex. That certainly seems odd.

Needless to say, neither of the two rumors is the kind of thing DC should want to be dealing with right now. But both would fit into the pattern established over the last two years: hideously late major books; talent and supposedly "regular" creative teams coming and going on a range of titles like through a revolving door or even leaving in a public huff (like Chuck Dixon and Jim Shooter, most recently); repeatedly botching a whole number of high-profile relaunches; getting hold of J. Michael Straczynski, one of the industry's few superstar writers, and asking him to work on a commercial lame duck like The Brave and the Bold; giving a major event like Battle for the Cowl to a completely unknown quantity like Tony Daniel; as well as an ongoing string of last-minute editorial changes, sometimes long after books have been solicited in Previews, like in the cases of Batman and the Outsiders or Titans.

I don't know who's responsible for those decisions - I certainly don't expect it's DiDio alone, from what little I've heard about how DC works. But regardless of who's to blame, I find it quite remarkable how erratic and directionless, and how riddled with bafflingly bad judgments the management of the DC Universe line has been.

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