Friday, February 8, 2013

New Writer On Supergirl

The insanity that seems to be emanating from DC Comics continues and the thought that there is some sort of editorial sanity seems to be more and more improbable.

Over on Comic Book Resources, Bob Harras and Bobbie Chase talked about all the upcoming changes to DC's comic book line. Here is the link:

If you are a DC fan, I urge you to read this article in its entirety. It again reiterates the point that DC's creative powers have no understanding of what will be accepted and sell. It also means they have almost no patience in allowing a title to gain some sort of audience.

A bloody swath has been cut through the new 52 with six titles being canceled. Some, like Team 7 and The Ravagers comes as no surprise to me. Did anyone think those titles/characters would sell? Some, like Firestorm and Hawkman come as a little surprise but given the creative turnover on those books it felt (from a distance) that DC didn't know what they wanted those titles to be. Perhaps the one that bothered me the most was 'Sword and Sorcery'. I am someone who wanted to read an Amethyst book but it was clear the approach that DC and Christy Marx was bringing to the character was different than what I wanted and so didn't buy the book. Amethyst isn't Red Sonja so I doubt Amethyst fans wanted to read that book. But here is what DC doesn't seem to understand. Amethyst isn't Red Sonja. So Red Sonja fans aren't going to come to the book regardless of the approach. In essence, the book isolated itself from all audiences.

Now the title of this post is "New Writer on Supergirl" so I better get to that news. The news was buried in the middle of this article. Here is the Supergirl questions. 

Looking at the some of the brand-new creative teams, writer Michael Alan Nelson will be taking over "Supergirl" from Mike Johnson, who along with Michael Green had been writing the book since issue #1. Michael Alan Nelson is known best for his darker, horror-infused comics at BOOM! -- what is it about his work that made you guys think he'd be a good fit for "Supergirl?"
Harras: Well Michael is someone we wanted to work with since we started the New 52. He's been working together with us on a few issues of "Ravagers," and Eddie Berganza and he have a good relationship and have a lot of fun together. It was just suggested by Eddie that Michael had a lot of good ideas for "Supergirl" and we said, "Why not?" Again, he's a writer that we wanted to work with since we first came up with the New 52. "Ravagers" was the first step and "Supergirl" is the next. We're kind of excited about what's coming up!
Chase: "Supergirl" is another stage, and he's gotten a lot of attention. He's a really solid writer -- we all think he's going to do great things.

Considering his horror past, does him coming on as writer signal a shift in tone for "Supergirl" from a slow-moving quasi-indie title to a much darker comic?
Harras: I think Supergirl in the New 52 is a very interesting character; she's certainly not the character as she's been portrayed before, and that's really what we want to explore. What is it like to be a sixteen-year-old girl who wakes up one day to find her planet is gone, her world is changed and she's not very happy about it and she feels very isolated?
Chase: It's a little dark! [Laughs]
Harras: I think we're going to be exploring that in a big way. Mike Johnson, with his nineteen issues, is a great guy and it was a great run. And again, we fully expect to work with him on another project. This is not an absolute end; Mike opted to move on to something new at this point, and we hope to work with him again on something else.

So Mike Johnson is off the book. Say what you will about all the publicity around the book saying she was 'Hell on Wheels' with no affection towards Earth, so don't piss her off. The truth was that over the course of the time Johnson (and Michael Green) were on the book, it was clear they had an understanding of the core characteristics of the character. Their Kara was dealing with tremendous grief. In fact, I think grief was the dominant emotional tone of the book. But despite that grief, she never seemed to lose herself. She wanted to help people, she didn't want to hurt people, she wasn't going to give in to anger or chaos. I rooted for this Supergirl to succeed. She was emotionally devastated but still strived to do what was right and just. 

Well ... maybe I should amend that. She tried all of that until she became the patsy in H'El on Earth, a decision I have to assume was made by editorial fiat and not writer choice. Think about the Supergirl who outwitted Tycho and actually smiled in Supergirl #13. That feels like a lifetime ago and that was a very different character than we have seen in H'El.

Johnson leaves and in comes Michael Alan Nelson, a writer I don't know at all. His resume includes a bunch of zombie titles and a bunch of Cthulu books. Now I am as big a H.P. Lovecraft fan as there is but is that the approach I want for Supergirl? 

And Nelson getting the thumbs up from Eddie Berganza makes it worse. Berganza doesn't seem to understand Supergirl at all!

Again, we have the same buzz words we heard before. She's not happy. She feels very isolated. It's a little dark! And Chase actually laughs when she says that. Guess what ... it isn't funny. And despite being around for over a year and a half, Chase and Harras are still beating the drum that this is a 'new' approach for Supergirl - the dark moody girl all alone. 

Here is the deal DC. No one wants to read that sort of Supergirl book. Supergirl fans don't want it. And people who read books about angry isolated dark characters aren't going to read Supergirl. You are marginalizing the book from all audiences all over again.

I often hear writers say that some characters seem to write themselves, that organically a character changes from the initial thought the writer had to become something else. And frankly, I think Supergirl is one of those characters. The mind-controlled and easily fooled Matrix Supergirl eventually morphed into Peter David's Angel of Justice. The angry angsty Loeb/Kelly Supergirl dissolved and became the heroic hero by Gates/Igle and then Peaty and Deconnick. And even here, the hyped up bad girl that was supposed to be written by Green and Johnson evolved to this strong woman trying to be a hero despite the cards life has dealt her.

Supergirl is a hero, someone who wants to help, someone with a sense of justice and hope. No matter what DC tries to do, this is the core of the character. They can't escape that. They should embrace that! 

As always, I will go into this new regime with an open mind. I will hope that the Supergirl I know and love will be represented here. And I don't know if Michael Alan Nelson knows that an established Supergirl fandom exists but I hope he will do her right. 


valerie21601 said...

I wonder how much of this is directly or indirectly goes back to Lobdell? The Johnson and Lobdell interview about H'el on Earth sounded way too positive especially on Johnson's part.

Lobdell appears (so far) H'el on Earth plans will pretty much control the tone and the direction of the Super Family for the next 16-18 months. He said in one interview his stories are subject to change in his plans for the Super titles when it comes to H'el sequel crossover event planned for later this year.

Yawn! Snore!

Looking forward to reading it.

Anonymous said...

Well, the comic was not selling well enough (sold increasingly less). Right now sales are a little better (not much), but is due to the crossover.

Perhaps the comic needs some changes (the book can be canceled if no sales rises or stabilizes).

Anonymous said...

The comic may not be selling because of the way the editorial staff handles it. The solict previews are inconsistent with the book itself. The char goes from a strong emotionally charged char to a dumb stereotype for the purpose of a crossover storyline. Anyone who reads Wonder Woman can't reconcile the char in her book with the one in the Justice League. Like Supergirl they read differently. It would be easier if DC editors just gave up the notion of continuity entirely. My daughter also liked Supergirl and was collecting the book, but she hated the way she has been portrayed in the crossover so she stopped getting the book and crossovers. Now, the editorial staff brings on a writer known for horror books. That did not get my daughter excited. She is going to give it one issue. If she thinks SG is portrayed like the crossover, she is out. IMO the editorial direction for this character is what is dragging down the book sales.

Martin Gray said...

It's all so wearying, the way the DC higher-ups talk about Supergirl. There's no vision, no appreciation that Kara may have an iconic personality that could be informing the stories. Instead its an offhand 'why not?'

I don't know the new chap's work but just because he's known for horror doesn't mean that's all he can do - he may be a massive, longtime Kara fan who wants to inject some actual fun into the book ... we all know these interviews, and the solicitations, are full of flannel. So I'll give him an issue or two.

Mind, Sterling Gates is back at DC, and with the chaos of recent editorial reorganisations, who knows, he may turn up as the new writer. I could stand that.

Whatever the case, I'm ready for a change; I'm sick and tired of this book being all Krypton, all the time. Mike and Michael have done some good character work, but enough with the origin already - I want Kara to settle down to life on Earth, become the super-girl next door she should be.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, the marketplace cannot sustain 52 titles from DC right now. A commenter on the CBR message board emphasized that DC has cancelled 23 monthly titles in less than two years. Why is it so essential that DC publish 52 titles?

"Superman Family Adventures" has been cancelled, and so has the "Young Justice" TV series. Now more than ever "Supergirl" needs to be a book that offers something for everyone, including the younger readers that DC seems to care nothing about. There is such a missed opportunity here. Instead, we will get more of the same: angry, isolated Kara probably living at the bottom of the ocean, shunning her family, no supporting cast, or secret identity. Here's my question: at what point does a Supergirl fan say "enough" and drop the book? What DC is currently offering is not the Supergirl character I want to read about. Factoring in the recent cancellations of my favorite Vertigo series, the loss of the "Young Justice" animated series, and Keith Giffen leaving the Legion after only two issues, there isn't a lot to be happy about.

Anonymous said...

It's sad that DC is sticking to this "52" marketing gimmick, which started with the "52" weekly series, which I'm sure was inspired by the TV show "24" - which has ended years ago, and is no longer considered "cool" nor "trendy".

Maybe all 52 titles don't have to be ongoing; they could've included a bunch of miniseries.

LJ-90 said...

I know this doesn't have anything to do with this entry, but maybe this news will cheer you up a little:

Smallville Season 11 #13: Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes (pretty likely we'll see Kara there).

Unknown said...

Depressing news.I've been reading Supergirl since 252 and one gets tired of all these new visions.Superman is from Kansask, Supergirl is the 'last daughter of Krypton'-that's all there is to it.
But I will say that the Fall of Cthulhu series was my favorite of Lovecraft books-he knows how to write. Maybe they want to push the whole 'alien on earth' thing even more then they have?

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments everybody.

As usual, I think DC just doesn't understand the character or what it should be.

But just as usual, I will go into this new phase with an open mind. I can only hope that Nelson has some affection for the character and wants to do the right thing by her.

We shall see.

valerie21601 said...

Too bad we can't get Supergirl into Paul Levitz hands. He has proved in the past and in his recent World's Finest #0 issue he truly understands and how to use Kara, her personality and her abilities in his stories to their fullest potential

Kim said...

I am scared :( Please hold my hand :(

From the start it has felt like the writers had a a good grasp of Kara, and it was editorial that held them back. And now this.


The League said...

anyone who read the last series and is familiar with Berganza's comments on Supergirl (that were echoed by Didio) knows this is what they think people want. The first issue of Supergirl from the last volume debuted at over 100,000 sold and managed to lose that readership within about 18 months. Why DC thinks he should succeed on this go round tells you the state of the DC Nation.

Anj said...

While I'll go in with an open mind, the fact that Eddie Berganza is pulling the strings ... and Dan Didio pulling those strings ... I'm not confidant.

Kim said...

"The first issue of Supergirl from the last volume debuted at over 100,000 sold and managed to lose that readership within about 18 months."

The last volume of Supergirl debuted at about 250,000, with reprints considered. This was more than the new #1 of Wonder Woman managed about a year later. That is how much people wanted it. Supergirl sold at astronomical levels for its first year.

Anonymous said...

the writer I'd love to see on this book is Mark Waid he has always been a unreconstructed Supergirl fan and from his use of the character in "The Brave and the Bold" he knows how to write a saavy teen with superpowers.
These other peeps I don't know from nothing.


Anj said...

I would love for Waid to write Supergirl. Love it!

Unfortunately, the DC bridges are burned.

Anonymous said...

I am worried, too about Supergirl's future, but, for now we can await the meeting of Power Girl and Supergirl in Issue#20. Apparently Karen will feel the need to return to roots as (the Earth-2)Supergirl in order to help Kara (suggested by the picture at the top).
-- DW