Thursday, March 21, 2013

Andy Diggle Is Off Action Comics Before He Began

It started as a rumor over on Bleeding Cool here.

And yesterday on Twitter, Andy Diggle confirmed it, saying he has decided to walk away from Action Comics for 'professional reasons'.

As a fan of DC Comics, I don't know what to say anymore other than I feel embarrassed for the company. They blew up their continuity and established a new one which is muddier than the old one. They have had revolving doors on the creative teams of some books. They had a 'summit' where the editor in chief apologized for stomping on creativity. They have had innumerable instances where they have pandered to the lowest common denominator to sell books starting with Starfire being a sex-starved vapid alien and continuing to the present when they are currently publishing a book where Superman punches a pregnant Lois Lane to death. They have monthly columns on comic websites where they sound absolutely cheery, saying that all is well with their line. But I see the sales on their books eroding. I see creators jumping ship. And I see a lot of bad stories.

And now creators aren't trying to get to write a Superman book ... heck THE Superman book ... in a year when we are celebrating an anniversary and a movie for the character.

Nope ... creators are leaving the book. Before their first issue is even published.

We may never know the 'professional reasons'. But I can't help but feel that it was, again, editorial interference, the 'powers that be' not letting Andy Diggle tell the story he wanted to. So congratulations to him for walking away.

But it makes me sad as a fan.

That sadness shows in my purchases. 50% of my books are DC books, the lowest percentage of titles I purchase from them in a long time. Three of the DC titles I buy are close to being dropped by me. Three more are nearing cancellation numbers.

All this after we were given the most jumbled and inconherent of Superman crossovers I have read, a story where Supergirl is initially the enemy and then tries to stab the villain to death.

It just feels like DC is a burning Rome and Dan Didio is playing the fiddle. 

Who would want to work for them? First it sounds like editorial fiats change the directions of things on a whim and at last minute. But what must be more frustrating is editors accepting a creator's direction, publicizing it, and then making them change. Why accept it in the first place if they didn't think it was a good idea? How insane was it that we had 'new directions' of New 52 four issues into their inception!!

But most of all, I will wonder just what Diggle was going to do with the Superman character. Outside of Morrison, I haven't read a consistently good Superman in a long time. The powers that be have called him a loner in the New 52. He is presented as a guy who reads Lois Lane's text messages, floats over people all the time, and generally isn't very nice.

Diggle had a different and more classic take on the character. Here was one of his first interviews about his run:

And a couple of quotes:

Nrama: Yeah, a recent issue of Superman established that the two have quite a bit of history. Does that mean the story is a dark one?
Diggle: Tonally, I’m wary of taking Superman himself dark. He’s inherently a bright and optimistic character. I think if you mess with that too much, you’ll break the core concept. I’m known for writing rather dark and cynical stories, which works great when you’re writing a characters like John Constantine or The Losers – I’m just not going to put any of that into Superman himself. I’m pouring all my meanness and cynicism into Lex Luthor and the new villains I’m creating, and then letting Superman react to that.

Nrama: How would you describe your vision for Superman as a character?
Diggle: I think the ultimate definition of heroism is self-sacrifice, and Superman is the exemplar of that. He’s driven by conscience. So no matter how much he does, how hard he strives, he can never rest on his laurels. There’ll always be that nagging doubt at the back of his mind that he could have done more... or should be doing more, right now. He’s pretty tough on himself.
That's right. Superman was bright and optimistic. It is the core of his character. He is the exemplar of self-sacrifice. But he is hard on himself and strives to do even better.

Apparently that doesn't fit in the mode of the New 52.

Best of luck Andy Diggle in all your future endeavors. I think I'll miss this one that might have been.


Martin Gray said...

Well, this is indeed a bummer. I was so looking forward to Diggle's run - as you make clear, we don't know the details but based on previous creative movements, your guess is likely correct. Why indeed can't Editorial either choose a lapdog writer to fit their vision, or stick with a new writer's agreed-and-publicised direction?

Sorry, I'm basically repeating you, Anj, but this is so frustrating.

(And I'm STILL annoyed that we lost Busiek on Superman for - gah - JMS)

Diabolu Frank said...

Grant Morrison's Action Comics scripts were anointed official cannon that Superman had to follow, which led to a creative revolving door on that book. Now, I presume Scott Snyder's Man of Steel scripts are the new anointed, even though they're made for the always late Jim Lee to draw and won't start coming out optimistically for months. Action Comics gets to join Superman in spinning its wheels.

I ordered a bunch of Justice League related books over the last two months, and expect that good or bad, at least the Geoff Johns stories will be his to tell. The rest I chalk up to initial excitement and my interest in the SSoSV, which is only enough to carry an issue of Catwoman and two of Savage Hawkman. The slave title Vibe has already changed writers, and will probably get canceled inside a year. I figure by that point, Justice League of America will be the last DC title I follow. Previously, I made it down to only R.E.B.E.L.S., so DC continues to be mismanaged to the point where I can bail on them. Good work, Dan Didio.

Kent G. Hare said...

... And you don't even mention the worst part of the announcement, that artist Tony Daniel will be taking his place as writer. That strangled "NOOOOOOOOO!" you may have heard yesterday was me reading that news.

Seriously, Anj, I'm not quite as negative on the current state of affairs at DC as you are, but I can easily understand your feelings and can even more easily see myself getting there sooner rather than later.

Gene said...

If I had Superman's powers for just one day I would fly fast enough to spin the earth backwards to late 2010 before all this New 52 nonsense began.

Oh... and it gets better:

Why do I hear the Beatles song Yesterday when I read that?

valerie21601 said...

Why do I feel the head of the nu52 is all that is keeping it afloat while the body is dying?

There is talk comparing the DC 52 to Marvel's Heroes Reborn universe and it almost bankrupting Marvel out of business for good.

I wasn't reading comics at all during the 1990's so I didn't learn about it until a couple of years ago when I came back to comic book reading.
So what I do know I read up on via the internet doing my best to read reliable sources

Quite a few people who almost did Marvel in are in charge or working for DC Comics now like Harras and Lee.

Harras had a reputation for being a brutal tyrant to work for alienating writers and artists in a very short time and not caring how it effected the long run.

I get the feeling the DC 52 universe is going to fall harder than Marvel's Heroes Reborn universe.

Was anyone around when the Marvel disaster happened? Could you share what it was like and compare the similarity and the differences as to how the top 2 handle it?

Anonymous said...

I knew we were in deep, deep trouble as soon as Berganza was named group editor for the Superman family of books.

This is the Berganza of the "Cir-El" fiasco as well as the "Crystal Hell-Kill Kal-El" nonsense.

The one famous for incoherent, nonsensical story lines in which plot points are dropped without explanation and character consistency is sacrificed for the "next cool thing"

I'm sorry, do I sound bitter?


Anj said...

Thanks for all the posts.

I am too frustrated to reply to each of you but I really appreciate the comments and commiseration.

I just think this nonsense needs to stop or no one will want to work/create there.

It is time for some restructuring of the power there.

Kim said...

Compared to what's happened the last couple of days with regards to Supergirl and Green Lantern, this is nothing... DC has completely lost it.

Jay said...

I've calmed down plenty from yesterday, but I was pretty fired up when I heard the news. Especially considering what this is all over...the simple idea of only greenlighting an idea when you're sure that's what you want to go with. I'm not saying I don't get that stuff doesn't change during the course of any run, that's just natural. But from accounts what editorial is doing is okaying one thing one day then completely changing their mind the next. Just perplexing. Totally ruined what was an awesome week of DC books, imo.

Jay said...

Forgot to point out that despite all this, I don't think this has anything to do with Diggle wanting a bright Superman and DC not wanting that. I think that's way too much of a blanket assumption. I'm not defending the methods, I just think whatever last minute flip flopping editorial did, it wasn't something like "we want our Superman more mean". The New 52 Superman isn't dark, to me that's just a fallacy. He has a bit more "attitude" but that's as far as it goes. Case in point, Snyder said a lot of the same things Diggle did in interviews in regards to the tone of Superman: Unchained, so it doesn't wash that what editorial was trying to do was darken up Action or anything. I don't know if we'll ever know for sure what 180 they tried to pull on the guy, but that's how I feel. The whole course of events will probably be used as fodder for the "dark and dreary New 52 Superman" crowd, but in my mind it holds little merit.

Anonymous said...

DC is in this fix because of a rigid "Cheap Heat Is Better Than No Heat At All" mindset.
They can't think even six months ahead so their only option is to create profitable tsuris now regardless of who they alienate in the fanbase.
"Money now is better than money later" is a great business model for a Monster Hot Boy Band but it is a formula for disaster for a venerable publishing empire that controls dozens of copyrights and trademarks with global popularity. Dunno kids seems like we might be at the verge of the End of Floppies.
What happens next I cannot say, what happened to to the Trilobites?


Anonymous said...

DC apparently stands for "Definitely Confused" at this point.
-- DW

Anonymous said...

I think it's to start a petition to change the leadership on DC. This has gone too far.

Dave Mullen said...

I find it fascinating to watch.
The theory goes that creators from Indie books will put up with the hassle DC gives creators as they need the exposure and money. But as we're seeing over the last year that is not actually the case.

The rise of self publishing and the Independents is now so well established and healthy that these creators have a lot of options open to them. It doesn't have to be DC or Marvel anymore. This goes back to the formation of Image back in the early 90s, but another benefit of Indies is that they do not make the demands on a reader than the big two do, no mega-long crossovers and overstretched events, instead you get limited arcs and done in one tales. It's one of the main reasons Indies have really taken off in the last ten or so years...

So looking at DCs talent pool at the moment it's only Scott Snyder who has managed to break into the tight clique of Johns and Morrison, over at Marvel on the other hand is an embarrassment of riches where writers are concerned... clearly something is going to have give at DC comics. If they continue with this trajectory they simply cannot survive. 52 books a month requires a phenomenal array of talent to make work.

Jay said...

Good points. Ever the optimist, I wonder if these creators not taking just any crap dished to them and establishing a concrete willingness to just walk away will be the main factor in DC changing their current ways. Becuase you're right, it simply can't sustain itself, with ONE new guy establishing himself strongly in the fold in over a year.

Kandou Erik said...

So excited, and then so depressed - all in one day. It was like a gut punch "here's the fabulous new creative team you've been looking forward to" - and on the same day they announce Diggle is off the good.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

I do agree that DC seems to be thinking short term not long term. They simply don't let the teams on the books have time to grow an audience.

It is the acceptance of a pitch followed by near immediate rejection that is too bizarre for me.

But all this stuff just makes DC look like a house of cards.

Unknown said...

I've been a silent follower of your website for the last 5 years or so and always enjoy your insightful commentary on Supergirl and comics in general. I have been disappointed with Supergirl's portrayal in the new 52 the last several issues and almost wish for the good old days of Supergirl from 2 years ago.
Then I saw this link from Nick Spencer
The article gives us a look at what might have been if there had been no dcnu. There is even a proposed Supergirl cover by Amy Reeder that was never used. How sad we will never see those stories.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comment Ted and glad you have stopped by here!

I read the Spencer article and will probable comment on it in a post soon.

I remember that first issue and thought Spencer might not be the best fit for the book at that time. But I will need to reread it.

I do know that James Peaty, who picked up that arc, did a great job showing what a leader Kara had become.

Still, we'll never know exactly what Spencer's story would be. We also will never know about Sterling Gates taking her to college either!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone fill me in? In the main article you mention a book where Superman punches a pregnant Lois to death.

I must have missed that one. Which book is it in?

Thanks again for a wonderful blog!!!