It is becoming harder and harder for me to be able to actually be critical of Marvel and DC because I read less and less of their books. I’m only getting one Marvel comic. That is the Jeff Lemire Hawkeye books scheduled for only eight issues I believe. With DC I have dropped so many books recently and find it hard to even read what I get. I know I’m sticking with JLA by Johns because he has ignored the newest DC reset. I can also say that I get zero books under the Batman family or Superman family. In total I might be getting six or seven books from the big two.
There are a number of reasons for this and it has lead me to conclude that Marvel and DC are currently at a creative nadir.
One of the major reasons is the editorial mandates that are controlling way too many books. Dan Didio at DC has been notorious for changing direction on the fly and making one decision and then another. Re-writes being called for and not paid for was a persistent rumor about DC as creators fled in what seemed like droves at one point. Didio finally get complete control of things at DC after Levitz and Jeanette Kahn left management. One of his first things he did was the new DCU. Those in one fell swoop he mandated the destruction of all the past history of the company. One of the core elements of DC was its legacy and now it was gone. He also hired Bob Harras as his EIC, who by all accounts failed at Marvel in the same role years ago. We are already on a second revamp with the DC You crap. I personally can’t read 90% of what DC produces because none of it has any staying power as Dan and Bob will force a change in direction in a New York minute.
Marvel is just as bad since Disney has taken over more and more I feel like the stories are being given a strong push by management in the direction they are going. Death of Wolverine was a prime example of something the company decided they wanted to do and therefore Wolverine died. Now with the mandated eight month jump in time as Marvel does their half ass reboot after Secret Money Grab, eer War – we have odd variations of characters being advertised as All New All Different, yet just the same (or so Marvel tries to promise). There has always been editorial interference and direction being pushed from above in comics. The difference was before I felt like a lot more was allowed to occur a little more organically. At least some of the ideas percolated up to management for approval as opposed to being mandated strictly from above. It takes the heart out of the books as you can feel the stories have no impact and the characters are serving only to advance some plot that does not always fit them or what has gone before.
Another reason that the big two are dying is a lack of a cohesive universe. One can make the argument that this happened a long time ago and that is true to a large degree. It is worse now. Even going back to Morrison’s run on JLA, he had to acknowledge the shifts that occurred to major characters. When Superman was Superman Blue, he was in JLA. Now Johns JL has Superman and Batman like we know them to be for the most part. Yet in their books Superman is depowered and has a buzz cut and Batman is Jim Gordon with a robot body.
Marvel does a little better as changes to Captain America and Thor were recognized rather quickly in the Avengers while I was still reading their books. Again though the cohesion is not really there with Marvel. This is most evident with the Avengers books. There is no way I have ever seen how Remender’s Uncanny Avengers ever tied into to the Hickman Magnum Opus. Trying to make the X-Men books fit into that mess is even more of fool’s errand. I don’t need all of this stuff to tie 100% together like Marvel did in the beginning, but I like to think I’m reading about one universe. At this point I was often taken out of stories when internal logic fell apart. Hell even within titles that star the same characters there is no rhyme or reason as to what is going on in another title until a cross-over and then we get a jam sandwich.
I’m planning this as a multipart post (maybe 3) and then of course we will do a collected hardcover version, then release a trade paperback version and in three years if it sold well a deluxe version with previous pieces of scrap paper we found on the floor.