— Matt Seneca (Comic Books Are Burning in Hell)
There’s this wonderful comic book store in Montreal that I go to about once a month called Comic Hunter. They have by far the biggest selection of back issues in the city, including an entire room of alphabetically organized dollar bins. Every time I go there, I spend around 20 bucks on dollar comics. But every once in a while, they have this amazing sale where the dollar bin comics are 4 for a dollar (yes, that’s 25 cents each!), in which case I still spend about $20 but walk out of the store with about 80 comics!
I did that yesterday and came home with a ton of 80s, 90s and early 2000s DC Comics: Doom Patrol, Suicide Squad, Nightwing, Superboy and Batgirl.
There are so many pre-New 52 DC Comics I haven’t read that I could spend probably a decade digging through these constantly replenished magical dollar bins and have a seemingly never-ending supply of reading material featuring all the characters I love, without ever having to touch another New 52 comic ever again. And without ever paying more than a dollar for a comic book.
Life is beautiful.
There was a guy at the comic book shop this evening when I went to pick up my comics. He’s often there. He’s kinda cool. I like him. We talked. He convinced me to buy a comic book that I would never in a million years have picked up otherwise. Superman/Wonder Woman #1.
Disclaimer #1: This is the first DC book I’ve bought in forever. I can’t even remember the last time I bought a DC book.
Disclaimer #2: I have zero interest in Superman and Wonder Woman as a couple. The idea does nothing for me. In fact, when it was first announced, I found it kind of revolting and it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Disclaimer #3: I hate Tony Daniel’s art.
Disclaimer #4: I expected to hate this in every way imaginable. But the dude was so enthusiastic about it. He said it was his favourite single issue of the year and he’s a huge Wonder Woman fan and he was skeptical about the whole super-couple thing, too, and as far as I can tell, he’s a discerning comic reader with a fine taste. So I thought, sure, why not?
Anyway, I read it. And it was… kinda meh? The art is exactly as bad as I expected it to be, but I kind of enjoyed the characters voices. Both of them. I think Charles Soule is a good writer and he has a pretty good grasp of these characters. As much as I can tell from a first issue anyway. He makes the super-couple idea work better than thought possible. I could almost buy the idea if I tried to forget that it’s so completely unnecessary.
But where it fell apart for me was the panels where Superman and Wonder Woman kinda almost but not really have sex in silhouette with the red background, superimposed on the fight with Doomsday. There are at least three things wrong with just those two pages:
1. The silhouette thing is just cheesy and awful, not to mention that Tony Daniel apparently doesn’t understand how silhouettes work. Like, he doesn’t get the concept of characters being lit from behind? It would have been easy enough to set the scene in front of a window or by candle light or something, but no, they’re actually lying on the bed and they’re wearing clothes and the clothes are lit normally but their skin is pitch black for some reason? I don’t even know if I’m explaining this properly but it makes NO SENSE.
2. It’s just unnecessary. Like, yeah, we get it. They’re a couple. They’re dating. That implies that they’re probably being intimate with each other in one way or another. If they had given us some gratuitous money shot, that would’ve been something. It would have been an awful thing, but still at thing. But this tacky softcore mildly suggestive interrupted coitus scene just adds nothing.
3. The whole cutting back and forth between violence and a (non-)sex scene… I’ve seen it before and I’m tired of it.
Aside from that, it was an okay issue with some decent writing and some mediocre-to-bad art. Also, Dooomsday, who is the most boring villain ever.
Something I had forgotten about DC Comics that I really dislike: Those colour-coded captions for the interior monologues with the character logos. Like, yeah, I get it, it’s Superman’s thoughts. You didn’t have to make it that obvious, I could’ve figured it out on my own.
Also, I guess people still hate the Justice League in the New 52. Like civilians, I mean. Normal people inside the fictional universe. They hate super-heroes. Probably because super-heroes in the New 52 are jerks. That was something I really hated about the reboot but I figured it would have changed by now. Apparently not.
The more I think about this, the more I regret buying this comic. I also realize now that some part of me was genuinely (and almost secretly) hoping that this comic would surprise me and win me over. I really miss these characters. I haven’t touched DC’s books for ages but I wanted to read this and find out that I’d been missing something. I wanted DC to prove me wrong. But no, not reading DC comics was absolutely the right decision to make.
In a way, the fact that this comic book didn’t turn out that bad in spite of everything is almost worst. If it had been a truly horrible comic with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, I’d just be like, whatever, DC sucks. But this was almost halfway decent. I could at least see that there was some potential there, but that just ends up being a total bummer because it’s dragged down by the sheer DC-ness of it, by which I mean everything that I’ve come to associate with DC Comics since the New 52, like what a grim and depressing world it is and how awful and unhappy all the characters seem to be and the shitty Jim Lee clone art that’s so dreary it makes you want to never look at a comic book again.
Ugh. Don’t read the New 52, kids. It’s depressing.
This looks like an amazingly terrible comic. There’s a great discussion about it on this podcast.
1. Orson Scott card is a raging homophobe and hate-monger. Not the kind that just “has opinions you disagree with,” but the kind that invests money and time and efforts into the fight against your civil rights.
2. DC Comics hired him to write a 10-page Superman story.
3. DC Comics also hired Chris Sprouse, an extremely talented artist, to illustrate the story by OSC.
4. We know nothing about Chris Sprouse’s stance on same-sex marriage or LGBT civil rights.
5. There’s been a very vocal backlash against DC’s decision to let OSC write a Superman story. Petitions, boycotts, lots of negative press. In typical fashion, DC’s PR messaging in response to the crisis has been roughly the equivalent of “STFU, we did nothing wrong.”
6. Chris Sprouse was uncomfortable with all the negative attention in the press. He backed out of the assignment. His statement:
The media surrounding this story reached the point where it took away from the actual work, and that’s something I wasn’t comfortable with. My relationship with DC Comics remains as strong as ever and I look forward to my next project with them.
My first reaction to this was to cheer him on. Mark Waid tweeted about Chris Sprouse being a hero. I retweeted that and said I was thinking of buying a bunch of his books this week to show support.
But then I started thinking about how carefully this little stunt has been orchestrated. The carefully worded statements from Chris Sprouse and DC Comics, the synchronized PR effort, both parties emphasizing that they are on good terms and will continue to work together.
We fully support, understand and respect Chris’s decision to step back from his Adventures of Superman assignment. Chris is a hugely talented artist, and we’re excited to work with him on his next DC Comics project. In the meantime, we will re-solicit the story at a later date when a new artist is hired.
Everybody supports everybody. They all get along just fine. Nobody did anything wrong. Nobody is criticizing anybody. Orson Scott Card’s story hasn’t been trashed, but conveniently it will be absent from the first digital issue or from the first printed collected edition, so everyone can drop their boycotts.
Isn’t DC Comics’ statement that they will re-solicit the story later their way of backing out of an awkward situation without admitting that they fucked up? It would be very easy for this story to just remain in limbo until everyone forgets about it. The PR nightmare magically just goes away and DC doesn’t have to publicly fire OSC or make any statement about their change of heart.
If DC did fire OSC and made it clear that it was because of his work against LGBT civil rights, there would have been a backlash from conservative First Amendment fanatics crying about censorship. The PR nightmare might have intensified instead of going away.
Now the story might never see the light of day, but officially it’s not because DC took a stance against homophobia.
And what about Chris Sprouse? Is he taking a stance about anything? We still don’t know how he feels about same-sex marriage. Which is fine. He doesn’t owe us anything. He’s just an artist who draws really beautiful comics.
But he’s not a hero. He’s just a guy looking out for his career who wants to distance himself from the controversy. Christopher Allen at Trouble with Comics nailed it:
So he’s fine with [DC Comics] hiring Card, just not with people who don’t like Card now not liking him if he works with the guy. It’s a career-based decision. Understandable, especially in a tough comics industry that isn’t growing but continues to have new talent coming in, competing for work. But let’s not call the guy a hero.
I have no beef with him. I personally would feel sick working with someone like Orson Scott Card, but I don’t expect others to care as much about this as I do. We all have to earn a living. Chris Sprouse is looking out for himself. Good for him.
But if he really gave a shit about OSC being a raging homophobe, he wouldn’t have taken the job in the first place.
…and one of the stories is about Dick Grayson and Donna Troy catching up on the good old days when they were Teen Titans while he beats the crap out of a seemingly endless supply of black kids. The whole time they’re cracking jokes and kinda flirting, as if those black kids he’s pounding on weren’t even there.
Super fucking weird.
Elseworlds universe where all the Robins live, but Batman keeps dying.
Queue round-table meetings where Dick, Jason, Tim, Steph, and Damien all try to figure out which well-off 30-40 year old male with a vengeance/savior complex they’re going to let think he’s in charge this week.
All of their vigilante operations are funded from the inherited fortunes of these poor pointy-eared saps.
Really they’ve got enough of a slush fund and a solid enough investment portfolio that they could do away with the whole Batman angle entirely if they wanted to but it’s just so handy to have this grim looming squarejaw who buys into the idea that he’s the main character of the story so thoroughly that all the villains pour the majority of their efforts into tracking down and usurping this dark brooding figure of urban myth leaving the Robins to get down and dirty with the REAL business of Gotham.
Here’s a fine letter to DC Comics objecting to the hiring of hatemonger Orson Scott Card to write some Superman comics.
My name’s Michael Hartney. I’m as big a Superman fan as you’ll ever meet. I have bought Superman comics every Wednesday since I learned to read, which was nearly 30 years ago. Superman was the subject of my blog and my one-man show. My name is tattooed on my arm in Kryptonian, for Zod’s…