DC Comics hates me, and an open letter to its writers

io9 is reporting that DC is mucking around with Superman again next year. This may well be the final nail in the coffin for Superman on my reading list. Why? Let me count the ways:

  • To the best of my knowledge, I don’t find absolutely any of DC’s space-based characters interesting. Even the GL Corps makes me want to drive spikes through my brain, and that’s the most tolerable. Rann, Thanagar, New Gods, Mongul, Superboy Prime — none of them are interesting.

  • I also can’t stand Jimmy Olsen, Cat Grant, the Newsboy Legion, and most of the other supporting cast.

  • I’m not even going to go into the lameness of the villains lately. Toyman? Really? Really?

  • Superman has interested me less and less over the last few years. There just doesn’t seem to be any continuity or overarching storylines. I hate to be a curmudgeon, but I miss the old days of the S-shield-numbered continuity.

  • Don’t even get me started on the gigantic lame-fest that is Final Crisis.

The thing about Superman is that he’s Pinocchio: he’s obviously different but he’s got a good heart and really just wants to be human. Hmm, does that in any way jibe with him leaving Earth?

But enough about me, let’s quote from the original interview with Dan DiDio:

I think thatís going to get people excited and scratching their heads and wondering whatís going on.

… for about 5 minutes. But here’s the thing: it’s Superman. Comics readers aren’t dumb enough to think that the writers are going to do absolutely anything earth-shattering to Superman any time soon. Kill him off? We know you’ll bring him back. Turn him blue? We know he’ll end up back in the old tights eventually. So it’s a gimmick, and it certainly isn’t for the benefit of the readers.

Instead, how about you write something that keeps us interested? Take the book down to less than a half-dozen people, and tell stories about no one but them for a year. No villain-of-the-month. No dumb gimmicks. Write something that you won’t be ashamed of in 5 years, let alone 5 months.

Here’s another quote, this one about the same level of crap that they are pulling with the Bat-books:

We have a writer-artist team on this right now thatís scouring every book possible to see what they can include in these […] because itís a big noisy adventure book.

Sweet baby Jesus, why? Maybe it’s just me, but I find that beyond a half-dozen people, the number of characters is inversely proportional to the quality of the writing. The Superman titles, as they are currently, are a great example of this. Birds of Prey was so good because it never focused on more than a half-dozen characters at a time. Yes, I think you should definitely throw that out the window. Sure. Turn the Bat-books into the Superman books. Yay.

/sigh

Look. I know Superman is hard to write for. He is, potentially, effectively, all-powerful. But he wants to be a regular guy. How do you wrap your head around that, let alone a story? Batman is much easier to write for, because you’re coming at it from the opposite direction—a regular guy who does everything he can to be more than that.

Superman had so much potential during the One Year Later event during 52 and Countdown. Pinocchio had gotten his wish and become a real boy — Superman didn’t have his powers. Remember that Superman is backwards from other super-heroes: Superman’s alter-ego is Clark Kent, not the other way around. Now, what can you do with that? Do you throw it away by turning him into a guy that didn’t really care and treated it like one big vacation? That’s the most interesting thing you could think of to do with it? Really?

Here’s the pitch:

I’d love to see an entire 12-issue series titled Clark Kent. No super-heroes or super-villains should be featured in the foreground, nor even in the back-story. (Yeah, you can have the obligatory cameo by both hero and villain in the background, but no dialogue.) What does Superman do when he can’t be Superman? Stop and explore some of the reasons why he can’t—and go beyond the whole someone will figure me out line of thought. How does he use the Clark Kent identity? How far is he willing to take it? Is Clark Kent a real, fleshed-out person, or is he just a thin facade?

His powers should have absolutely nothing to do with the story. Why? Because then the story wouldn’t be about Clark Kent, it would be about Superman, wouldn’t it? And no cheating—no gimmicks, no throw-away continuity or characters, no reboots. Just good storytelling.

Do that. Plan it, write it, and sell it. Then come back to Superman. I guarantee that you’ll find a deeper, more three-dimensional character in front of you.

Published by

Rick Osborne

I am a web geek who has been doing this sort of thing entirely too long. I rant, I muse, I whine. That is, I am not at all atypical for my breed.