Thursday, June 2, 2011

J. Michael Straczynski confirms he never gave a shit about Superman or Wonder Woman

On Facebook, in response to the announcement that DC is rebooting it's entire line of comics in September:

When Dan DiDio comes out to the West Coast, we tend to get a bite for dinner to discuss projects, ideas, books and just hang. Dan is a great guy and an energetic speaker, chockful of ideas and aspirations for DC. As part of that, he shared repeatedly on and off for really more than a year his dream of rebooting the DCU and starting over.

So I felt confident that it was coming soon (which is one reason why I felt there wouldn't be a problem in the long run leaving the monthly books, since most of the things done in Superman and Wonder Woman would be erased by the reboot anyway, so ultimately it didn't matter whether I stayed or left. I just couldn't say anything at the time because I wanted to respect Dan's privacy and his desire to do what he thought was right when he thought it was right to do it.
(Sorry, he left that parenthesis open, not me.)

What I take from this is that he's confirming what most people already suspected when he announced he was quitting both books mid-story: that he never really gave a shit about them in the first place. This explains both why they weren't very good to begin with and why he could unceremoniously give up before even reaching their conclusions.

I think it's actually pretty shocking that he admits it so openly. Many people suspected it, but writers usually at least pretend that they care about the stories they write. I don't know he can expet to be taken seriously by fans again after this big "fuck you" to everyone who bought the books.

I always feel that when a fan starts picking up a book, especially at the beginning of a run by a new creative team, it's like signing an unwritten contract with the writer: "I agree to actually pay money for this book with the understanding that everyone involved is trying their best to tell a good story." The contract doesn't guarantee that I as a reader will like it, but it should guarantee that the writer will at least give it their best shot.

When a writer admits that none of it mattered, that he couldn't be bothered to finish what he started because he knew it would all be erased in less than a year, it violates that implicit arrangement. It's cynical. I know that the comic book companies are in the business of selling comics and their job is to do everything they can to boost sales, not to be honest with the fans. But that's the publishers. I expect more from writers. I expect them to at least believe in the stories they are telling. Even if it "doesn't matter" (come on, none of it ever really matters) they're still getting paid to tell a good story.

JMS knew the reboot was coming. Fans didn't. The books were promoted as bold new directions for the two characters. Nobody said: "Here, give us your money in exchange for this half-assed story we're going to erase from continuity as soon as it ends."

This is the kind of thing that really makes it hard to be enthusiastic about anything DC announces. It took less than a year for them to give up on the bold new direction in a Superman and Wonder Woman and start planning something else that would make it all irrelevant. What guarantee is there that the same won't be true for this new reboot? If six months into this line-wide relaunch, everyone involved starts looking forward to the next big thing and stops caring about the stories they're telling, it's going to suck. And the fans will get burned. Again.


ShadZ June 2, 2011 at 11:15 AM  

To be fair, nothing in that quote says that JMS knew about the upcoming reboot when he started writing Superman & Wonder Woman. He is just saying he knew about the reboot by the time he quit writing them...

Yan Basque June 2, 2011 at 11:59 AM  

He says DiDio "shared his dream" for more than a year, so it sounds like it goes back almost to the very beginning of his run. If not when he started, then it must have been very soon after.

And even if I'm wrong about that (i.e., if I'm misinterpreting), it's still disconcerting to me that he stopped caring after a few issues and left the books with the attitude that none of it mattered anyway.

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