I absolutely agree. We need to get back to smaller stories with the occasional event. You know what I miss? Themed summer annuals. Sometimes they were events that were, aside from the bookends of the story, contained in the annuals like Armageddon 2001, Eclipso: The Darkness Within, Bloodlines, etc. Sometimes you had fun themes without bookends like Elseworlds, Pulp Heroes, and Ghosts. When I was a kid, these were so much fun and something to look forward to. They were tie-ins, but they didn’t interrupt the main flow of the books. You could refer to them in the regular series, sure, but the didn’t interfere. I’ll admit, this wouldn’t work in today’s comic climate. Annuals still exist but they’re not a prevalent as they used to be. And we’re so concerned with writing of the trade that the story in an annual would be broken down into three or four issues to sell as a collection later.
Honestly, the only answer I can think of to fix most of these problems is to get a publisher/editor in chief/grand pooba, who can balance telling stories with the money-making events. I’m thinking of people like Mark Waid or someone who can do what Paul Levitz did in his tenure. DiDio is a nice guy and I’m sure people like Jim Lee, but a lot of their ideas were rooted in the nineties and not the good kind, either. I know my era of DC is long gone. I’ll never get that back because you can never go home again, but maybe it’s time for a change.
I felt we were going in the right direction with DC Rebirth. That was a company-wide initiative I could get on board with. It got me to try several new titles and it gave us that amazing Dan Jurgens run on Action Comics. For a while, it was good. But they didn’t stick with it. It’s like they wanted the cache of the jumping on point for readers but went right back to their old tricks. I’ll give you a perfect example, and also the point where I threw my hands up and gave up on newer DC titles:
That Dan Jurgens run on Action Comics was amazing. I loved what he was doing with Clark and the family and I loved what he was doing with Lex. Everything was building up to this grand story…and then they announced Brian Michael Bendis would be taking over the super-books. Jurgens’ final issues seemed like they were racing to the finish line and didn’t represent the ending he had in mind. Then Bendis came out with the Man of Steel mini, which I didn’t love. I gave his books a chance but it seemed like he was less interested in working in the parameters of what came before and more interested in doing whatever he wanted. I will always disagree with his choice to age up Jon. Suddenly the super-books were aimless. I dropped Action Comics. It was disappointing, to say the least.
Writers don’t always have to take on the subplots and storylines the previous writer set up. Hell, if a book is awful, it’s for the best that they start with something new. But in the case of giving Bendis all the super-books and seeing what he came up with…I would’ve been happier with Jurgens continuing his story, to be honest. And I get it, Bendis is a big name and he sells books, but we know he’s not gonna stay on the book for a long time. I knew they were gonna give him more than one title and he was gonna spread himself thin. So you end up with subpar work, but that’s okay because his name is on the cover. This is one of many problems with have with current comics.
We’re living in a different time in comics. I get that. But it all seems so directionless. Sometimes having a company-wide plan or direction isn’t a bad thing. These days they’re throwing whatever to the wall to see what sticks and then milking the hell out of that.