I'm thinking of dropping my DC books.
I've started this opening paragraph a couple of times now, in an attempt to slow-build to this nagging thought I've had since writer Gail Simone's firing from Batgirl. I think David Brothers planted the seed , initially (he doesn't buy books from Marvel or DC), but boy has DC Comics really watered that seed, by giving off the stink of a negative, ruthless editorial office, churning through creatives as they're shoveled into a fiery furnace called "market share." There's a growing list of creators they've stepped on, pissed off, or pulled from books for no apparent reason, and all of it has happened in a very compressed time period. I could wag my finger when it was just Alan Moore they were crapping on, but now I feel like I should do something.
Did Karen Berger do something by stepping away from Vertigo? I wish I knew. But I'm faced with the only thing I can do, which is vote with my dollar. I'd be dropping Batman, Batman and Robin, Dial H, Swamp Thing, Animal Man, and New Guardians on a monthly basis (books that I really do enjoy), and leaving behind some I check in on infrequently, like Detective and Justice League Dark. It's not even a drop in a bucket to DC's bottom line - it's a molecule. What it would do is free up some cash for me to try some new stuff (Image is looking mighty good these days), and make me feel like I was taking some kind of a stand. But does that stand matter?
Marvel and DC are both owned by monster-sized corporations, and there's been some talk recently about how the comics themselves are seen as less of a revenue stream and more of a licensing research and development program. Single issues may not be making millions, but the toys, games, and movies that are based on those issues are making billions. That's just the way things are, and that's fine in a way because as long as the suits understand the potential value in comic book properties, then comic books, as a physical thing, get to stick around for a while longer.
But there are different vibes coming from the Big Two. DC's New52 has been a revolving door of creatives, with only a core group of titles maintaining any kind of sales stability or creative synergy. The properties come first and they keep mixing and matching people on books in the hopes of stopping the bleeding from a market that just can't support 52 monthly best-sellers from one single company. There are low rumblings of employee paranoia and constant editorial meddling, and it creates a sense of distrust between the brand and the consumer.
Marvel NOW's relaunch was built around shake-ups too, but in a way that put the creatives over the characters. The gimmick was largely "you've never seen this person do this book in this way before" and it's paying off. The company has been energized by the new books, and each one pushes its creative team and core concept over whatever character happens to have their name on the cover. Marvel's made mistakes in the past with creators, but, right now, they're placing value on creators as if they're borrowing philosophy from Vidal Sassoon - "If you don't look good, we don't look good."
Sometimes there's not a single bad guy; sometimes the wrong mix of otherwise good guys can end up just being bad alchemy. Maybe no one is really leading, leaving upstart editors to blame. Maybe everyone is out of their element under the new president, Diane Nelson (whose background, and this is telling, is in brand management, not comics). Maybe everyone is feeling pressure from Warners to make everything they touch into potential box office gold. I really have no idea, but something's up.
I'm not a partisan fan. I love DC characters and there are runs on their books that I consider all-time favorites. I want to continue to love DC, but I can't watch anything I love go out of control, hurting others, behaving recklessly. It hurts. DC Comics and I might need to take some time off from each other - not a total break-up, but a trial separation.
Am I being reactionary or short-sighted? Is it stupid to give up books that I enjoy from a company that's going through turmoil? What's your take?