Posted by RayeGunn (87 posts) - - Show Bio

Ever since the news about Jim Starlin taking over Stormwatch broke, I've been noticing again something in the comments from people about the book. Stormwatch has a very broken fan base, some people loved Cornell and/or Milligan's issues and want the whole Shadow Lord thing to continue, others thought it was awful. Which is not unusual, different strokes and all that. The thing I've been noticing, though, is that while there are a few exceptions, the fans of the series so far tend to be people who were not very familiar with the characters going in, and people who dislike it are fans of the characters from before, and were disappointed with how the characters were handled.

Basically, the fans of the early DC Stormwatch are upset that those issues are pretty much being thrown out, while fans of the original characters are happy that they're being thrown out. (maybe something similar with Green Arrow? though that's just ignoring the earlier issues, it's not as drastic as Stormwatch shunting the characters off to another dimension and replacing them with their alts) Here's the thing, though. DC (or Marvel, in a similar situation) should be giving priority to the fans of the CHARACTERS, not fans of the writers. What they seem to be doing here is trying to win back fans of the characters who had dropped the book by addressing many of the complaints they've had, and that's what they SHOULD be doing. It's just that many of the things that needed fixing required a rather drastic change, and they needed to attract attention to let people know that things were changing, and the early issues were sacrificed to that end.

Well, I should clarify that it would be a bit different if the New Stormwatch was selling exceptionally well under the new direction, the people would have spoken and I would have to suck it up and deal with it. But it's not. It's selling 15,437 issues as of Decemberand is still dropping about a thousand readers a month. 15k is right around when DC starts axing books, so it's on it's last legs anyway, it either this last ditch effort to save it, or cancel it.

I mean, I get it. I have some favorite writers who I will follow around and read anything they write, and I think this is a great way to read the books, and it can lead you to discovering characters/books that you like which you never thought you'd give a look. In fact, I probably follow writers more than I do characters, and I don't intend to change that. And yeah, it would suck to have one of their stories just completely disregarded, I get it. But having fans follow writers is a bad thing in the long run for the publishers. Writers are temporary, characters are permanent. The creative team will ALWAYS move on, so it is in the publisher's best interests to cater to the fans of the characters, since those fans will stick around through different creative teams. But only if the characters aren't badly damaged in the process. Yes, I realize that great characters come from great stories, and a good writer can elevate characters to new levels. But that writer will STILL LEAVE eventually, what they leave behind if they did a good job is a character that fans care enough about to follow now that the writer who made them awesome is gone.

So yeah, I am a fan of Apollo, Midnighter, the Engineer, and Jack Hawksmoor who HATED how they were handled in the issues up until now, (I'm ok with new Jenny) I hated their costumes, I hated the changes to their origins, their powers, their personalities. There was almost nothing left of the characters I loved from Wildstorm, and I didn't like what we got instead. I am THRILLED that DC is taking steps towards fixing them, I just wish they'd done it sooner. If you liked the new versions, I'm sorry, but the WS versions have 10 years on them, years which were much better received, and that should take priority. If you liked Cornell and/or Milligan's issues but were not familiar with the characters from before, just go read whatever they are doing next, you'll probably like it just as much, and let me have my favorite characters back. They and their fans were there first.

#1 Posted by Sharkbite (291 posts) - - Show Bio

I wasn't following Stormwatch, so I can't weigh in for that one directly, but I do disagree heavily with the idea of giving in to the fans of the characters over the fans of the writers. Actually, I mostly just disagree with giving in to the fans.

The writers have this wealth of creative talent. The fans, for the most part, seem to become upset with change. Nevermind the fact that Peter Parker will be back, for example, fans of the character are still in an uproar right now. The fans cannot see the big picture the way the writers can after being storyboarded and continuity meshed with the other titles for the next year.

DC knows who their good writers are and they know who their mediocre writers are. They know who sells books and who flounders. When they throw one of their top writers at a book, it's because they have big plans for the book and they want it to do well. When they throw a midland writer at the book, it's because they want the book to keep going, they will afford the writer some creative license, but they do not expect it to be a top seller.

Looking back to the past, some of the worst cases of character assassination are now regarded as some of the best stories. Raven turned evil and demonic and joined her father Trigon in trying to destroy the Teen Titans. People who loved the character suddenly had her swap over into a villain, and not even really her own villain, more of a henchman for a bigger baddie. But twenty years later, the Trigon arcs from the Wolfman/Perez era are regarded as some of the best Titans stories ever written.

Jean Grey's fall to Dark Phoenix and ultimately her death, this took the innocent, sweet Jean that readers had loved since Uncanny #1 and turned her into a destroyer of worlds. Ten years later, it was among the most highly regarded X-Men stories of all time.

Readers might be angry right now today about something that has happened to a character they like, but the fact that the book can elicit such emotion from them says that the book (not necessarily that issue, but the book as a whole) has been well written. But bad things need to happen too in order for the story to move forward.

Fans of the characters would spare them their trials. Fans of the writers will watch the characters grow from them.

I side with the writers. Especially Christos Gage these days.

#2 Posted by RayeGunn (87 posts) - - Show Bio

I get that, and I would prefer that we have good writers AND keeping the characters in good order, and a good, popular writer will be able to tell stronger stories that have more impact because readers trust them, they will be given more leeway with fans, yeah. And characters are flexible and can bounce back from a lot, I know that, but the publishers should still be careful. If a story like that is handled well, it can be great, but it is very easy for it to be handled poorly and it will just drive away fans. If the publishers have a writer on the book that they are sure has the chops to pull it off, go nuts, but if not they should be cautious, or they may be shooting themselves in the foot. Like with the recent Spider-Man stuff. Slott has built up a certain level of trust that ensures, while some fans are complaining, many are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and see where he's going with it. And we can be fairly sure everything will be put back to normal in the end, I don't think Marvel would have approved the story if Parker wasn't going to go back to being Spider-Man. But when it comes down to it, from the publisher's perspective, it's smart to focus on the character in the long run, because the writers WILL leave and take their fans with them if the character wasn't the draw. If Slott left without putting Parker back in his body, or if Geoff Johns left Green Lantern without bringing back Hal, sales would plummet, because the characters people liked are just gone, AND the writer that was keeping people there is also gone. With Spider-Man especially, I am not really interested in seeing someone else finish that story, and that's not a character I'm interested in. I think Baz is an ok character, and with some more development fro Johns he could be a solid character in his own right, but he will never have the same draw as Hal, and killing Hal permanently will cost readers.

But to my Stormwatch example... the changes weren't the result of a great story, if they were i might feel a bit differently. I am always willing to wait and see where a plot goes, these same characters have gone through some big stories where they went through changes or shocking events etc. and I was fine with it. But the story has been very poor overall, and the changes to the characters were not relevant to the plot at all, except for Engineer (who was kinda brainwashed). It was change for change's sake which added nothing to the story and only served to piss off fans, and I am pretty sure that's why the sales have fallen so fast. They launched it and people saw these characters which were far and away Wildstorm's MOST POPULAR characters being brought to the DCU, that's exciting, I was excited to see it happen! then... crushing disappointment if you were a fan from before. I could have lived with the costume changes, I could have lived with changes to their origins, or even powers if it was written well. It wasn't. The story was poor and they were the same characters in name only. So it sold based on Cornell's name for a while, then he left after 6 issues, then Paul Jenkins was there for two whole issues, (which were decent) he left, then Peter Milligan came aboard and he was mediocre... all the while fans fell away because there was no consistency in the story, and the characters were so poorly developed that readers unfamiliar with them didn't know anything about them, and old fans couldn't recognize them. But if the characters had more closely resembled how they were in Wildstorm, I think they could have at least kept it from bleeding readers while they sorted out their writer issues, because there would have been SOMETHING that was consistent and a solid draw. so in this case, I am all for wiping out the previous issues if it means I get the characters back in a form I can at least recognize. Once they're back, Starlin can do what he likes with them, just as long as the starting point is something I can recognize. (and looks like it is)