Creators vs Characters

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.

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Calling it now, new Authority book in May.

I KNEW IT! As soon as I saw Starlin teasing his new project I had this hunch it was Stormwatch. Last ditch effort from DC to save it.

I am making another prediction based on this solicit.: "Team StormWatch is lost in a dimension shift—so what team will rise and take their place?" New Authority book in May.

I think the solicit means the Shadow Lords (who appear to have gotten a redesign) go looking for replacement team members once their current puppets go missing to be a NEW Stormwatch. a ‘dimension shift’ could equal the current team being lost in the Bleed. How will they get back? oh, I dunno, maybe a ship designed to travel between dimensions? They’ll need to call themselves something else when they get back… I’m calling that now. Stormwatch is getting a whole new cast of characters (hopefully with some old WS characters in there, like Jackson King, Winter etc. though we know for sure Lobo and The Weird are among the new members) and the mystery book to replace one of the two cancelled series (I, Vampire, which I am very sad about, I loved that book, and DCU Presents) is The Authority. ;) My pick for creative team: Brian Azzarello and Yanick Paquette.

This would solve many problems. It gets the Authority characters out from under the control of an outside influence, no more Shadow Lords overseeing characters who by all rights should be calling the shots themselves, it re-introduces the Bleed, the Carrier, and lets the New 52 Stormwatch continue being this cosmic book with a cast of characters better suited to that.

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Another Stormwatch rant...

I really, REALLY should stop reading Stormwatch… but they were some of my FAVORITE characters, it’s hard. This is very long, fair warning.

Saw a preview for the next issue and it just highlighted my problems with the book. There have been some good bits here and there over the course of the series, but this preview just sent me over a tipping point, and highlighted the flaws with the very concept of the book. It just can’t work, I realize now. The concept, the Shadow Lords in particular, guts the characters, as I will outline below. It’s kinda sad it’s taken me FIFTEEN issues to finally realize it, but in my defense, there have been THREE writers in that time, and I kept thinking one of them could turn it around, and wanted to give them all a fair chance. Sadly, the one who came closest, Midnighter trying to kill Jenny aside, was Paul Jenkins, who was only there for 2 issues. The solution is to kill it, and let someone else try again later. I think Apollo and Midnighter can be saved because so little of substance has been done with them. No origin, the barest hints of history (tiny bits and pieces about Apollo’s family, and we know that at some point Midnighter acted as the dark guardian of London. That’s it.), no explanation whatsoever about how their powers work aside from that Midnighter’s still good at punching things, fast strong all that, he's still got some sort of healing factor, thought he battle computer, which was his MAIN THING, is still up in the air, and there was a revelation last issue that Midnighter can’t ‘read’ magical opponents, which is new (though this lack of info on their powers does not stop them from expositing endlessly in completely useless ways) We are pretty much left to assume they’re still cyborgs of some variety like in Wildstorm, but can’t really be sure. After 15 issues they are still mostly blank slates, which is insane. (but good in that they can be done right by someone else. I have hopes for Justin Jordan, I think he could do amazing things with Midnighter in particular) Jack Hawksmoor is borderline, but I think he can be turned around, his powers are messed up but he too is a blank slate, I am actually pretty fine with new-Jenny, but The Engineer… I think she may be damaged beyond repair.

Anyway, this is a post I made on a message board, which I am copying and pasting because I am lazy.

I can’t believe the coloring errors on Apollo got past the editor. He’s got sleeves, then he doesn’t then he has them again, then he doesn’t… I actually hope they’re NOT giving him long sleeves, though. The short sleeves look, though I would prefer it with his old simpler emblem and without the silly glove things, is a change I am ok with, it makes complete sense for his powers. How can he absorb solar energy if he covers every inch of skin aside from his face?

Dialogue is clunky again, contrived ‘spirit of the ship’ talking to Jack to make sure he had anything at all to do, and return of “teleport door” >.<

also, why was it Hal Jordan on the screen? he’s ‘dead’ (though I’m sure he’ll get better), the Green Lantern on Earth right now is Baz.

Atleast Apollo realizes fighting the superheroes is batshit crazy, though Harry seemed to think Apollo meant that the heroes were too powerful, but I hold out hope that he actually meant that it was just insane to attack them with no provocation or evidence that they’ve done anything at all wrong. And while Midnighter doesn’t seem to question the need to attack them, it’s because he’s busy thinking as realizes something is wrong with the ‘Shadow Lord’, though the mumbling (out loud! honestly. If you think someone is trying to trick you, you don’t say it out loud right infront of them unless you’re actually coming out and confronting them) leading up to it is clunky as hell. But if Midnighter is turned on for being the only sane person in the room, that at least saves him from carrying the idiot ball. But it saddens me that the others are being portrayed as so gullible. What we have on our hands here is a full blown Idiot Plot. It’s not as if Harry said anything to convince them this had to be done, just that they were ‘a threat’, but WHY are they a threat? No one is asking this? NO ONE but Apollo is questioning the need to attack Superman, Batman and Green Lantern? not even a little bit? Disagreeing with their methods is one thing, attacking them is another, and for them to just shrug and go along with it just highlights why I dislike the Shadow Lord concept. These characters in Wildstorm answered to no one but themselves for most of their existence, (their entire existence for all but Jack, who was the only one with Stormwatch under Bendix, unless you count Apollo and Midnighter’s very brief stint, which they promptly ran away from) If they followed orders, it was from someone they trusted completely, and got involved with what they were doing, not just vaguely overseeing and commanding. To see them reduced to the puppets of a group of Shadow Lords that we know nothing at all about aside from that they live on Avalon, they’re powerful, and there are 3 of them, we don’t even have names for them, is extremely sad. It has never been explained why they just follow their orders without question, the members don’t even seem to know much at all about the Shadow Lords beyond the fact that they’re in charge for… reasons… they just follow orders, even after the Shadow Lords, even without Harry, have acted in brutal and irrational ways, like killing Adam, and it bugs me.

Angie… gah, poor Angie…. I know it’s been a plot point, but damn… first she’s all like ‘whatever you say!’ to going out and killing Superman, which I have to stress again is insane and should absolutely be questioned, then she attacks The Projectionist as her first method of getting information from her? geez. (I could accept that from Midnighter, but not Angie) I am not sure if she can be saved at this point.

Can’t wait till the Eye blows up. Maybe we’ll finally get away from this stupid Shadow Lord stuff.

(then someone said they were pretty sure they were following the Shadow Lords out of fear)

I could almost go along with that, except none of the characters have expressed reservations to each other about the Shadow Lords or the orders they give. Not once. No, they just give the whole ‘we’re professionals’ speech like they actually buy it. Apollo seemed confident enough that he could hide from Stormwatch and by extension the Shadow Lords (though it was due to Angie, not them), and suggested he and Midnighter run away, again proving he’s one of the only ones there that’s thinking at least a little bit right, but Midnighter CHOSE TO STAY, and even said that he liked it there. And it’s not like Apollo had no reason to think he could hide successfully. Harry and Emma have hid from them for over a year. Another member successfully hid from them for HUNDREDS of years, and when he was finally found out and killed, he wasn’t killed by the Shadow Lords, it was Midnighter, so… I don’t think the Shadow Lords are actually paying that much attention. They may have to go into hiding, but that’s better than being ordered to do things that are insane and wrong.

And even if they are there out of fear, it doesn’t damage their characters any less. In Wildstorm they were complete badasses completely unafraid to kill GOD, they wouldn’t take this shit. What does it say about them that they are willing to kill ALL the superheroes to save their own hides? I know people here most likely prefer the WS characters to the DC ones, and I know the Authority characters have always operated in a gray area morally, but come on. You don’t put a hit on Superman and expect to be seen as anything but a villain.

But if the Shadow Lords are SO powerful, why do they need Stormwatch at all? why don’t they open up a ‘death pit’ underneath Batman and company themselves? Why do they need the Eye’s sensors to track Earth activity? Or their OWN MEMBERS. Engineer said she would report them to the Shadow Lords when Apollo and Midnighter went AWOL, which means the Shadow Lords themselves aren’t monitoring them. The prisoners are guarding the prison. (which means they could just go ‘you know what? this sucks, let’s all just all leave at once’ and the Shadow Lords would be powerless to stop them) Why were they unable to see through Harry’s ruse? If the editors/writers thought this through it means the Shadow Lords are bluffing, and it should be obvious to everyone there. If they didn’t think this through, it’s just plain badly written, full of contradictions and contrivances, and shouldn’t be defended.

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I know how Apollo could beat Superman

And to top it off it's a cakewalk of a victory, and doesn't involve Doors!

So, in a recent interview, artist Will Conrad was rather insistent that Apollo could beat Superman, to which I was like... no. I love Apollo, he's easily one of my very favorite characters, but I know that he drains his power reserves easily, and Superman has a much larger bag of tricks. I figured Apollo would just futilely throw everything he had at Superman, Supes would shrug it off then pummel Apollo once he had drained his charge. I've argued this scenario here in fight threads before. But Conrad seemed so sure that Apollo would win, it seemed like he was privy to some inside knowledge (unsurprising since he's Stormwatch's artist) so I got to thinking. And it hit me. It's so OBVIOUS.

Conrad kept hitting on the point of Superman and the yellow sun, which made me realize Superman and Apollo are both powered by the sun, but there is one crucial difference; Apollo is, as far as we know, indiscriminate about which sun he gets his energy from, red, yellow, blue, whatever. Some may grant a more powerful charge than others, and naturally he lives on a planet with a yellow sun so that's where he gets his charge normally, but none of them will affect him negatively. Superman on the other hand is yellow sun only, hit him with the rays from a RED sun, powers vanish. In Stormwatch so far, Apollo has made mention of adjusting the wavelength of the light he emits, if he adjusts his wavelength to match that of a red sun.... he hits Superman with a red sun beam, and instantly drains Superman's powers.

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I Miss The Bleed

I was reading an article about Multiversity the other day, (which you should check out, it's got some Frank Quitely art and sounds pretty cool) and it ended up reminding me how much I miss the Bleed, Shift Ships, all that, and I sincerely hope that the reason DC has not included the Bleed in the New 52, (despite it already being canon in previous continuity, and including most of the Authority characters) is because they promised Grant Morrison he could introduce it in Multiversity.

Hyperspace is no proper substitute for The Bleed, and the Eye is simply not worthy to take the place of The Carrier. It's like replacing the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helecarrier with a helecopter, maybe a regular aircraft carrier if you're feeling generous. The Bleed had this distinctly Warren Ellis vibe to it. It was based on real science, but the way it was depicted was poetic and evocative; it inspired a sense of wonder and awe that's just not there with Hyperspace as it's being used in Stormwatch right now, where it's a mere backdrop and a means to remain undetected. That sense of wonder, I don't know why, but other writers just seem to not quite get it, but Warren Ellis is great at it, it's one of the reasons I like his stuff so much. Planetary was ALL ABOUT capturing that sense of wonder, and that's part of why it's so cool.

Back to Grant Morrison and Multiversity. I am getting a strong hunch that the Bleed may well feature, for a few reasons. One, the story is all about alternate dimensions, which is all the Bleed was when boiled down to it's core, the stuff between parallel universes, through which Shift Ships such as the Carrier could travel. This makes it a logical place to include the Bleed if DC is planning on ever using it again. Two, in Multiversity communication across dimensions is achieved through the pages of comic books. That may seem strange, (it IS Grant Morrison) but the Bleed is named after the bleed area on a comic book page, so it all fits. Three, in his ill-fated run on the Authority, which lasted a whopping 2 issues, they ended up trapped on our Earth, or at least one one very similar to it. Jack and the Doctor end up in a comic shop...

So. Just like in Multiversity, comic books are acting as a means of communication across the multiverse. They may be reading about their own adventures, but they are in a different universe. Four, Grant Morrison says in that article that he's been working on Multiversity for 6 years. Guess how long ago his Authority run was. Go on, guess. I think his unfinished run on the Authority was the seed of the idea behind Multiversity, basically. It may involve different characters now, maybe even a whole new plot, I really couldn't say, I am not sure how close they stuck to his plot for the Lost Year, so... But I do think the seed of the idea for Multiversity began there, with the Authority getting stuck outside their dimension when the Carrier's power source (a baby universe. see? that's so much cooler than some old Daemonite relic) died.

*edited to add 'cus I finally found the images - And finally, Grant Morrison has used the Bleed in his DC work before, so it's not like the fact that he was writing the Authority was the only reason hew as using it there.

I mean geez, the Carrier is even there! (and yes, if you have the glasses, that page is in 3D)

I have my doubts about seeing the REAL Authority again, since there are new versions of many of the characters in the new DCU, and with no Authority, no Carrier. I'll miss her. But the Bleed is still missing, and I can see no good reason for it's exclusion, especially since they've already had some characters doing some dimension hopping. So I am hoping that the plan all along was to have Morrison introduce the concept in Multiversity.

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Team 7 vs Deathstroke: Which one is correct?

Figured I may as well actually use the blog here... I picked up Team 7 and Deathstroke the other day. I was looking forward to Team 7 because I am a fan of Wildstorm, and also really liked Luther Strode. Not a lot of plot to Team 7, basically just an introduction to the characters, but it was well put together for what it was. I decided to give Deathstroke a whirl this month cus of the potential ties to Team 7, and yeah, predictably, I hated it. but whatever, that's not the complaint here.

I must bitch about something. This isn't directed at any of the creators, it's directed at editorial. We've all heard from various sources that there has been a lot of editorial meddling going on at DC, and have seen evidence of it in a number of books. I was upset on the one hand because it seemed to be dumbing down some books, and restricted freedom, but I tried to tell myself that if they want to make a cohesive universe, it's kind of a necessary evil. You need to have editors to make sure everything matches up with everything else and makes sense, and also be there to tell creators 'no' when they want to give Batman a sex change or something. But as time goes on, I see that's not really what's happening, and with Deathstroke and Team 7, we had 2 books released on the SAME DAY that directly contradicted eachother.

The problem is that the editors of these two books clearly didn't consult eachother beyond the barest details. In Team 7, the team is created just after the Justice League hits the scene, about 5 years ago. Deathstroke is not recruited to the team until then, and before that he's working as a mercenary. (though he did apparently have some connection with Lynch previously) In Deathstroke he goes right from the military to Team 7 and this was before his wife (who he married at a ceremony with the angriest bridemaids in the history of ever, it was hilarious) gave birth to any of their children. Later when his family is attacked, his oldest son is a young teen at the youngest, and that still isn't up to present day. So a whole lot more than 5 years had passed since he first joined Team 7, probably around 25 years. And you can't even argue that this was just the past history with Lynch, because it included one of the new characters, Bronson, by name, as well as Grifter and Black Canary who clearly aren't as old as Deathstroke in the present day, but would have to be the same age to have participated in the story the way it was presented.

So, to recap: in Team 7 his family isn't mentioned, but we can assume that he had his family BEFORE joining Team 7, since his (and Fairchild's, for that matter) daughter is active in the DCU and is all grown up, and his son, too. He also spent time as a mercenary before Team 7, considering they interrupt one of his mercenary jobs in order to recruit him. But in Deathstroke he had his family AFTER Team 7, and did his time as a mercenary after Team 7 as well. They are directly at odds with eachother, yet they came out on the same day. No one in editorial noticed this? What's all this editorial meddling been for, if they can't even keep something like this straight?

*edit - and now I learn that on top of inconsistencies with Team 7, Deathstroke #0 was pretty much ripped off wholesale from Tales of Teen titans #43... unbelievable slip up from DC editorial on this for catching neither the inconsistencies between Deathstroke and Team 7 and the blatant theft on Liefeld's part. As far as I'm concerned they should esxcise the zero issue from any trades and pretend it never happened.

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