Thursday, November 05, 2015

In which I unapologetically say, "I Told You So."

Well, well, well...

Cullen Bunn is leaving Aquaman. Because fans--fans like me!--have disliked his work, apparently from day one.

As you may recall, I called this early.  I stated strongly that "DCYou' had clearly ruined Aquaman...the ONE thing that the TheNew52 actually fixed.

Aquaman Editor Brian Cunningham and Writer Cullen Bunn then were both dismissive of my criticisms and derisive of me on Twitter.

Well, as rude as this may be...

Guess who's laughing now?

Actually, I meant me.
But I'm sure Aquaman's not exactly broken up about it.

I really shouldn't be, though.  I should be crying. After all,  Brian Cunningham still gets to edit comics, and Cullen Bunn still gets to write them.  I, however, don't get to read them. Not good ones, any way.

Since "DCYou", I am basically reading no DC comics (other than Martian Manhunter, the cancelled Sensation Comics, the cancelled Batman66 series, and the WW77 series); this is why I haven't been blogging here, because it's hard to blog about comics when you're not reading any.

I can only hope this is the beginning of some turnaround for DC.  In a move that couldn't possibly say any more clearly, "okay, we made a mistake", DC is putting Geoff Johns back on Aquaman and picking up the "Seven Seas" storyline that was promised but abandoned.  And that's when I'll start buying Aquaman again.  

And thank YOU, DC, for listening to fans.

DC; don't be afraid to admit that you've taken a wrong turn.  Don't stay committed to Bold New Directions that readers (new and old) don't support.  Stop constantly reinventing your characters and just start growing them; that's the key to please fans, old and new.  


Dalle Robberts said...

The Bard put it best: We are all figures of fun, but he who laughs last, laughs best!

Joshua Roots said...

Praise Posieson! This is the best news I've heard out of DC in a while. And while I have no doubt Mr Bunn will do well elsewhere, his run with Aquaman was doomed from the start, if for no other reason than it was the one title that didn't need fixing. But give credit where credit is due, he did proved Aurthur with the power that he's lacked/needed for some time. Teleporting between bodies of water is a stroke of genius.

That said, I welcome Johns and Company back to the character that they so masterfully handled and cannot wait for them to fulfill the amazing lore they were building. Thank Triton that Aquaman will once again become my "can't wait for" title.

Anonymous said...

I read that Cullen Bunn felt bullied by people on Twitter, which I can see, because Twitter. At the same time, Bunn has also said that he really had no interest in Aquaman, which means of course his writing was going to be poor ... and when people called him on it, he knew they were right. It's one thing to be passionate about what you're doing; when critics come along you can tolerate them because you figure they'll come around when they see what you're up to. But when you're writing crap and you know it, the criticism stings twice as much.

Bunn's only interest seems to be writing morally questionable characters who talk to themselves all the time because they think it makes them deep (Sinestro, Lobo, Magneto, etc). Totally not the right sort of writer for Aquaman.

Steve said...

Is Johns's Seven Seas going to be in Aquaman or Justice League? His boss wants him on only one title and DC doesn't have any other writer that can keep JL afloat. Look at how JLU tanked twice. My theory on Hitch's book is we have a quiet group of collectors who are into constipated characters and rubble. You're probably going to get anyone except Johns on Aquaman and there's no way they'll use ony previous set up because DC can't have a new writer deal with what was happening in their book before they arrive. It's what drove me off Catwoman, Green Arrow, and Supergirl. They should take notes from books like Marvel's Nova. It had three writers during volume one and all three used the same set up b
while telling stories true to their strengths...

Scipio said...

Hm, good point, Steve. Well, if Geoff's writes that story in "Aquaman", then they can call me and I'll write "Aquaman" proper.

For free, I might add. Which just might qualify me for 501(c)(3) status.

Scipio said...

"morally questionable characters who talk to themselves all the time because they think it makes them deep"

I think you misspelled 'because Bunn thinks"

John said...

Anonymous, I have to admit that I find it hard to take some people seriously when they claim to feel bullied. Too often, it's someone with authority doing something obnoxious and getting called out on it, not to mention people who think that the proper response to this "bullying" is to bully back.

That said, it's good to hear the "DCYou" is actually at least somewhat responsive to the "You" part. Given the consistency in their alleged move to diversity (especially in comparison to the overhauls going on at Marvel that actually almost have me interested enough in buying some books), it was starting to look like just "DC-whatever-Didio-wants."

And that said, I think that TV has pretty much fully replaced comics for me. Supergirl is almost worth dealing with the price and clunky programming (and holy crap, do they need to show every single ad!?) of CBS All-Access, and the parts of Arrow and Flash that aren't just fixing other shows (pretending Constantine was good or setting up Legends of Tomorrow) are still pretty good.

SallyP said...

It would indeed be nice to be able to read DC books again. I've even dropped Green Lantern!

But yes, Aquaman has stunk up the room quite a bit lately, and I am glad...GLAD, that Changes Will Be Made.

Anonymous said...

"I think you misspelled 'because Bunn thinks'"

Sc-dogg - Indeed a typo. And I would personally pay you to write "Aquaman", but I might not be able to pay you in much other than gratitude.

John - It's hard to know when it stops being "criticism" and starts being "bullying", and maybe sometimes it's both. I think of situations like Chris Sims vs. Valerie D'Orazio, where legitimate criticism morphed into bullying, and the focus became less criticizing the work and more looking for opportunities to criticize ... it's hard to put a finger on unless you've been on the receiving end, but you feel like posting at all is going to be received as an invitation to pounce on you. (Yeah, I"ve been there a little too.) What I'm getting at is, social media can be rough on a person for whatever reason, and I can understand if Bunn or whoever doesn't deal with it well.

Sally - Hal is being written as well as I've seen him since ... ye gods, this may be his best handling yet. Yeah he looks stupid as Gambit, but he's doing what he does best, which is going it alone and stopping bad guys according to his sense of right and wrong. Dude was meant to be a Texas ranger in the 1800s.

Dalle Robberts said...

Cullen Bunn felt bullied by people on Twitter

Well, boo and a subsequent hoo. If he's naïve enough to think everyone is going to like his writing, and delusional enough to think anyone who doesn't is "bullying" him, he shouldn't be on social media.

Anonymous said...

"Well, boo and a subsequent hoo. If he's naïve enough to think everyone is going to like his writing, and delusional enough to think anyone who doesn't is "bullying" him, he shouldn't be on social media."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what every Internet a-hole says to justify their behavior. Don't bother to backpedal and say "whoa I'm not saying that there's no such thing as bullying", because at least in Bunn's case, you kind of just did.

Scipio said...

'Bullying', on or off the internet, is not the issue here.

In our hyper communicative society, DC now has more immediate ways of getting feedback from its customers on their products. Back in the Silver Age, their were no 'on-line previews'. They slapped a comic on the stands and hoped the cover sold it (which is why covers in that era were designed to be engaging).

The feedback on Cunningham/Cullen's work on Aquaman was swift and clear: the wrong people were on the book, and DC has acted accordingly.

The REAL issue is the fact that, while Geoff Johns' approach to classic characters isn't as easy as he makes it look, it is quite simple. It follows certain principles that ANY writer could follow that would allow for artistic individuality while sticking within the natural framework of the character. WHY can't DC find anyone other than Johns' who can do it? When did every comic book writer in the DCU become Bob Haney...?!

Anonymous said...

True, much of what Bunn / Cunningham was legitimate criticism over a legitimately poor comic. I'm just not about to say that there wasn't some bullying in there too.

In my opinion, any writer of any character should be able to answer the question: "What are three things we wasnt to see in a good comic about ________?" Then make a point of showing those three things in every comic. In the case of Superman, my three would be genuine compassion for each and every person no matter who they are, he inspires people to be their best selves, and he uses his powers creatively. (Even dopey old Silver Age comics knew to do that with Superman.)

I suspect Bunn's answers with Aquaman were: more power, more intrigue, more action.

Joshua Roots said...

Anonymous makes a good point that sometimes it's hard to determine the line between fan vehemence and straight-up bullying. Maybe he truly felt the latter or maybe he's overstating his feelings because there's been such an outcry. No doubt most of the execs at DC were surprised by reader response. Bunn and his team made some drastic choices, many of which I have no doubt were encouraged and promoted from Higher, and most of which fell flat with fans.

I don't envy people who make a living off of selling art, especially in comics. You want to leave your legacy with a character, yet your artistic interpretation must also please fans and sell well. Neither of that happened here because Bunn and Co were placed in a tough spot from the start. A rejuvenated hero with some outstanding mythological foundations to dig into was to be scrapped in favor of the DC-driven need for "bold new directions" across the board.

That said, what bothers me about all of this is that he and his team seem to blame everyone else for his departure. His editor told him to keep with the changes, the readers judged his work by a preview and didn't give his Aquaman time to mature, the fans were too "old school" to accept any change, no matter how visionary it was.

That last defense is something that I truly find odd. Of all the New52 titles, Aquaman garnered a great deal of fandom thanks to new readers. I, myself, being among them. No previous Bold New Direction ever registered on my radar until The Bunn Run. Even the Harpoon-Handed Arthur was simply a rag I'd browse, but never buy. But with the New52, Aquaman went to the top of my subscription list and for 4 years, it was the title I anticipated every month. 4 years isn't enough time for a reader like me to become "too old school" to accept change. If anything, I was just beginning to fall in love with the character and excited to see what the writers had in store for us next. Just so happened that I and my fellow Aquafans didn't enjoy where The Bunn Run took us.

I truly believe he has a good eye for storytelling.

It just didn't work with Aquaman.

Bryan L said...

"That said, what bothers me about all of this is that he and his team seem to blame everyone else for his departure."

And there you have it. The fact is, he told stories no one wanted to read, and then assigned blame to the people who didn't want to read it. Nope. Nobody gets to tell me what I like. I reserve that privilege for myself.

At this point, I just hope Johns rights the ship quickly, by whatever means necessary. Have Arthur wake up from a dream and don't waste another panel in this ... unfortunate interlude.

Moving to another subject, Scipio, I think the best DC currently available is on television. God knows it's not perfect, but it's better than most of the comics.

Dalle Robberts said...
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Dalle Robberts said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scipio said...

"Have Arthur wake up from a dream and don't waste another panel in this ... unfortunate interlude. "

Johns is not nothing if not efficient. It would only take him a page or so to completely wrap up whatever he's left with and move on.

Cameron Vale said...

I'm sure that Bunn got pulled due to a sales slump or something. At the very least, I don't believe anyone sees Twitter as a fount of writing wisdom, and the bandwagon effect can make it a questionable source for even the most general of feedback.

John said...

Anonymous, my point on "bullying" is that the loudest complaints always seem to be from people with authority and (to be blunt) privilege. There is bullying, but "punching up" (as they say) and criticizing someone who gets paid to have the final word isn't it. On the other hand, using one's significant platform to call out critics as being foolish and reactionary for not embracing his work is bullying. After all, the claim that people should just toughen up is pretty much exactly what he said.

Can fans be jerks? Sure. But fighting back makes things worse, and in this case, the criticisms weren't from jerks, making it far worse.

Scipio, I object! Bob Haney's work was almost always fun. Often incoherent and nonsensical, but never boring. By contrast, the "gritty de-imagining" has yet to be fun. (Except, ironically, when Haney did it. Have you ever read his Plastic Man appearances in the Brave and the Bold? Interesting take on the character.)

Bryan, speaking of DC's TV offerings, iZombie. I wasn't aware the it was (DC) comic-based and that it was good, but I just started watching it on Netflix and it's got a lot of the same humor as the other shows, but less action. My only big objection is that it does that tacky 1990s thing where scenes are sometimes edited to look like comic pages to make sure it's clear that the show is based on a comic.

Steve Mitchell said...

"Yeah he looks stupid as Gambit."

Gambit looks stupid as Gambit. One of Marvel's lamest characters ever, mutant or otherwise.

Meanwhile, back in DC's "NewYou," I've crept up to four regular purchases, with Suicide Squad, Martian Manhunter, Justice League United, and Superman: Lois and Clark. JLU will be going away soon, though, and I'm still not very happy with Martian Manhunter, so I think that the buying list will shrink down to two by the start of the new year.

I'm skeptical about getting back into Aquaman--Johns will probably do a good job on the title, but I doubt DC will leave him on the book for more than one or two story-arcs.

Scipio said...

"on the title"

Well, as a previous commenter commented, he might NOT be taking over the reigns of Aquaman proper. The "Seven Seas' storyline is clearly going to be pretty global, so it would make a great JLA arc.

This would leave Aquaman for ME to write. Not so much because I would be any good at it, but just because I'm one of the few people left who HASN'T written Aquaman.

Steve Mitchell said...

Here's an idea for your first story arc, Scipio.

In the first issue, throw away everything we've ever known about Aquaman and establish that he is really a secret bio-weapon created by the evil subsea Lemurians as part of their sinister plan to conquer Atlantis or the surface world.

Then, then in the second issue, flat-out KILL Aquaman.

Then, in the third and subsequent issues, have the spirit of Aquaman somehow transmigrate into four or five worthy successors, possibly including an updated version of Topo (now trash-talking and transgender).

Another triumph of Canon over Continuity in the NewYou!

Anonymous said...

That Martian Manhunter new canon is easy to reconcile with old continuity, so that's where I hope they're going: some White Martians and Malefaak (I am not even going to guess at where the apostrophes go) caught MM unawares and tried to brainwash him, MM was able to keep them from getting all of him, now he's regrouping -- literally -- and will beat them. And, once he's fully back together, he'll be the warm and sympathetic character from pre-Flashpoint, rather than the jerk he's been nu52.

Moonrock1973 said...

You could always blog about comics that you have read, instead of ones that you are reading!

Redforce said...

Why the hell AREN'T you writing Aquaman, or any other DC comic? You know at least as much as they do about their characters, and you seem to care about them a lot more. I think you'd make an excellent comic writer

Anonymous said...

Rebirth, anyone??

Dan Preece said...

Aquaman has never needed 'fixed.' He was DC's only major hero whose personal life actually evolved over the years. He got married (rare) and had a child (rarer still) who was eventually killed by an arch-villain (unique). Ahead of the curve by decades, Aquaman comics were actually a long evolving personal drama.

To me, it's just stupid beyond comprehension to throw that out in an era when every series would kill to have that kind of a storyline.

And DC did it AGAIN by killing off the real Barry Allen who died in Crisis to give us a Flash with no background and no personal drama worth discussing.

I am hoping against all odds that this upcoming "Rebirth" will undo the New52 and put these two characters back where they belong---established, interesting characters with rich backstories.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, crying out loud, he's not DEAD again, is he?" -- Steve Dallas

Steve Mitchell said...

Quoting some recent DC happy-speak: "The whole point of 'Rebirth,' for all of us, is to get back to the essence of the characters."

And yet, basically the same thing was said when the New 52 launched, and again when the NewYou launched. How hard is it to figure out what works with their own long-established characters?

I am astonished that DC is giving us a third major reboot/rebrand in less than 5 years. And I have no confidence at all that it will be an improvement on the last two.