Sunday, December 27, 2009

Why Geoff Isn't Publicly Fuming About BN6 Leak

You see, he can't control it. While he might be a bit mad about it, lashing out over it would make him seem just a bit too much like Superboy-Prime.

Which brings me to something that really bugs me. I'm not a fan of the overly angry fanboy, but the statement he makes about getting mad over something you can't control, even something you love, rings false in this example.

In the end, the angry fanboy is the consumer and a passionate one at that. The consumer will have control over DC Comics product long after Geoff's candle burns out. The amount of pull Johns has gotten at DC Comics owes more to number of fans buying the product than the quality of the work.

I'm a big fan of a lot of his work, but STARS & STRIPE went the way of the do-do, I'd imagine, more due to the lack of fans purchasing it than the skill he demonstrated on the book. There are, also, many times where issues or arcs of his books sold very well even when the finished product didn't read like he put forth his best effort.

It is all well and good if he wants to tell himself that the segment of the customer base that is most disgruntled with his work just has some control issues they need to get a handle on. But when he crafts an entire issue of a comic book around it and has the consumer pay $3.99 to read it, there would seem to be a bit of pride and arrogance on display.

In this day and age where more of the readers are migrating to downloading illegal bittorrents of the books that they feel addicted to reading but aren't so happy with that they feel guilty for stealing it, you might not want to poke some of them with a stick.

With how small the group still buying comics seems to be getting, I wonder whether a H.E.A.T.-level motivated group of readers unhappy with the direction Geoff Johns is taking the DCU would be able to put a big enough dent in the sales numbers of his books by encouraging folks to download and not buy his work? I doubt we'll ever find out, but I am definitely curious.


  1. Personally, I'm a huge fan of the direction Johns has taken Prime. Its the logical extension of the Infinite Crisis portrayal, and if Superboy Prime is "real" universe, then it more than works to say he's a whiny fanboy. I don't think it necessarily follows that Johns believes HE owns the characters or stories of the DCU, but is rather holding a mirror up to the supposed "fan" to demonstrate the ludicrousness of what he's seen online (and CERTAINLY we can agree that fan whining isn't limited to Johns' work).

    Superboy Prime sees himself as the misunderstood hero, but his entitled complaining and threatening/ wish for harm is anything but heroic, and always means that the desire to have things (read: comics) the way they were when he started (read: reading comics) before someone else messed it up... anyway, its an inside joke, but a good one.

    Yeah, its kind of bulletproof, because to complain about the character sort of turns you into the character, but given the level of discourse around superhero comics, I welcome each and every issue with Superboy Prime.

  2. I'm generally a fan of how the character has been used, too, Ryan. Sometimes it's a joke run into the ground, but it's not without merit.

    Until the whole "control" thing was introduced, there wasn't really anything I'd feel moved to share an objection to. But telling the consumer that they have no control on a book they spent $3.99 to read...I disagree with the notion and think it may be pushing it a bit.

  3. Oh, certainly. The "vote with your wallet" is always the final word. But I'm not sure that's what he meant in that case. The operative word is "ownership" in Alex Luthor's statement.

    We are readers and consumers, but any sense of "ownership" leads to the weird fan desire to control what happens. And if we do not buy comics that reinforce our ideas about that comic..?

    Check out the comment section on Supermanhomepage where you have Silver/ bronze Age Fans, Smallville fans, fans who literally cannot understand any Superman but Byrne and Wolfman's reboot all in the same space, all declaring they WILL NOT read Superman comics until they get their version in the comics, at the movies, etc... all claiming to be fans of "Superman", but only "their" version.

    Anyway, I DO in fact agree that when a comic goes a direction we don't like, it's no fun (I just dropped JSA after a multi-year collecting run). But at the end of the day, its DC's comic, its just mine to buy (or not). I can control what I choose to read, but not what the writers and artists choose to do. If DC responds to that, or enough people feel the same, then I guess you'd see some change (and isn't that back to the status quo? that same thing Superboy prime has been seeking? I'm just saying).

  4. If the way you read it is, in fact, the exact way it is meant, then I'd probably have to concede the point and, like a SNL character played by Gilda Radner, say, "never mind."

    When it has been left to just saying the angry fan is close-minded, I had no complaint. But when it is drilled down to control issues, when paying customers, in many ways, have more control than paid employees, it starts to lose me.

    Your comment opens up a whole 'nother area: the "I want MY favorite version back" deal. Sure, there are fans arguing that...but with the return to Silver Age versions with Modern Age writing sensibilities, aren't many creators guilty of the same, just their success setting them apart? Don't get me wrong: I like a lot of what is being done. But then I'd probably like the same quality of work being done on ANY version of the existing characters.

    Oh, I've gone off on a tangent, haven't I? Plainly said, the customers do, in the end, control what the writers and artists do. Just ask Chuck Austen. ;)

  5. As someone who read Austen's Action run with disbelief, I hear you. I hear X-fans took quite a while to recover.

    I'm not sure how to get my head around the "fans' favorite versions" versus "this is what editorial has decided". It certainly does seem that editorial is trying to get back to a Bronze or Silver Age version of the DCU, but in a lot of ways, that seems like a business decision. Not only does it simplify the licensing issue (and that's where DC makes its money), but I imagine after the first issue or so, the novelty of seeing Green Arrow's nephew's cousin's roommate take on the mantle of Green Arrow sheds more readers than it generates. Flash may be the only example where this isn't necessarily true.

    So while I understand folks getting upset that, say, the current Supergirl is Kryptonian and not the 90's mystical Supergirl, I think the non-Kryptonian version was a deterrent to a segment of potential readership, and it wasn't a concept you could put on a t-shirt or coffee mug.


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