I read comic books a lot. Not strictly superhero stuff, though I can’t count myself among the most savvy in the world on what else is out there beyond the Big Two Publishers, DC Comics and Marvel. But some news has come up in the past couple weeks that might be relevant to some of the other circles I frequent.
First of all, DC Comics has been shit for a very long while. With the exception of a few consistently good titles, it’s been in near-total upheaval for at least the past five years, at least from my perspective. Meanwhile, Marvel has been riding high, (short version of the link: for the May 2008 sales report by the monopoly distributor for 99 percent of North American funnybooks, DC had only 3 titles in the top 10, and only 5 in the top 20, and with one exception, all the other titles have been from Marvel.)
Why so stark? Hardcore fans have often aimed at the highest editorial positions, which for DC is Executive Editor Dan DiDio, and for Marvel is Editor in Chief Joe Quesada. Quesada, as I’ll probably get around to writing more in depth about some other time, is a master of community relations who has weathered some pretty significant storms, most recently “One More Day,” a storyline in which Spider-Man alter ego Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson was wiped from existence.
DC’s “universe” has had its own ongoing upheavals, starting with the acclaimed series “Infinite Crisis” and “52″ series, followed by the much less acclaimed “Countdown” series and culminating in the just-begun “Final Crisis.” Short version of all this: the DC Universe gets blowed up real good, lots of heroes have died or will die, and you’ll need a slide rule just to figure out who’s who and what’s what.
Problem is, and this is going to ring hollow with anyone who isn’t a fan of the Marvel or DC lines, is that the real appeal of these books, besides the story and artwork within individual issues, is that with each individual book, you get a little piece of a vast, ongoing story that’s been (largely) consistent over the past 40 years or so. Characters change and so do their stories, heroes are imperiled and villains seize the day, and some fans can be reasonably expected to stay interested so long as the stories are good, and they aren’t suddenly told that some past stories have been wiped from relevance, or don’t matter anymore. “It was all a dream” really annoys people.
Barring that, the only remaining cardinal sin is inconsistency. Ongoing plot points might carry through more than a few books scheduled to be published and released at the same time. It’s the job of editors to make sure everything’s consistent, that characterizations are steady from book to book and what happens in one book is steady to the next.
In short, that’s not happening in DC Comics. At all. Greg Hatcher posted a lengthy rant about this last week, laying the blame at the feet of DC’s editorial staff, for which DiDio is ultimately responsible, and there’s been plenty where that came from since, mainly because there was a big comic book convention this weekend where this sort of stuff is supposed to come out.
But the part that really might be relevant to MMO fans is this news, that DC’s head of business development resigned.
Yeah, didn’t grab me either, until I read the fine print, where among his credited business developments is/was “the upcoming DC MMO.”
Oh yeah, the DC MMO, supposedly being worked on by Sony Online Entertainment’s Austin studio for the past three years or so. The one where there hasn’t been so much as a screenshot released or any regular information about progress released to anyone in more than a year. And, oh yeah, Marvel’s counterpart MMO project got canceled without much hoopla about five months ago.
At least with comic book universes, no one has to pay the Internet connection fee to keep the servers online. And I wish I could have been a bit more consistent with the quality of this post, but the snappy endings don’t always come easy for me anymore.