Posted September 20, 2013 by Tony Tuason in Comics

Is DC Comics falling apart? — The DC New 52 Timeline of Departures, Firings, and Bridge-Burnings

There is no denying DC Comics has seen changes in the past decade, and most of it reeked of editorial and other complains by their staff especially the artists. Sure DC alongside of it’s new trio- Didio, Lee and Johns really do try to bring out the best stories. But with all the clamor from fans over changes in their favorite books or characters, including the recent tryout with Harley Quinn. Are they just overreacting? Is the quality of DC Comics readers slowly diminishing? Or is there really something wrong with the company? This re-post from GuttersAndPanels lists down a timeline of “departures, firings and ‘bridge-burnings'”.

What do you guys think? What seems to be the problem and does DC really need those company-wide changes? And where do you guys think DC comics will be headed in the next five years?

9/2009 DC Entertainment is formed. Diane Nelson is named President of the newly labeled company, which includes DC Comics, but also all DC-related multi-media ventures and licensing. Nelson’s background is not in comics but in brand management. The timing of DC’s restructuring is of note, as it comes just a couple of weeks after Disney’s $4 billion buyout of Marvel.

2/18/2010 – Dan DiDio and Jim Lee are promoted, sharing the title Co-Publisher. DiDio was DC Executive Editor (basically Editor-In-Chief, since the position didn’t exist during DiDio’s tenure) and Lee was Editorial Director of his own WildStorm imprint, which moved from Image to DC Comics in 1998. Writer Geoff Johns was promoted to Chief Creative Officer, a position created to allow someone from within DC the opportunity to oversee and exercise some measure of creative control over DC products like films, television, and video games.

9/21/2010 – DC splits their offices between New York City and Burbank, CA.  Lee is a West Coaster anyway, and this allows the company to have more direct physical contact with Warner Brothers’ TV and film.

9/27/2010 – Bob Harras is named DC Comics’ Editor-In-Chief.  Harras held the EIC position at Marvel Comics from 1995-2000.

12/16/2010 – Nick Spencer is the first notable casualty in DC’s new “fired before the first issue hits” practice, when he’s announced as the new writer for Supergirl, then replaced on his very first issue by “co-writer” James Peaty.

8/31/2011 – The New 52 launches with 52 new monthly titles starting with all-new #1 issues, wiping the slate (mostly) clean and hoping to entice new readers with easy reading entry points.

9/16/2011 – Writer John Rozum quits Static Shockdue to disagreements with editor Harvey Richards and artist Scott McDaniel. The series is eventually canceled after just eight issues.

9/19/2011 – J.T. Krul is replaced on Green Arrow the same month as its first issue is released.

9/30/2011 – Writer-artist George Perez announces his departure from the flagship Superman book the same month its first issue is released. Perez completes his first arc, but is the first to dish on behind-the-scenes problems, “Unfortunately when you are writing major characters, you sometimes have to make a lot of compromises, and I was made certain promises, and unfortunately, not through any fault of Dan DiDio, he was no longer the last word, I mean a lot of people were now making decisions; they were constantly going against each other, contradicting, again in mid-story.”

10/12/2011 – Editorial conflicts and strong differences of opinion with co-writer and artist Ethan Van Sciver cause writer Gail Simone to step away from Fury of Firestorm.

11/14/2011 – Ron Marz leaves Voodoo after his script to issue #5 is tossed out by editors. The series is canceled after ten issues.

1/19/2012 – DC Entertainment shows off their new logo. This fan wonders why the new logo didn’t debut with the New 52 re-branding.


Cover to Before Watchmen: Comedian, art by Jim Lee. DC Comics.

2/1/2012 – DC officially announces Before Watchmendirectly against the wishes of series creator Alan Moore. Rights to the Watchmenproperty were to revert to Moore and co-creator David Gibbons a certain number of years after the series was out of print, but DC has kept the book in print since its release (and for good reason – it’s a perennial best-seller). Though Moore swore off DC in the late 1980s, some creative entanglements with DC continued, with work on V for Vendetta and titles under the WildStorm line. With Before Watchman, Moore fans realize any chance of reconciliation is permanently off the table.

4/20/2012 – Vertigo writer Chris Roberson (iZombie,Fairest) leaves DC and publicly burns bridges with the company. “Sorry. In a better world, characters like the Legion would be owned by a more ethical company, but sadly not in this one. The short version is, I don’t agree with the way they treat other creators and their general business practices.”

8/23/2012 – Rob Liefeld leaves all of his DC duties – writing and drawing Deathstroke and writing Grifterand Savage Hawkman.  He cites major conflicts with editor Brian Smith, and says of his time at DC, “Reasons are the same as everyone’s that you hear. I lasted a few months longer than I thought possible. Massive indecision, last minute and I mean LAST minute changes that alter everything. Editor pissing contests… No thanks. Last week my editor said, ‘Early on we had a lot of indie talent that weren’t used to re-writes and changes. [That] made it hard.’ Uh, no, it’s you.”

12/3/2012 – Long-time editor Karen Berger steps down from Vertigo, DC’s “mature readers” publishing imprint.

12/9/2012 – Writer Gail Simone is unceremoniously dumped from Batgirl, a book with solid sales and a strong fanbase, with no apparent explanation, through an email from editorial.


Cover to Batgirl #1, art by Adam Hughes. DC Comics.

12/21/2012 – Gail Simone is re-hired on Batgirl after massive fan outcry.

1/14/2013 – Robert Venditti, the announced writer of the all-new Constantine book, is replaced by Ray Fawkes before his first issue hits the stands.

1/14/2013 – Jim Zubkavich, hired to write Birds of Prey, is removed from the book and replaced by Christy Marx before his first issue hits the stands.  Nick Spencer, who had a similar experience onSupergirl in 2010, finally speaks out, “Seeing lots of ‘that’s how it is in this business,’ stuff in regards to the day’s news. It really isn’t, and it certainly shouldn’t be. To be a little more direct: the way DC treats a lot of their freelancers is absolutely abhorrent. When it happened to me on Supergirl, I didn’t say much, because I didn’t want to dwell on the negative. But when you see it happen to so many good people, and the damage it does to their careers, their incomes, etc…It’s just not okay. I don’t understand the need for it, and I wish it were otherwise. I love DC, love the characters, and I know I did some of my best work there. And I’m very happy for my friends who have been successful there. But I would tell any creator – especially newer, younger ones – to be extremely careful in doing business there.”

1/16/2013 – Superman Family Adventures duo Art Baltazar and Franco discover that their book has been canceled when that month’s Previews catalog lists the latest solicitation as the book’s final issue.

1/25/2013 – Keith Giffen leaves Legion of Superheroes after just two issues. The pairing of artist Giffen with writer Paul Levitz was to be a re-united “dream team” for Legion fans, since both creators brought the book to critical and sales heights in the 1980s.


Cover to Insurgent #1. DeSanto & Farmer/DC Comics.

3/13/2013 – Insurgent , a creator-owned 6-issue sci-fi mini-series (from screenwriter Todd Farmer and F.J. DeSanto), is axed after three issues (especially stinging considering the series was shelved for nearly three years due to the DC purchase of Wildstorm). Sales were low, but cancellation of a mini-series is almost unheard of, as publishers will typically ride out the low sales knowing that they have no obligation to continue the arc past its already-established finite number. Some explanation for the first issue’s low sales might be blamed on the fact that the title appeared under the “DC Kids” section of the Previews retailer order form despite being made for adults.

3/20/2013 – Josh Fialkov quits both Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns before his first issues hit the stands. Rumors swirl that editorial wanted to kill off the Green Lantern John Stewart, but if it was ever planned (DC denies it), the company has decided against it…for now.

3/20/2013 – Andy Diggle, who was to take over the reigns on Action Comics after Grant Morrison’s departure, leaves the book before his first issue hits the stands, citing “professional differences.” DC announces Tony S. Daniel as his replacement, but…

3/22/2013 – Tony S. Daniel leaves Action Comics the same week he gets the new writing assignment.

3/26/2013 – Bleeding Cool notices that writer Mike Johnson, already scheduled to leave Supergirl, bows out much earlier than expected, with his name still on the cover of a book he was supposed to write and didn’t.

3/29/2013 – Bruce Timm, Supervising Producer of WB Animation and the man behind every DC animated project since Batman: The Animated Series debuted in 1992, steps down, disinterested in the increasingly popular direct comic-to-film adaptations that the company produces. In this fan’s eyes, Timm’s contribution as a “welcome wagon” to the entire DC Universe can not be overstated. He kept DC characters on TV for 20 years in lively, well-made shows and is responsible for a whole generation of DC fans.

4/9/2013 – DC replaces Mico Suayan as artist on Red Hood and the Outlaws after the gruesome cover to #19 leaks to Bleeding Cool.  Unchanged credits on the book reveal that the decision may have been a last minute one.

5/17/2013 – Long-time DC writer James Robinson leaves Earth 2 and DC Comics. The move comes as a surprise as Robinson’s enthusiasm for the book and long-term plans for the Earth 2 version of Batman had been heavily publicized. “I’m no longer working at DC Comics,” Robinson tweeted.

8/1/2013 – DC heads Dan Didio and Jim Lee address the editorial troubles. “I think it’s actually been a little bit less in the last decade than it’s ever been,” Didio said, which dodges the question of just what the heck is going on over there right now. Jim Lee is more direct, but throws creatives under the bus a little for not being able to properly collaborate, “To me it’s the normal course of business in that not everyone’s going to agree creatively what to do with a book. The company has to reserve the right to control the destiny and the futures of the characters, and the creators have to decide if they’re willing to work in an environment where they’re telling their story but in the framework of a universe that has continuity and you have to work with all of these other different creators and editors that would want to control the directions of the characters.” This doesn’t explain how these same creatives are able to collaborate as work-for-hire elsewhere.


Lobo redesign by Kenneth Rocafort

8/9/2013 – Justice League 3000 was to be a “dream team” book reuniting writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with artist Kevin Maguire.  Somewhere along the way, DC got cold feet with the lighter direction of the book (before the first issue had hit the stands, of course, because why wait for the fans’ reactions) and fired Maguire, replacing him with Howard Porter. “I’m still a bit perplexed as to how it got to this point,” said Maguire, reflecting the feelings of many fans who wondered why DC would even hire the beloved Justice League Internationalveterans in the first place if they didn’t want a book that was anything like Justice League International.

8/23/13 – DC launches a third version of the New 52 Lobo, the only character in the New 52 to experience three reintroductions since the company rebranding just two short years ago (first by Rob Liefeld who was told to drop Lobo’s biker look, then a more traditional take by Jim Starlin, and now an all-new take on the character, who retroactively replaces those versions, designed by Kenneth Rocafort). Regardless of fan outcry over Lobo’s slimmed-down, younger look, the third Lobo reboot stands as an example of conflicting editorial direction with no guiding vision over the New 52 universe.

9/5/2013 – Citing last-minute editorial meddling on approved storylines (and not because of an anti-gay marriage stance from DC Comics, as some spreading the news would have you believe), J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman stepped down from their duties on Batwoman. Williams stated on his site, “All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end. We’ve always understood that, as much as we love the character, Batwomanultimately belongs to DC. However, the eleventh-hour nature of these changes left us frustrated and angry – because they prevent us from telling the best stories we can. So, after a lot of soul-searching, we’ve decided to leave the book after Issue 26.”

Tony Tuason

Tony is just your average guy who loves comics, toys, games, movies, and all those geek goodness.