Robot 6

Dwayne McDuffie fired from Justice League

  • Posted on May 28, 2009 - 06:36 PM by JK Parkin

Justice League of America #33

Justice League of America #33

Writer Dwayne McDuffie revealed today on his message board that he’s been fired from Justice League of America, saying “it was my own doing.”

His dismissal came after “Lying in the Gutters” columnist Rich Johnston “ran a compilation of two years or so of my answers to fans’ questions on the DC Comics discussion boards,” McDuffie posted, referencing this May 4th column. “I’m told my removal had nothing to with either the quality of my work or the level of sales, rather with my revelation of behind-the-scenes creative discussions.”

If you look through the column, you’ll see several statements that show McDuffie’s frustrations with working on the title, from comments on how the Anansi storyline was “about my not having control of the stories in my book” to remarks about how DC’s big guns — from Superman and Batman to Green Arrow and Captain Marvel — weren’t available for his use.

“I’m doing ‘Cap’s Kooky Quartet’,” McDuffie wrote. “Of course, in this case Captain America isn’t available, either.”

McDuffie did share some “what might have been” thoughts on JLA:

I have to say I’m a bit disappointed, because next summer was planned to feature a JLA-driven crossover, where my book’s story line would have been the driving force. I’m distressed by where I left Black Canary, as my intention was to use the current subplot to strengthen her character and relationships with the new membership, and instead I’m leaving her at the bottom of a hole I’d intended to rebuild her from. I was also just about to get a regular artist for the first time since I’ve been on the book, which would have been nice. That said, I’m sure DC’s going to put together a creative team that will generate major excitement around JLA, which is as it should be.

He also said he has a pretty full plate, as he’s editing Cartoon Network’s Ben 10: Alien Force and the upcoming Ben 10: Evolutions series. He’s also working on a new project called Milestone Forever for DC, just finished a video game script, and is writing a direct-to-DVD animated feature for Warner Animation.

As for Justice League, it looks like Issue 33, which came out today, is his last. Len Wein is writing the next few issues, and was doing so initially to give McDuffie a break while he worked on his various TV projects.


98 Comments

That’s too bad. You have to appreciate his honesty- but I guess Didio does not. The thing is Dan can be mad but it sounds as though Dwayne is speaking the truth about the crap he had to go through on the title. still no one likes to look bad in the press so it comes as no shock. It is nice to see that he is not done at DC.

On one hand I can understand the reasoning behind letting him go, on the other hand.. Booo! At any rate that’s one less DC title I’ll be spending money on.

Well, on the one hand I think it’s a little unfair that he was fired for just that, since anyone with half a brain and paying attention could figure there was quite a level of editorial interference and also McDuffie was quite civil in his revealing details; there was never a sense of bitterness but just that these are the facts.

On the other hand, regardless of how interferred his book was, JLA under McDuffie was a sinking ship, and I’m glad this vapid run now has a definite end. In Didio’s 20 questiosn coumns, it does sound like there are going to be some cool shake-ups in the JLA, and hopefully this time everyone involved learns from past mistakes.

When Johnston brought up mcduffie’s quotes, it didn’t seem as though he was long for JLA. still, looking forward to Milestone Forever series

Quite frankly, after all the hoops that McDuffie was made to jump through on JLA (and detailed to such a degree), you’d think someone in editorial would want to look like the good guy — not the ones to give McDuffie a final smack in the face.

JLA’s been handled badly in terms of editorial ever since its relaunch, and I feel bad for both McDuffie and the book’s readers.

I thin McDuffie indirectly did himself and successors a favor by revealing the details. He himself won’t have to jump through all those hoops, at least not to the degree he did on JLA.

And they’re gonna want to get a big-name replacement on the book, and what big name would want to work under those circumstances? Sure, there might be another Brad Meltzer who’s already an established name outside of comics and would do the book mostly out of love, but eventually there’ll be a point where they’ll figure if it’s worth the hassle then go back to their main gig with its bigger paycheck. So by knowing what we all do now regarding JLA’s editorial, any big-name writers courted for the book have a potential bargaining chip.

Mysterious Stranger

May 28, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Dan Didio in his Q&A over at Newsarama addressed this as well, but in a more “diplomatic” way. He stated that after Len’s run we’ll hear about who’s next but didn’t say anything about Dwayne. So who knows what’s going to happen with JLA.

As for Dwayne getting the boot, I can totally understand why it happened. It’s one thing to talk to co-workers about how sucky your job is and it’s quite another to brag about it in public. I have to say I was quite surprised that he had been so vocal and so honest about what what happening WHILE still on the book. It’s just bad form. But it just shows how passionate he was about the book and how much he wanted to do it well. I can understand the need to vent, I just disagree with how he did it.

Good to know that at least for now he’s still in good standing with DC.

He was treated as I would expect any employee at a company that gave behind-the-scenes info to customers would be treated. If I were to tell customers about discussions on why they are getting what they are getting, instead of letting a sales rep do it, I too would be fired. I know people like to assume that they have a “right” to know what is going on, but we as customers don’t. We’re not shareholders.

This sounds like his F4 run all over again*. He isn’t allowed to write the real team so he does the best he can with what little he’s given. I’m sure whatever hack replaces him will have no problem getting editorial approval to use a resurrected Martian Manhunter or Superman or whoever.

*At least I’m assuming it is based on the reaction. DC’s refusal to put out affordable collections means that I may never actually be able to read McDuffie’s JLA run.

Please people, stop with the whole “gee, maybe something great will happen!” Johns is taking it over, with his usual cotton candy hollow plans.

And some people actually like Geoff Johns, plus he can actually run stuff past editorial.

How stupid. I was reading his postings on the V (lurking there was a major guilty pleasure which I’ve weaned myself off of) and I had the feeling he really didn’t want the job. I hope they give it to Joe Casey.

With the JL and JLU animated series, McDuffie was partially responsible for the best Justice League stories [in any medium] since Morrison’s run on JLA.

It is a crying shame that Didio and the editor on Justice League of America did not protect McDuffie’s turf and give him “room” to write, but instead used his run on the title as a doormat to crap as “Tagent: Superman’s Reign” and “JLA: Salvation Run”.

Well though I loved McDuffie’s work on JL and JLU his work on JLA was in my opinion bland. All the Tangent Universe stuff, I could really care less. It wasn’t stuff I cared to read about, a bland universe and other bland stories that followed.

I am glad that Dwayne did reveal what it can be like to be a writer of a major comic book. High on the rungs of the ladder, but not quite in the Morrison/Johns leagues. Being jerked around by editorial mandates, having to tie into events all that crap. Not having any sense of freedom to write a story.

What a great country we live. Here we have young men and women fighting and dying for our so called freedoms around the world and here at home an artist/writer can’t even talk freely about his frustrations or creative process without being fired.

Well, guess what. I will never buy a Justice League comic that isn’t written by McDuffie. He was the only reason I read it and I loved his work.

Rich Johnston and his gossip helped get this guy fired, anyone else see this? I never liked that Rich Johnston column, glad it’s gone.

That said, I read Marvel’s Beyond by McDuffie recently, and man was that horrible. He was a terrible writer.

McDuffie has done good work before and I’m sure he’ll do good work in the future, but not one issue of his JLA was good–whatever the reasons.

Triceratops: Rich Johnston’s column at CBR may be gone, but he’s got a new, Avatar Press-funded gossip blog at http://www.bleedingcool.com that’ll increase his output significantly. “Imagine LITG four times a day, seven days a week,” he says.

And to be fair, it’s not entirely Rich’s fault. Dwayne admits as much by saying “it’s my own doing”, due to what he’s posted in his publicly-accessible message board over the past two years. Rich is just the messenger. If it weren’t him, sooner or later someone else would put a spotlight on those posts and we’d have the same outcome.

It’s the nature of the industry now. What happened to writers and artists who stay on a book for more than six months or a year? I mean, at least Johns has JSA, so it’s not like he’s a “name” who can’t stay on a book, but it bugs me that there’s no real consistency.

I stopped expecting logical decisions from Dan Didio a long time ago.

Working as a professional entertainer, be it a writer, actor, producer, whatever—McDuffie has been in this industry a long time and should know better than to shoot his mouth off like that. As an editor, it’s a tough decision to make to take someone off a book, but when it’s a choice between someone who’ll write an okay story and be a little too transparent for his own good, and someone who’ll do just as good a job and not let details slip, you’re going to go with the closed mouth.

That’s shocking.

It’s gotta be a hard line to walk, talking enough about your book and the process that you get fans psyched, yet not crossing editorial while you do it. I’m sure DC encourages their writers to interact with their fans. Just, evidently, not quite that much.

I have to agree with “Larry King” and “Aaron Poehler”… not one issue of his run on JLA was interesting to me. He didn’t have to post on the boards about his frustration about the job because it all showed in his work. It was bland at best.

If you have lemons, make lemonde. I don’t think you need Bats, Supes, GA etc to make JL work….I mean, one of the greatest JL runs EVER didnt involve any of ‘em for the most part, making stars out of Gardner, John, Ted, Booster, Lord etc….

He’s a professional, a veteran of this buisness with a made set of franchises, to mouth off like that is indeed disrespectful. He’s lucky to still have a full plate.

What good is a JLA without their most famous characters?
They should either put the book out of ‘continuity’ so writers can use the characters they want or cancel it.

I found it quite interesting and refreshing that someone in the industry could be so candid about the working conditions, editorial mandates, etc.

But I can certainly understand the reasons for letting him go. Whether they were right or wrong are debatable. In the society we live in it’s taken as a norm. Complain about your working conditions publicly and you get canned.

I have to say though that this development might be a blessing to Dwayne. It was quite evident the frustration and stress he was going under, putting out work that wasn’t really his. Just might be the chance for him to spread his wings again.

Well, nuts and noshes.
Sad for McD — though publicizing his angst rather than taking it to the front office made this result virtually inevitable.
That said, I’ve been >deeply< disappointed with the meandering over the past several months in JLA.
The Black Canary element McD mentions has intrigued, and he seems justly proud of it, but the rest has been at best a mixed bag, not the least with the Milestone characters intruding: they’re a fourth-string lot, however careful a touch he brought to them.
JLA is a Big Book with Big Characters requiring not Big Events per se, but Big Themes and Big Motions cannily seeded with minor tensions that reveal further Big Motions.
In that respect, McD was not delivering, and I am hopeful that someone with a vision for arcs — Big and Building — will come to the helm.
Len Wein should throw some Big Fun at us, which will be a nice change from lately.

Anthony Cheng

May 29, 2009 at 12:53 am

I’d hardly call it “mouthing off.” If you actually read his posts, they were not inflammatory or whining. He was just being honest about the process. Unfortunately, corporate culture does NOT reward honesty.

Additionally, I read the entire compilation of McDuffie’s comments on another website a few days before Johnston published them. So he either ripped the compilation off from that other site or was coincidently compiling them at the same time and wasn’t actually the person to break that news.

I wasn’t going to comment on this but after reading his comments most of the things that SEEMED to bother him were pretty standard industry fair.

I’ve had LOTS of creators tell me similar stories…but you DON’T post them to the internet!

DC’s take on this seems to be that he didn’t want to be on the book and frankly I can’t blame them!

It was already going into a planned break for him so why not just make the change now.

GOOD RIDDANCE!

First, it was because of sales. That’s the motivation behind anything.

Two, McDuffie’s first few issues were great. Why? Because it felt like they were building with something, which it sadly turned out, they weren’t.

Three, his stories did suck with way too unnatural character moments that felt grabbed right from the message boards (which if Snakes on a Plane taught us anything, mean nothing)

Fourth, his comments were resoundingly negative. He tried to negate that with a ‘oh well, that’s how it goes’-bit at the end, but I couldn’t help to hear nothing but Eeyore’s voice as he spoke. People can argue about all the editorial stuff that he had going on, but after Meltzer he had nowhere to go but up. He was able to tangle long form arcs and side stories with his highly successful Justice League TV show, so to think he had no pull at DC or was so inept at weaving his tie-ins into his own stories just doesn’t cut it.
If Len Wein is taking over the reins I’ll definitely be checking it out. Really enjoyed his Final Crisis Secret Files story and heard good things about the recent JLA issue he did.

If you’re going to bitch about your job, and your job happens to be writing Justice League of America, the comicbook community is the last group of people who want to hear it. Best of Luck, see ya.

After being widely praised as one of the writers involved in some of the best JLA stories ever with the animated series (JL, JLU), how could McDuffie not say SOMETHING to defend his brand? Obviously, he knew those JLA issues he worked on were less than his best.

I agree It is in bad form to criticize your work situation publicly like that, but what was his alternative? He goes on to another book and everyone who disliked his JLA stuff and had no idea of the circumstances behind it don’t read it?

Perhaps Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns can survive a bad run and still get a lot of comics work, but those laws don’t apply to every pro.

Christian Otholm

May 29, 2009 at 3:34 am

It’s a creative market and as such I think it’s perfectly reasonable to complain, when editorial and high-ups are hindering or diluting your work. I don’t blame them for firing him either, but the fact that he had to go public with it, might be more an indictment against DC than McDuffie.

And as someone else put forth, albeit in another context: we’re fans, not shareholders, so we should complain when the creative team suffers.

Working on JLA sounds like a horrible chore, and to be honest, it usually shows. No matter who is writing it. Hell, even Morrison’s work suffered because of it.

I do think it’s fairly hypocritical of Didio to fire someone over negative comments regarding the nature of work that’s being done, when Didio himself spent a considerable amount of time bashing and whining about Morrison’s work on Final Crisis.

The thing is, McDuffie’s comments were never filled with rancor. He just gave the facts of what happened behind the scenes and often said that he didn’t blame anyone because that’s the sort of environment comics are like these days. There was in what I read, no hostility or bitterness– although obviously some disappointment and frustration.

He didn’t say “My employer sucks”. He said “My employer had me rewrite what Roy said about Hawkgirl because they decided to resurrect her after all”. And that’s why I’m so angry, because he was simply being honest about working at his job.

Justice League of America has been nothing but boring and insipid during McDuffie’s run, regardless of the reasons. It’s been a major disappointment every month. I don’t care what else he’s done, he was Not Good on this book. Meltzer was. Here’s hoping for better days ahead.

McDuffie’s run was absolutely terrible, and he knew it. He wasn’t allowed to play with the big guns, and instead of standing up for himself and demanding what he needed to write the book the way he wanted to write it, he just bitched and moaned. He turned every story into a thinly veiled complaint analagous to how he was getting mistreated over at DC.

So good riddance. He wasted everyone’s time and money on his terrible run. It started off just fine, but each issue got noticeably worse and more whiny. McDuffie was completely unprofessional. Don’t let the door hit him on the way out.

And as for Rich Johnston, he answered the questions that I had already been asking. It seemed obvious that McDuffie was using JLA to air out his dirty laundry and opinion on DC editorial and in effect screwing over his once loyal readers. And Johnston simply confirmed this fact. So I appreciate that he connected the dots and put that information out there. I’m sure there were some people who hadn’t figured out why McDuffie’s writing had become so whiny and insulting and atrocious over the last year or so. And Johnston let those people who couldn’t figure it out on their own put it together. So good for him.

McDuffie, I wish you well, but you have to learn how to act and work like a grown-up. You have a responsibility to your readers and fans. And you let all of us down. Do a walk of shame, get yourself into a better place, maybe do an OGN, and we’ll look forward to your work after you have a serious ‘effin attitude adjustment.

What made JLU work was that stories could be told with whatever characters fit the story. It did not matter if they were second- or third-tier characters. In fact, they made some of the stories even more memorable. JLU was not about the group politics and editorial edicts saying you could only use these seven characters and had to write stories making them interesting. That is what killed McDuffie’s run and his enthusiasm on the book. Look at so many books out there today starring ‘lesser known’ characters that start off with fantastic storylines. Then, after that run, the next storyline is not as exciting. Finally, by the time you get three or four arcs in, the book is on a steady course for cancellation, as the realization hits that the ‘lesser known’ characters really only have one or two great stories in them. Or, if they turn out to be a true hit, then editorial steps in and pushes the creators to make the book more ‘mainstream’, which usually ends up killing what made the character or book unique to begin with.

I’m not sure I understand your point. If Dwayne was able to make great stories out of second or third tier characters on the tv show, it surely didn’t show in his JLA comic work (which is filled with nothing but B & C & even D list characters, who’s D you ask? Dr. Light)

Matthew Stockfarleysolomonburger

May 29, 2009 at 5:02 am

Okayy…so the guy played big part in Justice League Unlimited. No is safe apparently. I guess this justifies Marvel to do the same thing to Stan Lee then?

Eric L. Sofer, the Silver Age Fogey

May 29, 2009 at 5:05 am

On one hand, I cannot stand Dan Didio’s work. I read his comments and see what he does, and I think that yet another pimply teenaged fanboy got his heart’s desire. He can now yell, “I’m in charge of DC Comics! I’m in charge of Superman! I can make them whatever I want with Batman!”

Perhaps with that in mind… if someone were writing a title that was so controlled editorially that they weren’t really writing it (see the Superman books of the 90s, with stories crossing over between four titles and writers FORCED to follow those storylines), and they wanted a way out but without quitting… might it be a good plan to “accidentally” violate the guidelines of an employee? KNOWING that it would result in his being taken off the book he criticized, but not necessarily dropped (and subject to hiring by their biggest rival?)

Mr. McDuffie may indeed be the author of his own machinations… but he may not be as dumb as some would think.

I remain,
Sincerely,
Eric L. Sofer
The Silver Age Fogey
x<]:o){

One good thing about McDuffie’s run was that he broke up the Speedy/Hawkgirl relationship. I’m still trying to figure what Meltzer was trying to do with that situation. It seemed extremely forced.

While a fan of McDuffie’s for many years, his JLA never grabbed me and actually compelled me to stop buying the title for about the first time in 20+ years…never seemed the fit I’d hoped it would be, but as his comments suggest it was probably the result of editorial mandates and had nothing to do with the man’s own significant writing abilities…On to something better, Dwayne…hopefully with fewer creative limitations…

Godspeed,
DM

@obii:
“What good is a JLA without their most famous characters?”

It’s the JLA.

I could say it’s the JLI, but go and check out the Showcase Presents: JLA volumes. You’ll find that Batman and Superman weren’t in many of those stories, because editorial had them doing their own thing in their own titles. Even in the vaunted satellite years, the focus on any continuing storyline was on the second-tier heroes, like Green Arrow and Black Canary; that whole relationship was developed in JLA.

It really isn’t until Morrison’s “Big Seven” that the “Big Seven” come together with any regularity; even then, Morrison had to deal with editorial mandates like Electric Superman and other stuff.

So, with the possible exception of Giffen’s League, editorial directives have always been a part of the creation of JLA stories. McDuffie, as much as I appreciate him as a writer (and especially considering his veteran status in the industry) had to know that.

And, like I said over in the Comics Should be Good thread (I think it was there), his behavior in this instance, speaking publicly about dissatisfaction in a job, is a fireable offense in just about any industry. Frankly, I’m kind of surprised they let him keep any of his assignments, but I’m guessing they were signed under different contracts.

Didio has basically ruined DC. I stopped reading entirely a few years back and won’t return until he’s long gone. DC’s finally gotten their very own Jim Shooter. I hope he doesn’t completely wreck the company like Shooter almost did over at Marvel back in the day.

I find it very odd that these comments had been posted for all the world to see, in some cases for years now, yet it took being compiled and re-posted to a comics rumor site before DC even noticed.

yes good luck to McDuffie but am glad it’s over.
Looking forward to Robinson’s mini which perhaps will be the gateway into a new series (as he started out JSA). The JLA needs some new blood and a creator/editorial that will stick with an idea for a few years like they did with Morrison and the Avengers had with Busiek and of course the JSA with Goyer/Johns.
And a regular artist too. Frankly I don’t care if it’s the big guns or not.

Even with all of the editorial impositions, I still enjoyed McDuffie’s run, and I didn’t see anything in his comments that would warrant firing him off the title. DC comes off really bad here — they hamstring the guy so his first year on the book is spent tying into other titles and stories, screw around with his cast of characters once the dust settles, and then fire him when he discusses the situation with fans. I think the fact that the twenty or so issues weren’t a massive train wreck is a testament to McDuffie’s writing. I’d have liked to have seen what he could’ve done without the restrictions.

DC is a real mess right now and it’s really cheesing me off.

Have a good day.
John Cage

Honestly i am a big Dwayne McDuffie both his TV work and his Comics, but i had to drop this book after issue 30 and don’t plan to pick it up at all no matter who writes it. I understand why the people at DC had a problem with Dwayne posting some back stage stuff but he was always a gentleman about every thing and never threw any one under the bus. Right now i’ve droped every DC book from my list and JLA was the one i never thought I’d give up on, but Dan’s Reign at DC has made it hard to stick around. Hopefully Dan can get work some other place, maybe he can write some episodes of the Avengers cartoon and that can lead to a Mighty Avengers run.

They’re still publishing JLA? Wow. What an irrelevant comic…

I think complaining about “editorial interference” (or whatever) is a good way to get a freelance assignment terminated.

Dwayne tried his best but you can’t make liver out of chicken droppings.

And Benes. Meh!

“They’re still publishing JLA? Wow. What an irrelevant comic…”

Not as irrelevant as, say, Superman/Batman!

I understand that McDuffie was handed a ton of crap, but if he can’t make the story work, then he isn’t the writer we all think he is. Ive been really disapointed with JLA these last few months. Meltzer did a fantastic job getting thsi run going. Its too bad McDuffie had to truly kill the title. ill be glad when Wein’s issue comes out.

The thing about Brad Meltzer is that he really was able to use anyone he wanted to and tell the stories he wanted to with very little interference from DC editorial. Meltzer was also an award winning author who second love was the JLA. If you look at the dynamic, both Meltzer and DC got something from each other, Meltzer got more exposure and publicity for his run on JLA and his novels, DC got an award winning author out there in the New York Times selling the series, providing media hype with DC biggest guns the Trinity.

McDuffie on the other hand didn’t have that same type of freedom. Editorial took away many of the stories he could tell and had a heavy hand in rewriting the plot lines he set up. McDuffie is a fantastic author, his only fault is agree to work for DC under those horrible interfering conditions. Perhaps, DC gave more leeway to Meltzer due to his establishment as a serious author for what he brought to the table, and with McDuffie they felt he needed more guidance. Hindsight is 20/20, but by no means should McDuffie’s departure from JLA be a reflection on his writing skills. They had creative differences.

“They had creative differences.”

Yeah. He was creative and they were different.

(Sorry. The set-up was too good to pass up.)

Have a good day.
John Cage

silverbluehues

May 29, 2009 at 8:07 am

Damn, he’s a good writer, it’s quite tragic that he’s been given so little discretion to his writing in the book. I wish him the best, hope he gets a project of his choice.

@ James Trapp:

Go to a farm, ask for a ton of crap, and try to see if you can sell at a newstand. Seriously? You admit to him having been handed a ton of crap and them criticize him for not being able to spin gold out of it. Do you hear yourself? That’s ridiculous. I just had to comment on that bit of backwards logic.

I love how half the people here think his run was crap, *ignoring* the fact that he was being micromanaged by editors the entire time…and somehow it’s 100% his fault that it stunk. Ok, then.

Also, I’m likely in the minority, but I found Meltzer’s run on the book deadly dull. It felt like an attempt to turn JLA into a “Bendis” book, with lots of talking and only a little bit of actual action. I don’t read JLA (if I do at all, I dropped the book quickly after all the meandering storylines) for navel-gazing, but for fun and action. There was too much meta-narrative “EVERYTHING WE DO IS IMPORTANT!” with Brad’s run.

Black Canary dressing down the Big Guns for having their own little group within the JLA was total Dwayne. He’s good at little character bits like that…something Meltzer is praised for, as well….and it felt like a little commentary on the whole Illuminati bit at Marvel.

The heck with keeping quiet. Didio is all wrong for DC, and no one seems to care.

Those postings he made were the only thing that redeemed McDuffie in my mind because I dropped JLA like a hot potato after that awful Anasi storyline (P.U.!). What Didio(t) allowed to happen to JLA is quite simple - he turned it into a 22-page $3.00 monthly advertisement for OTHER DC properties. Good Lord, if you are going to be that transparent at least prop up the characters that are already in the book.

I don’t care how relevent the book is. I care how GOOD it is. And JLofA has sucked since almost the day it debuted.

Hysan, you’re not alone.

I feel sorry for McDuffie, and sorry for Rich Johnston - this is probably not the kind of impact he wanted to leave behind when he closed his column. On the other hand, Rich, maybe this will end up being better for both McDuffie and DC.

I can’t blame DC. People who work on these properties know that they are in the business of selling them, and cumulatively, McDuffie’s comments left the strong impression that Justice League wasn’t succeeding. Which as far as I can see is true, but it’s damning to hear that from the writer. I admire his honesty and candor, and it was interesting getting that look behind the scenes. But honestly, if I ran DC I’d probably have moved him on - perhaps more gently and respectfully - too.

I’m glad things are civil enough that McDuffie is staying on for “Milestone Forever”. If DC is wise, they’ll opt to give him an above-average artist and total or near-total creative control over that one. It is, frankly, what the fans want and will buy. I sure would.

Generally speaking I find it interesting that one of the big kinks in DC’s current, more integrated continuity is having a strong central team book. That shouldn’t be an intractable problem, if Marvel and the sales on the Avengers franchise are any indication. It sounds from McDuffie’s comments that there was at least an idea that next summer’s event would center on the JLA. Probably a good idea, and using it to fully integrate Milestone, Red Circle, etc wouldn’t be bad either.

I’d pretty much assumed “editorial meddling” from the get-go. I loved, LOVED McDuffie’s work on Justice League Unlimited and was excited when he was announced for the comic series…and then I read a couple issues, was disappointed, and stopped buying.

A lot of creatives seem dissatisfied with Didio — Waid’s recent comments on 52 spring to mind. (When asked about it in a Newsarama Q&A, Didio gave a non-denial denial where he assured the questioner that he was proud of 52…but the only thing he actually praised about it was the team managing to meet all its deadlines.)

I’m reluctant to jump on the “it’s all Didio’s fault” train, but it seems to me that there’s a growing dissatisfaction with his decisions not just among the always-angry-about-something fandom but also the creatives themselves. (Or maybe it’s just Waid and McDuffie. I remember Morrison, for example, was quick to defend the train wreck that was Countdown and blame dissatisfied fanboys for its poor reception.)

At any rate, here’s hoping this is an opportunity for McDuffie to do something where he’s got more freedom. Because he can definitely turn in some great work.

Also, @TJ: “What made JLU work was that stories could be told with whatever characters fit the story. It did not matter if they were second- or third-tier characters. In fact, they made some of the stories even more memorable. JLU was not about the group politics and editorial edicts saying you could only use these seven characters and had to write stories making them interesting.”

I’m guessing you missed the Batman embargo controversy. With Begins and The Batman coming out, JLU was actually forbidden from using anybody from the Bat-family outside of Batman himself. Yet the show actually benefited from this restriction in some instances: Gail Simone’s Double Date was originally planned as a Birds of Prey story with Barbara in a guest role, but when that was nixed they worked in Green Arrow and the Question instead and wound up with a much better episode as a result. Sometimes you can make lemonade from the lemons that higher-ups give you — it just looks like McDuffie’s JLA wasn’t one of those times.

@ James Trapp: If you think Meltzer had the same restrictions McDuffie had, you’re nuts. Meltzer was allowed to PISS all over Mark Waid’s Legion run, bringing back the originals and basically making everybody look at Waid’s series like, “…Well what do we need these pretenders for? We got the originals back!” I can’t even imagine the kind of pull it took to do that. Then they gave the book to McDuffie and if you follow his posts they changed *every* villain he ever used in an arc of JLoA, and eventually just gave him a list of villains he could and could not use, and they were no doubt filled with Z-Listers like “Shadow Thief”.

@ Miles and Dreggor: ….Wow. Just…wow, fellows. I’ll save the insults, but wow.

@ Everyone saying, “Well yeah its awful and I don’t think he should’ve been fired but that’s how it is in business”: As a black person, I just wanna say that if we’d left it to people like you, I wouldn’t be able to vote. Sometimes something is just wrong. And the rules surrounding it are wrong too.

@ J.R.: We have EVERY right to know why this or that story sucked. We spend 3-4 bucks, and if the story sucks for any reason other than, “the writer sucks”, then we deserve an explanation, dammit. We’re not the shareholders, but I tell you what, if everybody stopped buying JLA then they’d stop making it, wouldn’t they? Yeah. They owe us some kind of answers.

And this whole thing is ridiculous anyway. Has anyone been to the place where these posts came from? They were on DC’s own freaking boards! And they’d been there for YEARS! You’re going to tell me it took LITG to fire the guy? This had nothing to do with any kind of rules–they were just being pissy.

who the hell cares. just give me grant morrison. the rest can go home.

Grant and Waid used to complain all the time and know one said anything. He the only African American writer that DC has and he was treated unfairly. I would say the same thing if it happed to Gail over on Wonder Woman.

Mortimer Toynbee

May 29, 2009 at 9:26 am

Duff surely did not get the respect he deserve. Shameful. They should have been honest at first. Am sure if they were he would have declined the offer, instead he got screwed more than Debbie.

Best news I’ve heard all day.

Now the only way is up for JLoA. Let’s just hope that now we can actually enjoy the real team instead of a Milestone lovefest.

And maybe if he hadn’t been involved in JLU, we would have had Hal Jordan instead of John Steward too.

Johnny Rocket

May 29, 2009 at 9:38 am

I’d be chomping at the bit for the next LITG.. but there isn’t going to be one…

Re: N - - I’m pretty sure it wasn’t McDuffie’s idea to bring John Stewart into the book. Not he he might not have since he handled the character on the show, but I remember reading somewhere that that was one of the editorial-based member shifts when he took over the book. Besides, if you actually read the book you’d know that Hal was in the book about as much as John during McDuffie’s run anyway.

I guess your Milestone argument is fair enough, but they’re integrating the characters into the DCU, using one of the talents who created and worked on the characters back in the day and doing it in one of the line’s flagship titles. It’s no different than Static over in Teen Titans. Not a lovefest, just reintroducing those characters.

Have a good day.
John Cage

I think everyone is missing the point here… whether you happen to agree with everything he said or not, or think we have a right to know the inside scoop as fans or not, or sympathize with the obvious mismanagement at DC or not, the bottom line is you don’t go publicly complaining about your bosses or the company you work for. That’s just a rookie move and he even admits it was his own doing. End of discussion.

Dwayne McDuffie should be reinstated as writer of the JLA, without question.. just picked up this month’s issue, real good stuff in there, Hardware is in the mix, and is apparently his usual snarky self, to the consternation of everyone else.. it was great that you had Hardware, Vixen, john stewart and firestorm all together, representing.. hey, if the “black avengers” can’t happen, then the “black justice league” sure as hell can, especially since there’s this hal jordan/Green arrow spinoff group.. Make it happen, DC.. now!

and my man Icon shows up at the end.. but Dharma’s on the ropes.. bleeding.. what is that, exactly? and he was “holding together the universe”? hmm… glad to see that Milestone peeps have true value in the DCU..

I have to say, I’m extremely ticked at DC editorial.. I want the Maestro as the maestro of JLA for many years to come.. bah! If Geoff Johns and Grant Morrisson and Brian Bendis and Mark Millar and the like can more of less get free rein on the books they want to inhabit, then the same should go for Mr. McD..

My hope is that fan protest is so loud that DC editorial will have no choice but to bring back the Maestro in the near future..

NO JUSTICE (LEAGUE)… NO PEACE!!
NO JUSTICE (LEAGUE)… NO PEACE!!

It’s cause he’s black.

Come back to Marvel, man, where they’ll let you have Black Panther defeat the Silver Surfer with a crossface chicken wing!

Yeah, because no one ever bitches about their boss.

It feels like a case of Stockholm Syndrome in here.

Yeah, I didn’t want to get “racial” about it, but with all the Milestone hate and the annoyance at GL being John Stewart and not Hal Jordan in the cartoon (even though Hal was DEAD in the comics by that time…uh, hello?) just makes me wonder if the response isn’t some old-fashioned fanboy racism.

Oh well.

Regarding using John Stewart, one of the things Dwayne said is that he had never had any control over the JLA’s membership. He had nothing to do with Stewart being on the team, or Vixen, Firestorm, Dr. Light, or ANY member. That was all 100% out of his hands.

As for whether or not what he did was “Griping” or anything like that… no.

Read the thread.

It’s 60 pages long of people asking questions. And there were responses along the lines of “well I had planned to do something, but couldn’t because of something happening in another book. These things happen, it comes with the job.” Individually they were all perfectly harmless, things you’d expect almost any writer in the business to feel free saying.

The trouble is that when you added up all the times he said “I had planned ____ , but couldn’t because ____. It’s not DC’s fault, these things happen,” and looked at those comments alone, it became pretty damning, and showed an absurd amount of interference in the book. He was perfectly civil, he was never accusatory, and all the questions he replied to were reasonable ones.

The problem isn’t that he was being open. He was being no more open than any number of other creators.

The problem is that even being open to a reasonable degree, answering questions in a friendly manner, not blaming anyone for anything, you could still tell that there was something extremely wrong going on.

Just opening his workplace’s window a crack, not really more than many other creators, we were able to see his abysmal and unreasonable working conditions.

And the sad thing is, nobody is ever going to be punished for this except Dwayne. Some hot new creative team (probably Johns or Morrison, or someone else that has the pull to do the things they think would make for a good story) will be put on the book and make the company money, fans will get stories they like, and none of the people actually responsible for this fiasco will ever be punished for it.

That’s shameful.

Devyn Rodriguez

May 29, 2009 at 1:09 pm

McDuffie was negative about the situation, but he never really insulted anyone. He simply stated what we all pretty much knew. I’m sure everyone has bitched about their jobs worst than he ever did.

Maybe the man wanted to be fired. He was an editor himself and he knows how things work. I don’t think he’s stupid. He wasn’t happy with the situation so he put the inner workings of the editoral staff on blast.

I really think that Dan Didio has got to focus better. He’s got to find HIGH PROFILE TALENT for JLA and Stick with them for two years, at least. They can’t be interfered with and They have to be allowed to use as wild ideas as they an come up with.

JLA should be the “Avengers” of DC Comics. JLA should be a big money maker for them.

By Avengers I meant, in a Revenue Generation capacity only. Definitely NOT the content.

Egg McDuffin'

May 29, 2009 at 5:10 pm

I have to say that I’ve not read any of the blogs or gossip.
I used to be a regular reader of Justice League of America starting with Brad Meltzer’s launch with Ed Benes on the art chores.
Then McDuffie took over and Benes wasn’t around as much.
Fill-in artists took over a lot and that started to wear thin on me.
McDuffie’s work was great on the Justice League cartoon, but I can see the way that editorial and certain strict perameters discombobulated the production of the title.
To me, the stories under McDuffie didn’t really satisfy me. That, along with the lack of a regular artistic flavor wore too thin and I dropped the title from my pull list recently.

Sad to see how things went down and the aftermath, but happy to think that he’s still got something cooking and I wish him all the luck in the world on his future endevours.

Looking forward to Milestone Forever! ;)

Egg McDuffin'

May 29, 2009 at 5:13 pm

P.S.
I have to agree with J. Jonah:

Justice League Of America should be THE POWERHOUSE TEAM-TITLE OF THE D.C.U.

It’s been outshined by J.S.A. brighter than all 7 Lantern’s Lights combined!!! ;)

Yeah, I didn’t want to get “racial” about it, but with all the Milestone hate and the annoyance at GL being John Stewart and not Hal Jordan in the cartoon (even though Hal was DEAD in the comics by that time…uh, hello?) just makes me wonder if the response isn’t some old-fashioned fanboy racism.

Oh well.

Sorry, but you’re not getting away with that. Do not call me a racist.

Fans were annoyed about John Stewart in the cartoon because for once, we were getting a decent JLA cartoon and it didn’t star the most populr GL. Believe me, if it ws Kyle on that team, the fans would have complained just as much.

The “Milestone hate,” as you call it, comes from the fact that 1) The characters are incredibly dull (well, apart from Static)
2) no one was asking for them yet they are being included in many stories in many titles and 3) Jesus, they are ugly, ugly costume designs. They looked ridiculous standing next to the JLA.

Its an incredibly lazy reaction to simply call it racism.

is it because hes black`?
rofl.

While there is something to be said for expecting standards of professionalism from employees, the fact of the matter is that people like McDuffie are not typical office employees but freelancers.

In that sense, McDuffie’s behavior is hardly different from other “freelancers” like professional athletes who are not necessarily renowned for their ability to keep their opinions of their employers “behind closed doors.”

Regardless, the employer (or presumably a representative of management) is entitled to address such behavior however they see fit (within the bounds of law, of course). So you might trade your star player if he were too much of a headache.

In the same manner, although I loathe Didio as much as many who’ve posted apparently do, he was well within his rights to let McDuffie go, in the same way any employer might want to let an employee who divulged “trade secrets” (in this case the “secret interference” of editorial in setting the direction of JLA). As others who’ve posted on this topic have pointed out, management can fire an employee for pretty much any reason, although an employee is also within his rights to contest his dismissal if he feels he has a legitimate grievance.

All that said, I’d hardly qualify what McDuffie did as particularly egregious; certainly not something he should’ve been fired for. If anything, if you’re any kind of manager worth your salt, you want the sort of thoughtful, insightful employee/freelancer that McDuffie obviously was at DC.

It seems to me that the general outrage over this is the fact that Didio is generally regarded as terrible at his job; the sort of unknowledgeable tyrant you’d rather not work with or for. In a way, it appears that Didio’s actions were as much to protect his reputation (although he’s deluded if he thinks it’s all that good) than anything else. After all, if he wants to look good to his bosses, maybe he should concentrate on hiring and keeping the sort of talent that will enable DC to wrangle market share away from Marvel.

After all, business is all about the numbers and judging from that alone, Didio has done a piss-poor job — and, no, Didio can’t be credited for DC’s lead in trade paperback sales since the bulk of best-sellers were for products that were done before his run.

Christian Otholm

May 30, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Only in the comics industry would the fans side with the businessmen and not the creators.

Marx is very disappointed in all of you. ;)

Lazy reaction my left eye.

“Most popular GL?” Yes, so popular his book was tanking in sales and they had to bring in Kyle Rayner to try to boost sales. Fans have very short memories and forget how they said Hal was boring before they said Kyle was no good as GL. John Stewart has gotten a raw deal from most writers and most fans. That “black lantern” reference didn’t come out of thin air, you know.

Fans DIDN’T complain when Kyle popped up on an episode of Superman to fight Sinestro. They actually liked it. Why? Because he was the current GL AND they made a reference to Hal in the episode.

Milestone characters being boring (to you, or others) is subjective, but I find it interesting that fans feel they are being forced on them, when writers ALWAYS, always bring in characters they’ve created or have an affinity for. I don’t care so much about Karate Kid or Red Tornado, but if writers choose to focus on them, so be it. There’s no such thing as a boring character, just bad writing.

yeah i can believe what he’s saying cause dc been crap lately

I don’t know what to think. On the one hand, he should’ve been fired for badmouthing the company that’s paying him to do a job. On the other hand, he should’ve already been fired because his run has been horrible. So I honestly can’t decide why he should’ve been let go. I’m so torn.

Michael English

May 30, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Y’know, it says something terrible about the current state of DC comics that they would fire a guy for griping about his job when the job is making COMICS.

It is one thing for a lawyer to reveal confidential information about his client. It is one thing for a doctor to reveal confidential information about his patient. But ti is quite another thing for a comics writer to give vague generalized information about how problems with available characters and the smoothness of his company’s editorial team. that is like a soldier griping about setting up a bivouac or a postman griping about his knees. It is expected. It is normal.

This kind of paranoia- especially from an editorial team that has given us what is probably the worst set of storylines in the past decade (52? Final Crisis? Countdown to Final Crisis? Countdown to Infinity Crisis?)- says far more about them than it says about the man they fired.

Look, DC didn’t have a choice.

Yes, McDuffie posted all that awhile ago, but the fact is it wasn’t made aware to teyh larger comic public until it was compiled and also linked to by Rich Johnson. And don’t blame Rich because I saw links to the compiled complaints in many different comic forums even before LiTG went live, and don’t blame the compiler because he was just sorting through info McDuffie willingly put out.

So what you now have is very public knowledge of McDuffie’s situation i dealing ith his job, and even though he was very civil about explaining it, it was still dissatisfaction towards DC. Like I said before, everyone was at least somewhat sur ethat editorial was very much messing with McDuffie’s run, but now everyone knows exactly how far they’re going and what they’re doing.

It’s bad PR, for DC’s image not only to teh comic buying fans, some of whom may not feel like boycotting JLA or other DC books or at the very least, badmouth the company for giving McDuffie such a hard time, but also to other creators who are potential employees. McDuffie’s cas emay be unique, or it may be the norm, but for now, all writers will be aware that his case did exist, and that editorial management under DC did exist to the extent that he described. less people willing to work for a company is bad.

Now Didio can just ignore all this and just give McDuffie a slap on the wrist. But then, not only does that excuse McDuffie, but ti sends a message to EVERYONE that it’s ok to do what he did, and who knows how far someone else would take it if a sense of consequence did not exist? Didio had to fire McDuffie, not only to be fair to everyone, but who knows what kind of other polcies he was held under. And again, if he didn’t fire him, he would have completely lost face, I mean this isn’t just an issue of a creator not being able to tell stories to his fans anymore, it’s an employee talking negatively about the company he’s supposed to represent.

Also, alot of you are not looking at the silver cloud in this situation: McDuffie is not fired from DC, just JLA, he STILL WORKS FOR DC.

This means he’s still in relatively good standing with the company, and that no one felt this was serious enough to fire him from all his DC projects. And therefore, the firing was more of a public formality than anything else. I mean really, if it wasn’t, than why would they announce it to the public? Plenty of creators leave books all the time and usually we just assume it’s because they don’t want to work on it anymore.

McDuffie’s firing off JLA is shocking for a few reasons, not least of which is the fact that it was one of DC’s only titles not written by Johns that routinely finished in the monthly top-40 of the sales charts. I actually enjoyed his run, even with the supposed “second tier” characters. McDuffie does dialogue and character work as well as anyone in comics, and I’m sorry to see that the book won’t be following through on the storylines he was developing. Bottom line, this is one of DC’s flagship titles and it’s in the toilet. It looks like the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee “JLA” run turned out to be just rumors (perhaps someone can prove me wrong, as I haven’t heard of any concrete announcements, although it’s plausible that DC could be waiting for the summer convention season to announce anything big), and Robinson’s run is just a six issue mini. Someone has to be writing the book at this time. Wein’s run is only two or three issues, and unless they extend his issues, I think it’s more likely that they give the book to someone like Sterling Gates or Joe Kelly for the interim-i.e. a writer who’s not a “name” but nonetheless writes entertaining stories. Anybody but Winick or McKeever please. Those guy’s “Titans” runs are like manuals on how NOT to write team books.

Growing up I had very limited income. I picked up Justice League of America because it had all my favorite superheroes and more. I was a fan of the Superfriends TV show and especially Challenge of the Superfriends. It was very cool to see my favorites from the Superfriends and more like Zatanna, Red Tornado, Elongated Man, etc. I enjoyed being able to see the ultimate team in one book. But even back then, not all the heroes made it into the story. I think part of it came from the writer. Writers in the past have admitted they did not know how to handle certain heroes in Avengers, JLA, X-Men, etc. I don’t know what exactly was promised or not when Dwayne signed up to take over writing the Justice League of America but when you think of the Justice League you think of the big guns. When you buy a Justice League t-shirt or comic book, you don’t have the lesser known eras like Extreme Justice, Justice League Detroit, or JL Task Force. Should Dwayne have been so vocal, I agree with previous entries, I don’t think he was being negative, he was just explaining the circumstances as they were occurring. I think he may have received some feedback via his website or through DC that fans weren’t happy with the stories or direction and whenever we are attacked we want to defend ourselves which he was doing. I think his hands were tied when it came to telling stories. Maybe if Dan does a Q&A at San Diego this year, somebody can bring it up to him.

The other thing is, we as a society are fascinated by what happens behind the scenes. They have behind the scenes shows on the cable networks for upcoming movies, tv shows, etc. You can’t tell me that nobody who read The Avengers/Justice League of America mini-series didn’t know anything about all the heartache and years it took before it was actually published. CBR gives us the lowdown on many upcoming series and one of the things sometimes asked, is why did it take so long for this to occur. I don’t think Dan has an easy job and you have to find a balance. With that said, I don’t like the direction that DC has taken in the last few years has been the best. I didn’t like the bringing back of the multiple earths or Infinite Crisis (and I have heard there were issues with that series) but not everything either Marvel, DC, Image, Darkhorse or any other comic company is going to appeal to everyone.

Dwayne’s firing may be the best for him. He has many projects that will keep him going creatively. I think it would have been better if DC announced he was taking a sabbatical but would be back. I think Dwayne has many Justice League stories to tell, it’s just the environment within the DC Universe right now isn’t conducive to the stories he has in mind. Maybe he can get the powers that be to bring back the JL cartoon series because that would be cool. And might be able to tell them then. I think it ended to soon.

Sales and time will tell the tale of the future of the Justice League.

I would love to see Dan Didio and Joe Quesada hold hands and take a long walk off of a short pier.
The current comic book situation would almost have to improve.

Brent Lambert posted this:

@ James Trapp:
“Go to a farm, ask for a ton of crap, and try to see if you can sell at a newstand. Seriously? You admit to him having been handed a ton of crap and them criticize him for not being able to spin gold out of it. Do you hear yourself? That’s ridiculous. I just had to comment on that bit of backwards logic.”

But the thing is, McDuffie wasn’t given crap, he was given good heros! He had to deal with the company making alot of changes on him, and thats the crap I was talking about. but he still had great characters to work with. I don’t think he has any excuse for making poor storylines.

And with meltzer having the big three, he still would have done a good job without them, thats the type of writer he is!

I never read past his first 8 issues or so, but they really were godawful. That Injustice League arc was some of the worst JLA I’d ever read. And I don’t think editorial fiat can be blamed for how bland and ‘nothing’ it was.

You know, I was irritated by this decision just based on my lack of patience for Didio and his decisions and the fact that except for BEYOND! I never saw a McDuffie comic book I didn’t enjoy.

But watching most of you suddenly become Didio apologists when I think it’s safe to say most of you were cursing his name over the lack of continuity between Final Crisis and 52….I now remember why most creators hate fandom.

Thank you for reminding me.

..

JLA hasn’t been readable since BEFORE “Obsidian Age”. And how long ago was THAT??!!

It’s a miserable, corporate, place-holder title.

..

His run was craptastic. To be honest, if I were writing JLA, I wouldn’t even want to deal too much with the big guns, too much baggage, and you can’t do too much with them- nothing life altering, certainly, because it would not be allowed. He could have used the opportunity to build a “no name” character into an iconic hero in his own way, instead of whining “boo-hoo, I don’t get to use the big guns.” Though I think JLA should use the big guns, but he could have stepped up to the challenge, used the second stringers in a big way, and make his mark. But, whatever…

Ummm, I’ve been as critical of McDuffie’s run as anyone. That nightmare issue #32 was so bad on every level that someone above the creative team should have been canned, BUT the posts that supposedly got him fired were simply the man defending himself. Why should he take the blame for a subpar comic when it was not entirely his fault? The dirty laundry mentality is kind of ridiculous here. Besides my guess is it really was sales, we’ve lost almost 40% since he started, and the ego saving excuse made to him probably (and stupidly) wasn’t expected to made public.

Leave a Comment

 







Advertise here!

Browse the Robot 6 Archives

Subscribe to Robot 6