Superhero Comics and Morality

Writer Chris Roberson was recently fired by DC after his comments about not wanting to work on any future projects with the company because of moral objections to how they treat creators. He was supposed to write an arc of Fairest, the Fables spinoff. Bill Willingham, the creator of those titles, said that it wasn’t his decision, and that he would work with Roberson in the future.

It seems to me that every now and then, DC does something like this that is unambiguously shady. A few years ago they fired Dwayne Mcduffie from Justice League, because the writer had been too open about editorial disagreements. From my understanding, everything Mcduffie said was true, which made the decision to let him go especially problematic. I’m a Marvel zombie, so I may have a small bias here, but I haven’t really noticed the House of Ideas doing this, aside from Producer Kevin Feige being rather petty in his dealings with Edward Norton.

As far as I’m concerned, the quality of the product should be the main thing that matters for the company. By firing Roberson, DC is making it clear that internal arguments take precedence over the consumer. And that’s just wrong.

It’s especially problematic as DC publishes stories about characters who are meant to be moral exemplars. Superman: Earth One and Before Watchmen writer J. Michael Straczynski had an anecdote about this.

I was at a comic con years ago in the dealer’s room. I’ve had plenty of weird adventures in dealer’s rooms. One time, at Chicago Comic Con, I heard someone shout “Stop him! Stop him!” and saw a guy running down the aisle in my direction. The crowd split like the red sea and I helped tackle him, holding him down for the cops. At one point the organizer came over to the shoplifter and told him the guy from “Babylon 5” just tackled him. Suffice to say his reply is unprintable. After they’d hauled the guy off, he asked me why I did it when I could have been hurt. I pointed to this huge cut-out of the Curt Swan Superman, which was where I had been standing, and I said, “How could I have been standing in front of that and done nothing?”

It seems to me that the guys in charge of the company should look at it in the same way. The stories of characters doing the right things in difficult circumstances are their bread and butter. Firing someone who is good at their job for an honest disagreement goes against the spirit of the brand.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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