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While the cynical side of me might think it doesn’t matter, Moore has burned an awful lot of bridges so I’m not sure the big publishers would welcome him Prodical Son wise. They’d sell some books, but the cost might be high.

More than that, to write for the big two, or any branded comic really, you need to somewhat color within the lines. Not only does Moore not color there, I don’t think he sees the lines anymore. So if he were to do something, the condition would be it’s set in its own space and he can do what he likes. He wants to play with the toys the way he wants to. And again, I’m unsure if big corporations would welcome that. They might get a hit, but that hit might hurt what they have right now.

I think the big name writers of this era - Moore, Gaiman, Morrison, Ellis, Millar, Ennis, BKV as examples - would find it very hard to work elsewhere, which is why so few of them are getting big pay checks at the big two and instead getting small paychecks at the publishers who’ll let them do what they want. I think for all parties getting back together and trying to make magic is too difficult. That in part is why when they do come back they just tred familiar ground like Miller of The Dark Knight Returns sequels, or Ennis on Punisher.


I can appreciate that perspective. I do think though that if Moore had turned to Marvel or DC they’d snap him up and he could always do a standalone book outside of any continuity, Killing Joke was originally supposed to be that. They know the interest and money would be great.

It’s all speculative nonsense though really. Moore is difficult and can be objectionable but as a consequence he tends to stick to his principles. He wouldn’t work for either of them so the scenario is never to be tested and just left for us to guess.

Equally I don’t think he has it in him to phone stuff in (although Spawn: Bloodfeud he did in the early 90s was close for me, the only one of his books I thnk could have been written by anyone). One of the Avatar works he said was for the tax bill was Crossed +100, a really dense piece for which he created a completely new dialect.


If Moore was interested in doing a book for Marvel or DC they would bite his hand off. His name on one of their books would be enough to guarantee sales that they would be foolish to turn down. (We even know that DC offered him first refusal on the Watchmen prequel, for example.)

As Gar says though, he never would on principle so it’s a moot point. He cares a lot more about the burned bridges than they do.

I think the reason Ellis, Morrison, Ennis and the like aren’t doing as much at Marvel and DC is because they have exhausted a lot of their company ideas and want to do new things in places where they have more control and ownership. But it’s notable that all of them are still doing work with the Big Two when they choose to: Ellis has his Wild Storm stuff, Morrison has Arkham Asylum 2 and more Wonder Woman: Earth One coming up, and Ennis has another Nick Fury book on the way.

I think there’s definitely some truth to the idea that these creators sometimes don’t integrate well with other writers and the rest of the line (you only need to look at the various debacles around Final Crisis for evidence of what happens when you have an auteur creator trying to improvise within a fixed framework where every move he makes has complicated repercussions for the rest of the line), so I think sticking to continuity-light books is for the best. Marvel and DC need people on their shared-universe books who are going to stick to the plan.

There’s still plenty they can do outside of the core books though, and I think that in some ways a separate out-of-continuity setting helps to give their stories a certain prestige, like Miller and his Dark Knight universe or Morrison and Multiversity.


Agree with all of this - only thing I’d say about Ennis is he’s clearly not interested in writing superhero books, hence the reason why he sticks with mature Nick Fury and Punisher books at Marvel and humour books at DC.


I wonder if Marvel and D.C. Would be wise to drop most of the continuity stuff altogether and just focus on different books with their main characters. Let creators do what they want with the toys (within reason) and abandon the hook of one shared ongoing universe.


It is something that increasingly loses strength. In the 80s reading Marvel 20 years on I got a good sense of progression. You can’t do that forever so it’s all been recons and rebirths since Kurt Busiek as a fan found a clever way to get Jean Grey back.


I think it would initially hurt Marvel (more than DC) as they’ve done the shared universe thing from the beginning and have trouble backing off it. I think they would be better off in the long run though.


I think it would make for better stories, probably.

I wonder whether there’s a strong business case in favour of the shared universes though, for the monthly audience at least. You see lots of readers talking about whether stuff ‘counts’ and feeling the need to keep up with current goings-on in the core universes. I think it scratches the same itch as soap-operas do for those that watch them: some people are reading to see what happens as much as because the stories are well-told. I wonder if you would risk people falling away if nothing ‘counted’ any more.

Creatively though I think it would be very freeing and allow for some interesting and slightly more original stories to be told.

The nice thing, I guess, is that you can do both. The All-Star and Elseworlds lines were nice opportunities to tell fresh stories that weren’t beholden to the core continuity but didn’t disrupt it either. (The Ultimate line a little less so, in that it started off with a similar ethos but ended up having continuity problems all of its own.)


There’s strengths to both approaches. So many people buy comics regardless of whether they like them or not because they “count”, and there’s definitely an advantage to a linked narrative. At the same time, I’d be far more likely to buy a standalone X-Men OGN with top-notch creators than delve into a continuity-laden run on an ongoing.

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I think that part of the problem with continuity is that we’ve got decades of the same people, perpetually young or middle aged, having these incredible adventures. DC had a good idea with the legacy characters, but refuse to let Hal Jordan or Wally West go. To compare with soap operas (which are in many ways TV’s closest analogue to superhero comics) Eastenders is a huge success, it’s been running for over 30 years, and there’s maybe 2 or 3 actors who’ve been in there the whole time. And they’ve aged.

But it’s too late to change that now, I think. Comics fans as a whole don’t want Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent to be replaced. Marvel seem to have stuffed up their introduction of legacy characters in a big way.


I think this phenomena has passed. Certainly the book sales don’t show that this model offers much in terms of sales boosts. Too many books now, and once you let go of some of the continuity you quickly graduate to not caring at all. That plus the advent of digital means there’s not that same soap opera element driving sales. You can miss out on an event or a series and just pick up where you left off.

Clearly the evergreen trade model is driven by elseworld and standalone books. The in continuity series barely sell at all, have little presence in the bookstores and are quickly forgotten. So something is being lost.

If you look at what’s worked best for Marvel over the last few years it’s Vision, Hawkeye, Squirrel Girl, Ms Marvel, Spider Gwen, Old man Logan, Star Wars - they’re all continuity free somewhat and let the creators go a little wild. The in-continuity stuff is getting hammered by a dissatisfied audience.

I think Batman leads the way here. Batman isn’t a remarkable character, but after all these years he’s still the most popular comics creation. And I think it’s because creators can do what they want with him. So they can put their skill and talent in and give us a Killing Joke or Dark Knight Returns or Batman Inc or Year One or Gotham by Gaslight or Arkham Asylum or Hush or Dark Mirror or Court of Owls. No-one cares which order to read those books, no-one cares if the stories count or not. They’re just stories, and people can understand if there’s inconsistencies.

I think Marvel probably has 30 properties that could exist this way. Cap, Stark, Hulk, Widow, Spidey, Iron Fist, Daredevil, Punisher, Ghost Rider, FF, Guardians, Thor, Ant Man, Strange, Captain Marvel, Deadpool, X Men, X Force, Deadpool, Wolverine, Black Panther, Ms Marvel, Squirrel Girl, Gwenpool, Miles Morales, Luke Cage, Thanos, Inhuman, Nova, Defenders. 10 of those can support 2 books at once. Add in 10 more series for minor properties and you’re in good shape. All could carry their own line of stand alone books and get close to a Batman-esque presence. If free of the limitations of continuity and hobbled creators.


It would be a shame to lose or end all of that - I’d never considered it but I think it was a Neil Gaiman interview or introduction to a trade somewhere that pointed out that Marvel and DC continuity is the biggest story ever told (and actually, since they have crossed over with each other (and temporarily merged) you could even say it’s one story).

Even with DC’s reboots, the universe re-setting has an in-story basis, so it is still a direct continuation of the single story of the DC universe from pre-crisis (Marvel is a better example).

A single story told over more than half a century, written by thousands of people (and I’m not saying it all makes sense; it can’t).

At the same time, I don’t indulge in the most recent parts of those continuities because I’m overwhelmed; MU I access all the time but I’m reading almost exclusively things well over 10 years old.


Maybe you’re right. That’s certainly been my experience.

I still see people talking about what counts in continuity and caring about what’s happening in the books, but perhaps they’re an increasingly irrelevant minority.

I agree that it’s the out-of-continuity stuff that offers the biggest potential for ‘evergreen’ collections. As we’ve discussed before, very few of the perennial big sellers come from the regular titles - Born Again, Kraven’s Last Hunt and Year One are the only ones that spring to mind at the moment.


And Year One doesn’t even really count as being in continuity since it’s the starting point for Batman continuity.


Yeah, although in the years immediately following COIE there was quite a bit of that of course: new continuity elements being established within the regular books.


I absolutely believe this is the way to go. I would go even further and say they should also abandon the in-book continuity.

One-shots, minis, and OGNs, all self-contained and not beholden to anybody else’s continuity: those are the types of books that have longevity in book stores, those are the types of books that win awards and plaudits. And I suspect those are the types of projects most writers would want to work on, given the chance.

Really, we should have been there already as Superman should have been in the public domain by now, forcing that approach by default. Look at Sherlock Holmes as the model: there are hundreds of books by dozens of writers, each having their own unique take on the character and working in their own little continuity silo without caring what anybody else is writing. Superman (and the other icons) should be there.


And after reading further discussion I realise this is what Jim was also saying (I initially thought he was only talking about losing the between-books links).

So what I meant was, “me too” :slight_smile:


I think there’s room for both self contained and continuity heavy books to be honest.

I don’t think going all in on either approach is a good idea.

A lot of the time continuity provides a lot of the emotional beats and relevance to a storyline or the characters within.

The current Superman books are getting a lot of praise now and they are heavily wrapped up in continuity, there’s room for stuff like that as well as the likes of All Star Superman.

I think I would become quite detached to the characters if each book was like starting anew.

I think there’s a bit of an ego thing going on with the big names of today needing their own little disconnected pedestal to tell their stories on, doing it inside continuity would be a bigger challenge.

There is where someone like Geoff Johns, who has so many critics, really excels.

I like the sound of the direction DC are taking, their main line is brilliant at the moment and keeping that going whilst pushing ahead with some evergreen titles is the right idea and it pleases everyone.

As much as I am happy that Grant Morrison has some work coming up at DC again, I’d be more excited if he was just taking over as writer of one of the core Batman & Woman books (not that I want King or Tynion IV to move on).


A continuity that didn’t exist 12 months ago (and will change again in another 12).

So, they ignored the Superman status quo, they launched a new comic with new continuity (taking whatever bits they wanted to use from the canon) and wrote a 24-month stand-alone maxi series that is getting great critical acclaim.

Which is basically what I just said they should do :wink:


You haven’t been reading the superman comics then David?

They’ve taken bits from a few different continuities and made it work. It has the weight of history there.

I don’t see it being reset again in 12 months in all honesty. They’ve got a good thing going here and I expect they will build on that.


David only reads comics older than you and me. :wink: