What's That You Say, Mr. Roberson?
Late this week, I received some more bad news as a Superman fan:
Chris Roberson Quits DC Comics, Citing Ethical Concerns
I have mixed feelings on this.
On the one hand, we'll likely never see him write a Superman or Legion comic again. Which is sad.
My first experience reading Chris Roberson's work was a 2-parter in Superman/Batman#'s 79-80, which involved the Lord of Time fighting various incarnations of the Superman/Batman team throughout history. You can read Chris Sims' review here.
Then came "Grounded", into which Roberson stepped at the halfway mark and elevated JMS' misguided Superman arc to an interesting homage to Elliot S. Maggin. Throughout that arc, I was anxious to see what Roberson could do with the Man of Steel unencumbered by "Grounded". Alas, I never got to find out, thanks to the DC Reboot.
Luckily, I did get to see him on the Star Trek/Legion Of Super-Heroes crossover, which included the best double-page spread of 2012 (we'll get to it below). I've also been reading his Memorial mini for IDW, where the most recent issue features a team of Robin Hood, Hua Mulan, Sinbad and Scathach. This guy's got a wonderful imagination and a strong grasp of both comics and general literary history. And that's something that comics, particularly super-hero comics, desperately need more of right now. The DCnU Justice League comic is proof of what happens when those elements are missing.
Honestly, what would you rather see in a Superman or Justice League or Legion of Super-Heroes comic?
Something like this?
|From the Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes miniseries. And yes, that is the Hot Tub Time Machine. Click to enlarge.|
|From the DCnU Justice League comic. Yep, that's Superman stone cold dismembering his opponents. Click to (ugh!) enlarge.|
On the other hand, I support and respect his stand, as well as David Brothers'.
Because, quite frankly, the Big Two do have a storied, decades-long history of crapping on their creators. Just look at what's happened with Jack Kirby. Or Gary Friedrich and "Ghost Rider". Or Siegel and Shuster. Or even Alan Moore.
(One thing Moore and Roberson have in common: Both have become favorite Superman authors with just a handful of Supes stories and, sadly, neither will likely ever again write one.)
I have to admire Roberson and Brothers for their stands, and for the fact that they brought these issues to public attention. Because that's the start of the process of improving things. Just ask Neal Adams about some of the creator rights strides he was responsible for.
Kyle aka Lanky Guy summed it up best on Twitter:
"What surprises me most about the Avengers/Watchmen kerfluffle is people seem to expect corporations to behave other than (how) they have. I'm not saying 'that's how it is, just deal with it.' Absolutely, talk about it, and as importantly, work to change it. Just doesn't be surprised by it. Their bottom line is looking out for their own interests, how ever messed up that may be. Without a limiting factor corporations will screw employees over. That's why you fight for your rights. This is where the labor movement came from. Do you think companies give you weekends and vacations out of the goodness of their hearts? They were forced to do these things by people who stood up and said 'enough'."
When getting screwed on contracts in an industry is so commonplace that it's shrugged off as a "fact of life", that doesn't make the poor treatment better. It makes it WORSE. And that's why we need the likes of an Adams or a Roberson or even a Moore. To shed light on the unsavory practices and, it is hoped, CHANGE them.