Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dwayne McDfuffie on Hawkgirl, JLoA

Justice League of America scribe Dwayne McDuffie has been talking about his trials and tribulations as the writer of the "flagship" of the DCU over on the DC Message Boards of all places.  As detailed in this week's Lying In The Gutters, there has been a whole lot of interference in his run, including this tasty tidbit about Kendra Saunders, AKA the fierce and fiesty Hawkgirl:

My plan was for Kendra to break up rather painfully with Roy, in time for that to be the reason Roy left the JLA (to go to the other title he was supposed to be going to back when I planned this). Kendra would have stayed with the team, but been without a romantic partner for a while. Most of the League, friends with Roy since he was a teen, would resent Kendra for staying on when she was the one who hurt their friend. She was going to be pretty much a loner except for her relationship with Wonder Woman (which would eventually be good, although Kendra would misread her for a while, causing friction until Diana helped her through some tough times), and Black Lightning, who would treat her like a surrogate daughter (I'd also planned to have her go to Jeff's for Thanksgiving, and meet the rest of his family). Kendra was going to come out of all this with a new focus, and a slightly adjusted status quo that would keep her front and center in JLA. Roy and Kendra would reconcile in about two years, but never be a couple again, except for one night that they'd both be sorry for, and never mention again.

But continuity changed in other books (i was informed that Kendra would die in Final Crisis), so I had to toss it all. Actually twice, because my back up plan was derailed by Kendra's recent undeath.

Interesting!  So it was life, death, then non-death for Kendra.  Overall, this sounds like an interesting character arc for her, and the character bits between her and Black Lightning and (especially) Wonder Woman sounds like they could have had some real meat for McDuffie to sink his teeth into.  Besides creating a good opportunity to have a spotlight put on her, character arcs like this are something I enjoy, demonstrating that the Four Color Heroes we read about are more than just the sum of their powers, costume, and quips.

But the sad reality is that this is the way that working for the Big Two, especially on such a marquee title as Justice League of America, is in today's environment.  The JLoA is a big money maker for DC, and DC's stance is that the JLoA reflects the big events, not the other way around.  For what it's worth, I don't think McDuffie is airing dirty laundry here, but rather just telling it as it is.  But when McDuffie came on the title, I had really high hopes after both his success on the Justice League cartoon as well as the mess which Brad Metzler's run turned into.  Ultimately, this has got to be dissapointing for pretty much all involved.

Makes you wonder: did Metzler get the same treatment during his turn on the book?  Does Brian Michael Bendis get treated the same over on New Avengers?  I don't have those answers, but it is food for thought.  

Also makes you wonder when the "death" order came down -- clearly it had to be in time for it to be teased in the Hawkman Special?

Also also makes you wonder if the collected version of Final Crisis will "correct" the Hawks' implied death?

There's more if you head over to LiTG, and from there to the DC Boards.  Fascinating stuff.


Diabolu Frank said...

My take on this is that McDuffie is a comic industry part-timer. He writes the one book when not working in television. Brad Meltzer has enough name value to sell to bookstores that DC would work around his plans for the book. McDuffie has fan cache from JLU and some muscle with regards to Milestone, but no real power over editorial. Where guys like Bendis go off with their EiC on retreats to plot out the direction of the entire Marvel line for a year at a time, McDuffie just receives marching orders after DiDio, Johns and company have made all the major decisions. Hence, Bu-FuJLofA for the entire McDuffie run. I'm so glad I hopped off the train when "JLA" got canceled and stayed off. I'm reading exactly one DC monthly because of this crap.

Luke said...

I can buy that. But it really makes you wonder why they didn't go out and get someone with name or clout enough to act as a beacon for the JLoA instead of making the book an seeming afterthought. I mean, I guess its a marketting tool -- the best selling book primarily there to route others to the event books, but the title has been more than that. Just kinda... listless.

Or is it that the book will sell well no matter what so why spend the dinero to get a big name on it?

At this point I am still enjoying DC a lot more than Marvel, but a lot of that is limited to titles which exist in their own little space, being figuratively (Outsiders) or literally (Strange Adventures, Warlord).

Diabolu Frank said...

Yeah, I used to hide out in the DC hinterlands-- Legion, New Titans and so on. I was happy with my Blue Devil and Ambush Bug and Haven: The Broken City. Nowadays though, everything is so geared for the event, you can't really miss it. Even R.E.B.E.L.S., my only current DC ongoing, is promised to feed into bigger things.