Sunday, June 1, 2008

Inside DC 33 (June, 1992)

Michael Eury, Dick Giordano's former assistant at the time, submitted this article concerning the genesis of a publishing initiative. Beginning in Spring of '91, he was part of a brain trust planning promotions for the summer convention season. Once "Who is Monarch?" was ruled out, someone thought back to DC's old motto, "Your Demand is Our Command!" They decided to "present to the fans a ballot of twenty characters on which to vote, with the two highest vote-getters moving on to their own titles." The contest was dubbed "Legion of Substitute Editors."

The list included:

  • Adam Strange, who's three-issue prestige format mini-series of 1990, featuring art by Andy Kubert, sold in the mid-10,000 copy range through Capitol City Distribution. He received no follow-up after the event.
  • Blue Beetle, unpublished in solo series since 1988, and ill-fated here.
  • The Creeper, who waited nineteen years for a second short solo run, not due until 1997.
  • Cyborg, who received only a two-part appearance in Showcase '93 for his trouble.
  • Death, a hit mini-series for Vertigo that spawned a sequel and remains in print.
  • Eclipso, which became a summer 1992 Annual event, followed by a poor selling ongoing.
  • Fire & Ice, which amounted to nothing, with the latter of the two killed off a couple years later.
  • Flex Mentallo, given a mini-series in 1996 that ended in a lawsuit from the Charles Atlas estate that prohibits its being reprinted.
  • Gangbuster, who never did have much of a following.
  • Gorilla Grodd, a classic villain who's never, to my recollection, had a solo outing.
  • Immortal Man, who served as partial inspiration for 1997's Resurrection Man series.
  • Klarion the Witch Boy, who waited nearly a decade and a half for an incarnation to be allowed a mini-series.
  • Metamorpho, recipient of a low-selling 1993 mini.
  • Nightshade, who I don't believe has received a solo spotlight since her 1988 Secret Origins appearance.
  • Phantom Stranger, given the Vertigo treatment in a 1993 one-shot that didn't take.
  • Power Girl, who's modest-selling 1988 mini-series wouldn't be followed-up until the next millennium.
  • Robotman (Cliff Steele,) still waiting...
  • Rose and the Thorn, a bridesmaid until 2004.
  • Valor, spun-out of the Eclipso event with a 1992 ongoing, only to see sales plummet inside the first year, buoyed through a second by more crossover tie-ins.
  • ... and the Martian Manhunter.

"Finally, several cons and over two thousand ballots later, Jerry tabulated the votes, AND DA WINNER IS... Death... Yep, Sandman's frontrunning sis garnered a whopping 16.6% of the total votes cast. Coming in second place was Martian Manhunter, with about 8%. Several of the other nominees also made powerful showings, particularly Cyborg, Blue Beetle, Creeper, and the Phantom Stranger; incidentally, projects with many of the nominees are already in the works."

Those 160+ voters for J'Onn J'Onzz were rewarded with "a three-issue Prestige Format miniseries written by JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE and GREEN LANTERN scribe Gerard Jones, illustrated by Eduardo Barreto, artist on BATMAN: MASTER OF THE FUTURE, and edited by Brian Augustyn." The book explored "a 1950's America where the 'Red Scare' had almost everyone suspicious of anyone who was different (and last time I looked, being a bald, green, 6'7" alien with black eyes makes you very different.)"


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Hi. Been reading your blog for awhile since hearing about it at The Absorbascon. The American Secrets mini-series was one of the best things that came out of the early 90s, and I will reread my beaten up copiees every five years or so. Its one of the things I wish would be collected in a trade, considering some of the crap that DC DOES put in a trade, you'd think they'd have thought of this to maybe coincide with FC: REQUIEM. There are two lines I use as taglines with fellow readers to this day: Why are there always two of everything? and Is it warm there in the magazines?

Diabolu Frank said...

I love those quotes. I couldn't pull it off, but kudos to you for going for it.

Y'know, I've read MM:AS three times now, and each time I expect to be disappointed by it. Born Again... DKR... Watchmen... all the greats lose their luster with time. Not "American Secrets." Every time I read it, I'm further reenforced in believing it to be a lost masterpiece, and reminded of why I put so much effort into my little corner of fandom. I wish I'd had copies other than my own to lend customers when I had my shop, because I've only spoken to 3-4 other people who ever bothered with it, and they all loved it. I'll get into that more in the post-script for the synopsis, though.

Honestly, getting "Requiem For Martian Manhunter" (the new full title, as I understand it) was more than could be expected from DC Comics. Either Tomasi campaigned for it or it was seen as a venue of exploitation, because this character gets no love from the company itself under normal circumstances. I'm still crossing my fingers for a second Showcase volume, a much more profitable option for them than an AS trade. But then, who saw "Invasion" and "Millennium" coming?

Anyway, good to hear from you! Scipio's got a great blog and crowd, so I'm happy to have some cross-pollination. My stuff's a lot more dry, but the mutual love for the medium and characters is there.

Anonymous said...

The Creeper, never previously in a self-titled series, and not due one until 1997.

Weren't there six or so issues of Beware The Creeper published in 1968 or thereabouts?

Diabolu Frank said...

Eek! Correcting...