It’s a modern comic book cliche. Need sales? Kill off a character. Preferably a big enough character than it can make all the newspapers and media websites. You don’t always see that much of a sales bump long term, but you sell a huge amount of the death issue and then you can announce the character’s return a few months later. The latest character targeted for death? Apparently, it’s John Stewart.
First we have Bleeding Cool reporting:
I have been told by a number of high profile industry sources that Fialkov was asked to change his upcoming story to one that killed off Green Lantern John Stewart, DC Comics’ most prominent black character. And that is why he quit.
CBR has independently confirmed that, as reported on Bleeding Cool, Joshua Fialkov’s resignation from his Green Lantern titles was due in large part to an editorial edict to kill off John Stewart.
My response from DC
Fialkov on Twitter
1st off, I’m not commenting on anything other than what I posted.Secondly, I’m actually REALLY sick.So no offense for lack of replies.
— Joshua Hale Fialkov (@JoshFialkov) March 21, 2013
My first reaction is to ask if DC editorial can’t come up with anything more interesting than killing off a character. I’m willing to give a pass on the killing off of Damien/Robin, since that was always the plan from the get-go, but that is just such a trite tactic at this point. Let’s not forget, all indications are that Batwing is getting killed and replaced, too. (Although I doubt that one will get quite the media attention.)
My second reaction is to shake my head at the editorial second-guessing if this is all true. There’s a reason you don’t hear about the Silicon Valley concept/fad of “pivoting” with fiction. That’s because it doesn’t work very well with fiction.
If this is true, I do not blame Fialkov for leaving. On top of having to scrap the material he was hired to write, killing off John Stewart would be a political firestorm. You could make an argument that John Stewart is the most prominent black superhero. Certainly he is at DC. If you’re the writer that kills him off, the hate and racism accusations (probably worse from people who don’t read comics) will be directed at you, not the editor that told you to do it. You think Dan Slott was catching grief on Twitter for killing off Spidey, that would be nothing. And that’s just the current political climate at work.
We’ll have to see if the new writers were brought on for that storyline. And we’ll see if plans change again. After all changing of editorial direction is this week’s theme for DC news.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.