John-Stewart-GLIt’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.

Then Comic Book Resources steps in:

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

No comment.

Fialkov on Twitter

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.


  1. Isn’t this just a spearhead to DC’s “Stop & Frisk” event, where they plan to unnecessarily kill off ALL their Black characters? Clearly, it’s easier than hiring Black editors.

  2. Bob Harras is running the show at DC editorial so is it truly a suprise to anyone who was into comics in the 90’s that we’re seeing more stunts like kill-offs and gimmicks like WTF Month instead of quality storytelling?

  3. “After all changing of editorial direction is this week’s theme for DC news.”

    It feels like there have been a lot of weeks where that has been the theme for DC.

  4. If DC really wanted to do it up right (y’know, for the media coverage), they should kill off John Stewart, Steel, Black Lightning, and Mister Teriffic in one big event. That would get them all kinds of attention. They could follow up that event with another one where they kill off Kate Kane, Renee Montoya, Maggie Sawyer, Scandal Savage, and (just for good measure) Bunker and Apollo. They will have more media coverage than they know what to do with.

    Then we can see Marvel try to top that.
    (We’ll kill all the mutants for reals this time. Oh, and all of Peter Parker’s former girlfriends/lovers/wives.)

  5. Bleeding Cool now reports DC has abandoned its “kill John Stewart” plan because of the negative fan response. It’s a shame they remain so disconnected from their audience.

  6. DC’s strategy, apparently, is to cancel all their non-superhero books (like I, Vampire), and then kill all the superheroes who don’t have a movie franchise.

    What gimmick will they come up with next? Maybe it’s time to bring back hologram covers …

  7. That’s been the problem for years, now: deaths in superhero comics are conceived as stunts, so they don’t work as drama. The result is experienced readers reacting cynically, new readers learning the sad truth, and Marvel and DC trying to sell the death issues as collectibles to non-readers.

    It’s safe to say that if killing a significant character is justified, a writer will come up with the idea himself, or could agree to the argument that the character has reached a dead end.


  8. @Robert Morales,
    If I was the sensitive type, I’d be offended at the “spearhead” phrase. However, the “Stop & Frisk event” has me LMAO so much that I’ll just forgive you everything!! Well-played.

  9. BREAKING: With word of their plan to kill John Stewart Green Lantern having leaked, DC has adopted a new plan: The Green Lantern who will be killed now will be…Hank “Hawk” Hall!

  10. I abandoned Marvel when Bob Harras was their honcho. Now he’s running DC, and from what I hear (and read online), fans are deserting DC in droves.


  11. This is where DC Entertainment as a company doesn’t work for me.

    John Stewart’s literally the modern face of Green Lantern, with all his DC Nation animation appearances, right?

    Yet DC Comics, the publishing arm of DC Entertainment that needs all the help it can get right now, because let’s face it, kids aren’t buying their comics, decides to kill a character that kids and mainstream people recognise as THE Green Lantern.

    Don’t the internal people at DC Entertainment communicate? I thought they’re all about “keeping characters consistent across our brand”??

    I guess DC Comics think killing off such a prime character is the “all the help it can get right now” solution it thinks will get them better sales. Just sad.

    As many people have commented, it’s sad that DC Comics would also pick an African-American hero for death. So much for diversity.

  12. My question is – how healthy are DC’s sales? And do their corporate overlords at Warner have any idea what’s going on with the comics division? Do they care?

    If sales are good, chances are the higher ups could not care any less what’s in the comics. I haven’t read a DC or Marvel book in forever so I guess I don’t care what’t in the comics, either, but the characters are some of my favorites, so it’d be nice to have them around for awhile. But not if the best they can do is kill Robin (again) or kill Green Lantern (again) or whoever else.

  13. The problem is that DC’s mainstream (non-Vertigo) comics have a dwindling, aging readership of superhero addicts. That’s true of Marvel, too. This audience won’t buy anything that isn’t about superheroes. Witness the cancellations of I, Vampire, Sword of Sorcery, All-Star Western, etc.

    To keep these aging fans interested, the companies feel they have to roll out the gimmicks. The death of a character seems to be the favorite. Marvel was king of the gimmicks in the ’80s and ’90s; now it’s DC.

  14. There’s a conflict between getting upset because a character is being killed as a stunt, a gimmick, and getting upset because a character is being killed. If the death is merely a gimmick to boost sales, then it hardly matters just who is being killed. Readers are being asked to buy an extended cliche instead of a meaningful story.

    Getting upset because of a character’s death is just what the publisher wants. The reaction demonstrates an attachment to the character, and promotes the character in a way that the publisher can’t do itself.

    There are reasons why Marvel and DC have always taken the position that any reaction to a storyline is better than no reaction. Reacting to the handling of a character signals an intent to follow the character wherever he or she goes. No reaction means that the (potential) reader wants a story, and won’t buy a comic that lacks one.


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