So who REALLY ruined comics? Was it former DC executive editor Dick Giordano? As the DCU show runner from 1983-93, Giordano oversaw the comics during the rise of the direct market, the widening of DC’s material, and the twin peaks of DARK KNIGHT and WATCHMEN. But reached in retirement, he has regrets, among them the rise of grim and grittiness during the period.

Marketing and some DC execs thought it was folly. A story line set in the future? In a format never tried before (48 pages, square bound with a cover price more than double the current price point)?: “We’ll be killed!”

Road map? Flying upside down was the most fun, so that’s what I did.

The Dark Knight Returns additionally helped start the “grim and gritty” trends in comic storytelling that still exist today. That was an unintended result, and I am truly sorry it happened. Comics are much too dark today. Er – in my opinion …

Meanwhile, David Brothers fingers another culprit with “Grant Morrison ruined the X-Men” , although you may find his definition of “ruined” different than you are accustomed to.

BTW, it has been quite a while since Morrison came back to DC after then-publisher Bill Jemas drove him away with his shenanigans. It’s worth noting that no matter what shenanigans DC has undergone of late, they were never so dumbass as to drive away Grant Morrison.


  1. Interesting reading. Grant Morrison did great work on X-men, esp. with his amazing new characters like The Beak and Xorn (though there still some plot inconsistencies that have never really been explained, but that’s ok, that’s part of it all) — I agree that the writers afterwards were just trying to answer it, which was sort of impossible. Still, I think Matt Fraction gets X-men a little differently than Morrison — though he’s not high-Morrison, he brought back the Claremont soap opera and immeasurable amounts of continuity to reward us older readers. Plus he has moved it forward: San Francisco? The X-Club? Namor? These are all new evolutions — I’ve been reading X-men since the eighties and think Fraction’s version is a great homage to that time, without being too sentimental. Love Fraction and everyone else writing an X right now. Messiah Complex is up there with the Phoenix Saga for me.


  2. To me, the bigger story is that Giordano claims he co-wrote TDKR. I’m sure Miller will be happy to hear Dick is finally giving himself the credit he thinks he deserves.

  3. I doubt that Giordano had anything to do with the ascendance of Bendis and his type of “grim and gritty” at Marvel. That change in editorial approach was due more to Bendis wanting to write superheroes as characters in crime fiction stories, and Quesada favoring the approach. At least some of Bendis’s fans sneer at “traditional” superhero stories, as if they’re written only for babymen.

    Sneering aside, it’s possible that demand for some change in interpretation would have been irresistible. Pure formula fiction, in which good invariably triumphs over evil and the only interest comes from seeing how a writer tweaks the formula, eventually becomes unreadably dull.

    Fraction’s UXM recycles the ’70s approach blatantly but only raises a question: If the mutants aren’t going to evolve and leave, a la Childhood’s End, why do they exist? Somatic mutants (the regular superheroes) are mutants, too.


  4. “If the mutants aren’t going to evolve and leave, a la Childhood’s End, why do they exist?”

    To sell corporate comics in a fictional setting that can have no real long-term change?

  5. “It’s worth noting that no matter what shenanigans DC has undergone of late, they were never so dumbass as to drive away Grant Morrison.”

    Great point, and well-put, Heidi.

  6. “no matter what shenanigans DC has undergone of late, they were never so dumbass as to drive away Grant Morrison.”

    1. I wouldn’t have used the word never as the JLA and Superman reboot arguably drove Morrison to Marvel in the first place.

    2. Quesada is still EIC of Marvel. Would Morrison have been given the high profile books and variety in projects he’s enjoyed since coming back to DC if he switched back to Marvel? I don’t think so.

  7. So what is the story with Morrison leaving? As i heard it he signed with DC and decided not to tell anyone at Marvel about it and it ended up in a big argument with Joe Q

  8. Sure, DC was never so dumbass as to drive away Grant Morrison — driving any creator away is pretty dumbass.

    However, in an absolute sense, it was far more dumbass for DC to publish Final Crisis than it was for them to not drive Grant Morrison away.

    Neither should have happened, period, but publishing FC was an even worse feat.

    — Rob

  9. So what is the story with Morrison leaving?

    Morrison talked about Marvel and DC in a 2003 Newsarama interview. There were apparently substantial disagreements about Marvel’s editorial policies versus the type of storytelling Morrison wanted to do, but those disagreements didn’t reach the point of unpleasantness, Morrison said:

    NRAMA: There are some pretty solid eyewitness reports that [Marvel EIC] Joe Quesada didn’t take the news of your exclusivity very well at San Diego. Was your relationship with Marvel breaking down prior to the decision to leave?

    GM: Things were fine on New X-Men, and I enjoyed all the challenges of working on the book but otherwise, I felt perhaps that the type of comic writing I was being drawn back towards – i.e. less filmic, less current-affairs inspired, more imaginatively raw material – was clearly unwelcome and probably inappropriate in the light of the currently successful Marvel style. [. . .]

    My relationship with Marvel is fine – I had a good long run on New X-Men, I got to do what I wanted and now we all get to see what someone else will do. There’s nothing else I particularly wanted to write or feel that I could write effectively at Marvel right now and so, as ever, I’m going where the weather suits my clothes, which is one of the great perks of the freelance life. I’ll still be enjoying the best of the Marvel books and I’ll still be checking in with Mike Marts, my editor on New X-Men, to proofread the stories for the next nine heart-stopping issues. Everything is under control. The ‘split’ may have seemed dramatic, thanks to the efforts of the showmen involved, but it was all very tidy and no-one got hurt.

  10. I just can’t get behind the Morrison as Pope mentality (i.e. infallible). I’ve always found him very hit and miss. Particularly post-Arkham Asylum vacation.

    Giordano, on the other hand, well… I can honestly say I liked the DC line a lot more when he was in charge. The question of how much editing he did on Dark Knight very interesting in light of rumors about Levitz ordering changes on Dark Knight 2.

  11. It’s a bit over-stretching to say any creator or publisher is solely responsible for a change like that. What is more likely is to say that the new “grim and gritty” tone was catalyzed by DC through Dark Knight. I definitely believe there was demand for that sort of book and Frank Miller (and Dick Giordano) simply taped into that. And, for a fact, it seems that it is still very much in demand for all we [don’t always want to) see.

  12. I think Grant did a reasonable job on X-Men compared to what Hack Fraction, Craig Kyle, Chris Yost and X-editor Axel Alonso are doing right now. But in general that franchise was broken since the early 80’s since the Dark Phoenix sga ended and Claremont wrote all these watered down and nonsensical stories for hundreds of issues. Its just become even more of a joke with this X-Men Forever series. Its no wonder Hollywood choose only adapt the classic stories from that era and not look at the rest of the jumbled mess its become.

    Its like the American economy. There is no easy overnight fix. It’ll take years and years to undo these things.

  13. Dick Giordano ruined comics?

    Someone better have their eyes checked. DC published some of the best, compelling material in their entire history during his and Jenette Kahn’s tenure. As a matter of fact, I was reading just about every title they put out while he was in charge and what’s more is I enjoyed them all.

    Stories were new and old reader friendly, imaginative and comprehensive, a whole lot of fun and best of all, original. Artists were producing ground breaking work during Giordano and Kahn’s time and most of them, did it on a monthly basis with some even producing two books a month.

    More, I don’t blame Giordano for starting the grim and gritty trend, I blame the talentless uninspired who copy Moore and Miller to this very day, on books featuring characters who have no business being grim and gritty in the first place.

    People can say what they want about Giordano, all I know is I was spending a whole lot more money on comics when he was in charge. Ironically, I have much more money today than I did then and I would love to spend my hard earned dollar on comics but refuse to buy into the trash Didio and Quesada have been peddling for the last decade.

    And before anyone says, have you given anything a chance?

    Yeah, I suffered through the first six years of Quesada and Didio comics before I finally said enough is enough. I could no longer justify spending money on garbage before I finally quit.

  14. Hack Fraction probably comes from that alternate universe where everyone talented is a hack and Grant Whorrison is busy finding a way to ressurect Money Grubbing Characters. Warren Jellis, Garth Anus and Alan Moore-Money are all sentinels of hackness in this universe.

    Good things its an alternate Earth.

    Seriously, the pro Grant Morrison stuff made me smile.

  15. Full grown men spending less on comics than they did when they were in their teens is usually a good thing… when comics were created just for kids.

    However, that all changed when Dick Giordano was in charge at DC. He oversaw a line of material aimed at broadening their market base, to make comics entertaining for readers of ALL ages… not just kids.

    In fact, Dick Giordano (along with Jenette Kahn) was primarly responsible for making comics respectable — in literary circles, an arena that once would have laughed at the prospect.

    So now that comics ‘aren’t just for kids’ and is, in fact a primary source of inspiration for a whole new generation entertaining audiences in film, television and literature, I’m not so sure that spending less on comics than one did when they were teens IS such a good thing… certainly not for the comics industry itself who went overboard in making their primary market base, adults.

    Would it be a good thing if a grown man spent less on ‘books’ than they did when they were teens?

  16. I certainly spend more on comics now than when I was a kid. Comics today are much more expensive.

    And I have fond memories of DC when Dick and Jenette were in charge. Good times…

  17. Would it be a good thing if a grown man spent less on ‘books’ than they did when they were teens?

    I find a real hard time digesting the fact that there are people…I mean fanboys out there who’ve been collecting, I mean reading, about the same underdeveloped superhero character for 20 years. WTF is wrong with them? They can’t say it’s because the stories are great–they stand by their characters through editorial directions they themselves HATE. They cant’t say be because of great art, because no one artist is allowed to depict a character for long. So what is it? Whatever it is, it’s pathetic.

    My two cents.

  18. Dick Giordano ruined comics? WHAT THE? That’s……one heck of a perspective and about as close to the truth as Admiral Shepard bringing an end to Apollo.

    Your depiction isn’t accurate or in context, but hey, I say never let facts get in the way of a good hack job.

    Dick took over a company on a respirator during a time when the entire industry was in decline. For years Dick willed life into a sector already on borrowed time. Sorry folks, comics died because guys like Dick Giordano just got too old to continue mouth to mouth resuscitation on a daily basis, and he retired.

    You’d have more respect if you knew anything about the man you so aptly attempt to discredit, shame on you.