The Most Controversial Creators in Comics
When you boil it down, comic books are a form of entertainment and just like any other type of entertainment there are those behind the scenes who are lightning rods of controversy. Those who fans love and love to hate in equal measure.
Frank Miller: During the 1980’s and 1990’s Frank Miller was a game changer in the comic book industry. His work on Daredevil, Batman, and Sin City stand as absolute classics in the world of comics. But then he tried to introduce a sequel to his greatest work the Dark Knight Returns, and in 2001 gave readers the Dark Knight Strikes Again. Whereas the original saga was nothing short of a masterpiece, the sequel lacked any of the nuance, emotion, or social commentary that he brought to the Dark Knight Returns. Instead Miller opted for a barrage of bright colors and insanity which rubbed many the wrong way. His next venture into Gotham, earned even more scorn from many fans, All-Star Batman & Robin, presented a Dark Knight who was overly-violent crazy person who abused kids. In fact the characterization of every character in the series he wrote was completely different from the ones readers knew. Nevertheless the book sold blockbuster numbers, despite the constant delays and in the end it was left incomplete. One of the other books he has given readers in this stage of his career, is Holy Terror!, originally conceived as a Batman tale, DC Comics eventually wanted nothing to do with it, as the end product was simply an Islamophobic propaganda piece.
Rob Liefeld: In the initial month of DC Comics’ New 52, every book had a massive sales boost, except for Hawk & Dove which was illustrated by one of the best selling artists of the 90’s, Rob Liefeld. And please do not mistake “best-selling” to mean talented, as Liefeld’s style lacked any understanding of human anatomy. Liefeld covered this by burying the characters under mountains of guns and ridiculous armor which screamed excess. Still a cult favorite for his revolutionary attitude in the 90’s when he led a group of artists away from the Big Two of DC and Marvel in order to found their own comic book publishing company, Image Comics, where they were allowed creative freedom they were previously denied. Liefeld managed to become a celebrity both in the realm of comics as well as in the mainstream even starring in a Levis commercial at the height of his fame. Throughout his career Liefeld has been nothing short of arrogant and outspoken, which has earned him more than a few enemies among fans and peers alike.
Kevin Smith: Many of us here at the House of Geekery have made our opinions about the Cop Out director abundantly clear. Once a geek icon thanks to his break-out early films, Kevin Smith has since become a lightning rod for controversy. The cracks began to form when Smith ventured into the world of comics. His initial run on Daredevil became a critical success as he and Joe Quesada crafted “Guardian Devil” one of the best arcs the Man Without Fear has ever had. Following that he took on fan-favorite Green Arrow, and turned it into a commercial and critical success and in process brought Oliver Queen back from the dead. After this the filmmaker returned the Marvel and that’s when things took a turn for the worst. It was decided that Daredevil’s arch-nemesis Bullseye needed to return, but rather than have the villain brought back by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev in their now classic run on the series, Smith should be the one to bring him back. The first issue of his planned story made it’s debut in 2002, and now 14 years later we are still waiting for issue number 2. That same year the marijuana loving filmmaker began work on Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do, he made it through two issues of that series before taking a three year break. When the book returned from hiatus, Smith tackled the fun and carefree superhero topic of sexual assault with all the subtlety and sensitivity that the man who made Mallrats could muster. With his laziness caused frustration at Marvel, he moved back to DC to tackle Batman. In a surprising move he completed his initial Batman story, Batman: Cacophony but the follow up Batman: The Widening Gyre released 6 of the planned 12 issues over the course an entire year, with no plans to finish the story.
Dan Didio: For the first part of the 2000’s the comic book industry was dominated by Spider-Man, the Marvel Knights, and the letter X. The news that Dan Didio was put in charge of DC Comics flew under radar; that is until news broke that several A-List creators had been locked down into exclusive contracts. All of a sudden; Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman were now being steered by A-List creators and dominating the sales charts. But one of the ambitious and acclaimed comics from his tenure is apparently one that Dido himself stood in the way of, the weekly series 52. According to comics legend Mark Waid, Didio would storm down the office halls complaining about the book. Then came the New 52, perhaps the most controversial move a comic book publisher has done in the past several years, wiping away years of continuity that fans had come to love, bringing a gritty and darker tone to all the books regardless of whether it worked or not. Continuity, which comic fans watch like a hawk, was also made a mess of during this reboot as books like; Batman and Green Lantern were not revamped like the other books, as well as conflicting takes as to whether or not the Wolfman/Perez Titans existed. This was rebooted again when the poorly received crossover Convergence ended with the DC You and the promise to give more freedom to creators to tell great stories, before this new take on things could be given a real chance we now have rumors that yet another company wide reboot Rebirth is coming. Marketing professionals believe that if a brand has a drastic change twice in a short amount of time it destroys their credibility, and if rumor is to be believed Didio is about to do it a third time.