The Week Gone By . . .

Two major stories that broke this week in comics. One is mildly interesting, but still big news; the other is not really big news, but really became the talk of the messageboards for most of the week.

The former (which was the later breaking story) was the casting of Robert Downey, Jr. in the role of Tony Stark for Jon Favreau's Iron Man movie, coming from Marvel Films sometime in 2008. This is a nice piece of casting. Downey is one of his generations most adept and versatile actors, and can easily pull off the sometimes smarmy, often belligerant, and always smarter-than-the-average-bear Stark. If the rumors hold, and Terrence Howard has been cast as Jim Rhodes, this movie will have two powerhouse actors to push it through. Looking better and better.

The latter story, which broke on Thursday - the day after the week's comics came out, - should have been a fairly obscure piece of news, with little or no reaction. At least, that's how the news would have been received about 10 years ago. But in the day and age of the messageboard and instant news-feedback, the story of DC Editor Steven Wacker - the lead editor on DC's ambitious weekly comic, 52 - leaving the company for Marvel only a little more than halfway through the yearly series, hit the intraweb like wildfire. Mere minutes after the posting of the story on Newsarama.com, the messageboard was buzzing with fans' comments. Most of which were maligning Wacker, calling him un-professional and in some cases just cussing at him.

Unlike most books' editors, Wacker has been more visible with this series because of the Herculean production task of this undertaking and his weekly recap/question and answer period on Newsarama.com with their editor, Matt Brady. But even still, ten years ago, most fans wouldn't even know who the editor was on a given book, never mind care so much about one leaving.

That's not to say that I (or many other fans) aren't critical of or supportive of other editors now or in the past - I for one credit Stan Lee, Archie Goodwin and Denny O'Neil with giving me some of the best comics I ever read - but I don't think the amount of vitriol that was hurled at Wacker was in any way comparable to the reaction that fans may have had to some of the crazier things Jim Shooter did at Marvel in the 70s, for example.

A little over 3 hours after Newsarama posted the story, there were 12 - that's right 12 - pages of messageboard posts. Even the writers behind the series got involved and eventually Wacker had to post a sort of explanation/mea culpa for why he was leaving the Distinguished Competition for the Marvelous Men downtown. Pretty much unheard of.

Personally, I don't know the reasons for Wacker leaving, but I am sure they are both financial, creative and personal in other ways I can't even imagine. A creator (and let's face it, as much as they are often maligned, editors are creators) has every right to move on to new and different things. He was not the writer of this comic and he was not by any means (not to lessen his mammoth contribution) the only one holding this book together and getting it on the stands. Honestly, before 52 who even knew who Steve Wacker was? Not me.

He's done a great job with getting 52 to the market on time and in great shape. I beleive that the book will eventually go down as one of the finest examples of comic output - top notch writers, amazing collaboration and redefining 70 year old characters in a non-jarring and simply entertaining manner - but it is the product of many hands and visions, not just editorial, and especially no just one editor.

I hope Wacker does great things at Marvel and the competition between the two companies keeps up. The more these two are competing for us and our dollars, the more great product will be out there.

The big thing about this story that strikes me as wild, is the state that fandom is in. So much is the fan involved directly with the creators of the books we love, that the feelings of personal hurt are hard to put aside. While a lot of people out there are calling the negative commentors immature and idiotic (which, of course, some of them are), I think the main thing is that we all love this medium so much and we are so dedicated to it, that these so-called "creator betrayals" do hurt fans personally. And while some might see that as a bad thing, I see it as a positive force for a medium that is one of only a few truly American artforms and one that I love dearly.

It's good to be passionate about something. Let's just remember that it's not all about us and the books all the time, and a man's personal decisions are his own to make. Try not to aim your anger at someone who is doing what is right and best for him, his family and maybe in the long run the books he is involved with. We have a unique medium where the creators of the things we love actually listen to us sometimes and for the most part respect our opinions. Let's not destroy that.

In other words, don't shit where you eat.

Good Luck, Mr. Wacker. And good night . . .

read about Iron Man here.

read the original story reporting Wacker leaving and the acommpanying messageboards here.

read Wacker's Goodbye here.

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