DC’s Fresh And Contemporary New Minis To Be Written By 60 Year Old White Guys


First things first, Amy Chu is fantastic. She’s writing a new Poison Ivy mini-series for DC Comics as part of a new line of minis that are set to debut in 2016, and she is the perfect choice of writer to do a fresh and contemporary take on the character, which is what DC claims they’re aiming for with this line. Chu’s an experienced writer outside of the Big Two with a lot of interesting credits, and she should bring a cool, new perspective to an old character and to the world of superheroes in general. Smart move, DC, and yay, Amy Chu!

But now onto the other seven titles. DC’s co-publisher Dan DiDio told USA Today that the goal of these minis is to “freshen up and contemporize” these characters, so let’s take a look at the titles:

  • Swamp Thing by Len Wein
  • Metal Men by Len Wein
  • Raven by Marv Wolfman
  • Firestorm by Gerry Conway
  • Katana: Cult of the Kobra by Mike W. Barr
  • Metamorpho by Aaron Lopresti
  • Sugar & Spike by Keith Giffen

These are all just the writers, by the way, because for some reason NONE of the artists were mentioned. It’s not like it’s a visual medium or anything.

Carrying on, several of these titles are being written by the men who created the characters decades ago, which seems an odd way to go for fresh, contemporary takes. Moreover, here are the ages of the six white men writing these titles:

  • Len Wein – 67
  • Marv Wolfman – 69
  • Gerry Conway – 62
  • Mike W. Barr – 63
  • Aaron Lopresti – 51
  • Keith Giffen – 62

I fail to see how a group of men with an average age of 62.3 years old are, to quote DiDio, “the best writers for these characters” when the task is to freshen up and contemporize them. All of these men are certainly talented writers and I respect their work and, for several of them, their legacies, but the last thing the superhero world needs more of is old, white guys reintroducing characters and trying to make them relevant and interesting. That rarely goes well. Especially when so many of them have such close ties to past incarnations of the characters. This is where you introduce new voices and new talent, find the NEW Marv Wolfman and the NEW Len Wein, not bring back the same old creators. This would be a KILLER lineup in 1987, but it’s not 1987 anymore.

Old white guy writers aside, I’m pleased to see that 3.5 of the 8 new series are led by female characters. That’s a definite plus. While only 1 of 8 series being written by a woman is disappointing, it’s nice to see women represented somewhere at least, even if they’re fictional women.

I’m not particularly optimistic for this mini-series line. DC has a lot of talk in the USA Today article about continuing the characters in other books if the minis prove popular, but I’m concerned that they might debut low and tumble from there. Most of the characters and creators just aren’t big grabs anymore. Scott Snyder couldn’t make Swamp Thing a huge seller, so I really doubt Len Wein is going to move some units. I think that Poison Ivy could do well, and Raven might have enough residual love as a character to debut okay, but other than that this seems like a lot of stale creators and stale concepts. It almost feels like DC is worried that their June #DCYou books didn’t go over well with their over-40 reader crowd, and so they’re course correcting with old favourites to win them back. Commit to the new, DC. Live in the future.


I got a lot of interesting feedback about this piece yesterday, some thoughtful and some amusingly rude.  I went on Twitter last night to reiterate my larger point, and I’ve also done so below in the comments, but here’s a transcript of my Twitter response, in a more readable paragraphed form, so that everyone can now read it when they read this post:

I certainly didn’t mean to suggest that guys like Wein, Wolfman, et al. shouldn’t be getting work.  They’re legends. However, a line written primarily by white men who’ve been in comics for decades sends, intentionally or not, a bad message about diversity.

I understand that comics is a rough industry for older creators, and my problem isn’t with them for doing the gigs.  But it’s also a tough industry for women and POC who have been rarely afforded the opportunity to break into the Big Two in the first place.

My issue is with DC for not putting together a more diverse and representative line.  Hire some old white guys, sure, but ALSO hire woefully underrepresented folks getting their first shot at superheroes.  Doing just the former doesn’t send a great message.

And for everyone going “But DC’s June #DCYou books!” Yes, ONE TIME DC put together a slightly more diverse lineup. SLIGHTLY.  That doesn’t mean they can stop doing that now, or that it’s cool to even things out with these new minis.

Published by Tim Hanley

Tim Hanley is a comic book historian and the author of Wonder Woman Unbound, Investigating Lois Lane, The Many Lives of Catwoman, and Betty and Veronica: The Leading Ladies of Riverdale.

19 thoughts on “DC’s Fresh And Contemporary New Minis To Be Written By 60 Year Old White Guys

  1. I do think it is important for new creators to be given the opportunity to show their stuff. I also think that older creators who have proven themselves should also be given work. The comic book biz has a long history of kicking old pros to the curb to promote the next hot thing. So I am happy that some of the best writers of the 1970s and 80s are still receiving paying gigs. I’d really have to judge these by how the actual comic books turn out.

    I am a fan of Aaron Lopresti. He is an amazing artist. He could to a great job on Metamorpho.

    On the other hand, why re-imagine Sugar & Spike as grown-up private investigators? What is the point, other than renewing the trademark on the title?

    The last time Marv Wolfman wrote a Raven miniseries (a decade or so ago) I hated the artwork and it totally ruined it for me. I could not enjoy the story because I could not stand the art. I hope that Wolfman is paired with an artist I like more this time around.

    1. I definitely agree with you about older creators, Ben, and I’m not saying don’t give them work. I just think some balance in the line might be good. At a time when DC is supposedly pushing for diversity and contemporary storytelling, hiring a bunch of white guys who have been working for them for decades is an odd move, to say the least. It doesn’t exactly scream fresh and new to me.

  2. “DC has a lot of talk in the USA Today article about continuing the characters in other books if the minis prove popular,”
    They said the same about convergence, and it didn’t got any spin offs

    1. I’m curious to see what happens with the universes “Convergence” opened up down the road. There’s been no direct follow ups yet, but I wouldn’t be suprised to see books set in different eras of DC’s history in the future.

      1. there is two versions: King, the writer, said that the old multiverse with the convergence cities survive.
        Didio just said that they will reveal what really happened eventually and it was a open end.
        Didio is seems to be against old multiverse coming back, and convergence was closure
        And then on June Marvel beat DC lol maybe things will change if numbers keep going down

  3. I think you got this a little wrong. For a start off, DC You is all about putting out a selection of books that encompass as large a fan base as possible, this means that a lot of books have been brought up to date and a lot of the current titles have got some incredible new talent on them. It also means that DC need books that target an audience that’s been around an awful long time, and audience that’s supported them for decades and bringing writers and/or artists that were working on some of these characters all those years ago is a great way of keeping those guys (myself included to an extent) happy.

    You also need to consider the fact that a mini series can be almost as difficult a sell for the big two as an OGN. The market on these formats is no where near as big as it used to be, meaning that for this to be a worthwhile endeavour for DC they need a big selling point, and that’s where the big names come in. Maybe it sells well enough to be moved into a monthly ongoing slot and at that point they can consider putting fresh talent on to it. DC have already proven they’re willing to put new talent on books with the slew of new titles that launched in June.

    I get that you’re trying to take a “progressive” look and stance to modern comics, you just seem a little misguided here. Not to mention that focussing so much on the age of the writers involved makes you look completely ageist. A balance needs to be found between modernisation and classic, and judging by their current line up of monthlies and these new minis announced, DC look to be doing a great job in the regard. As I said, DC You is for everyone, not just young new readers.

    1. To me, this is about the optics of introducing a line of mini-series that are supposed to be new and contemporary and having 7 of the 8 series be written by guys who have worked for DC for decades. Intentional or not, it doesn’t send a great message about DC’s commitment to diversity and fresh storytelling. Not that these guys still can’t tell great stories, but all of them at once is a bad call to me. It seems contrary to a lot of what they were supposedly aiming to do with #DCYou, and like I said above it almost feels like a course correction in a very unpleasant way.

    2. DC said that diversity would be: books and creators. But now they hire the same old talent?
      they can’t have it both ways

      1. You’re joking, right? I hope you understand the very idea of diversity is that *everyone* gets a fair shot, not just minorities. I’m all for diversity, but not at the expense of quality story telling. If an experienced writer, who happens to be white, pitches a better story than a new writer from a minority background then experience and quality wins all day.
        And if you stop and think for a moment, looking at DC’s current line of ongoing series you’ll see a huge amount of diversity. So yeah, they can have it both ways.

  4. You are incredibly racist. How many more times could you mention “white guys”? How did this medium start out? Oh yeah, white guys. I’m tired of the white male being singled out. Do there need to be more women and people of other colors in comics? YES. Do the people who have established themselves need to be kicked to the side like leftover meatloaf? NO. Stop usurping the past and trying to replace current writers/artists and the heroes they created. Bring in fresh talent of all colors shapes and sizes. Create new characters. Enough with the whining and wimpering. You are not entitled to erase the past. Create your future.

  5. Since DiDio is himself 55, I’m not surprised he wouldn’t think twice about assigning writers from his around his own cohort to the books he thinks need contemporizing. (I don’t think that word means what he thinks it means.) I have a lot of respect for those guys, but I’d also like to hear some new voices on those classic characters.

  6. “Old white guys.” Because there’s nothing fresh and contemporary to be found in the works of 60-year-old white guys. Wait, how old was Steve Jobs again?

    As a Hispanic 30something man, I am sick and tired of the “White old men” boogeyman.

    I am sorry, Wolfman -created- Raven. Made the Titans THE best selling book in DC during the 80s. If someone deserves to write a mini on Raven, it’s going to be goddamned Marv Wolfman, especially since Pfeiffer and Lobdell have made such a terrible spectacle of the Teen Titans.

    You know, I understand that you are trying to advocate for diversity, but I thought that diversity meant inclusiveness, and that means *everybody*- not simply brown people like me and people with a strict cutoff at the age of 30something, brandishing a “Go Away” sign being waved in the face of any pale old dude.

    As much as I respect your very insightful book on Wonder Woman, I am going to have to call you out and say- no, Tim, you are acting like a total ass right here, right now. Part of being actually diverse and individualistic includes listening to people who are often discarded and disregarded, people whom idiots and fools consider not worth anyone’s time because they assume they have nothing of worth.

    Like “old” people. You assume they cannot create anything fresh, you assume they cannot find new angles, you assume they cannot tell new stories, that they cannot possibly have anything into which they can pour their considerable experience that could possibly fascinate anyone.

    Because old people are only good for sitting back on their laurels and do nothing except ushering in the next generation gracefully, while tending to their gardens, kittens and tea kettles. Old me-


    What is that?

    Over there- yes, I do believe it is the shadow of Sir Terry Pratchett, Tim.

    He’s staring at you with such a look.

    I cannot fathom what words he would say to you, but I imagine they are the kinds of words that would leave very strong scorch marks in the air.

    You are a disappointment, Tim Hanley. For someone who allegedly admires Wonder Woman for her message of compassion and acceptance, you have demonstrated a very ugly side of yourself.

    1. This seems a bit dramatic.

      I wasn’t saying that old white guys can’t or shouldn’t write comics. I realize that the post got a bit snarky, perhaps more than necessary, but my larger point wasn’t about the creators’ personal abilities and talents but rather the message that DC Comics sends by introducing a new line of comics written by white men who have worked for them for decades. Old white guys have a lot to contribute, yes, but they’ve also already contributed a lot and I think the Big Two need to put more effort into women and POC creators, the type of people who’ve barely been given any opportunities to contribute. A line that’s primarily old white men sends a bad message about diversity at DC, intentionally or not.

      DC should absolutely hire old white guys, just not mostly old white guys. Like I said above, announcing all of them at once so soon after June’s mini-relaunch, which was advertised as a more diverse line (though in reality it’s only slightly more diverse than usual) makes it look like a course correction. Again, my issue is with DC, not the creators themselves.

      Some people have taken issue with the age part of the post, yourself included, clearly, and there are things I could’ve phrased better, but for me “old white guy” is a trifecta. It all goes together. It’s a statement on the type of people the industry usually hires, not a commentary on the individuals themselves. I realize it’s hard for older creators to get work sometimes, but it’s also been a lot harder for women and POC to get work for the entire history of the comic book industry even to this day. I don’t particularly care who these creators are and what they’ve done. Individually, they’re all quite skilled. I care about the ratios. I care about the sort of people DC hires in a macro sense. If it was all young white guys, I would have been similarly annoyed. Their age simply adds an element of all of these creators already having MANY opportunities in comics over the past few decades, already establishing their marks on these characters, while women and POC haven’t had such opportunities. White guys, even the old ones, have had massive advantages in this industry that everyone else hasn’t.

      In short, old white guys are fine. They have things to contribute. But DC needs to hire more than that and in this line they didn’t (apart from Amy Chu, who is great but just 1 of 7 on 1 of 8 books here), and I think that’s worth calling out. I should have made that more clear in the original post, and I did so on Twitter yesterday evening. Perhaps I’ll add my tweets as an addendum to the post. I’m sorry you were disappointed. My aim wasn’t to say old white guys should be excluded but to point out DC’s broader lack of inclusivity.

  7. As much as I appreciate Marv Wolfman, Tim’s point was that you can’t claim to be putting out new material from the same old crew of regulars. And, yes, when the line-up is overwhelmingly white males of a certain age, that should be pointed out.

    DC should’ve have mixed the best of the past with the most promising of the present, that way, you’d get the best of both worlds. Instead of getting mad at the messenger, maybe some of you ought to let DC know that they shouldn’t give lip service to diversity when it comes to their artists and writers.

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