Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso joked around. Avengers writer Brian Michael Bendis worried about retailers. Talent guru C.B. Cebulski said he was “excited” as a reader, “terrified” as a pro, and interpreted the promised creative shake-ups as vote of no confidence by DC in their own creators. Yes, plenty of prominent Marvel staffers reacted publicly to DC’s big announcement of a simultaneous line-wide relaunch and day-and-date digital comics program on Tuesday, but one of them emerged as one of the move’s most prominent defenders: Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort. On his Twitter and Formspring accounts, Brevoort repeatedly praised the Distinguished Competiton’s move as a smart, gutsy maneuver that’s precisely what the publisher needed to do to attract a larger readership.
Here are a few choice quotes from Brevoort on the topic, edited slightly for clarity; click the links for full context.
“Just to be clear, for all of the irate DC readers out there, I genuinely think this is the kind of bold and daring thing that DC needs to do. I can sense the hand of my old boss Bob Harras in it, among others. And I’d never bet against a JL book by @GeoffJohns0 and @jimlee00.”
“I think it’s actually a smart play….This is all-or-nothing time for DC. They’ll give this their best hit.”
[Reader question:] Do you feel DC now has Marvel in a stranglehold or did they just jump off a cliff?
[Brevoort:]I don’t think the reality is either. I think doing something like this where they can make a big splash is absolutely necessary for them at this point. It feels very much like an “all-or-nothing” gambit to me. But it’s not like Marvel is jst going to curl up and die; we’re going to continue to publish all of the great stuff that we have been, and all of the great stuff that we’ve got planned. And anything that pulls more people into the stores is a good thing. I’ll happily take DC on on the racks.
[Reader comment:] DC Comics just made it 100% certain I’ll never pick up another book anytime soon. I hope I never have to see such a desperate move from Marvel. Rebooting/Revamping the DC line since the first crisis has only led to terrible things. Make mine Marvel!
[Brevoort:] I’m happy you feel that way, but I don’t really agree. At this point, doing something massive like this is the smartest thing that DC can do in order to try to capture a large audience and get them to check out their books.
[Reader question:] How do you feel about what looks to be the end of DC comics?
[Brevoort:] This is hardly the end of DC Comics. It’s just a change–the same kind of change that DC’s gone through three or four times in the last three decades. It’s all good–and might help to reinvigorate both their line and the industry as a whole.
[Reader question:] What DC is doing is mystifying. I can’t without any certainty claim that it is a publicity stunt but lean towards this as an act of desperation on their part. A company rich in tradition shouldn’t turn their backs on their exisiting fan base. Your view?
[Brevoort:] I don’t think that DC is turning their backs on their existing audience, I do think they’re trying to appeal to a wider audience, though. This isn’t just a publicity stunt, though it may well be a desperation ploy–only time will tell on the latter. But this isn’t about disrespecting the existing, dwindling DC audience, it’s clearly about trying to get enough additional people through the door to insure that they’ll still be a DC Comics in five or ten years.
Obviously, Brevoort’s allowing for the possibility of failure here. Elsewhere, he criticizes the new Justice League’s lack of diversity, and questions (and jokes about) whether or not the books DC will release between now and September will be ignored by readers because they “don’t count.” Still, his admonitions against labeling the move a stunt, his repeated dismissal of the notion that the move represents a betrayal of fandom that will end the DC Universe as we know it, and his guarded optimism about the plan’s prospects for successfully attracting new readers to both DC and the industry at large comprise one of the more sustained defenses of the move I’ve seen so far, and from an unlikely source who could just as easily have stuck to critiques and jokes or said nothing at all.