Charlotte McDuffie, the widow of the late comic creator Dwayne McDuffie, has filed a lawsuit against the revived Milestone Media for neglecting to include McDuffie's estate in the new venture.
According to Variety, the lawsuit alleges that at the time of his death in 2011 after complications from heart surgery, McDuffie owned 50% of Milestone Media, with Derek Dingle the owner of the other half. Instead of buying out McDuffie's shares of the company, Dingle -- along with Reginald Hudlin and Denys Cowan -- formed Milestone Media Company LLC. Dubbed Milestone 2.0, the company planned to use characters that McDuffie and his partners made famous, like Static Shock and Icon. According to Hudlin, the idea for a Milestone relaunch originated when he met Dingle and Cowan at the former Marvel and DC writer's wake.
Charlotte McDuffie claims she has met "stalling and stonewalling tactics" after inquiring about Milestone 2.0. The new company is working with DC Comics to launch an imprint with the Milestone heroes, while also negotiating with other publishers “all the while utilizing the intellectual property rightfully owned by Milestone, without compensation to Milestone or McDuffie’s estate, and without the consent of the Plaintiff or McDuffie’s heirs.”
A tolling agreement was reached in April that sought to settle the dispute, but -- with the filing of the lawsuit -- those talks look to be off the table for the moment. In response, Milestone's partners issued its own denial of the suit's allegations.
Two years ago at Comic-Con International in San Diego, DC Comics announced plans for a revival of Milestone characters such as Static Shock and Icon, who represented a major push towards increase diversity in the 1990s. This followed a few months later after the initial announcement of Milestone 2.0. It’s been quiet on that front since, with virtually no updates in the interim.
“We’re still talking with Reggie [Hudlin],” DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee told CBR News at a press event last year, citing the busy schedule of Hudlin — in a leadership position of the new Milestone — as part of what’s affected the revival’s progress. “First off, he was a producer on the Academy Awards, he’s directing a movie based on a former Supreme Court member [Thurgood Marshall]. He just finished that up. We talk like once a week or so. It’s still moving forward, albeit at a slightly slower pace.”
Milestone’s comics debuted in the 1990s as part of a unique publishing partnership with DC. Milestone was a separate company, but its comics were published and distributed by DC, who shared the profits while Milestone retained creative control. Though the Milestone characters were originally depicted as existing in their own separate fictional universe, a later revival starting in 2008 saw them integrated into mainstream DC continuity. It’s not yet clear if the new material will interact with DC’s mainline titles.
Milestone Media was founded in 1993 by Denys Cowan, Derek T. Dingle, Michael Davis and the late Dwayne McDuffie, with the goal of promoting diversity in the comics industry through both its characters and behind-the-scenes talent, along with an emphasis on social issues.