Gerry Conway was a pretty prolific comic book creator. He co-created the Punisher at Marvel Comics and also wrote the story where Gwen Stacy dies in The Amazing Spider-Man. He also introduced Spider-Man villain the Jackal and co-created Man-Thing. At DC Comics, he co-created Firestorm as well as the Deserter, Vixen, Vibe, and Gypsy. He also introduced Killer Croc and Jason Todd to the Batman mythos. Conway also wrote the first ever intercompany crossover with Superman vs the Amazing Spider-Man.

Conway would take a hiatus from comics around 1993, but would return in 2009 and write The Last Days of Animal Man. In 2011, he would write DC Retroactive: Justice League – The ’80s one shot. He would also work for Marvel on a Carnage series and he would pen the first nine issues of The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows.

Needless to say, he’s a well-respected comic book creator who’s had a major influence on the industry. However, he has a radical idea to completely change DC Comics.

He would add on to this idea.

And then he pointed to Valiant Entertainment’s Valiant universe as an example.

Conway prefaced this idea by saying that “traditional white male superheroes were all created at a time when the default hero was a white male.”

He would then add “clinging to the past is silly.”

But after he posited his idea he then seemed to back down saying he believes it’s an “impossible dream.”

Valiant Entertainment did restart their entire universe. However, there is some nuance to why that happened. The original Valiant Comics was founded by former Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Jim Shooter and lawyer Steven Massarsky in 1989. The company would eventually be sold to Acclaim Entertainment in 1994. Acclaim would then declare bankruptcy in 2004. That’s when Dinesh Shamdasin and Jason Kothari founded Valiant Entertainment in 2005. However, it wasn’t until 2012 that Valiant Entertainment launched its publishing division. The books had been out of print for almost a decade. The universe had basically died. It made restarting a much easier decision.

As for Conway’s idea to blow up the DC Universe and keep continuity in a secondary line, it just wreaks of ignorance of the current state of the comic book industry. Marvel Comics essentially tried to do this with their universe. They sidelined their core characters in favor of brand new characters who would take up their mantles. They introduced Ri Ri Williams, America Chavez, Jane Foster Thor, and more as part of their Marvel NOW! initiative in 2015. The first year would see positive returns for the industry in total comics and graphic novel sales. Comichron reports 2016 saw “a $55 million increase over sales in 2015.” However, 2017, would paint a very different picture as readers became accustomed to the new stories. Comichron would report, “retailer orders for comics, graphic novels, and magazines fell 10% to $522.25 million, the largest percentage drop since 1998.”

It doesn’t look like it would make very good financial sense for DC Comics to take Conway’s radical advice. Instead, DC Comics took their own advice and introduced the New Age of DC Heroes that are books that debuted out of the Dark Nights Metal series. It introduces a number of new characters and series including Damage, Silencer, the Immortal Men, and more. So far, they’ve all been pretty solid stories with very interesting characters. DC Comics has also been promoting their Earth One graphic novels which showcase a different universe than the prime DC Universe. The graphic novels have all seemed to do pretty well. Green Lantern Earth One HC Vol. 1 was the #2 graphic novel in units shipped this past March.

Conway’s advice might not be an “impossible dream” as Marvel Comics clearly had similar thoughts to Conway, but DC Comics were wise to not pursue that strategy. In fact, they actually toppled Marvel in December of 2017 in the share of the top 300 comics. DC Comics held 42.07% of the market with Marvel holding 40.27%.  Marvel would attempt to make some major changes with the promotion of C.B. Cebulski as their new Editor-in-Chief. He would usher in the Fresh Start Initiative which began this month with Avengers #1. With an apparent course correction underway, Marvel would reclaim the stop spot with total share of units in the top 300 being 46.58% compared to DC Comics’ 35.82%. For comparison sake, in January of 2015, Marvel commanded 51.06% of the share of the top 300 comics while DC Comics only had 28.51%.

Do you think DC Comics should take Gerry Conway’s advice?

  • About The Author

    John F. Trent
    Founder and Editor-in-Chief

    John is the Editor-in-Chief here at Bounding Into Comics. He is a massive Washington Capitals fan, lover of history, and likes to dabble in economics and philosophy.