DC Change-Up: Writers Address Creative Change Controversy


DC Comics announced Monday that Christy Marx would be taking over Birds of Prey, presumably thanks to her successful launch on Sword of Sorcery. And Constantine #1 will be launched by Ray Fawkes and Jeff Lemire, who are currently co-writing the character as part of their run on Justice League Dark.

But the news left DC fans scratching their heads, because both announcements were switches from the originally announced writers on the books. Robert Venditti, who starts on Demon Knights this week, was originally supposed to launch Constantine — and had even detailed his plans for the title here on Newsarama. And Jim Zubkavich had not only been announced as the new writer as of Birds of Prey #18, but had also recently talked to Newsarama about his hopes for the team.

So what happened?

Apparently, the switches came for two completely different reasons, but at the same time. Venditti backed off his title willingly, because he was short on time. And Zubkavich (known better as "Jim Zub") was allegedly ousted by editorial.

Constantine Switcheroo

"I began writing Demon Knights with a finite story in mind," Venditti told Newsarama, "but DC liked my ideas and scripts so much they asked me to stay on the title. That put me in the position of having more books on my schedule than I was comfortable writing. If I start missing deadlines or, worse, rushing scripts, that doesn't help anybody.

"So [Co-Publisher] Dan [DiDio], [Editor in Chief] Bob [Harras] and I talked and decided Constantine was the one to let go," the writer said. "I'm sorry to lose a chance to work on the character, but it ended up being the best possible solution."

Although some bloggers and fans have come up with conspiracy theories about his exit from Constantine, Venditti emphasized that it wasn't true, referencing his long-time association with Top Shelf, where he wrote the comic-turned-film Surrogates.

"For anyone searching for controversy, I'll just add that Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes, and I go way back, since we're all part of the Top Shelf family," Venditti said. "I was glad when they stepped in on Constantine. Relieved, actually, since I didn't want my editor to be left hanging."

Newsarama also talked to Fawkes, who was already linked to Internet chatter when he was announced as a fill-in writer for Gail Simone on Batgirl, which she was, by her reports, removed from then rehired after further discussion and massive fan backlash.

But Fawkes, who's co-writing Constantine with Lemire, said the switch on this title's launch wasn't too much of a shuffle for the two writers. "We had been talking with Rob [Venditti] about Constantine when he was originally set to do the book," Fawkes said. "And when he stepped away — when he said he didn't think his schedule would allow it — I think Jeff and I were probably pretty logical for the DC guys to just say, hey guys, what do you think? Do you want to take this on? And there wasn't a lot of hesitation on our part."

Venditti confirmed that he is going to be working on a different project for DC, in addition to Demon Knights, although he couldn't detail what it might be. He is also continuing to work on X-O Manowar for Valiant.

Birds of Prey Change-Up


On the other hand, Jim Zub — best known for his hit Image series Skullkickers — told Newsarama his exit from Birds of Prey was something his editor informed him about. But he also mentioned that he was surprised by the "conspiracy theories" dancing around the Internet.

"I wish I'd had a chance to tell the stories I was planning, but that's not a surprise or any kind of conspiracy," he said. "I don't think it's fair to Christy, who I wish nothing but the best to as she takes over Birds of Prey, or anyone else to drag out the conversation with 'what if' or sling mud around.

"Rachel, my editor on Birds, called to let me know about the creative team change. It was a sudden and unexpected switch, obviously, but I was notified. I didn't find out first via email, the CBR interview or Previews solicitations being posted," he said.

Newsarama talked to Marx earlier today, who said she has just started working on concepts for the team. "I was interested in the mix of characters and the possibilities they offered. And I do love kick-ass women," she said. "In general, it’s too early for me to say anything more. I’m still absorbing a ton of previous material and doing my initial thinking about the direction."

Meanwhile, Zub said he's also doing other work for DC, "a one-shot story, which I can't say more about just yet, but I'm pumped to see it released." And he's keeping busy elsewhere. The fourth story arc on Skullkickers begins in late February ("and it's still available for pre-order with the re-launch-errific Uncanny Skullkickers #1," he added). And he has "a couple short stories in the upcoming Super Street Fighter graphic novel for UDON arriving in stores Jan 23.

Readers can also find his work on Pathfinder for Dynamite, which has issue #4 releasing this week, as well as Klonoa and Wonder Momo for Namco's ShiftyLook website, which updates every week. Zub has also completed writing book 2 of Makeshift Miracle, a graphic novel coming from UDON in late summer/early fall.

Of course, the creative team switch on Birds of Prey and Constantine are only a couple of the many surprising developments Newsarama has noted from DC Solicitations. Check back with Newsarama as we continue to track developments.

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