The Defining Moments of BOB HARRAS, New DC Comics E-i-C

Friday Flashback: X-MEN #1 (1991)

We all know that Bob Harras was just named Editor-in-Chief, VP, by DC.  That’s the first time that the EIC title has been active since 2002, when Jenette Kahn (EIC for sixteen years) moved on.  We’ll have to wait until we have more information to see what that means in DC’s current situation (given the Tiamat-like multi-headed power structure), but we did decide to take a look back at some defining moments on Harras’ career.

Assistant Editor: Harras began his tenure at Marvel Comics as the Assistant Editor to Ralph Macchio.  Macchio had control of a number of books, mostly licensed, that included Dazzler, ROM, U.S. 1 (for those who don’t know, it was a book based on a trucking track toy, set in space!), and Micronauts.  Scoff at a couple of those if you must, but Harras later ascended to the top of Marvel’s licensing strata by earning the editor slot on G.I. Joe and co-editing the original G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover (with Don Daley).

How Many Books?!: Harras’ resume is actually rather stunning.  If you do a name search for him at Comics.org, you get 6400+ credits.  Granted, that’s split between writing, editing, overseeing collected editions, and so on, but that scope is fairly tremendous.  Among some of the titles that he worked on in the ‘80s were Sectaurs (that’s right; two issues of the insectoid heroes based on toys that had puppet mounts they could ride), Spitfire and the Troubleshooters in the New Universe, The Incredible Hulk, The New Mutants, Uncanny X-Men and more.  Among the big moments within those editing rotations?  Harras offered Peter David his first writing run on “Hulk”, Rob Liefeld became penciler of “New Mutants”, and Jim Lee got on board “Uncanny”.

Writer:  It’s well-know that Harras had a lengthy run on the Avengers, writing the book regularly from July 1991 to February of 1996.  He was one of several writers that crafted the “Operation: Galactic Storm” event in 1992.  Harras also emphasized some of the B-list Avengers, making characters like Black Knight, Sersi, and Crystal crucial to his stories.  He also co-wrote the Avengers story, “The Crossing”, the labyrinthine crossover featuring Evil Tony Stark/Teen Tony Stark that occurred just prior to “Heroes Reborn”.

In addition to the Avengers work, Harras regularly wrote Namor (seven issues from 1992 to 1993).  He wrote Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. in 1988, and its spin-off/follow-up, Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 1989.  Among the many titles that Harras would fill-in for in his career were “Hulk”, “Thor”, “The Thing”, “Iron Man” (annuals, actually), and, for the other side, “JLA” (six issues between 2005 and 2006).  Harras was also the regular writer on Breach, a DC series that ran 11 issues between 2005 and 2006; the character died during the final issue of Infinite Crisis.

Group Editor/Editor-in-Chief:  Harras’ march up the editorial ranks gave him the reins on X-Men, and eventually the whole X-Men “group”.  He was the editor on X-Men when that title debuted to 8.3 million units sold in 1991.  By the mid ‘90s, Marvel attempted a strategy that gave editorial control of families of titles to five group editors and the editors working under them.  As elements of that were problematic, Harras eventually became the solo Editor-in-Chief in 1995.  Among the more interesting titles to launch during this period were Thunderbolts and Mark Waid’s take on Ka-Zar.  The massive (and massively successful) X-crossover Age of Apocalypse occurred during this period.  

Knocks on Harras’ tenure included the “Heroes Reborn” deal (which farmed most of the Avengers family out to Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld, a move that was plagued with delays and certain takes not clicking with fans, particularly “Captain America”) and the Spider-Man “Clone Saga” (which began before his tenure, but rolled on until December of 1996; it was actually Harras, according to Andrew Goletz’s ”Life of Reilly” part 24 from 3-5-2008,  that decided that a returning Norman Osborn would be revealed as the master villain).  Harras would later be dismissed from Marvel in 2000 following circumstances that occasionally rise in internet legend.  Regardless, he was replaced by Joe Quesada, who continues in the post to this day.

DC:  Harras became a Contributing Editor for WildStorm in 2001, then group editor for collected editions at DC.  He was also identified as the editor of the new DC “Who’s Who” project as of March, 2010.  And now, he’s VP and Editor-in-Chief.

Lingering Questions:  Harras joins a DC that’s obviously in a state of flux.  They’ve had successful events of late (Blackest Night, etc.) but have also taken heat from fans over the direction of books (Rise of Arsenal, Titans, etc.).  Harras is widely identified as a finder of talent and an acknowledged event manager; how do those skill sets play into master plan at DC?  With him identified as the head of both DCU and Veritgo, does that mean sweeping changes are coming to either/both lines? Your move, Mr. Harras; what’s your next defining moment?

What is Harras's defining moment so far in your opinion?

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