What If... DC Comics decided to end Batman once Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane had left?
Would we have gotten Batman: The Dark Knight Returns?
What If... Vertigo decided to not end Sandman with Neil Gaiman?
Would we have gotten something akin to Nancy Collins' Swamp Thing following Alan Moore's heralded run?
What If... DC Comics had continued Starman after James Robinson's departure?
Would his have have remained the "definitive" Starman run?
With writers John Rogers and Greg Rucka leaving the titles Blue Beetle and Checkmate, respectively, I'm left with this question:
"Is there really anything left for anyone else to say?"
Let me elaborate, new comic launches are a risky proposition nowadays. With the market being what it is, in order for a book to survive a new superhero launch has to be...
A. An extension of an already popular title or character i.e. Supergirl or a Robin.
B. "From the pages of..." a popular event such as what DC did to launch Blue Beetle after Infinite Crisis.
C. A very specific vision on the creator's part.
Books such as Sandman, Starman and John Ostrander's Spectre were considered to have fallen into the category of "C" and allowed the rare liberty to end as the writer saw fit. These runs have gone on to be heralded as classics of our storytelling medium. Whereas, comics such as Swamp Thing were allowed to go on, eventually petering out under the weight of the respective legacies their "definitive" writers left behind.
The above mentioned were uniquely creator-driven comics.
Comics such as Blue Beetle, Checkmate & Matt Fraction's Immortal Iron Fist, to me, fall into the C category, as well.
Blue Beetle and The Immortal Iron Fist are two of the quirkiest comics to have hit the stands in years and in much the way I just cannot imagine anyone other than Keith Giffen writing Ambush Bug, I just can't see anyone bringing as unique an energy to these two characters. It was because of this particular energy that we came and maybe stayed in the first place. Without that particular vision to guide it gone, will these titles be able to sustain themselves independent of their roots?
That said, the next few months will find me at the crossroads.
On one front, I'll most likely stick around for Matt Sturges' Blue Beetle run. I adore the character and Sturges seems to love it as much as anyone. Sturges is great on Jack of Fables and I really enjoyed his first issue of House of Mystery. Here's the "but."
He's not Grant Morrison. Who is? Only someone with the stature of a Geoff Johns or a Morrison can sustain a low-selling title such as Blue Beetle. He shows up, readers show up. Sturges, while an excellent writer, can't sustain a title, not just yet any ways.
Checkmate had Rucka's handprints all over it: a love for all things procedural, an adoration of the interconnectivity of the DC Universe and pacing that unfolded as the story saw fit. Checkmate was heaven for a Rucka/DC fan. Next month finds this title written by Bruce Jones, a man known, in my circles, as "an excellent jumping-off point." Nothing against the man but everything I've read by him lately has left me cold. After reading Nightwing for nearly a decade, his run was what made me finally drop the book. I hate to say it like this but I believe they should have canceled Checkmate outright rather than let it come to the end I see for it, imminent cancellation.
The Immortal Iron Fist? I just don't love the character that much. Matt Fraction on the hand...
Characters like Superman and Batman can sustain themselves due to their iconography and the fact that once popular they, by necessity, had to become a collaborative effort. Nowadays, with every comic rapidly being swept up in "events" it's truly refreshing to see comics such as a Blue Beetle or an Immortal Iron Fist, comics that aren't necessarily directly tied into an editorially, bottom-line driven agenda. Essentially, these comics were allowed the space to grow and tell their stories, essentially becoming comics with a vision.
These are the comics that I love to read.
So, my question is two-fold:
"Will you still read a comic once a certain creator leaves?" and...
"Should more titles become "retired" once a creator's told the story they set out to tell?"