Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Breaking News: Bob Harras Named DC EiC

DC announced yet another stunning bit of news today, this time taking pretty much everyone off guard with their out-of-nowhere announcement that former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras has been named DC's new Editor-in-Chief.

Exactly what this means, mind you, is a bit unclear; DC hasn't actually had an Editor-in-Chief for years. But with the recent restructuring of the company, with Dan DiDio and Jim Lee named co-publishers, the elimination of Wildstorm from the face of the Earth and the move of everything non-comics to Los Angeles, it's clear that DC has some sort of game plan they are finally implementing.

The fact that that plan leans heavily on Bob Harras, however, is still a shocker on some levels. For the past several years, after all, Harras (who was once also writer on Avengers) has been toiling in near-obscurity as the editor in charge of DC's collections department -- collections as in trades and reprints, not as in billing. That position is about as far as you could get from Harras's glory days when he presided over Marvel Comics from 1995-2000.

Just how fans are going to react the news is almost as unclear as just what Harras's role will be in relation to DiDio and Lee. Many fans remember Harras as editor most for the whole Heroes Reborn fiasco (and I use the word fiasco in terms of fan reaction, not in terms of sales, as by all accounts the event did what it was intended to do). Harras is also somewhat unfairly held responsible by many fans for the many troubles Marvel had during this time period, when the company went bankrupt. That really stemmed from things way over his head, but the trickle down effect -- and the poor quality of many of the titles he inherited during the whole 90's Image/speculation era -- have led many fans to forget all the highlights of Harras's tenure in favor of the lowlights.

Among those highlights, of course, are not just the Heroes Return relaunches, which led to such fan favorite teams as Kurt Busiek and George Perez on Avengers, but also the greenlighting of Busiek's Thunderbolts series, the creation of the Ultimate universe and the launching of Marvel Knights, which eventually ushered in the era of his successor, Marvel Knights honcho Joe Quesada.

On balance, then, Harras's hits probably outweigh his misses as he helped return Marvel to a firm creative foundation after the near disaster of their bankruptcy. How his style or experience will effect DC, with their increasingly elaborate editorial structure -- in addition to DiDio and Lee, DC also has Geoff Johns on board in the official capacity of Chief Creative Officer, whatever the hell that is -- is a big question mark.

One thing is for sure though: DC is definitely shaking things up. And judging by their sales and the vocal complaints of the internet minority, anyway, that can't be anything but a good thing. Here's hoping Harras can straighten things out.

For more on the promotion of Harras, here's Newsarama with the press release and CBR with industry reaction.

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