J.H. Williams III, the Eisner-winning artist who co-created Promethea with writer Alan Moore, took to social media last night to express his unhappiness with the character being revived as part of the DC Universe proper.
Created as work-for-hire at Wildstorm prior to DC's purchase of the company, Promethea is technically DC's property -- but like other America's Best Comics properties Moore developed at the time, the publisher has previously declined to use them after Moore's departure. Wink-and-a-nod acknowledgements like that are the kind of "deals" made to be broken when it comes to big companies exploiting intellectual property they own, though, and a Bleeding Cool report broke the news that Promethea would be appearing in the next issue of Justice League of America.
"So, this is without affording me the dignity hearing about it from proper channels," Williams tweeted, quoting the original report. "I've not brought this to Alan's attention, doubt he knew, until now. Besides that, I can't in good conscience condone this happening in any form at all."
Moore has long had a rocky relationship with DC; he left the company after a disagreement over the rights to Watchmen and V For Vendetta (those are the broad strokes, anyway), and only worked for them again after they purchased WildStorm from Jim Lee while Moore was in the middle of his ABC work. His second split with DC was no kinder, and in the years since, he has often singled the publisher out when criticizing the state of mainstream American comics.
Williams has had a better relationship with the publisher, working with them on projects like Seven Soldiers of Victory and drawing numerous Batwoman stories with writer Greg Rucka. His last major DC project was Sandman: Overture.
Here, though, he took pains to insulate writer Steve Orlando and artist Neil Edwards from ire, saying that "Regardless of the creative team's intentions, DC has again, acted with impunity. And I doubt the team is aware of this. So they shouldn't get dinged for it."
Beginning last year, DC has been integrating many of its non-DC Universe properties into the DCU proper while telling "stories about stories." Taking a somewhat more "meta" approach allows them to use Sandman's Daniel in Dark Nights: Metal or Watchmen characters in Doomsday Clock without invalidating the stories they previously appeared in for the purposes of continuity.
Because many of DC's sacred cows involve Alan Moore, the writer's work is so commonly represented in such stories that it can almost feel like he is being targeted. Besides Doomsday Clock and Promethea, Moore's Tom Strong -- another America's Best Comics character -- will appear in DC's forthcoming series The Terrifics.
Neither Moore nor his Tom Strong collaborator Chris Sprouse have commented on the use of Tom Strong. Moore has expressed frustration but not surprise at DC's continued use of Watchmen properties in the past, and during a panel at New York Comic Con, Doomsday Clock writer Geoff Johns said that he and DC reached out to Moore ahead of that series' launch, but neither received nor particularly expected to receive any response.0comments
Moore, for his part, seems mostly resigned to the whole thing, seemingly preferring to focus on his current work and put his time in corporate comics behind him. Whenever a character or concept that he developed at DC is being exploited for a current comic, Moore ends up giving an interview where he poo-poohs it, leading to him being characterized by some fans as bitter. That he rarely seeks out these opportunities to comment and generally only answers questions presented to him in interviews means that others fall more on Moore's side of things.
Promethea is rumored to appear in Justice League #23, out Wednesday from DC. You can arrange for your local comic shop to get you a copy, or pre-order a digital version today.