DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Kick-Ass co-creator John Romita, Jr. will take over Superman this summer, DC Entertainment announced today via the DC All Access webseries. You can see the video embedded below. It's not a stretch to say that this is the biggest "get" of big-name talent from another publisher on DC's part since they bought WildStorm, bringing Image Comics co-founder Jim Lee back into the DC Comics fold, in 1999. Lee is currently the company's co-publisher, sharing the role with Dan DiDio, who was present for Johns and Romita's announcement today via YouTube.
During his long career, Romita has drawn The Amazing Spider-Man, Daredevil, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers and Wolverine, among many other Marvel titles. This represents the fulfillment of last night's promise of a major announcement about a "super" guest on the show, appearing via laptop alongside Johns and Dan DiDio. the guest, of course, was Romita. Romita has worked almost exclusively for Marvel during his long career, and while he's worked on some creator-owned projects at other publishers during those thirty-plus years, he's never had a regular project at DC. For much of his career, Romita--whose father was a Marvel Comics legend--has been locked down by exclusive contracts to Marvel. Recently, his last exclusive reportedly ended in 2013, and the artist admitted to ComicBook.com that he was in negotiations with the Marvel to renew for a one-year-only exclusive contract--but that he wouldn't feel bad, or guilty, or that there was anything else he wished he'd done, if that didn't work out. He wanted the job security of a contract, he said, and from a sentimental perspective it would be nice to wrap his work-for-hire career at Marvel. Still, he has a handful of potentially more lucrative and creatively-satisfying creator-owned books on the horizon, and so wherever he ended up in 2014, he said, the plan was not to be there anymore by 2015.
"All of the creator-owned projects that I have lined up, with writers that I am absolutely enthralled to work with, are all about a year down the road before they're prepared," Romita told us. "Neil Gaiman, Mark Millar, Mark Waid and so on–so those guys won't be ready until a year hence. Which means I can do one of two things–just go freelance and play around or I can just sign a one-year contract with somebody to do a storyline that I want, which is a good possibility because I have a couple of plots lined up that I'm really fascinated by." He told us at the time that he had a large-scale, sweeping cosmic story in mind for a superhero. He said that Superman was one of the handful of characters who could be used to tell it. "Yeah, there's a good chance I'll do some work for DC. There's a better-than-good chance now," Romita told ComicBook.com back in August. "It really just came up because we couldn't agree on a contract with Marvel. And there wasn't any kind of nastiness or anything like that, just a disagreement here or there. DC is anxious to do something and I actually had a story idea they really liked that applies to Superman." He added at the time that it was a high-powered story with cosmic scale that could, if his negotiations with Marvel went the way he hoped, be repurposed as a Doctor Strange or Silver Surfer story--but the interview came not long after rumors of him jumping ship to DC had already started to take shape, and a high-profile, new Silver Surfer title by Dan Slott and Mike Allred had just been announced. His focus, he told us at the time, will be on his creator-owned works going forward, but a number of projects he's got in development, including comics with Neil Gaiman and Robert Kirkman, won't begin to take shape for about a year. "Which means I can do one of two things–just go freelance and play around or I can just sign a one-year contract with somebody to do a storyline that I want," Romita explained. "Which is a good possibility because I have a couple of plots lined up that I'm really fascinated with. One of them applies to a couple of characters, one of which is Superman, and I'm excited about the storyline. It would apply to Superman very well. It would [also] apply to Silver Surfer, it would apply to Doctor Strange, but I'm fascinated at the thought of doing something like applying this to Superman."