DC Comics announced a major promotion today. Marie Javins, who along with Michelle Wells was interim co-editor in chief of the comics publisher following a post-merger reorganization by AT&T, has been named the sole and permanent EIC.
Daniel Cherry III, himself a new hire as DC’s general manager, praised Javins, saying in a statement that “Marie intrinsically understands the power of comics and their unique ability to entertain and empower, which makes her a perfect choice to be DC’s next Editor-in-Chief. In addition to her many creative talents, she’s also incredibly committed to increasing access to this amazing industry by mentoring the next generation of comic book creators and helping them find their voices. I look forward to working with her in her new role.”
Hiring Javins is a nice piece of unvarnished good news at a time when we all could use a nice little winning streak. There is the obvious plus: she is only the second woman to head up one of the Big Two comics publishers, a sea change in perspective and a really big deal for representation in the industry.
That perspective has enabled her to also be one of DC’s sharpest eyes for talent and story hooks. As an editor, Javins has shepherded some of DC’s best books in recent memory, including Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles and Superman Smashes the Klan. Mark Russell, the writer of Snagglepuss, Prez, The Flintstones, that awesome Lex Luthor comic, and several other things, credits Javins for bringing him into the DC fold.
It’s not just who she’s brought in or the stories she’s encouraged as an editor that gives us hope for the future of DC Comics, though. Also of note is which characters she chooses to point to as inspirations.
“As a young girl devouring comics of Wonder Woman, Nubia, and Supergirl, I never dreamed that decades later, I’d be at the helm of the mighty DC Comics,” she said in a press release. “I’m incredibly honored by this responsibility, and will dedicate myself to supporting and challenging DC’s extended family of staff, talent, retailers, and partners around the world in our quest to tell innovative visual stories that both reflect and expand our world—and in some cases, our galaxy and multiverse.”
Nubia is Diana’s Black pre-Crisis sister, wiped out in the 1986 multiversal reboot and set to be reintroduced in DC’s big winter crossover Future State. DC has, of late, made a big push to diversify its line, both in terms of the comics and characters – Future State looks to be a joyful, massive, new talent collective brainstorm – and in how the publisher talks about them. The company message since FanDome seems to be “we’ve got a multiverse that can do anything, and characters that can represent anything. Let’s just do it.”
After Cherry’s announcement, he posted a brief statement on LinkedIn saying that this is the company’s business strategy moving forward. “While always respecting the past, I also think it’s our responsibility to leverage the cultural power of DC Comics and our characters to entertain and inspire an increasingly diverse global fan base. Comics have the unique power to create resonant imagery and narratives that can move the world toward a better, more inclusive version of itself.” Javins’ elevation seems to be a part of that attitude.
She’s also a line worker taking over as the boss. Javins got her comics start as a (very good!) colorist at Marvel. While high-profile promotions like this are usually followed up by what can generously be described as anodyne corporate back patting, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. The reaction from comic pros around the industry is unqualified, uncoordinated praise, from front office folks to creatives to the back-of-the-house editorial staff who have worked for her.
While Javins’ promotion is a victory for representation, it’s not like the company’s bottom line is going to be hurt by this new focus. In calling out Wonder Woman, Nubia, and Supergirl in her statement, she might be signaling DC’s new focus on diverse characters, but she’s also flagging DC’s most successful movie and television series. So with any luck, Javins’ promotion will mean good things for storytelling at DC and for fans of the comics. But at the very least, it will hopefully be a nice, stable cap for the folks working there, who have had a long, tough year.