Free the Vertigo Three!

Despite the fact that I don’t usually read comics news websites–which should be readily apparent to anyone who’s noticed the surprise on my face when I read through Previews every month–I did eventually get around to reading through Newsarama’s post-52 interview with Grant Morrison, and there was a bit that stuck out to me.

When he’s asked about which parts of the story were written by which writers, Morrison mentions that he “wound up with the space team because Animal Man was in there and the only way Vertigo would allow us to use Animal Man prominently was if I wrote the character,” my emphasis added.

Clearly, this can mean only one thing: Vertigo is holding DC’s characters hostage for their own sinister ends.

Admittedly, nobody wants to see more Grant Morrison Animal Man than me, and with the announcement that Adam Beechen’s going to be writing a mini-series about the Space Heroes, it looks like they’ve relaxed their stranglehold on Buddy Baker, but still: This aggression will not stand, man.

Don’t get me wrong: By and large, I love Vertigo and what they’ve done with most of the characters they’ve absorbed into their gothy, over-inked empire over the years, but you know what? Animal Man wasn’t a Vertigo book. It was a DC book for mature readers. And so was Hellblazer. And Swamp Thing. And yes, even Sandman.

I’m not saying that I want Jesse Custer to show up to teach the Teen Titans about self reliance or anything, but the characters that were imported from DC ought to be able to show up in the DC Universe for more than just a guest spot in Hawkman, especially if they haven’t had their own series in twelve years. I mean, come on: Dream of the Endless showing up to help the JLA fight Starro the Star Conqueror? That was awesome.

So tonight on the ISB, I’m taking a stand, and if you’re like me–if you want to see John Constantine teaming up with the Justice League like Tug, and if you want to see Swamp Thing show up and remind everybody that no, sorry, Geo Force is not “approaching Alec Holland levels,” no matter how much Brad Meltzer wants us to think he is–then gosh darn it, let ’em know!




And perhaps most importantly…



You hear me, Karen Berger? Let My Swamp Monster Go!

36 thoughts on “Free the Vertigo Three!

  1. Bang on, Chris. Even though I know you’re being tongue in cheek. But I’ve long bemoaned the fact that, for example, the relationship between Zatanna and John Constantine apparently can’t be further explored, because one lives in the DC Universe and the other’s a Vertigo character. For that matter, I’ve always thought Constantine was a lot more interesting when he lived in the DC Universe–the Trenchcoat Brigade and all that. The kicker is, I absolutely agree with the neccessity of some characters reaching an end to their stories and not being endlessly milked by the more commercial DC titles, but when they actually *started out* there, all bets should be off. Hell, we can use the new 52 multiverse to explain it–one version of Constantine lives in his own world, the other hangs out with Ambush Bug and the Doom Patrol between cases.

  2. “I’m not saying that I want Jesse Custer to show up to teach the Teen Titans about self reliance or anything”

    Well now I do.

    And I don’t even like Preacher that much.

  3. Yeah. Identity Crisis mind-erasing so called heroes? Batman? Alex Luthor? They’re nothing compared to the real master of puppets Constantine.

    But sadly I think the good old JC, Swamp Thing and Dream et al are part of a golden past. Wouldn’t like to see them confined to the rules of this stranger postmodern Didiotic DCU.

  4. When Daniel showed up to save Hector and Lyta in one of the last issues befor “OYL” of the previous volume of “JSA,” it was a total mark-out moment for me. I mean, sure, my friends who read “JSA” had no idea who he was or what was going on, but I thought it was awesome! We need more interaction like that.

    Same as how I wished and wished and wished back in 1993 that Superman would get to hang out with Death in “Adventures of Superman” #500. How cool would that have been? I could see her saying something like “You know, for a boy scout you sure are ticked off right now.” Gold! Pure gold!

    Also, Geo Force sucks. Enough to make me question purchasing the upcoming “Showcase Presents: Batman & The Outsiders.”

  5. Chris,

    You must review this week’s She-Hulk in The Week in Ink. I realize this comment has nothing to do with Freeing the Vertigo Three, but rather than lamenting that you did not review it in the comments for The Week in Ink, I decided to perform a pre-emptive strike to be certain it gets reviewed.

    Thank You,
    Gary E. Poisson

  6. Hell. Yes.

    I want to add two more:

    Tim Hunter
    Black Orchid

    But absolutely, above all: Free Alec.

    I figured this silliness was done with when the Doom Patrol got their Vertigo memories back and Animal Man starred in 52. Apparently not. For that matter, I’d thought it might be over when Wes Dodds and Dian, Scarab, and Hector and Lyta were allowed to appear in JSA

    The original justification was to segregate the mature-readers books from the DCU books, which never really made sense given Green Arrow, Spectre, Demon, Hitman (and Starman? I forget). The idea that the Spectre-reading kiddies had to be protected from the likes of Tim Hunter– wtf?

    But now that JLA is testicles-and-tail and Nightwing is erection jokes and JSA is dismemberment and decapitation and the CCA hasbeen thrown out the window; and now that *none* of the DC-Vertigo characters except Constantine have ongoing titles that a kiddie might accidentally pick up off the shelves because they thought the character was cool in that Batman crossover; it’s just absurd.

  7. More Morrison Animal Man would be like snorting a big ol’ pile of mind warping goodness.

    I approve.

  8. “I’m not saying that I want Jesse Custer to show up to teach the Teen Titans about self reliance or anything”

    Sometimes the greatest ideas are born from random comments.

    Hell, it has to be better than Titans East.

  9. Luke, I had the exact opposite reaction with Daniel in the JSA. I mean, his parents are dying in the most undignified way possible, and the reader doesn’t even get to see their son one last time? I’m sure there are some copyright issues, blahdy-blah, but as a fan of JSA AND The Sandman, I thought they both deserved a bit more dignity.

    Overall, I don’t see why Vertigo characters (who weren’t even Vertigos to begin with) can’t exist in both “places” at the same time. I mean, can’t we just avoid referencing the “too” “adult” stories of the character in Vertigo while still having them active in the DCU? Buddy came back (even with references to is fourth wall antics) – why not all of them?

  10. I agree with everything in this post, with one exception. I started a very similar thread in Kevin Church’s forum, but got lukewarm reactions from my fellow forumites. Anyway, you’re right and these guys should return in the DCU. Well, not be a part of it in the way the Teen Titans are, but more in the way Arcan just described. Which pretty much was the case back in the heyday of those books.

    I’d also like to see the Doom Patrol more. And the Deadman. And all those characters shoved from DCU unpopularity into a Vertigo lame makeover.

    The exception I referred to in my first sentence is that there’s no Alec; he’s dead. There is only Swamp Thing.

  11. This is the first ISB post where I basically had no clue what Chris is rattling on about. I feel… befuddled, confused, and just a little scared.

    Hold me.

  12. What kills me about John Constantine is that several mainstream DCU writers have tried to use him, been refused, and have been forced to make their own “homages” of the character. Some examples include Rasputin in the old Firestorm book, Ambrose Bierce in Stanley and his Monster, and oddly even Willoughby Kipling in Doom Patrol.

  13. I’m conflicted. I’d love to see John back in the DCU, but at the same time I think his series is handled very well by Vertigo. I’d love to see him appear in giant company crossovers as in Crisis, but at the same time i wouldn’t want to see Shadowpact make special appearances in Hellblazer… or maybe i would. Constantine and Chimp would make a good series.

  14. Kid Chris Says:
    Constantine and Chimp would make a good series.

    Sort of cries out for a Brian Bolland cover, dunnit?

  15. Definitely. Been feelin’ this one for ages now, and really, all it takes is a firm editorial hand to keep things from getting silly. OH LET IT HAPPEN. They just make everything a little more mythic and well-rounded.

  16. Oh, yeah!

    Constantine and Chimp would be amazing!

    They could drive around in a Big Rig, solving supernatural crises, and totally snarking other mystical folk in the inbetween times.

    Oh, Please, DC? Please???

  17. Also, just because John Shows up in Shadowpact, doesn’t mean the crossover has to be reciprocated into John’s book.

  18. Somehow, I doubt Karen Berger cares too much about whether or not John showing up in Shadowpact will scar little kiddies.

    Paul Levitz, on the other hand…

  19. This is the first ISB post where I basically had no clue what Chris is rattling on about. I feel… befuddled, confused, and just a little scared.


  20. Anyone read the “Twilight of the Superheroes” pitch?

    If that isn’t absolute proof positive that we need John Constantine in the regular DC Universe, Unca Cheeks “If I ran the Justice League feature is.”

    Errr… Don’t ask. Just Google it.

  21. You guys remember that one issue of Secret Origins that Neil Gaiman wrote where John Constantine shows up for one panel and declines to comment on why Gotham City seems to attract so many crazies, because he’s “not from around here?”

    That was awesome.

  22. I agree with two of the three – but leave Constantine in his “own” universe. This book is really about *OUR* universe, and the role of the laughing magician in it. There’s a strong tension between what’s actually happening, what Constantine thinks is happening, and what he tries to make everyone think is happening that would lose something if he were to appear in superhero books. They’d be, dare I say, far too plebeian for a man who can deal with devils and not only walk away unscathed, but winners. It was weird enough to have the swamp thing in the early books – gave me a really strong shiver of disconnect to see the big green guy jump out the end of “Original Sins.” Sure, he’s played a part since, but a relatively minor one, and the ‘things’ that Constantine deals with in his day to day life are far too real to exist in the same world as Batman or the JLA. He’s just not a “comic” in the same way that comics are.

  23. I dunno. Why not just say that the big-and-bright four-color characters don’t know, can’t know, and don’t want to know about the parts of life that Constantine confronts? He deals with a much nastier shade of demon than Zatanna knows how to confront; he fights threats that Superman would never notice; and he deals with traumas, sins, and horror that exist in the world, far beneath the notice of space-cops. It’s partly, as Moore said about Swamp Thing in the JLA issue, that he watches some places that no one else would think to watch; but it’s also partly that he deals with things that no one else would be mentally or emotionally equipped to deal with. (It’s better for Constantine to deal with the really horrible stuff than for Superman to end up in Ravenscar because he’s not up to it! Not that “Superman in Ravenscar” might not have been an interesting Vertigo Visions one-shot.)

    In the Hellblazer/ Books of Magic crossover, John told Tim that the hell Tim had been to wasn’t nearly as bad as the one John dealt with all the time. I found that satisfying enough. Just recognize that the magical world is a messy and complicated place that has some neighborhoods that are much nastier than others.

  24. Greetings,

    My name is Rich Handley, and I maintain the website “Roots of the Swamp Thing” at, an extremely detailed chronology of the Swamp Thing/Hellblazer mythos. Since you are maintaining a “Free Alec” and “Free Constantine” campaign, I’d like to add a link to your site, and would be grateful if you would do the same for me, so we can drive traffic to our related pages. Thanks very much. I hope you enjoy my site, and I wish you luck with your campaign!

    Rich Handley

  25. I, personally, like to pretend that the Swamp Thing’s been back in the DC Universe ever since the end of Millar’s run, floating about as the spirit of the Earth and generally overseeing the advancement of the world’s consciousness. Meanwhile, the third and fourth “Swamp Thing” series never happened, because v3 was lackluster at best and v4 was outright crap.

    Of course, I also like to pretend that Infinite Crisis never happened, and figure that anything worthwhile in it could easily have been done better without being part of a Grand All-Spanning Mega-Event, so obviously, I’m not who the Dark Triumvirate of Didio, Johns, and Rucka are writing for.

  26. The articles said: “I mean, come on: Dream of the Endless showing up to help the JLA fight Starro the Star Conqueror? That was awesome.”

    What issue did this happen in? Did I miss this moment? I would kill to see it!

  27. Convincing potential readers of DC like me would be a lot easier if some of their best comicbooks of all time were paid due respect. Animal Man circa #19, and anything Alan Moore did on Swamp Thing for example. If it was a choice between losing Superman or Swamp Thing… Buh-bye Superman. I always much preferred Captain Marvel anyway.