When the DC Universe streaming service launched last year, what could have been its biggest strength wound up being its biggest weakness. For years, Marvel has been expanding their own Marvel Unlimited service and it currently contains a large swath of their published material. When DC announced DC Universe, many assumed it was going to be the same style service, only also including the movie and TV selections being announced.
Indeed, when I was able to play with a demo of the service at San Diego Comic Con, that’s exactly what it seemed like. I looked at one title specifically, because it was one that I knew the gaps of in Comixology. I knew exactly where the digital issues of Action Comics had gaps, and it was exactly the same on the app. However, when the service launched, the selection was much more limited. It was a highly curated and rotating list, focused mostly on things that were relevant that week or month. Who has a movie coming out? Who’s guest starring on a TV show? That sort of thing. While useful, it was not near as inclusive as I had hoped.
At Wonder Con last month, DC announced that this was changing. They announced plans to bring their library of content to over 20,000 comics and to start putting new releases on the app a year after print date. This is slightly longer than Marvel Unlimited’s six months, but still a great boon for DC fans.
In April they started adding comics in weekly themed blocks. The first big block was adding a bunch of their event comics and tie-ins. The following week, they added thousands of Golden, Silver and Bronze Age comics. And then last week, they added over 8,000 comics from what is commonly called their Post-Crisis era, 1985-2010.
This last one was huge, because it’s the era that got me into comics, so I decided to dig through and see what was added. It looks like just about everything I can think of is in there, including full runs of the triangle era Superman books, all of Nightwing and Birds of Prey, and much much more. However, I noticed one big exception.
When I looked at the Green Lantern series from 1990, issues #1-47 were not there, but everything from #48 to the series conclusion at #181 was there. Turns out that issues #1-47 were written by Gerard Jones. In fact, the digital footprint of Gerard Jones on the app seems to be just seven issues that he co-wrote of Justice League Europe. Jones was a rather prolific writer for DC Comics in the early 1990s, writing long runs on Green Lantern (the aforementioned #1-47, plus the Mosaic series, both Emerald Dawn mini-series, and the first ten issues of Guy Gardner) and two different Justice League titles (Justice League Europe #14-57 and Justice League America #93-113). In the DC Universe app, Mosaic and both Emerald Dawn‘s are missing entirely, Justice League Europe goes from issue #13 to issue #51 (#51-57 are the lone comics that seemed to have slipped through), and Justice League America seems to just end at #92.
Now there is a very good reason that these comics aren’t included, even if it means swaths of DC history aren’t represented and some events are missing tie-ins (No issue #0 of Justice League America to tie into Zero Hour and no Green Lantern #46 represented with the Reign of the Supermen story). In 2016, Jones was arrested in his San Francisco home on charges of child pornography. Jones initially pleaded not guilty in 2017, but changed his plea to guilty in 2018, and was sentenced to 6 years in prison with 5 years of supervised release in August 2018.
It’s nice to see DC take a stand on allowing Jones’s work to represent the company on digital platforms. A small number of the issues are available on Comixology, but for the most part, it’s like Jones’s work never existed. I hope to see DC take a similar route with other bad actors in the future, even if it means the Green Lantern books on its service are severely reduced.
UPDATE: Before publishing, I sent an email to DC Universe’s customer service team to thank the people responsible for this decision and to point out the issues that slipped through in my research. As of May 6th, the remaining issues that Jones wrote of Justice League Europe are no longer on the app.