Dan DiDio: 20 Answers, 1 Question for January 23

Dan DiDio: 20 Answers, 1 Question

Final Crisis #7

With apologies for running a couple of days late this week (we’ll be back on schedule next time – promise) we’re back with another installment of 20 Answers, 1 Question with DC Universe Executive Editor Dan DiDio.

This week – is Final Crisis #7 really going to be in our hands next week? When will we see the Red Circle characters, and what’s going on in Brave and the Bold in the meantime? Why didn’t President Obama show up in DC Comics? Why weren’t people yelling from the rooftops about the end of Final Crisis #6? And of course…wherefore poor Wally West?

Let’s jump right into it.

1. Is Final Crisis #7 still scheduled for January 28th?

Dan DiDio: Absolutely. We’ve put the book to bed, it went out, and what’s even better is that due to the overwhelming response we got to Final Crisis #6 which led to its sell-out, we actually have the second printing of #6 coming out on the same day. So next Wednesday, people will have #7 in their hands, as well as the opportunity to pick up #6 as a second printing if they missed it the first time around.

2. Let’s talk Titans – what more can be said about what’s going on with the “Deathtrap” crossover story that’s coming in both titles?

DD: We’ve been playing up Jericho as the lead antagonist in the story, and the reason as to why he’s the “antagonist” and not the “villain” is that we’re trying to give a real explanation and reason as to why he’s going through the moves and machinations that he is. What we revealed in Decisions, where Jericho was revealed as that book’s villain, we found out that Jericho, in leaping from body to body has also been picking up character traits and memories of the different people he’s been in, so it’s been leaving his mind a little shattered and rambling. And of course, because he’s spent most of his time in the mind of his father, Deathstroke, he’s been left very tainted towards the Titans, and on a dark and dangerous path.

Teen Titans Annual 2009

The Titans themselves are out there to protect their own, but also realize the fact that he has to be stopped. So we’re crossing the story over in Titans and Teen Titans, and we’re also bringing in Vigilante, because the Vigilante character had ties to the Teen Titans before, so we wanted to include that as well, and give a nice platform to explain the motivations of, and the platform of the new Vigilante.

There will be a lot of fun twists and turns along the way, and the good part is that both the Titans and Teen Titans sides of things will be handled by one writer, Sean McKeever, and he’s working very closely with Marv [Wolfman] on Vigilante, so we’re looking at something that should feel very seamless as it flows from book to book, comic to comic.

3. While there is a new Teen Titans team that’s coming in with “Deathtrap,” would you say that the storyline is something of a re-establishment of the status quo for the Titans franchise?

DD: I think so. There will be a lot of twists and turns for the Titans over the next year or so, just because of the characters that will be coming and going, but realistically, this is a nice spot for us to point out the direction for the series – not that it’s a new direction, but it firmly establishes what the key teams are in both books, and more importantly sets up what may be coming down the road in the next year.

4. We’ve talked about the Red Circle characters, and how they’re no longer coming back in Brave and the Bold but in their own series of specials. Can you say any more about when we might see those specials start up?

DD: That’s going to be starting up this summer, and Joe Straczynski will be writing the specials, and if the response to those specials are strong, we hope to have series following them coming up quickly afterwards.

NRAMA: And when will he be starting on Brave and the Bold?

DD: Because of the slight change in direction with Brave and the Bold, and with Joe finally getting to do the crossovers in the series that he originally wanted to do, we want to get a few of those scripts in the can first to get us going. As we’re building inventory on Joe’s run on ,b>Brave and the Bold, we’re going to be doing some interesting mixes in the series itself. There will be a Booster Gold/Magog crossover by Dan Jurgens, and there will also be a series of stories featuring DC and Milestone characters in mixes that you don’t normally see in the comics they’re appearing in right now. So there’s a lot of fun stuff coming up in Brave and Bold, and a lot of twists and turns that we think will have people excited and bring some energy back to the concept of a team-up book.

5. Something that is timely given what we’ve seen in comics up to and including Tuesday – when will President Obama be appearing in a DC Comic?

DD: There are no plans at all. The reason why is that over the past ten or more years, we have never gone to any lengths to include actual political figures into any of our books, and see no reason to change that right now. The world that our characters exist in is a fictional world that touches upon ideals and sensibilities of the real world, but we don’t like to mix it to any great level in regards to real people and real events. My feeling on it is that I have always preferred that the President in the DC Universe, if not one of our characters such as Luthor, be a character that reflects the sensibilities and attitudes of the current Administration, without ever featuring individuals in the books themselves. It’s just my opinion. I’m pretty comfortable with how we do it, and even though it seems to be the flavor of the day in a way, I prefer just to concentrate on the books we’re doing and the stories we’re telling now.

6. Let’s talk about Final Crisis #6 – the book, as you mentioned, did well for you, and sold out, but that was the “conclusive” death of Batman, despite the conclusion of the “Batman R.I.P.” storyline in the Batman series in December – and no one really paid attention. I mean – you showed the body…?

DD: I agree – and as I said, the book did sell out, but also, it’s issue #6 of a 7-part series, so that issue #7 is one of the things that we want people to read to understand the full scope of the story that’s unfolding.

Also, we’ve been pretty upfront about what our plans are for Batman and the Batman family, and I think that everyone needs to hang on until Final Crisis #7 hits the stands. Following that, we can open up the discussion on our publicity for it.

7. When it does come to seeking and getting mainstream media attention on a big story such as the “death” of Batman, is it what it appears to be, that is, a delicate combination of not wanting to go to the well too many times for what may be seen as trivial twists of story as well as not wanting to try to hook someplace like The New York Times with something that can seem like crying wolf?

DD: Again, I think some of that will be answered with people see Final Crisis #7. If we went over the top with issue #6 in presenting the conclusion of that issue, we would have looked very foolish at the conclusion of issue #7. At this moment, I’d rather let the product speak for itself.

8. The forthcoming James Robinson Justice League book…

DD: Sure – right now the Justice League story that he’s telling, because of the quality of the painted art that we’re getting, it’s moving slowly. Again, we’re very conscious of our schedules and putting books out on time. We’re also conscious of the fact that we made a mistake in getting out a little too early with this book. We were all excited that James was working on a Justice League project, so we got it out there probably a little too early for our own good, and we’re going to be a little more judicious on how we release our information. I don’t want to get everybody overexcited about it, but the book is on its way.

9. In terms of launching a second book within a franchise – it’s a matter of reducing the risk as much as you can to make sure you’re not halving your Justice League of America audience while being sure that the franchise can support a second title?

DD: Right. It’s not about splitting it. We want to make sure there’s enough strong characters in every series. We don’t want to oversell the same characters in every book, but we want to make sure there are enough strong characters to carry every series. To be quite honest about this, because of what we were doing and the stories that we were telling with Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to wait a moment to let those stories to clear through Justice League of America first before starting up a second Justice League story behind it.

10. How big of a role will Aquaman play in Blackest Night?

DD: Large enough to both excite and frustrate the fans. [laughs]

Green Lantern #40

11. Will there be a central character in Blackest Night? Is is a Hal Jordan story overall, or is it a larger, more ensemble story?

DD: It’s a DC Universe story, but naturally, because of the subject matter, Hal plays front and center to everything going on, but there’re rumors that Barry Allen might play a key role in what’s going on in Blackest Night as well.

NRAMA: Rumors within the DC offices? [laughs]

DD: Even we can’t stop rumors anymore…[laughs] But given the writer of Blackest Night, and his inclinations, I have to believe that characters like Hal and Barry will be front and center.

12. Directly from one of the readers - what are the chances of seeing an all-ages DC Universe title with art that’s more comparable to the regular titles rather than the material that’s produced for younger readers?

DD: Like Ethan Vansciver doing Super Friends?

NRAMA: Not specifically Super Friends, but it’s a common question – something for more of a ‘tween and early teen audience…

DD: Well, we did do a number of series aimed there, with books built off the animated interpretations of our characters, and we always found sales wanting. Quite honestly, going to numbers for a second, a book like Tiny Titans sells twice as well as a Teen Titans Go!. It’s as simple as that. I think what we need from the kids books is a clear delineation of what they say and what they stand for, and need to address the market that we’re pointing them at.

A ‘tween market, if you’re interested in addressing that – ‘tweens and young teens are probably more interested in what we’re doing on the main line than reading something that’s created separately for them. If we’re really going after a kids market, or an all-ages market, we’ve found that it needs to be geared to that younger market, and that’s what we’re doing with the kids books. And also – ‘tweens and young kids like to watch up and read up – to get into stuff that’s just a little bit older than where they are.

I think people sometimes forget what brought them in when they were kids. An Uncanny X-Men by Claremont and Byrne, or a New Teen Titans by Wolfman and Perez and even the Legion of Super-Heroes by Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen – a lot of those books are books that current fans now point to as being what brought them to comics when they were kids. Those were sophisticated books with adult characters in adult situations, and not something that was written for kids or for an all-ages audience.

I like the direction the kids books are going in, and I feel confident in them, and more importantly, I think it’s the right way to go, to offer something different, not just another flavor of the same thing.

Flash: Rebirth #1

13. One question that keeps coming back with the return of Barry Allen as Flash. What’s the role of Wally West going to be?

DD: That question is great fodder for story, and what will be taking place in Wally’s life. He will be trying to figure out his place in the world in regards to being a hero and a family man, given the turn of events and the return of Barry. The return of Barry basically forces Wally to ask himself why he would want to continue, and should he continue in the role of the Flash? He took the mantle on, and “graduated” from Kid Flash to Flash because Barry died, and now that he’s returned, Wally has to question what he wants to do. He also gets to reexamine his family life, and see where he fits in and what exactly his purpose is. That’s going to be the centerpiece of a lot of stories in Titans and beyond in the coming year. Wally will be featured very prominently in Titans following the conclusion of Flash: Rebirth. We’re going to be addressing all of that – there’s a lot of story left to be told with Wally.

14. Let’s go again about the next weekly series – is there more than can be said at this point in terms of when it will start and what it might be about?

DD: The next weekly series takes place over a three-month period, and starts this summer. It’s a rather interesting way to provide weekly stories – in a format that people are very familiar with, but not in comics.

15. You’ve said before that the exploration of the Multiverse is Grant Morrison’s domain for if and when he wants to do it. Is that something that the market could support now, or is that too much of a “DC wonk” type of thing that needs the fanbase to be solidified a little more before giving it a try?

DD: Let’s go through the idea of the Multiverse first. Grant has a very clear, concise interpretation of so many of the worlds that inhabit the Multiverse – that’s one of the reasons I say it’s Grant’s playground, because he really understands it, gets it, and knows what the full potential is. So, realistically, I’d rather work with Grant on exploiting the potential as he sees it, and I think the fans will react very positively to it. If he even comes close to executing the ideas as he’s described them to me, I think there’s a lot of potential here that can go beyond just one-off stories.

As for why I want to hold it out for Grant and not just have everyone jumping into it, I think that, over the years, we’ve over-used the concept of multiple universes, multiple timelines, multiple dimensions and all of that, and I want to get back to the core of what’s going on in the DCU. That’s what’s great about Blackest Night - that story is special in a sense that it really is set in the DC Universe proper, and concerns the characters that inhabit it. There’s no reason to go beyond that. It’s about the world that our heroes live in, and the dangers that that world, that universe can contain. That’s the kind of thing that I really want to focus on in 2009.

NRAMA: So would it be fair to say that the concept is being back-burned for a while, not turned around and played with immediately like it was between 52 and Countdown?

DD: You’re going to see a couple of things being “rested” after Final Crisis - the Multiverse is something that we’ve really used, and maybe overused over the last year. So now we can pull it back and bring it back slowly. It’s out there and available to us, but just because it’s out there and available doesn’t mean that we have to run to it immediately following this story.

The other thing we’ll give a rest to as well is the concept of the New Gods and the ideas surrounding them. There’s a very clear conclusion to the New Gods’ storyline in Final Crisis #7. The good part about it is that readers will see that ending, and we won’t have to return to it right away. Like the Multiverse, the New Gods will be out there and available to us, and we can use them when we see fit, and feel the time is right. Just because we introduced concepts doesn’t mean that we have to constantly use them. That’s one of the mistakes that we’ve made before, and hopefully learned from, and won’t have to make again.

16. Let’s talk solicitations – there’ve been some mix ups with Final Crisis issues, with solicitations for #6 suggesting a fight between Superman and Darkseid, and possibly more about Darkseid than there was in Final Crisis: Secret Files. What happened there?

DD: You’ve got to remember that the purpose of a solicitation of to provide information to retailers so that they can order our material on the schedule that we provide it. As we’re doing it, some of the things that are being solicited are still in production, and not final, but we have to solicit them anyway, due to the solicitation process. Therefore, you might have instance where something is not complete or 100%, leading to solicitations that are slightly different to the final product, or even, in rare circumstances, somewhat off base. If it’s severe enough, the books are returnable, and that’s the system we’re under.

Previews has become an information source for readers, but the reality is, it’s part of the distribution system, not part of our promotions system. Everybody misunderstand the purpose of it – we need to provide as much information as we have available to the retailer so they can make out fully thought out decisions in ordering our product.

Plus – you’ve got to understand that when Previews sees print, that’s actually material that we’ve pulled together two months earlier, so we’re pretty far from the delivery date of the actual final project, so there’s a chance for things to change. Every company has the same problem – I’m sure if you scan every company’s solicitations, you will find a number of discrepancies between what is actually listed and to what actually comes out.

17. What’s the status of Legion of 3 Worlds?

DD: We decided that, even though it’s connected to Final Crisis, the story’s events take place in the future, and therefore it didn’t have to run lock-step in conjunction with the main series. Legion of 3 Worlds is essential to the DC Universe and tied to Final Crisis, but because stories take place in a future timeline, it doesn’t need to come out in the same way that Revelations did.

18. Again, one directly from a reader – now that Manhunter and Ran/Thanagar: Holy War have ended, where should fans look to see Kate Spencer and Animal Man again, respectively?

DD: We have an Animal Man miniseries coming down the pike very soon, which is titled “The Last Days of Animal Man,” which will be coming out in 2009, and Kate Spencer will be showing her face in Gotham City very soon.

19. Jerry Ordway is coming on with Geoff Johns on the last few issues of JSA before Matt Sturges and Bill Willingham take over the writing on the series. It’s been solicited that the story Jerry and Geoff will be telling focuses on the Marvel Family – is that the extent of what Jerry will be doing with the Marvel family?

DD: At this moment, yes. Jerry and Geoff are telling a very strong Marvel Family story that’s centered on Black Adam – it’s more of a Black Adam family story, actually. As for the Marvel Family, Freddy will appear in James Robinson’s Justice League story; we have plans for Mary, and then ultimately Billy down the line as well. Again, the goal is not to throw everything out there immediately, but to roll stories out when they seem to make the most sense.

20. Finally for this time - one reader noted that it’s been 50 years since Supergirl’s first “official” appearance in DC Comics. Are there any plans to celebrate that anniversary?

DD: We don’t have any plans at this time – Supergirl is a key part in the New Krypton storyline that’s unfolding, and she’ll be a key player in the Superman titles for 2009. She has a level of prominence in those stories, which will bring her back to bring one of the major characters in the DC Universe. We’re just wanting this year to be about doing good comics with the characters that people love.

Okay – and my question for you – we’re at the start of convention season for another year, and I’m wondering why do you go to conventions? Back when I started, it was just to hunt for back issues, and then it was about getting back issues and meeting creators, and then it was about sitting in on panels, and then it was about getting previews and teases about what was to come. So that’s the question this week – why do you go to conventions?

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