Dan DiDio: 25 Answers, 1 Question - 04.29.09

Dan DiDio: 25 Answers, 1 Question

Flash: Rebirth #2 - variant cover

This week, it’s like 25% more for free!

We started on our regular Q&A with DC Universe Executive Editor Dan DiDio, and well, frankly, lost count. So while we were trying to so a version of the “Lightning Round” style questions that DiDio answers at convention panels that are quick and to the point, we ended up with 25 questions instead of 20. But never fear – DiDio kept rolling as long as we did, and hit us back with 25 answers.

1. Let’s get right into it – are there any plans for the Creature Commandos and Ultraa the Multi-Alien? They were brought back in the New Krypton arc, played a minor role, but haven’t been seen since…

Dan DiDio: The answer is that they are all part of the bigger story that is taking place between earth and New Krypton, and more importantly there are plans for them in the future.

2. This one came up a couple of times in this thread – and the best phrasing of it was this: usually the Crisis stories and major crossover events have ramifications across the company line. There seems to be an awful lot of confusion as to what Final Crisis actually accomplished as far as that goes. So what were the ramifications of Final Crisis other than the apparent death of Bruce Wayne and the return of Barry Allen?

DD: Let’s see – there was a lockdown of the multiverse, which means it’s no longer readily accessible as we were using prior to that in Countdown to Final Crisis. The aspect of the New Gods and Darkseid have been removed from the DC Universe so that he is no longer a threat for, and they are no longer allies for the heroes in the DC Universe. We also saw the death of Martian Manhunter at the start, which had several ramifications, including the start of Justice League: Cry for Justice as well as events leading into the Run! miniseries. We saw the introduction of the Global Peace Agency, which leads into the Escape miniseries, we re-established a new Tattooed Man, who stars in the new Ink miniseries, and we’ve also showcased and introduced for the first time the Super Young Team who are appearing in Dance. So I feel that not only did we remove characters form the DC Universe, but we introduced new characters who are appearing in new and upcoming stories.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Run #1

And in the Final Crisis Aftermath books, you’ll see a definite tone that plays out from Final Crisis itself.

3. Can you give any information about the Superman crossover that’s coming up in August?

DD: I can’t give much information other than to say that it deals around the events and situations that are taking place on the world of New Krypton.

NRAMA: So it’s a New Krypton-based story?

DD: It’s a New Krypton-based story taking place within the Superman group of books.

4. Someone with a good memory for your comments asked about the other weekly comic series coming. At one time you had said there would be two following Trinity, albeit different in scope than Trinity. Wednesday Comics is one, is the other still on the table?

DD: Absolutely. We’re looking at launching it in 2010 right now. There will be a few months’ breathing room after Wednesday Comics, and then we’ll be talking about a new weekly at the beginning of next year.

5. Something that Tony Bedard mentioned back at the start of R.E.B.E.L.S. – there was a companion project that was planned to go with R.E.B.E.L.S. – is that still happening?

DD: Sure is - there’s going to be a one-shot story of Starro the conqueror that will introduce Starro in a brand new light coming very soon.

6. Something that comes up with some regularity – why does DC Comics still participate in the Comics Code Authority? As a reader pointed out, the CCA seal gives the same message, despite what book it’s on – that some objective, third party has deemed these books to meet a certain criteria. That said though, the seal is on Tiny Titans as well as the last issue of Action Comics, which was mostly, a bloody, brutal fight between a mother and her child, something that would have earned it at least a ‘V’ for violence, and perhaps even a ‘TV-14’ rating if it was on television instead of comics. When the Code encompasses such a wide variety of material, does that erode its meaning?

DD: The Code has certain sets of parameters that it abides by, and whether it’s Tiny Titans or Action Comics, they all abide by those same parameters. Books like Tiny Titans, which we deem to be geared for children, while Action Comics is geared for all ages, the Code itself applies to an all-ages grouping. We choose to separate Tiny Titans out and make it for a younger skew of the audience.

I think what the person may be looking for is a stratification of age-specific reading, but the reality is when we built our children’s books under the Johnny DC logo, those were always meant for a younger audience, and anything with the Comics Code on it is deemed to be acceptable for an all-ages audience. So honestly, the Code applies to a wider grouping than just kids books. At this particular point, we feel that the separation between the kids line and the all-ages line is distinct enough to preclude us from creating another classification system. Both types of books are distinctive in the way they are presented in their packaging.

7. We have a few more questions asking about the Batgirl series – is it something that’s still out there, or is it something that will be retro-solicited after, perhaps, the conclusion of the Oracle miniseries?

DD: No – it’s not going to be retro-solicited. It will be hitting shops in August. As will Adventure Comics.

8. Is there any sort of marketing push centered on Wednesday Comics in order to get the word out about the material to the audience beyond the Direct Market?

DD: You mean talking about it on Newsarama isn’t enough? We thought that it was… (laughs)

NRAMA: I would agree, but for those who may see things differently…

DD: We’re out there, and we’re looking for various venues in order to get a better sense of sampling for this, and we’re working very closely with other divisions to see what’s the best way to get this thing into the most hands.

9. There seems to be some confusion about the length of World of New Krypton – issue #2 if 15 on the cover. Has the number of issues in that series changed?

DD: That was a mistake – it’s actually a 12 issue series. There was some minor confusion between that that and a follow-up series.

NRAMA: A follow-up series to New Krypton?

DD: Did I say that out loud?

NRAMA: I think you did.

10. Any word on who will be sharing the art duties on Batman & Robin with Frank Quitely?

DD: We’ve selected our artist, and we’ll be announcing them soon. I’d prefer to have the book on the stands before announcing who the next artist will be – let’s get Frank’s work out there and give it a chance to shine before people start to worry about what’s next. But he’s currently working on another project, and will start his arc on Batman & Robin as soon as he’s done with that.

11. There’s a Blackest Night teaser with Aquaman. When did he die?

DD: Aquaman died in the Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis series after he had been transformed into the squid-faced mentor of the new Aquaman.

NRAMA: But yet he appeared in one of Brad Meltzer’s Justice League issues, and was in Final Crisis.

DD: The Aquaman in Brad’s JLA story, if I remember correctly – we only saw a bit of him, and that was actually the new Aquaman that was floating around at that time, and the Final Crisis Aquaman was one from an alternate world in the multiverse, as there were some characters slipping back and forth between worlds at that time. Grant has mentioned that, and it will be reiterated in Blackest Night #0.

12. You’ve had Jose Ladronn doing covers for Green Arrow/Black Canary. Will he be doing more around the DC Universe?

DD: I think so – you’ll have to forgive me for not knowing exactly, but he’s one of the go-to guys for the team here, and seems to enjoy the work a great deal.

13. A question about the Justice League: Cry for Justice miniseries and the JSA vs. Korba: Engines of Faith – both seem to be stories that affect the larger teams, respectively, so why pull them out as separate miniseries rather than folding them into the main series?

DD: In this particular case, the Justice League story is presented in a different style, and we felt it has a unique look, flavor and tone that separates it form the ongoing series, and that’s one reason why it’s being presented in that fashion. Especially with the painted style – it has a completely different feel than the regular series.

As for JSA vs. Kobra, the story is very Kobra-centric, so it’s a matter of splitting time between the team and the new Kobra organization that was introduced in the Faces of Evil issue. So, with that one not being solely focused on the Justice Society, we felt that pulling it out of the main series was justified. Also, given the size of the cast of JSA, we’re not adverse to putting out more material that features that group of characters, and allows more of them a chance to shine on their own.

< b>14. This one isn’t a question about how it ends, but rather, when Battle for the Cowl wraps up, will readers know who’s behind all the masks? I think this is specifically directed towards Red Robin, with some implications about Batgirl as well…

DD: There’s only one mystery character behind a mask at the conclusion of Battle for the Cowl. Just one that readers will be unaware of his identity.

15. You’ve said before that Grant has first dibs on a multiverse story, and he’s commented that he does have some ideas – is this something that’s even tentatively scheduled at this point, or is it just a plan for down the road when Grant gets time?

DD: It’s a matter of Grant’s schedule. He does have things he’s working on aside from Batman & Robin – his projects for Vertigo, as well as things he has going on outside of DC in Hollywood. So the thing for us is that when he’s ready and available, we’ll put him on the fast track with it.

16. Where is Ambush Bug #6?

DD: Right here on my desk.

NRAMA: Complete and finished?

DD: Ummm…a work in progress. It should be out within the next month to month and a half at the latest.

17. A question that was asked in the context of Marvel’s recent re-introduction of Spider-Man 2099 – will we ever see more of Batman Beyond in the DC Universe?

DD: We touched upon him in Countdown, I know, but as of right now, there are no plans for a series or appearances. Sorry.

NRAMA: Is there a bit of…resistance towards using that character since it was something that came from the animated side of things to DC, rather than moving from DC to the animation?

DD: You mean like the resistance to us using Harley Quinn or Live Wire or Renee Montoya? (laughs)

NRAMA: Okay, good point, my fault for forgetting her.

DD: It’s really just the issue with the time frame – Batman Beyond is a future of Batman’s world, and it’s different from what we have established in the DCU right now, and rather than do a separate series based on a different timeline, we’d rather explore what we have currently going on in the DCU. It’s just not a future for Batman that we are looking to explore right now.

NRAMA: Because even an introduction of Terry McGuiness as a character starts a clock ticking, in a sense?

DD: Yep.

18. What you said previous about not wanting to launch a Flash series with issue #400 or whatever it would be when the new Flash series starts, and not wanting to lift the Wonder Woman numbers up to equal heights based on previously-published comics…why doesn’t this apply to Batman, Detective, Superman and Action? Batman especially has a new, “fresh” start coming up after Battle for the Cowl, and certainly the eventual return of Superman could be seen as a “new” start for the character – both events worthy of new #1s?

DD: Because those numbers have never been interrupted. There has always been continuous numbering on Batman, on Detective, on Action Comics and on Superman

NRAMA: Well, counting Superman becoming the Adventures of Superman and then becoming Superman again…

DD: Right – those four titles have always been the ones that have continued straight ahead, regardless of what’s going on around them. Also, the Superman and Batman franchises are able to generate new series around them, so we do have opportunities for new #1s both with those franchises and those charatecrs, and in the case of the Flash, we don’t have nearly as many titles created around them, which is part of the larger justification of doing a new #1.

19. Since he’s a zombie, will Solomon Grundy play a role in Blackest Night?

Solomon Grundy #1 cover
Solomon Grundy #1 cover
DD: ….I’m not sure that Solomon Grundy is a zombie. We can argue the characteristics and what it takes to be a zombie – preferably over several rounds of drinks, but I will say that there are several characters that have been dead who have returned, who are dead, or who are soon to be dead that we will be exploring through the course of Blackest Night. I’m not going to give it away whether oir not that Solomon Grundy is one of them.

20. Last time we spoke, you dropped some hints about the possibility of a new History of the DC Universe…as long-time fans know, the original History was released along with Who’s Who in the DC Universe. Is there a chance that readers may see a new edition of that as well?

DD: I would say that since we’re entertaining the idea of one, I cannot see not entertaining the idea of another, so if people are entertained by the idea of a new Who’s Who in the DC Universe, they will be very entertained, possibly in the next year or so.

21 (madness!): The sneak peeks that go into the regular DC titles – most recently Power Girl and Animal Man. We have this ongoing conversation about what goes into the selection of DC’s in-house advertising, but with previews – how are they selected? Are they the books that you feel sampling will help?

DD: These books are the ones we’ve looked at internally and are excited about what’s been put together. When we’re reviewing the material of what’s out there and what’s coming, these are two that we felt we wanted to give a little extra push to because we felt they were something special. And also, these are two that people may have a preconceived notion of what they may be, and hopefully, the previews speak on behalf to show readers that they may not be quite what they were thinking, but are great reads nonetheless.

22. (will this never end?) With the Red Circle characters – we’ve seen Hangman, Shield, Inferno and Web. They’re leading the charge, obviously – but does DC have access to the entire library? There are dozens and dozens…

DD: We have the 99.9% of the library of the Red Circle characters and are planning on introducing them in a judicious manner that will allow us to make sure they have maximum impact. What’s really important to us right now is establishing these four as their own characters within the DC Universe, and after that, we can grow things from there.

23. (lunacy! There are only supposed to be 20!) In 2007 – an eight-part miniseries called Batman: Odyssey was announced, with art by Neal Adams and dialogue by Frank Miller…

DD: Since it was never announced by DC Comics, it’s hard for me to comment on something that’s not really official…

But something like that would be great wouldn’t it? More than that, I’d like to be someone actively participating in that if it was happening. Nothing would excite me more to be working with Neal Adams on a new Batman project. Neal Adams was probably one of the first artists to make me truly excited about Batman in the 1970s when I first encountered his artwork, and I think he’s still one of the true masters of the craft out there working today and can deliver above expectations at any time.

24. (where does it all end?!?) A question about the legacy of heroes, specifically about the S-shield worn by members of the Superman family. It’s being played up in World of Krypton that what we perceive as an “S” is actually the symbol for the House of El, but at the same time, there’s a mass-murdering Superboy wearing that, and a murdering Superwoman wearing that same symbol. Storywise, those will be addressed, but is there ever any concern of putting that very recognizable symbol on characters who do very bad things?

DD: No, no concern at all. Actually, it helps to enhance the discussion of what the shield stands for. When you see it on characters that are out there for their own good or corrupt, or killers, it shows how much the S really means to people who wear it proudly and more importantly, for the protection of mankind. What becomes the story then, is how it’s essential for them to stop the people who wear it for their own good. It’s all built into the stories, and those are great stories to tell – you don’t realize how important something is until you’re close to losing it – or have lost it. In this case, if people lose their hope in, or respect for the S-shield, then it damages not only Superman, but everything that he stands for. So it’s important for every character who wears that shield proudly to stop those who don’t.

25. (could it be? Is this the end?) We’ve touched upon this briefly, but it does touch your desire for “iconic” states of characters – probably in the past 40 years (and that’s probably arguable) Wolverine has been the only character to appear with any true staying power… Why aren’t we seeing more characters that come out and are instant hits and get their own series, and really take off on htier own?

DD: It’s interesting – as you said, we’re trying to bring back characters to their iconic states, which allows others occasionally to get the spotlight, but when we do that, we get the response that people want the most recognizable version again. But, we’ve got characters like Magog in JSA and he started in Kingdom Come - he’s getting a chance to shine in that JSA story and in Brave and Bold. Power Girl is also another characters that we’re putting out there – she’s had tow miniseries over time, and now she has her own ongoing. She’s been around for more than 40 years, and it’s the first time she has her own series. We have a book called The Mighty out which is a new character. We’re always trying new ideas and new characters.

Oh, and just as an aside, I would probably add Spawn to the list of characters who’ve been introduced and were hits over the course of the past 30 to 40 years. Maybe Hellboy as well.

It’s a tough question to answer – why don’t the fans embrace new characters is what’s being asked as I see it. Believe me, I ask that question every day. And that doesn’t mean that we stop trying. Look at the JSA of today – there are a lot of characters with familiar names, but new characters. The same goes with Teen Titans – new characters are in that team, some with familiar names, some completely new. Yet going back to what we started with last time – the question about who should be in the JLA. If we move too far from having an “iconic” JLA, readers tell us they don’t recognize it and it needs to be more iconic. And then, like this question, readers want to know why there are no new characters. It’s a circle we go around on every day.

And there are other things – we have a different distribution system now compared to what we had then, to use your example, with Wolverine; the audience has changed; there are more choices…the question you’re asking about why no one has created a new breakout character is similar – not exact, but similar – to someone asking why there are no hit television shows anymore that got ratings like were seen with All in the Family or M*A*S*H. The times are different, and the market has changed – but like I said, that doesn’t mean we’ll ever give up or stop trying.

And now my question for readers – this last question got me thinking…when was the last time an original character – a brand new character – got you excited and you followed them in their own series?

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