Dan DiDio: 20 Answers, 1 Question

Dan DiDio: 20 Answers, 1 Question

Action Comics #874

And we’re back with DC Universe Executive Editor Dan DiDio for another installment of your questions, his answers, and one of his questions. Check out our first and second goes at this if you’re curious, and let’s just jump right into it, shall we?

1. Dan, let’s start this time with Superman. New Krypton is halfway through, and as you’ve said, the larger storyline will be felt through the end of 2010. Let’s talk about creative teams – are we going to see the same teams remain on the books for this two year stretch?

Dan DiDio: Actually, no. There will be some changes in the creative teams involving Superman. Let’s take it from the top – actually, with the one book that won’t see any changes: The Superman series will be keeping James Robinson and Renato Guedes will be the team on that title through 2009, but as the story begins in March, we should subtitle the story, “World Without Superman.” That’s the story James will be telling, and he will be leading the charge on the Superman title itself.

In Action, we’re going to see some major changes – Superman will not be featured in Action Comics. The stars of Action will be the new team of Flamebird and Nightwing. Flamebird is a character we’ve seen, but this is the first time we’re seeing her in costume. Nightwing is a character that we’ve known in the DCU for a little while, but he’s new to the Nightwing costume as well. The team on that book will be Greg Rucka with Eddy Barrows. Eddy will be moving over from Teen Titans.

Next after that, Supergirl will keep its team, with Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle.

We’ll be introducing a new series called Superman: New Krypton which will be written by Andrew Kreisberg and drawn by Pete Woods.

Now – you’re going to be asking me two questions – and the question for me is, do I let you ask them and eat up your number of questions for this time, or do I go ahead and answer them before you ask them? I’ll do it myself, because I’d hate for you to use up your questions (laughs). The big question is where Geoff Johns and Gary Frank are going. They will be doing Superman: Secret Origin as a miniseries coming up later in the year. We decided to run that as its own miniseries, different from what Geoff just did in Green Lantern. It gives them a little more time to work it, they don’t have to struggle against the ongoing schedule, and it won’t throw off the triangles on the covers which keep track of the story. They’ll be doing the definitive origin of Superman as we’ve seen it all take place, and incorporating the changes that we’ve seen or suggested since Infinite Crisis.

Your other question is: What about Adventure Comics? That one I won’t answer right now – but there are big plans for Adventure Comics, and they’re just a couple of months away.

2. A question that we can ask then – Superman: New Krypton – what’s that all about?

DD: Andrew Kreisberg – he was a writer on Eli Stone and is the writer on Green Arrow/Black Canary - he’s coming on board to join the team to tell the story that focuses on much of what’s happening with the 100,000 Kryptonians that were released from New Kandor.

NRAMA: Sounds like it would have an Astro City or Top 10 kind of feel – a story about a society of super-powered individuals…

DD: It would, but it has none of that [laughs]. The great thing about this is that with all the changes taking place, with the introduction of Greg and Andrew into the group, and Geoff concentrating at least for the time being on Secret Origin, we’re able to maintain a consistency of story. With James on the lead book, he’s been involved since day one in the New Krypton story, and he’s really taking charge and leading the whole direction of the Superman line during this time.

3. Moving to Supergirl for a moment…issue #35 basically reset the character, and is showing us the “real” story of what’s been going on with her. What’s your take on what Sterling is doing with the character?

DD: Sterling is one of the rising stars here at DC. You always get the question of where are the new writers coming from, and who are the talents we’re looking to grow, and Sterling is definitely one of them. We just put him under an exclusive contract as well, because we have a lot of belief and faith in his abilities. He’s done a great job with Supergirl - he’s been able to take what’s been going on in the Superman books and bring that level of focus and depth to Supergirl and I feel as if he’s really solidified the direction of that series. The great part also in New Krypton, we’ve had the introduction of Supergirl’s parents in Kandor – that really helps to build a strong supporting cast for that series, and Sterling has a great handle on what to do with that book. He’s the writer for the future of Supergirl.

Superman: Secret Origin #1

4. Getting back to one of your announcements - Superman: Secret Origin. You called it the “definitive origin,” and I’m sure that already has some fans rolling their eyes. Superman: Birthright was a few years back and said to be the same thing, and there have been tweaks and adjustments in the line before that. Can you give us some clues on what makes this origin “definitive?”

DD: With the Superman books following Infinite Crisis, we made some suggestions as to some of the changes that might be occurring within Superman’s origin and who he is. There were a lot of things that have been changed over a period of time, and what Geoff has done, what Geoff always does so well is that he incorporates so many of the various aspects of Superman’s origin to what I feel is really a clean, definitive take on the character as he exists today, and more importantly, how we will continue to present him in the years to come.

The John Byrne changes were important and strong when they occurred back in the ‘80s, and I feel that Geoff’s origin is going to make that same imprint now, for 2009 and past that.

NRAMA: Since we’ve seen some suggested changes in Kryptonians and Krypton in New Krypton, will Secret Origin be a look at Superman from before his birth, through Smallville and moving to Metropolis, or…what?

DD: I think we’re looking at it more from the Smallville point forward. We’ll see a lot of Krypton in it, don’t get me wrong, but it really is about young Clark Kent growing up in Smallville, and follows his life and helps to nail down the look and tone of Krypton while looking at how Clark came to be Superman. I think we’re looking at the start of the miniseries right before the summer – it’ll run six issues.

5. Let’s pull away from the Superman books for a minute and take a broader view of the DCU. 2009 is promising Superman leaving earth for space; Batman is gone and there is a battle for the identity of “Batman” among his allies and “children;” in Wonder Woman, she’s being challenged for her role as Wonder Woman, with suggestions that she may be taking a break. Was this a larger plan, that in 2009, you’d have at least two of DC’s three most recognizable characters…not recognizable?

DD: This was a plan that was in place, and something that we’ve been trying to get in position for a while. Once Final Crisis came to its conclusion, it seemed to be the most logical place to do a full examination of our heroes once again, and how they interact and react with the rest of the DC Universe, and how the changes to them affect the rest of the DC Universe. We’ve touched upon these themes in several places in several places over the last few years – we touched on it in 52, but that series was really about the heroes of 52, not the heroes that weren’t present at the time. Over in Trinity, Kurt has done a brilliant job in exploring every aspect of the trinity. But this is one case where we can explore it in a bit of a different fashion as it goes through the entire DC Universe. Because Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman touch upon so many book, you’ll see those changes as they occur in the Superman line, within the Batman line, and in the Wonder Woman title and also within Justice League of America.

6. Speaking of places that the “trinity” shows up – Batman and Superman have, or have had books in the All Star line. Wonder Woman is coming to the All Star line. What’s going on with that line of books, and has the overall view of what the line should be changed?

DD: We out a lot of product on a continuous basis, and realistically, we went in with a certain conceit as to what the All Star line was, and it’s evolved from there. The goal with the All Star line was to tell stories with what we felt was the most identifiable versions of the characters as seen by the world outside of comics. That morphed a lot, obviously, just due to the sensibilities of the creators themselves, and rather than try to force the creators back into our vision, we let people like Frank Miller and Grant take the characters and push them in their own directions and offer their own interpretations of the characters.

In that sense, the All Star books, as they exist now, are really built for the people who built them. When Grant stopped writing All Star Superman, we stopped producing All Star Superman. And when Frank and Jim Lee stop with All Star Batman and Robin, we will stop with All Star Batman and Robin as well. At that point, we’ll either re-think the concept behind All Star, or we’ll try something different down the road.

NRAMA: And the All Star Batgirl book gets claimed as a victim of scheduling?

DD: The All Star Batgirl book was put on indefinite hold, primarily because it was to be illustrated by J.G. Jones, and written by Geoff, and both were just overwhelmed by scheduling. The All Star Wonder Woman book – Adam Hughes is working on it, and we’ve seen pages on it.

7. Touching on some of the titles that piqued readers’ interest in the February solicitations – in light of Battle for the Cowl, what’s going on with Batman and the Outsiders? Pete Tomasi is writing a special, and there’s an Owl-Man on the cover of the upcoming issue…can you offer some clues here?

DD: What Pete’s doing, and this touches upon the lack of a Bruce Wayne Batman in the DC Universe…one of the ways you’re going to see the story start to unfold is the different fail-safes Batman has put in place in case he was not there to defend Gotham City or the world outside of it. The Outsiders is really a team that is going ot be focused on what takes place outside of Gotham, and operating in a fashion that follows the direction of the team set forth by Batman when he first assembled it. Each one of the team members that are seen or are coming in, all fit into different aspects of Batman’s personality, so the group itself operates the same way Batman would have done as an individual.

NRAMA: So Pete is moving over to Outsiders after Nightwing ends?

DD: Absolutely. Pete’s taking over Outsiders as the regular writer, so his assignment will be that, ,b>Green Lantern Corps and the new series The Mighty he’s doing with Keith Champagne.

NRAMA: And nothing on Owl-Man who’s showing up on the cover of Outsiders #15?

DD: There’s a little bit of a mystery of who Owl-Man is, and that’s part of the fun of Pete’s launch on the series.

8. Moving on to our bi-weekly Final Crisis time-check. Are things still on schedule, and you’re still looking at the final issue hitting in January?

DD: We’re pretty much on track for that. If I slip, I slip by a week, but my goal is to make sure Final Crisis #7 comes out in the final week of January.

NRAMA: So your window is one week?

DD: Yeah. We’re moving heaven and earth to make sure that book comes out in the last week of January. Honestly, the holiday schedule between now and then, and the fact that we’re working in multiple countries with creators is why there’s a little hesitation in my voice. There might be something thrown in that throws everything off track, but our goal is to make sure we hit that last week in January.

And let me put aside any concerns people have about Final Crisis #7, this is and always has been Grant’s story, and any changes made along the way were discussed in advance as to work with the natural flow of the miniseries. The ending is Grant’s, pure and simple, and is the ending he envisioned from the start.

9. Jumping around a little just to get to questions that readers have asked – something that was mentioned as a spin-off of 52 a while back – a Great Ten ongoing. At a point, Jann Jones was hunting up a creative team for the book. What happened?

DD: What happened is that we had started the creative direction on that, and weren’t completely comfortable with it. Right now I’m re-evaluating everything on the schedule and seeing what their overall value is for the entire line. We’re looking at the year coming ahead, and I’ve mentioned this in the past, we want to run a leaner and smarter DC Universe, and I want to make sure each book has a particular purpose and focus on how it adds to the overall completion of the DCU. The Great Ten is a series of something that I felt we wanted to do, and may still want to do, and we’re reviewing the material right now. If we feel that it does add to the overall texture of the DC Universe, then we’ll continue moving ahead.

But right now, we’re trying to be as smart as possible with the product that we’re developing. We’ve got a lot of great things happening with our key franchises – we’ve got Blackest Night on the horizon, so we’re looking at a very strong DCU in 2009, but again, I said I want to be sure that everything we do has a purpose. We do not want to create books just to fill a particular bucket.

10. Since you mentioned it there, let’s talk about Blackest Night. If you could, give us the five mile up view of the project. Is it going to be similar to Final Crisis, in that you have the main miniseries, and specials, but not too many ties into the ongoing series?

DD: We have things planned out through the end of 2009 – we know all the key beats on how it rolls out. We know what the offshoot miniseries will be to support the main series, and we know how we will judiciously use crossovers in ongoing series as well.

NRAMA: Compared to Final Crisis, how far would you say its spread will be?

DD: I think it will be wider than Final Crisis, but it won’t be line-wide, and it won’t be crossover for crossover’s sake. It will only show up where it enhances the overall value and the story – that’s something that we are very sure of. Something that I pick up on from Final Crisis the most is that people feel that the Final Crisis support books had a lot of value to them, and we want to make sure that anything that has the words Blackest Night on it has a high level of value, just like the main series.

11. We’re at the midway point of Trinity. Not to downplay anything that Kurt, Mark, Fabian and the others are doing, but is it too early to talk about the next weekly series?

DD: it’s too early to tease right now, but we do have one weekly series that will be coming out, not for a full year, but for a shorter run following the conclusion of Trinity, but it’s still a touch too early to discuss.

NRAMA: But there are plans for another one, and another after that, and a weekly series is part of DC’s publishing plan from here on out?

DD: Yes on that first part and I would hope so on the second. I love that we’re able to create a project that can work with the delivery system, being that we have comics that come out every week. It’s good to have new material that makes going to a comics shop a destination every Wednesday.

12. Getting back into the Batman books – just so we have the lineup correct…Denny in December, Faces of Evil in January, and Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert in February. Is Grant coming back to the main Batman book then?

DD: Grant has so many Batman stories to tell that we have to find an outlet for them, and I’m absolutely sure that we will find one for him.

NRAMA: That’s very committal yet non-committal.

DD: Again, I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. There are still a lot of stories that take place before that.

13. Any more details you can give on the Oracle miniseries while we’re talking about Gotham?

DD: The only thing that I can say is that is runs parallel to Battle for the Cowl and spins out of the conclusion of Birds of Prey and Final Crisis.

14. Could Oracle ever become Batgirl again on your watch?

DD: You know what? There’s a lot to be said for a Barbara Gordon Batgirl.

NRAMA: Is there any amount of pressing that will get any more out of you on that front?

DD: [laughs] Not really, no.

15. Batman: Cacophony hit on our off week – is this the start of something more regular, or the one project that we may see from Kevin in comics every few years?

DD: I’m hoping this is the start of something more from Kevin – it was a really wonderful working experience. I had the opportunity to go to one of his store signings, and one of the things that I found most interesting about his audience is that they’re not traditional comic book fans. That’s one of the things that he does well – he helps to expand the scope of our audience, and bring new people in. Hopefully, they won’t just stop at Cacophony, but will go out there and find something else that we’re working on. When I received the third issue of Cacophony from Kevin, we immediately started talking about what the next project could be, so I’m hoping that there can be some more stuff coming.

16. Something about Cacophony that was picked up on by some fans – it had a rather…mature tone to it, from, shall we say, Joker ‘presenting’ to Deadshot taking a bullet right between the eyes – albeit double armored, and he lived. Yet it didn’t have a mature readers label on it…

DD: And I will challenge everybody on that – one of the things I think Kevin does so deftly is that he walks the finest of lines. The implications of certain scenes and certain dialogue, if you read into them further, could be deemed mature, but I think he stops the story right at the right spot, so we don’t have to consider labeling in that fashion. I think that’s what makes him a great writer.

Being the editor on that book, there were a lot of things that we discussed and I felt confident that we were, making the right choices in how we presented the material. But we should always be taking some level of risk – especially with the caliber of writer like Kevin.

17. A perennial question that comes up, so we’ll give it a shot here: Bart Allen and Conner Kent – are their stories done?

DD: I think there’s always value in a Kid Flash and a Superboy.

18. With the February solicitations out, a little more was revealed about “Origins and Omens.” You said earlier that the stories will be narrated by Scar, the renegade Guardian – we’ve seen her in the ongoing Green Lantern series. But will we see any adjustments or tweaks in the retellings of the origins, like some were when they were retold in 52?

DD: Not really, no. The stories are accomplishing three goals, which is lofty for six pages, I admit. The first goal is to get in an encapsulated version of the character’s origin, which most people know or are familiar with. The second goal is to come across moments within the character’s storyline that are key to what is going on now – it’s what I call the “Need to Know” section: what you need to know about a character if you’re jumping on right at this moment.

The third thing is the fact that we’re going to be teasing about what might be coming for that character and their storyline for the upcoming year, similar to the type of things that we’ve done in the past with the Sinestro Corps War and the flash-forwards in Justice Society of America that Geoff put together.

So you’ll be getting a lot of information, and hopefully important information so you can understand who the character is, and jump on board with the story going ahead. We will be teasing some things very prominently.

19. Let’s touch upon the upcoming inclusion of the Red Circle and Milestone characters. You’ve mentioned few times that you’re hoping to see them spill out into their own books and projects. Is there any more on that, in regards to who we may see and a time frame that we may see them in?

DD: From the Red Circle lineup, you might see The Shield break out, and from Milestone, naturally, you’ll see Static. I don’t think much imagination or guessing is needed in why we would pick those two as the leads on each of those brands.

20. One last one this time Dan – you’ve announced that Adventure Comics is coming back, with a new #1. Of all of DC’s legacy titles, Adventure stands shoulder to shoulder with Action, Batman and Detective. Why not pick things up at, what…#504?

DD: We wrestled with the idea too, given the history with the title, but at the end of the day, we wanted to get people feeling as though they are coming on board rather than joining in on a very old party. So that’s why when we launch it, it will be with a new #1.

And while I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, I’ve got my question for you to mull over while you’re eating all that turkey.

Actually, my question this week is two-fold: We always talk about “jump on points” and what started you on comics, so I’m interested in hearing what were people’s jump on points, or what got them started in comics? That’s part one. Part two is just as easy – when did you know you were hooked?

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