Dan DiDio: 20 Answers and 1 Question: 07.01.09

Dan DiDio: 20 Answers and 1 Question
Brave and the Bold #25

It's that time again - we took 20 of your questions and presented them to DC's Dan DiDio for some answers. Check on down for info about the Jonah Hex graphic novel, the new Titans team, and much, much more. 

1. Let’s start with the Milestone character appearances in The Brave and the Bold, which began with issue #24. A reader says that three months of Milestone characters in Brave and the Bold is great, but will there be any one shots as we’re seeing with the Red Circle characters?

Dan DiDio: At this time, we wanted to premiere them in the Brave and Bold stories, and we have an opportunity to do so, and based upon sales an interest, we’ll be exploring that as we move ahead, but one of my main things now is to make sure that the Milestone characters are front and center in the books they’re appearing in right now, between Justice League and Teen Titans.

NRAMA: And what will the stories in The Brave and the Bold be like? More of an exploration of their world and how it fits within the DC Universe?

DD: It will be. We had some interesting matchups that we wanted to bring together as you’ve probably seen already. We have Static and Black Lightning which we thought would be a fun team-up; Blue Beetle and Hardware is another interesting pairing due to their suits and how they enhance the wearers, and of course, Xombi and The Spectre is one we couldn’t resist.

2. A Jonah Hex original graphic novel was announced at the recent convention blitz weekend. When can we expect to see that?

DD: That will be closer to the movie’s release.

NRAMA: Will it be a story of the movie, or related to the movie?

DD: No – it will deal with “our” Jonah Hex and explore more of his life and backstory, and the best part about it is that it’s got the best of both worlds – it’s got he current Jonah Hex writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, and they’re teamed with Mr. Tony DeZuniga who is probably the most recognizable Jonah Hex artist ever.

3. A reader said that in his letter after Blackest Night #0, Geoff Johns said that all Green Lantern stories were about overcoming fear. The reader said that he felt that was a great hook for a character, and wondered if the main characters of DC’s pantheon could be encapsulated so easily.

DD: Wow. That requires a lot of thought going into it. I’d like to say that you can nail it down to one sentence for each character, and the reason Geoff can say that about Green Lantern is that fear is such a part of that character and his origin. He was born without fear and approaches things without fear, and that’s what made him worthy to be a Green Lantern. That’s why the ring sought him out. That’s who he is.

In the cases of Batman, Superman or even Wonder Woman, each of them chose to be heroes, they weren’t appointed or selected like Hal Jordan was. So there are different sensibilities for them. Superman, realizing that he has powers “far beyond those of mortal men” knows that he can protect the world, and does what he does as part of his upbringing by his parents on earth. Batman is trying to ensure that no child ever goes through what he went through. He’s trying to prevent the tragedy in his life from ever occurring again. With Wonder Woman, she’s an ambassador of peace, and therefore has a social approach to how she goes about her goals in the world. So each of those heroes is coming from a different place.

So there’s a slightly different approach with the heroes who chose to become heroes over those who were selected to be heroes. That said, I don’t think those who choose to become heroes are as easily distilled down to a one-line answer as easily as Green Lantern is. I’m not saying it absolutely can’t be done, but just that, especially with Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, those heroes just encompass so much when you think about them along with why and how they are heroes.

4. Felicia Henderson was announced as the new Teen Titans writer. She’s new to comics, so what qualities does she have, in your view, what suits her to the job, and what body of work do you look at to gauge that?

DD: I’d met Felicia several times over the last year or so, and primarily, our discussions centered around the fact that she’s a huge comic fan and enjoys what we’re doing. Quite honestly, I look at her body of work over the years, but one of the things that I found most interesting is over the last couple of years, her work on shows like Fringe and Gossip Girls. She has a unique voice and a unique style, and brings a fresh set of eyes to our characters, and will hopefully bring us new ideas and stories, and even though we’re constantly working on story ideas and direction, a new sensibility and a vibrancy to the book. That’s what we’re striving to do day in and day out.

The bottom line is that she’s an incredibly talented writer, and I feel lucky to be able to give her a shot at working with us on this book.

5. Is there a similar announcement about the Titans creative team coming up?

DD: I’m sure there will be shortly.

NRAMA: Got a ballpark on time?

DD: How about right now? We’re happy to say that the team that’s working on Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink right now, Eric Wallace and Farbrizio Fiorentino will become the new regular team on the series after the current stories wrap up, but when they do come on board, expect dramatic changes in the world of the Titans.

6. Moving on, a reader asked if there were plans ahead for his favorite under-used character, Plastic Man?

DD: He’s in every book right now, but we don’t see him because he’s in disguise.

NRAMA: And that is such an old joke.

DD: Okay, okay. There was talk to include him into one of the team books, and there still is talk, but that would be a little closer to the end of the year. Oh, and he’s appearing in the Justice League right now, but there is a chance he’ll be appearing in a team book in the very near future.

7. I believe it was you at Wizard World: Philly that Lobo would be coming back with Sam Keith attached…

DD: Sam will be drawing it, actually.

NRAMA: Who will be writing?

DD: I can’t say that just yet, but we’ve reached outside the normal circle of writers and have brought someone in who will have an excellent perspective on the character – something different that’s sure to raise an eyebrow.

NRAMA: Back at the New York Comic Con, I recall hearing rumblings about Lobo being mentioned as something that Ian Sattler was working on with an “outside” writer

DD: Hm…maybe.

NRAMA: And no more?

DD: (laughs) That’s all I’m saying.

8. A question came up about the coming incorporation of The Shield into the DC Universe, with the reader asking why DC hasn’t really gone down the “patriotic hero” road in its history. There are and have been B-listers who have patriotic or flag-inspired costumes, but The Shield is rather in your face and wearing the stars and stripes in a way that doesn’t leave the question open for interpretation – this is a symbol of the United States. Why not before now?

DD: One of the primary reasons was that we had a set of very proactive superheroes with all of them working toward the ideals of what they believe, and working to make the world a better place. Realistically, we have a lot of characters that exist in a truly “iconic” nature, so historically, there hasn’t been a pressure to create another character to basically fill what might be seen to be one country’s agenda. We try to see our characters as belonging to the world.

On top of that, a lot of our characters have been adopted, in a way, as standing for America, and when you have Superman with the tagline of “Truth, justice and the American way” following him around, a lot of our heroes are seen as being representative of the best that America has to offer.

That being said, there is something very interesting about The Shield. We didn’t want to go out there and create a knock off of the characters that already exist – there’s no reason to create a knock off of Captain America. So rather than create another version of a known character, we decided to adopt one of the most recognizable flag-wearing character in The Shield, and bring him into the DCU.

NRAMA: And from the solicitation of The Shield #1, he’s still active duty and isn’t hiding it, which makes him somewhat unique as being “the military’s super hero.”

DD: Exactly. This gives us an opportunity to explore a character in a unique setting which is something we haven’t done in the past.

9. Are there plans for Donna Troy outside of the Titans titles?

DD: Donna has a reunion with her family in Blackest Night: Titans #1.

NRAMA: Her family’s dead.

DD: Which is why it makes sense that she meets them in a Blackest Night crossover.

10. Good point. We had a question about the heroes who have come into the books where the title characters have stepped out. What happens if you find out what readers really like Batwoman in Detective, Mon-el in Superman and Flamebird and Nightwing in Action when it’s time for Bruce and Superman to come back home? Is your plan flexible enough to allow for more time, or spinoffs?

DD: That would be the best of both worlds – if we’re able to support the Batman titles or the Superman titles without Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, then that shows the strength of the DC Universe and more importantly, the strength of the characters that are inhabiting those books. So my standpoint is that there is room for all of them, and as their stories progress, we’re going to let them flow according to their natural course, and whether or not Superman reutns sooner or later or how the changes in the Batman books play out – it all gives us hope that we have a lot of untapped potential for stories in the future with the characters that are now in them.

So, we have a long-term plan as for how this goes, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be flexible as to how we play it.

NRAMA: So the return of Bruce Wayne or Superman are set in stone for a specific month or a specific issue?

DD: We have a very strong structure as to how these stories unfold, and that’s probably something that’s not too flexible, but there are a lot of aspects as to how things can progress.

11. Something that’s related and still near and dear to your heart – a reader said they were very much enjoying the Guardian in the pages of Superman, and wondered if the character might get a spinoff as a result of his revival? You originally came to DC with plans for the Guardian with Jimmy Palmiotti…

DD: Well, James Robinson is having the time of his life writing him in Superman, and he’ll also be appearing in the second Jimmy Olsen Special coming up soon as well. I think he’s doing really well in the Superman book with the ensemble that James has put together, but as always, if there’s interest in his own project, he’ll get his own project.

12. Is there word on a creative team for Flash post Rebirth? Obviously, it’s assumed that Geoff will be writing it…

DD: Yes it is, it is assumed. (laughs)

NRAMA: What are the chances that Ethan will join him?

DD: Right now, we’ve got Ethan and Geoff pushing pretty hard on Flash: Rebirth, and once we get a little closer, we’ll be announcing the team on the Flash monthly comic. It’s all part of a bigger announcement, because it’s not just about one Flash book.

13. Fair enough. Since we spoke last, James Robinson and Mark Bagley were announced as the new Justice League creative team. Can you give us your thoughts on James as the writer? What led to that decision?

DD: James is doing a great job for us on Cry for Justice, and we were always planning for James to be working in the Justice League group and be handling those characters, primarily because he’s going to be one of the main architects of the storyline that crosses much of the Justice League next year, so it only makes sense to move him onto that series so he can really lay the groundwork this year, as we build into what I feel to be one of the more exciting Justice League stories coming up next year.

14. Since we’re talking about James and the League, can you talk a little bit about the premise of Cry for Justice? Due to production issues, the first issue opens with Hal Jordan talking about something that happened almost a year ago for the readers. Is that an issue here, or is it now that Hal has been bugged about this for a long time?

DD: Okay – getting to the heart of it, we had hoped this book would have been hitting sometime late last year. We were shooting for it, but because of the painted art, we wanted to give this team a chance and put enough issues in the can once it was ready to start.

Cry for Justice #4

On the other side of the coin, because of the strength of the story, because of the type of story it is, and ultimately how it ties into the events for 2010 for Justice League of America, it actually comes out at the right time for us now. So it seems that they’re reacting to something that happened over a year ago, everything that is happening in this book is not only relevant to what is happening in the Justice League now, but incredibly important for what the Justice League will be in 2010.

NRAMA: The opening issue seems to play fast and loose with the idea of revenge versus the idea of justice, with some of the characters clearly seeking or at least motivated by wanting revenge, yet labeling it “justice.”

DD: And that’s one of the things that the story explores. One of the emphases of Cry For Justice is “what is justice?” and how do you define the line between justice and vengeance and when heroes are pushed, how far can they go before they stop being heroes?

NRAMA: Is that a premise that, given your position at DC, makes you a little hesitant? Clearly, that’s dangerous ground to walk on, when you have heroes crying out for “justice!” but clearly looking to go out and…well, eff somebody up…

DD: In this case, anytime we go into a story like this, it’s not just about the story itself, but how the ramifications of that story play out. I would never go into, or try to push a storyline like this unless I felt it had incredible story potential past just the one miniseries. I don’t want to do these stories to get in and get out. I want to do stories that really explore the true nature of what it takes to be a hero in the DC Universe, and that’s what this does. Cry for Justice is very important on that end.

15. Something that came up in the list this time, given the experiments in format and frequency we’ve been seeing in recent years – would DC ever consider doing a project or a series with a bi-monthly schedule, or given your emphasis on maintaining that episodic delivery, a 60-day period between installments isn’t where you’d want to be?

DD: Actually, we’re considering that for a couple of projects as we speak. We’d do it so that we could put out projects on a consistent basis while understanding that teams may need a little bit of extra time in order to get their books done.

16. There’s a piece of information out there that took root with some comments from Geoff where he mentioned that he has Green Lantern planned out through issue #55. Does that mean he’s going to be leaving the series?

DD: That just means that he ran out of paper.

17. We’ll let that slide for now. This one comes from something Ian Sattler said at Heroes Con in regards to Conner and other heroes that are currently inactive or not being utilized will appear next year in a project?

DD: Ian?

Ian Sattler: (laughs) Okay – for the record, I said that we recognize that there are several characters right now that don’t have homes and have some interesting connections to one another, and come next year, we’ll be doing a story that deals with that.

NRAMA: The Homeless Heroes?

IS: Well, “homeless” isn’t quite the right word, but if you look, there are some characters who are not currently active.

DD: Right – you’ve got a series of characters where whether it’s a situation where the primary hero has returned or they’ve just been put to the side, still have incredible value to the DC Universe, and there are ways to explore those characters in upcoming stories, which we have in the planning stages right now.

18. With Superman: Secret Origin coming up, a reader asked how often do you feel a character’s origin needs to be re-told or tweaked, and what drives that decision? Secret Origin is the third retelling in 20 years, Batman’s has been retold a handful of times to include and remove and include Joe Chill…

DD: In this particular case, there was a real sense of some of the status quo changing following Infinite Crisis and a feeling of some things changing when Geoff and Richard Donner stepped on board – you got the sense that there were slight changes in the past of Superman’s world. The re-introduction of the Legion of Super-Heroes that we’re still seeing in Legion of 3 Worlds is another tweak. So in that case we felt that it was time to revisit that and to embrace the sensibilities of that, not only because there were slight changes and I felt that they made for great story, but it also re-introduces Superman back into the Legion of Super-Heroes lore, which I think will make everybody very excited, but it was also setting up a lot of the parameters of the world of Krypton and who Superman is, and will play out in the Superman story in the coming year or so.

The interesting part of this story for me is that when we came up with the changes after Infinite Crisis and launched Geoff’s run on Superman, there were a lot of people asking for Superman’s origin, and one of the reasons why we pushed this through was that people asked for it early on.

19. In regards to the Red Circle characters coming back, a reader asked why go through the trouble of acquiring these characters and getting a high profile writer such as JMS to revive them when you have a large collection of characters – here the reader cited Spy Smasher and the Tarantula – in your library that have equal the name recognition, which is to say, very little, as the Red Circle characters do?

DD: Well, I wouldn’t consider the Spy Smasher or Tarantula as particularly robust members of our library. I think people recognize those names and are wondering why we don’t just re-imagine those names. What I see in the Red Circle characters is characters that have supported their own series in one form or another for several decades. Many of them were introduced in the ‘40s, re-imagined in the ‘60s or ‘70s or by DC in the ‘90s. So there is a past history and relationship between DC and these characters. Also, it’s something that JMS was very interested in doing, and you know what? When JMS is interested in doing something , he is more than welcome here, as he is one of the truly exceptional talents in the business.

More importantly, what I want to do is put out good comics, and if it’s characters that we licensed or own, we’re not going to treat them any differently.

20. Looking back to the Battle for the Cowl teaser image that was released a while back, a reader pointed out that…

DD: That we were making it up as we went along? (laughs)

NRAMA: Not exactly, but rather that not all of the images have been explained in the stories to date. Were some ideas dropped, or was the teaser larger in scope?

DD: The title of that poster was “I am Batman,” not “Battle for the Cowl.” It said it begins in Battle for the Cowl. We’re only in our first month for the direction of the Batman books, so we’re going to be seeing a lot of things that were set up in Battle for the Cowl playing out over the next few months. That was the goal – it wasn’t just to tease the three months of Cowl, but rather to se the direction for the new line of Batman books.

NRAMA: Any particular images that people should be looking out for?

DD: I always liked the father/son image with Bruce Wayne and Damian – I think that’s very heartwarming. I get very upset that the crate broke when they dropped it, and that hand fell out- that’s just shoddy business. And I’m very interested as to seeing what Harley is going to be up to and why she’s holding a gun.

And for my question this time – let’s keep it dealing with Batman. By this point, we’ve seen nearly all the Batman books roll out – which things seem to be popping and exciting you most?

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