DC’s now former editor/publisher Dan DiDio was interviewed on a livestream where he claims to regret not taking enough time to develop the New 52, his whole idea for rebooting the DCU according to his politically correct notions of what “entertainment” should be like. As reported by Newsarama here:
In the stream, DiDio addressed his biggest regret about his time working at DC – almost 20 years – saying he wished the publisher had taken more time pushing forward with big changes.
“The biggest regret I got is…not spending the same amount of energy on year two of ‘New 52’ as we did on year one of ‘New 52.” We spent a good six to eight months building the ‘New 52,’ rethinking the characters rethinking the designs, rethinking the villains, rethinking everything so it all made sense,” DiDio explained. “As things progressed, moving quicker, we spent less time on development, so we were spending less energy making changes for the characters that felt like they were worthy of a new direction or line. […]
DiDio went on to explain his philosophy of comic book storytelling, which is that characters must be moving forward and progressing, with their lives and stories undergoing consistent change.
“If you’re not changing and evolving, you’re stagnant. And when you’re stagnant, the books become what the fans identify as ‘does this book matter?’ I need to know which books to buy, and I only wanna buy the books that matter,” DiDio said. “Well the only way they matter is if they’re affecting change…then you’re chasing your own tail and you can’t get out of it. You have to do these starts and stops every once in a while to keep it going.”
Gee, that would probably make a lot more sense if it were really his intention…except it wasn’t. It’s really no different from Emerald Twilight in 1994, where the whole purpose of replacing Hal Jordan with Kyle Rayner wasn’t character drama and growth, but instead, “shaking things up”, and flooding the market with useless company wide crossovers that make what he speaks of exceedingly difficult, and practically implausible, because to make changes believable, it pays to work on everything individually.
Plus, wasn’t this the same shame of a man who said he believed superheroes shouldn’t have happy lives? And if you’re going to keep changing stuff “every once in a while”, then how do you ever expect to clearly establish a satisfying personality or direction for any character? Or, most importantly, for fans to care? If constant changes are all they can think of doing, it speaks to their lack of confidence in their ability to conceive something people can absorb for a number of years afterward. Besides, Stan Lee never put his creations through the constant changes DiDio put the DCU through, like reboots, crossovers and politically correct casting, such as the Justice League underwent in the early 2010s when they were mostly limited to 7 or 8 rather obvious stars like Superman, whose most telling change at the time was the omission of the red tights for the sake of a plastic action figure look.
Some of the commentors on the article saw through DiDio’s pathetic drivel. For example:
I’m beginning to think Dan Didio has a very short attention span – let things breathe Dan, let them breathe.
Didio said, “And when you’re stagnant, the books become what the fans identify as ‘does this book matter?’”
Uh, no. When you wipe out decades-long, intertwined history and push out new, unrecognizable versions of characters, THAT’S when fans identify an ENTIRE BRAND of comics as, “Do these books matter?”
He said, “the only way they matter is if they’re affecting change.”
NO, the only way they matter is if they build upon and maintain the history that got fans committed in the first place!! Otherwise, they become pointless. These concepts shouldn’t be difficult.
Followups to this comment included:
I think you’re both right, him about the change and you about the history. The problem with him is the change he tried to make sucked hard.
Agreed! I should’ve said, yeah change is needed, but only if you maintain the history you’re building upon. Otherwise, why should readers care?
And, most importantly:
Yeah, I’m not sure Dan knows the difference between change and break stuff. Change is, the Justice League slowly becomes a humorist superhero book. Break stuff is, Maxwell Lord becomes a villain and murders the Blue Beetle- oh and Sue Dibny is murder and r-ped. What the Fu@% Dan.
Yep. Those events you’re referring to pretty much signaled to me the death of the DC Universe as we knew it. It just wasn’t even recognizable as the thing we had been reading, caring about, and investing money in for however long, sometimes nearly entire lifetimes.
So when the books become something unrecognizable, why should the readers care about them? For some of us, it was difficult to understand that for a while, because buying these things is akin to an addiction. But the Didio/Johns regime managed to completely break me of the DC portion of my comics-reading “habit.”
There you go. Evidently, the interviewers failed to bring this up and press on about it. I’m sure they’d claim it’s because they don’t want to annoy and embarrass DiDio about something that may or may not be a closet skeleton for him. But all they’ve done is prove they have no ability to pitch challenging questions and see what the answers will be. And lest we forget, though Geoff Johns may have come aboard a few years before DiDio did, was still considered acceptable company, in contrast to Chuck Dixon.
Here’s one more:
His biggest regret should have been for being a jerk to fans, and not listening to fans while killing off fan favorites such as Wally and Kyle and Peter David’s Supergirl
That’s not exactly what happened with the above 3, but, while I won’t support the notion of killing Kyle, Rayner, why is Kyle such a big deal when his origin was so badly crafted?
Here’s one more:
Pretty sure constant change to the point where you are retconning & revising character’s backstory and history every other month ad nauseum is when folks begin to question if stories matter any more. Doctor Manhattan isn’t the greatest threat to “continuity,” it’s the leadership that continues to send their line into constant upheavel for the last decade.
It’s pretty bad that you reach year two of a “grand plan” revamp and realize that you have no ideas, and then do your grand “new revisal” and end up hating it because you chose to add in stuff that you were trying to weed out before.
See, that’s the problem – character development, if that’s what DiDio pretends they were concerned about, was all a smokescreen.
DiDio even hinted at his contempt for fans, as noted in this article:
DiDIo went on to speak about how comic readers often got antsy about determining which comic books “matter” to them and to the larger publishing line, noting the double edged sword at the retail level that comes with these big changes as fans both want “books that matter” but don’t want substantial change.
“Well the only way they matter is if something’s happening that means it’s affecting change,” DiDio added. “And if you start affecting change then you’re moving away from the core that they want, and they’re upset on that side, they’re upset about the change, then you’re chasing your own tail and you can’t get out of it. Ultimately that’s why you have to do these stops and starts every once in a while just to refocus as you go forward.”
This is another example of gatekeeping “moralists” attacking the fans no matter how valid the audience’s concerns could be, something the text in the first article wasn’t clear about. But let’s remember DiDio was the same man who took offense at fans of Stephanie Brown/Spoiler objecting to the ill treatment they gave her during the War Games crossover in Batman. It doesn’t sound like DiDio has any regrets over the reprehensible steps he took in the past, and probably not about tolerating Eddie Berganza either. Why should anybody even be interviewing him if he can’t be honest and admit the exact mistakes he made?
And the main problem with the “need for changes” defense is that it obscures the argument for the sake of entertainment on merit. “Changes” won’t work if they’re not impressive, written well, to say nothing of enjoyable.
Originally published here