DiDio’s Departure Doesn’t Guarantee Recovery, But There’s Hope for DC

 

 

Dan DiDio was fired from DC Comics this past Friday morning by Warner Bros. According to reports he was fired, for cause, for ‘fostering a poor work environment’, for significant departures at the publisher by editors including Pat McCallum, Molly Mahan, Rob Levin, Alex Antone, Dan Telfer, and Harvey Richards.

 

Jim Lee is the remaining Publisher and Chief Creative Officer.

 

This is stunning news reported yesterday by Bleeding Fool, and is not unlike the time when Axel Alonso was removed as EIC for Marvel. The Hollywood Reporter’s announced that Dan DiDio, who oversaw some of the worst elements ever to sully DC’s output since he undeservedly got the role in 2001, is now gone from their employ, and left his role of publisher:

 

Dan DiDio is no longer with DC, THR can confirm.

DiDio had served as publisher of DC alongside Jim Lee since 2010, following a six-year stint as VP executive editor, and, prior to that, VP editorial.

As publisher, DiDio was one of the main figures behind DC’s 2011 line-wide relaunch “The New 52,” which saw the company provide a contemporary make-over to its entire superhero back catalog. Initially a sales success, both sales and buzz faded to the point where 2016’s subsequent line-wide relaunch, under the banner “DC Universe Rebirth,” restored many elements dropped in the reboot.

 

He was behind much more, and much worse than that – he was the primary overseer of 2004’s repugnant event/crossover, Identity Crisis, the miniseries rife with misogyny, that minimized sexual assault and was built on an almost entirely masculine viewpoint. Though he came into the role after Geoff Johns had arrived, he arguably oversaw many of his most distasteful writing elements too, in the Flash and later in Green Lantern. And DiDio never made any attempt at the time to get rid of Eddie Berganza (who was responsible for recruiting Johns to work for them in 1998), who’d been accused of sexual harrassment and abuse. It wasn’t until nearly 3 years ago, following the case’s report in the mainstream press, that they finally got rid of Berganza, who’s since gone on to shady activities elsewhere with another writer who’d once worked for them.

 

Since stepping into an executive role at the company, DiDio has served as DC’s public face at conventions and public events, and has worked to champion not only the company as a whole but specifically the comic book division — and comic book specialty market — as being integral to DC’s success on an ongoing basis. DiDio was also part of the push to expand DC’s publishing reach into Walmart and Target via exclusive 100-Page Giant issues, an initiative that proved so successful that the issues were expanded to the comic store market.

 

I’m afraid that’s just the problem. If the EIC at Marvel’s expected to serve as their prime spokesman, then surely the same should hold true at DC? Yet in all the time Bob Harras assumed the role from DiDio, he’s rarely ever taken a speaking part, if at all, as DiDio continued to make an alienating presence. Despite what they say about those 100-page giants, from what I’d learned about them, with stories sensationalizing violence against women like Lois Lane while censoring sexuality ridiculously, they’re not something I’d recommend anyone waste money on, family or otherwise. Besides, how do we know they really were successful, if sale number figures haven’t been given? For all sugary talk of a man who supposedly tried to push his company for success, he’s had far more failures than actually reported: if he couldn’t market older trade collections successfully, and his “new age of heroes” with characters like Sideways petered out, and ruthless left-wing politics stained their books as badly as Marvel’s, how can somebody that irresponsible and full of contempt be considered a success? The press sure is going out of their way to whitewash his record. Including Collider, who gushed over him with the following:

 

DiDio was instrumental in many of DC’s contemporary shifts and successes, including The New 52, a 2011 revamp of all of DC’s continuity post-Flashpoint that saw every DC title restarting at issue #1. DiDio also became a fan-favorite figure, serving as DC’s front-facing de facto spokesperson at fan events and conventions. In an era where most of “comic book success” is found in movies and TV, DiDio made sure the actual ink-and-paper (or digital) comic books had a home and focus in the business strategies of DC. With him exiting the company, Lee remains the sole publisher of DC Comics.

 

Yawn.

 

How can somebody whose recent act of alienation, Heroes in Crisis, which saw several Titans killed off, and Wally West demonized, be considered a “fan-favorite” figure? He’s no more so than C.B. Cebulski is at this point for Marvel, and hiring Brian Bendis didn’t help them either. What they gloss over is, in case I hadn’t brought that up yet, that their sales have gotten worse over the years, and their older material from up till the turn of the century was doing better than their newer material since the mid-2000s. Whether or not he put a serious emphasis on paper or digital, it’s clear the business under him was far from a success, and by the end of the 2000s, most casual readers had been driven away.

 

 

If anything, it’s clear DiDio paid a price similar to Alonso, and he won’t be missed. You can be sure anybody familiar with Identity Crisis in 2004 won’t remember him fondly. Obviously, DiDio’s departure won’t ensure any artistic improvement. Certainly not if quite a few staffers just as bad as DiDio still remain. He left quite a shambles, and whether or not any effort will be made to mend damage, the publisher is still likely to meet a sad end, as many realize. Certainly so long as it remains in Time Warner’s ownership. I wouldn’t count on Jim Lee to be much of an improvement, considering he was involved in a lot of their worst directions.

We’ll see what the future holds now that DiDio’s gone (and he’d better not come back). We should hope Joe Quesada will eventually leave his role at Marvel too. But, as many surely realize, their departures, however welcome, won’t guarantee improvement or better sales and staffers.

 

 

Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1

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