No surprise: Meltzer still remains unrepentant about Identity Crisis
It's funny, because you start from this place that's personal to you, but as with any story, you have to make your main character different from you. So in this novel, it's not the TV host-turned-spy who's the focus, but it's his daughter. To put this in comics terms, are you telling a legacy story here?So let me get this straight. In much of his writing, he'd never seriously tried working on female characters, whether leads or guests? Recalling the resolutely masculine viewpoint in Identity Crisis, what he's revealed here could be quite telling. I also find it laughable how he implies the Justice Society's not interesting enough without the Justice League around. All that does is hint what he really thinks of them. Now, here's what he says about Identity Crisis, and it's as biased as expected:
Listen, it's the thing I learned in comics. The Justice Society becomes so much more interesting once the Justice League exists. Because then there's a difference and a change. It's fine to just have a Flash, but it's so much cooler to know that there's Jay Garrick, and then Barry Allen, and then Wally and going on from there. That idea creates my favorite thing of all: instant history.
I was really determined this time, because for ten books, I hadn't done a female character. The last time I had one was in my second novel. And suddenly, I had this character in my head. Tod Goldberg, who worked on this book with me, and I just had a vision of her. What came from nothing, what was always there, was this little girl who, at six years old, sits on her dad's lap and hears bedtime stories -- but her bedtime stories are about conspiracies. Her father hosts a conspiracy TV show and tells her gruesome stories about a corpse that's found with Benedict Arnold's Bible in its chest. And where as other kids will be horrified, this little girl looks up with a smile in her eyes and says, "Tell it again." For me, that was always Hazel. The book became all about answering the question of, who is this person and how they came about.
You bring up Rebirth -- it's been interesting to watch Geoff Johns stake his claim for the DCU moving forward on the idea of hope and optimism being a guiding force. Sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly, people do associate your breakout comic "Identity Crisis" as being part of the darker legacy that DC embraced. Now, we've got a new world, and Ralph and Sue Dibny are back in action. I wondered what your take on was on all this considering you wrote a big chapter in DC's history if a rather dark one?It's nothing new he's boasting and gushing. All the women come off badly in the script, and he's babbling about what the characters feel for each other? How can even say he loves them if he puts them through such nasty, sensationalized situations, including the contrived "fight" with Deathstroke, which saw Zatanna punched in the stomach and vomiting, and Black Canary getting a bag put over her head? The latter scene was one of the most horrific moments. Are we to even believe what he says about getting fan mail all the time claiming the miniseries actually got somebody to read comics on a sustained basis? Judging by how low many mainstream comics are selling, it's not too difficult to guess he's exaggerating.
I loved "DC Universe: Rebirth." I think it beautifully brings everything I love about DC Comics together. Geoff is one of my oldest friends in this industry, and he was in my house when I was writing "Identity Crisis." And I think besides Judd [Winick], he was the only person who was reading my scripts as I was finishing them. And if you look back, the only crossovers that exist with "Identity Crisis" are Geoff's books because he had all the scripts. So to watch this happen now with Rebirth is great.
We were kids when we were doing those other stories. I remember sitting there, and it was Geoff, Dan [DiDio] and myself at a dinner in Baltimore. Dan was like, "We're going to do a big crossover, and Brad is going to do this story called 'Identity Crisis,' and Geoff is going to bring back Hal Jordan in this story called 'Rebirth.'" I'm not even sure we had the titles for any of it, but we knew these stories were happening, and Geoff was just thrilled that Hal was coming back. That, to us, was the hope.
Today, for everything that's been written about "Identity Crisis" -- and it's amazing what has been written over the years -- to me, it was not just a story about death, but it was a story about love. The whole core of that book comes from the love and the real true feelings that these characters have for each other. That's what I'm most proud of. I still say, the #1 thing that gets written to me -- I'd say at least once a week via social media or e-mail -- is someone saying, "Thank you for 'Identity Crisis.' It's the book that got me reading comics." I'm still humbled by that.
And whether just Johns' books tied in with the miniseries, this easily contradicts any notion he actually disagreed with going the gritty route, even post-Flashpoint. After all, Johns' writing style was so rife with sleazy violence and other superfluous junk, that it's honestly no surprise he'd go along with the Identity Crisis crossover with little or no objections to how they were handling things. So again, why should we suddenly believe Johns is sorry? The claim New 52 wasn't what he wished for sounded so abrupt, it's not hard to guess they're trying to absolve him of blame. That's why, no matter where Rebirth goes, no one should assume Johns would even have a problem with the DCU remaining as dark as it was all these years. One more reason why, if he's departing to work on movies now, he won't be missed.
And in contrast to Devin Grayson, who's apologized for the cruddy story she wrote in Nightwing, Meltzer still stands by his embarrassment, and has never apologized for belittling a serious subject.