Rebirth sounds political
Nrama: As you mentioned, one of the things people have picked up on from Rebirth is that there's kind of this meta context that the DCU has been dark and has turned away from its hopeful and inspirational nature. There's even an implication in Rebirth that Watchmen kind of infected DC Comics since it was published. Is that idea at all supported by the DC publishing side of things?Oh, that's certainly saying a lot coming from somebody who not only forced the DCU to be written darkly, or hired writers who'd ascribe fully to his visions, as Geoff Johns did, he steered the DCU away from heroism to boot. DiDio won't even admit it. And those "sensibilities" they attacked in revolting stories like Identity Crisis? It was all "blame America" propaganda, something he doesn't exactly admit to either. On the surface, they might reverse all the awful steps they took with Elongated Man, Sue Dibny, Atom and Jean Loring, among others, but even then, that's no guarantee the stories to follow will be readable.
Dan DiDio: You know what's interesting to me is I've always found comics to have a little bit of a counter-culture feel. And that's one of the things they did — they took ideas and sensibilities and they found a way to build story around it and find a way to galvanize the sensibilities of the world.
One of the things that's interesting in the world today is that there's an inherent negativity and anger and hostility that's all around us. This felt like the right time to shift the sensibilities of the publishing line to actually bring back a counterpoint — a sense of hope and inspiration.
If we have a world that is lacking heroes or people to rally around, then we're going to elevate our characters and show them what that level of hope and inspiration is about by putting our characters in the forefront by showing what it means to be a hero again.
So it seemed like the right time to embrace this story. Just the same way we attacked different sensibilities in the world post-9/11, now it felt like we needed heroes again. And there's no better way to tell hero stories than with our characters.
As for Watchmen, it's not like the 1987 miniseries actually infected DC. It's that the editors in the years following mandated the darkness; they're the ones responsible. To try and pass off the blame on a miniseries alone, rather than the mindsets behind it, is much too easy. Besides, DiDio and his ilk are the same people who forced their own form of darkness upon the DCU, so why should we trust them to suddenly change everything? Marvel put out an "event" a few years ago called "The Age of Heroes" that was allegedly a turn to more optimism, and look how that turned out too. "Rebirth" doesn't sound all that different - something that may be advertised on the surface as a return to optimism, but certainly doesn't ensure good writing, nor that company-wide crossovers will ever be abandoned, and that's another reason for the decline of superhero comics. The following can't be taken at face value either:
Nrama: I don't know how much you can say about how the continuity works. I assume we'll find this out as we go. But Rebirth seems to embrace Crisis on Infinite Earths but it rejects, for example, Identity Crisis. Can you speak from a publishing standpoint how that affects the books in your backlist? What "counts" and what "doesn't?"Anyone who thinks they're actually apologizing for Identity Crisis could easily be proven wrong in the future. Especially if they haven't apologized for making light of a serious issue like sexual assault, and that's something that hasn't been brought up here. Nor does the fact that Alan Moore originally wanted to depict Barbara Gordon being raped by the Joker, but this itself was rejected at the time by an editorial that at least had better morale than later generations did. In fact, when Barbara's paralysis from Joker's gunshot was worked into continuity proper, I think they left out any implications that Joker photographed her crassly, keeping it simple. If so, that was decidedly wise to at least leave out any of the most nasty elements the Killing Joke contained.
DiDio: It's an interesting question because, ultimately, the backlist is determined by the sales. If you look at Dark Knight Returns, that was never to be part of any continuity, and yet it continues to go. And Killing Joke was never supposed to be part of continuity and yet it came in, and it's still a best-seller.
The story that were picked and chosen in moving everything forward were integral for the storytelling for what we're planning to do for the future.
I mean, when you have 75 to 80 years’ worth of publishing behind you, every story can't have the same weight or matter in continuity. Every story cannot be as canon as the others.
And the ones we're choosing and how we're working forward are the ones that help best to keep the characters moving forward.
In Jim Lee's interview paragraphs, he also sugarcoats Johns' writing styles:
Lee: I think that very same question came up before we did the "New 52." They were saying, "how are we going to sell this trade if it's no longer in continuity?" And I think, at the end of the day, the readers are very bright. They know how to weave this all together, and essentially create their own version of the DC Universe based on what they've read and their favorite stories.I've witnessed what Johns did in the past with the Flash, and also seen examples of what he did with Green Lantern, and it was a pure insult to everything the older comics stood for. If anything, the over-the-top violence and shock tactics were really disgusting, and worse than some of the poor takes on past character origins. (His rendition of Frances Kane was perfectly dreadful.) That's not somebody fit to write classic superheroes, neither corporate-owned nor private-owned.
Like Dan said, the stuff that sells the best or is the most revered tends to rise and dominate the continuity space.
And if you look at the concept of Rebirth and look at what Geoff has done with the Flash and Green Lantern prior, you see that, it is a sorting through of the past and picking out the elements that are more core and representative of the characters and elevating them and pushing them to the forefront.
That's not necessarily to rewrite past continuity, but it's really a focusing on what's important going forward.
I'm sure we'd all like to think Rebirth is an apology for their past conduct since the 1990s, and that they're actually going to treat their older cast of characters with more respect now than they did since 2004. But these are the same people who've been running the store and factory for nearly 2 decades now, and if they couldn't offer a coherent direction all this time, we shouldn't expect them to improve now either. Besides, as noted, Rebirth does sound political, and they've been forcing vicious leftism into the products for many years now, so it shouldn't be any surprise that could continue, and only ensure their output will still remain unappealing script-wise, and even art-wise.