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Friday, March 05, 2010 

Even allegories can be very tasteless

The blog of In One Ear offers a reminder of Dan DiDio's admitting several years ago that Identity Crisis was "motivated" by 9-11:
Dan Didio spoke heavily of the impact of 9/11, and specifically what we witnessed of the first responders who went into buildings in spite of the risk. The other things he pointed out were the guardsmen with guns lining the streets shortly after 9/11. These are the two things, according to Dan Didio, that led to Identity Crisis, as well as all the “Crisi” that followed. It was the ongoing darkening and coarsening of the universe, which is, certainly a bit different from the 90s which was cheapened grim and gritty. According to Didio, they needed to show how bad things could get, as well as how dangerous it was to be a hero.

So they killed Sue Dibney. Correction, they raped and killed Sue Dibney. And I admit, my love for Due and her husband the Elongated Man drew me into that story, initially. But then I found it troubling. To make a c list Villain a menace, they declared he was actually just “mind-wiped”, he was actually a bad assed villain. Why was he scary and bad ass? He was a rapist. For me, that makes him a low life scum, not a scary villain.
There's even the argument that what we expect from a supervillain is that they be challenging in some way or other to the heroes, not that they be revolting as Identity Crisis made Dr. Light. That aside, what DiDio and his apologists may note have had the courage to admit at the time was how this "vision" of theirs had a negative view of heroism, and even blamed the victims for tragedy, trivializing the rape of Sue Dibny and claiming that one of their own - Jean Loring - was the guilty party, NOT the villains.

Besides the 2005 Newsarama interview, I even found one from 2 years ago where he brought up the 9-11 connections yet again:
6. Touching on the times that we’re in right now – comics, throughout their history, have reflected the world outside, whether it’s something as big as a war, or technological and cultural changes. So are we going to see comics that reflect where we are now, and if so, how do you balance that with the idea of comics being escapist entertainment, as well as the trade and the “perpetual story” being on bookshelves?

DD: You’re talking about the same thing, but two different things. Will comics be reflective of a prevalent time, attitude and feeling in the country and the world? Yes. You’re talking about time stamping something to a larger extent. I don’t want to timestamp something, say, having an issue of Superman where we show the Phillies wining the World Series. That’s a timestamp – and that’s something that we, as a medium should never do, because our characters are timeless.

But what we can do is show our characters evolve with the times around them. You can read a Green Lantern comic from the ‘60s and know it’s form the ‘60s., not just because of how the characters are drawn and what they’re wearing, but because the prevalent feeling of the characters in what they’re reflecting, and how they interact with other people – the generational change aspect...the sense of revolution in that time. The push of the generation gap. Look at our comics coming out of 9-11 – we don’t reference 9-11, but there was a sense of a feeling of dread or anger that permeated that material. That wasn’t just because we were looking to reflect a period of time, but more because the people who create these comics were feeling that. So much of what you’re looking for in terms of comics having the feel of a certain time comes from our creators. They are living and working in this environment, and picking up ideas and stories from seeing what’s going on in the world around them. That’s why it seeps in. I don’t want to timestamp something, say, to show the stock market crash, or show a particular incident in our books. That basically says, “This is the book from 20_ _.” It’s more interesting to me, and to the readers, I think, if the world around the creators affects them so that the stories are reflective of our world. But the stories themselves should be timeless, because it’s true to who the characters are and the events around them.
They may not reference 9-11, but that might be the most dangerously cunning problem about DC and their writers: by keeping everything as metaphorical/allegorical as possible, who would be able to guess it was that deep. But it doesn't matter when it came out, the ideas Identity Crisis embodies would be a stinker at any time, and show that even metaphors can be truly awful.

One more thing DiDio signals here is where some of his positions are drawn from:
So it’s two different things, but the same thing. You can’t timestamp things. When you start to do that, you get into all sorts of trouble. Case in point – when I first came in to work at DC, one of the first things you would see on the wall was the timeline that was put together following Zero Hour - “Ten Years Ago...this happened,” “Twenty Years Ago...this happened.” The problem is that it starts at World War II or World War I, but it’s very clear what periods of time it’s talking about. It’s been on the wall for a few years, and is outdated. The same thing happens when you start time stamping stories – everyone grows and changes, and we have to be able to be flexible with the periods of time in our storytelling, because again, our characters still have to remain, for the most part, timeless.
It's not too hard to guess that he's influenced by Zero Hour, that most distasteful crossover from 1994-95. That, disturbingly enough, is clearly where a lot of the so-called inspiration comes from.

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So...9/11 is the reason to rape and kill Sue Dibney, trash Jean Loring and turn Dr. Light into a rapist? Yeah, right.

Try again, DD; hiding behind one of the most tragic events of American history isn't going to work.

Word Verification: "Butcher", which sums up DD and IC nicely.

I may be crazy (though I'll leave that up to others to decide) or maybe I'm reading in-between the lines of what DD was saying too much, but his comments about the dread and fear the writers felt almost sounds as though he's blaming George W. Bush for the crappy state comic books are in today.
I guess if Barry can blame W for everything, DD feels he can, too.

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