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Thursday, February 15, 2018 

Unfortunately, if Dan DiDio is co-writer of this book, nobody alienated by his ego in the past should buy it

Newsarama interviewed the awful editor/publisher of DC, who's trying to convince everyone they learned from Marvel's mistakes with diversity (and again, he takes the spotlight while Bob Harras sticks to the shadows). But anybody who knows how badly DiDio handled things in the past knows why it'd be a bad idea to be deceived this time too, no matter how valid any points he makes here about how to manage diversity are. They're putting out a book called Sideways in an attempt to prove to everyone they know the right approach to take introducing cast members of different race, but one of the problems is that he's a co-writer:
As DC's co-publisher, Dan DiDio knows that the success of the company's "Rebirth" initiative relied upon returning core characters to their best-known status quo. So when faced with the challenge of adding more diversity to the line, DiDio thought that DC's approach needed to leave the company's most revered characters unmodified.
I don't think this answers anything, if the above alludes to their major players, and not the minor ones like Atom, Blue Beetle and Firestorm, who were replaced in the costumes by men of different race (similarly, a character called Kate Spencer replaced the original male Manhunter in that role back in the mid-2000s) soon after Identity Crisis went to press.
Thus the "New Age of DC Heroes" was born - including this week's launch of Sideways, a book that DiDio is co-writing himself. The new line of titles features brand new characters that were designed, according to DiDio, to fill gaps that creators and editors felt were missing from the DC Universe.
And just why would we with experience from the 2000s want to buy a book this repehensible ignoramus even so much as co-wrote? If memory serves, at least two other books he wrote nearly a decade ago sold dismally, so while introducing a brand new character of Puerto Rican descent is admirable in itself, having DiDio as a crafter only evokes the old expression "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel". He's obviously hoping everyone's suddenly willing to forgive if he does this the right way. I think not. Anyone who lets DiDio off the hook after he engineered Identity Crisis - the miniseries whose structure was degrading to women and victims of sexual assault - will be out of their minds. He certainly hasn't apologized for it. Here's more from the interview:
But we're also going to show that this character interacts with the DC Universe. And we'll be meeting some of the other members of the New Age of Heroes within the first few issues. And then we'll have some guest stars from the DCU that I'm really excited about, because that's when Grant Morrison comes in and gives me a hand on a couple of issues in the latter part of the year.
First, that "New Age of Heroes" sounds an awful lot like one of Marvel's own vapid events, which could be a vital clue to how pretentious this'll be regardless of how they handle introducing a POC. Second, Morrison is another writer we could do without, and has been overrated for a long time. Let's remember, he was the one who made X-Men unappealing in the early 2000s. And, there's another problem turning up here that plagued DC's visions in the same decade as well:
Nrama: Let's talk about that collaboration. You're co-writing from the start with Justin Jordan, and then, as you mentioned, Grant Morrison will be working with you two on future issues. Is this because of your time constraints, or more of a choice on your part to collaborate?

DiDio: Yeah, for me, I love the collaborative nature of comic books - interacting with other folks, getting ideas and trying to find ways to make them work. The melding of ideas and getting different perspectives. I think it rounds out the product, you know?

That's what's been great about Kenneth. He brings a visual style in a way that I didn't normally see in these characters, but I think it added so much additional life to them.

Justin Jordan is helping bring in a youthful voice and a sensibility that I think helps ground the characters that feel more useful for today.

But once the story moves into the Dark Multiverse - and the story will move into the Dark Multiverse for a period of time - that's when I really wanted to bring Grant in.

I don't think anybody can best explore the kinds of ideas that we're going to push forward in that story than Grant Morrison.

I would feel deficient and not doing my best job if I didn't have Grant with me really leading the way.
I think that's an admission he knows he's not fit for writing comics any more than editing and publishing them. What's more, if they're turning to a dark angle, that's one of the prime errors they made over a decade ago, not unlike the 1990s, so it's clear something's wrong he won't admit. Then, DiDio tries to validate himself by making logical points about how to introduce a character:
Nrama: As a publisher at DC, can you talk a little about the idea behind the "New Age of DC Heroes" that you're rolling out, with this book as one of several hitting the shelves soon?

DiDio: We're having a lot of fun. We made a lot of noise about this being artist-first. In the beginning, we really wanted to open up the visual style and sensibility.

But really, what "New Age of Heroes" is really about is returning to a lot of basics in comic book storytelling that we've sort of lost along the way - the return of secret identity; the opening up of the storytelling; the romance, intrigue, the challenges that come with being a hero and trying to negotiate that against your normal life.

And most importantly, we wanted to bring new characters in.

We want to diversify in a way that feels natural and organic, rather than forcing change upon characters that people fully understand in a certain manner already.

So we love the "New Age of DC Heroes" - I really feel like we're pushing ourselves. The hope was to create characters that were filling gaps in our line-up without ultimately replacing other characters.

I think that's what was key.
Certainly, that's the key to introducing new characters. But if they intend to bring in the dark approach, that's a terrible mistake they've merely compounded, and there's been far too much of that over the years. I've said this before, and will again, that if Marvel's creations had all been subject to the kind of darkness DC's been forcing down everyone' throats, they would never have succeeded. And if this is all DiDio can think of doing with a new creation, then no wonder it's not bound to be successful. His name alone is reason enough to avoid it, much like Joe Quesada is at Marvel today.

He was also interviewed by CBR, where he gave this hilarious statement:
CBR: Dan, the first thing that strikes me about Sideways #1 is the tone of it. It’s not completely lighthearted, but it has a breezy, fun tone, and a likable character. That all feels very deliberate. How important was tone to you when crafting this series, and the story you wanted to tell with this character?

Dan DiDio: That was my main goal for the series. That reflects a lot of my own personality. I enjoy when things are more fun and engaging. I like the sensibility and sense of discovery that comes along with this story, and as the character is figuring out his powers, he’s explaining it to the audience himself, in his own way. I wanted this book to have a different sensibility, a different tone than what might be seen in some of the other New Age of Heroes books.
Those familiar with the dark tone he shoved onto the DCU in the past know why this rings hollow. Why should we believe somebody who considered darkness valid in almost every way, save for selective choices in writers they hire, to have a bright personality? During the mid-2000s, darkness became the norm in quite a few of their books at the time Identity Crisis was foisted on the brand, which he mandated, and now we're supposed to believe after all these years he's got a fun and engaging personality? Don't fall for his trick.
Let’s talk another collaborator on the book — co-writer Justin Jordan. How did he become involved, and how does the collaboration work between the two of you?

It’s a training for me. Justin was important for me because he has a more youthful voice in his storytelling. The last thing I want to do, forgive me for saying it this way, is being that old guy writing young voices.
But does he want to be the co-writer saddled with another who's going about business the wrong way? Because there's another problem with how this book's been handled: the co-writer, Justin Jordan, seems to have blocked a quite a few people on Twitter, which is no way to win confidence.
That Sideways looks like an attempt at DC’s Spider-Man. I’ve seen that comment quite a bit, I’m sure you have as well. What’s your response to that?

Blue Beetle is DC’s Spider-Man! [Laughs]

It’s an interesting thing. One of the things that I like to do is look at past successes and what made them successful, and then present them in a way that makes them original and unique in their own right. If you look at Spider-Man, or any of these characters created in the early ’60s, it was a sensibility that they had that I feel has been lost in comics. If you’re making your comparisons to Spider-Man because we’ve returned the conceit of secret identity, the challenge that it is to be a young kid in today’s society while struggling with powers that you don’t really understand, and trying to deal with all of the emotional issues that come with being a teenager, then I love that comparison.
I think this is a telling sign he still believes the offensive handling of Ted Kord in the mid-2000s was justified, all for the sake of bringing in the Latino character Jaime Reyes as the replacement. Do they really lack so much confidence they can't just retire Ted Kord from the role without drama and then bring in a newcomer, if it's that important to them? Or, they don't have what it takes to write a compelling spotlight for Ted himself? Besides, it's clear he misreads what made past products a success. If Marvel resorted to the kind of shock value DC used in the 2000s, I'd never have found their famous creations appealing.

DiDio was also interviewed by Comics Beat, who're just as sugarcoated, and he told them something that sounds farfetched even by today's standards for youth:
Lu: Absolutely. And one of the many identities that Derek wears is that of a minority. Like you mentioned, Dan, you wanted to create a character like Derek to help introduce more underrepresented groups to the DC Universe. What sort of work did you, Kenneth Rocafort, and Justin Jordan do to make sure that his experience felt authentic to the reader?

DiDio: First thing’s first. I don’t wanna put words in…the first thing is that one of the reasons why Derek is Puerto Rican is because Kenneth is Puerto Rican. And with that, he brought an authenticity to Derek’s style of dress, attitude, personality, and how Derek conveys himself in general. And in Derek, I see a lot of the body language that comes from Kenneth. I see him in the expression of how this character acts and behaves, and the people that travel in Derek’s circle.

My fiance and her son– she has a 15-year-old son, so a lot of this is based on him– his attitudes and personalities. Watching him interact with his friends– how they can all be sitting in a room together, not speaking, and actually texting each other side-by-side. It boggles my mind, but it shows you that teens are expressing themselves differently today than they did 20 or 30 years ago. And that form of expression is just another thing that we can draw a story from. It’s something we can present in our character as we portray him over time.
This is hard to swallow. When you're sitting in a room with several people, chances are you're bound to be talking vocally with somebody, and not merely texting round and about. On a computer console to people across town, that's entirely plausible. But in the same room together? Doesn't make any sense to me.

But if there's something to gather from this interview, it's that until now, DiDio may have been an example of what quite a few of the most prominent people in the medium are like now: not married and have no children of their own. Sort of like several European politicians, including Britain's premier Theresa May, Holland's Mark Rutte, Germany's Angela Merkel, Italy's Paolo Gentilon, and while France's Emmanuel Macron's [much older] wife Brigitte Macron does have children, he himself does not. Is it any wonder today's executives in comics don't understand what it takes to find an audience? Besides, as noted, there's also that dark angle to ponder, most recently embodied by the Metal event:
Lu: So we are gonna get more of that Dark Multiverse? That’s not gonna go away after Metal?

DiDio: The Dark Multiverse, we have a plan later in the year. We’re gonna go into the Dark Multiverse for a very specific reason. And those are the issues that I’m bringing Grant Morrison in to co-write. He’s gonna step into Justin’s role at that point. Primarily because nobody can write the Dark Multiverse, or any sort of Multiverse, better than Grant Morrison! And I wouldn’t even venture into that dimension without him. How about that?

Lu: I like that! That gets me excited. I’ve been waiting on pins and needles for any kind of Multiversity 2.

DiDio: Yeah! We talk about that. But I love the idea of exploring [Multiversity] in little bites like this. And just getting glimpses of it. We talked through our world and the Dark Multiverse, so when we start to move into the Dark Multiverse section of the story, it’s going to almost be like the lowest-level of subconscious in Inception. It’s trying to form, but it’s not forming correctly. And it’s constantly re-creating and falling apart because there’s just not enough substance for [the Dark Multiverse] to have a continued existence. So it’s kind of been reshaping itself. And ultimately once you step into that world, you get a better sense of where Derek’s powers are coming from.
The more he babbles about a Dark Multiverse, the more questionable his intentions are. It's also a strong hint they don't intend to abandon company wide crossovers by any stretch, and if they're going to keep on with that, it's no wonder their projects aren't going to impress in the long run. In a way, however, he's right that the dark angle doesn't have enough substance to even justify its use, though that's surely not what he meant to say. And a low level of subconscious does describe how these concepts are handled.

DiDio's main problem is that his attachment as a writer to these books only compounds the perception he's engaging in vanity projects to suit his pretentious MO. New additions to an old cast/universe are welcome. But not terrible writers like him. He did so much wrong to the DCU in the past, it'd be ill-advised to let him off the hook any more than Joe Quesada after what he did to Marvel at the same time.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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