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Saturday, April 14, 2018 

LA Times sugarcoats DiDio and Lee's plans for Superman with Bendis

The Los Angeles Times interviewed Dan DiDio and Jim Lee about the new "direction" they're taking the Man of Steel in under Brian Bendis' helming. An interview which, predictably, asks no hard questions:
Here’s the challenge for Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, the publishers of DC Comics as the company celebrates 80 years of Superman and the release of “Action Comics” #1000: What can be done to shake up the Man of Steel?
I've got an idea: hire a right-leaning writer/artist to put his/her own mark on the Big Blue Boy Scout. Mike Baron, Chuck Dixon, and even Jon Malin. But no, chances they'd do that are very slim.
“'Action Comics' was defined by Superman since he was on the cover of the first issue. [He’s the] first superhero character. It ultimately not just defined Superman himself, but the genre of superheroes,” says DiDio. “That's why we love celebrating ‘Action Comics’ #1000, ’cause it wasn't just about Superman, but really, this entire business is built on that idea.”

DC is also releasing a compilation of Superman comics highlighting some of the key storylines that defined the character. Earlier this year, it was announced that Brian Michael Bendis, a longtime influential Marvel writer who recently defected to DC Comics, would be shaping Superman’s new direction.

“Brian's really going to put his mark on the character and redefine the mythology of the character,”
said Lee. “That's exciting ’cause it shows that even after 80 years, there are new ways to rekindle and reignite the mythology.”
He most certainly is, and already gave telling hints what he thinks of the ideals Superman stands for. That's why I wouldn't trust him on DC products any more than I would Marvel's, where he already forced social justice propaganda upon the MCU, and even before that, diversity pandering.
What was the thinking behind the #1000 numbering? Legacy? To excite collectors and fans with a kind of ‘#1’ mentality?

Jim Lee: It's interesting that you note that collectors and fans like the appeal of the first issue, but I'll tell you that historically, the next most important number is 100, and historically, this is the first time that a thousand has been reached. We're already seeing huge interest in this issue as a milestone issue and that fact that it's the first book to hit this number. I feel like the marathon runner who just stepped across the finish line and got to work on the thousandth issue given all of the incredible stories that were created prior to it.

Dan DiDio: The reality is that we wanted to embrace the history of the character. The best part about "Action Comics" #1000 itself is that while the story that Jim and Brian Bendis are doing is leading into ultimately the new direction of Superman, there are so many different standalone stories in that [80 years of Superman] book that really capture the essence of this character. So with all the promotion and attention around #1000, I think you're going to get this beautiful package of so many stories with all the depth and all the history of who Superman is. If you're a brand new fan or just have casual awareness of Superman, this is the place to start.
No, I don't think so. The best place to start is the original Golden Age material, but they never care to recommend those, do they? History doesn't matter to them as much as their own brand new, flash-in-the-pan events.
What can you say about the redefining nature of the story and the new direction the Man of Steel will be going in?

Lee: I feel like that's Brian's story to tell. All I can say is that it will be startling. It will be interesting. It will be illuminating. It will usher in a new era for the character, which is what you want. We didn't want to do a celebratory issue that didn't mean anything. In walks Brian with this great idea, this great premise, to redefine the character and it unlocked all these other ideas.

DiDio: Let me spoil it a little bit. Brian's stuff really does challenge the origin of Superman and calls in some new elements that reinterpret everything that's happened to him up until this point. The piece that you're going to see in "Action Comics" #1000 takes place after the events in "Man of Steel," so you get kind of a preview of what's to come. We introduce a new villain and there's lots of story beats inside there. More important, when you have as many people buying into this, it becomes a great launchpad for everything that Brian wants to do as well as to get a sense of the scope of the DC Universe.
Ah, see, how can they be celebrating and embracing the Man of Steel's history and ideals if Bendis intends to "challenge" that? By contrast, the interview doesn't seem to challenge Bendis' standings any more than DiDio's and Lee's. No surprise coming from shoddy journalists like them, of course.
What was the draw for bringing in Bendis?

Lee: We're longtime fans of his work at Marvel and really jealous that they had such a prolific writer [who] was driving so much of their narrative, their mythology and their universe. So, we knew he's a creator with big ideas. That's what you want on your biggest character and your biggest issue. He just came in with a passion that you see was a trademark for the work he did at Marvel. He's not a guy [who’s] scared of exploring, experimenting and really burrowing down into what makes characters tick. As Dan alluded to before, we do not keep these characters encased in amber for all eternity. We need to really keep them modern and fresh, and that requires risk and that requires change and that requires modernizing the mythologies. And we have a fearless writer in Brian, and that's something that doesn't happen very often.

DiDio: It goes back to what we're celebrating — 80 years of Superman. A lot of times when you have a character for that long, you don't change the character that much. So what we try to do is bring in fresh voices, a fresh set of eyes and new perspectives.
Hmm, are they fans of Bendis' hack work on Avengers, including the horrible mistreatment of Scarlet Witch and Tigra, the latter who was bashed up by the Hood? Are they also fans of the awful House of M crossover and the retcon of Iceman to gay? Fascinating queries indeed. Nobody's saying you have to keep the characters wrapped in amber eternally, but if you're going to turn them inside out in any way - something they did to 1st Green Lantern Alan Scott in 2011 - then you're not respecting their origins at all.

Furthermore, Bendis is not a fresh talent; he's grown stale years ago. He's not somebody whose work we have to care about, and I hesitate to think what he might have in store for Supergirl too, mostly because her solo was cancelled as part of his plans for the Superman franchise.

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