Kids, I’ve been on Dan DiDio’s case as much as anyone else in the blogging and reviewing communities. I’ve written articles getting on his case, and he or his decisions been parodied in Jake & Leon There are so many things that have gone wrong under his tutelage, from Infinity Crisis to the New 52. Some of the best writers DC had are leaving the company and long-time DC fans are less than happy about some of his decisions and comments. He’s brought back characters nobody asked for because he and his crew grew up with them, but they’ve been given a grim. cynical remake that does them no justice.
Brian Heinz, also known as That Guy With The Glasses “Last Angry Geek” and host of Comic Book Issues recently started a Twitter campaign trying to get the hashtag “#FireDiDio” trending, and people have risen to the cause.
I understand and for the most part agree with Heinz’s view on DiDio’s failings and it’s nice to see all these people speaking out on it. But as much as I wouldn’t miss Didio, that’s only part of the problem, and a lot of it comes from higher on the ladder than him.
Let me post one of the Jake & Leon comics that points to a different comic company but is relevant to this commentary.
Turns out Leon wasn’t wrong. (And for new readers, that’s not Jake he’s talking to, just some random guy.) Marvel has not undergone the massive change some fans were expecting after Quesada stopped being the Editor In Chief. Axel Alonso didn’t undo the Spider-Marriage, but gave us Doctor Octopus in Peter’s body while Peter died in his. We got AvX, an event that made people wish they were watching AvP instead. (Although people like the Aliens Vs. Predator comics.) The only smart thing Alonso’s done thus far is stay in hiding, while Quesada, like DiDio, liked to push his vision on folks like Obama trying to sell Americans on his health care plan. In both Obama and DiDio’s cases, we kind of have no choice. For one thing, “Obamacare” is officially law, yet he’s still campaigning for it. Politics aside, if we want new Superman stories, DC’s our only choice since its their characters and their universe. As much as we like to think so, we don’t own it, and we can leave it if we want to, like a couple of my fellow Friday Night Fighter, Notintheface and Scott Slemmons have.
Taking DiDio down isn’t going to be enough. I’ve heard people getting on Bob Harras’ case. I haven’t seen enough people complaining about co-EIC Jim Lee’s involvement outside of his questionable superhero fashion sense. (The armor and v-collars…why?) Lee and Creative Director Geoff Johns share his vision for a darker DC devoid of marriage and non-super human contact, as we discussed yesterday. But that’s only part of the problem, too. The big fail comes from Time Warner, because they also share at least part of DiDio’s vision.
While Smallivlle was a little too much about Clark’s life and the people in it and Man Of Steel not enough, both are darker and more cynical takes on the Superman legend. Man Of Steel isn’t just Superman Batmaned, but part of his wandering comes straight out of Bruce’s wandering in Batman Begins and both movies wanted to be set in a more “real” world situation. Smallville started out kind of okay for Clark’s pre-Superman years, until the teen drama/Dawson’s Creek stuff moved in, only to be replaced with tossing DC characters in there willy-nilly while still refusing to break out the Superman suit (and only partly because Tom Welling didn’t want to wear it). Whomever is in charge over at Warner Brothers doesn’t seem to realize what made Superman Returns a fan non-favorite, but does think the problem with their not-Superman movie was not enough Batman. They don’t get how superheroes work and keep putting a guy in charge who seems to hate comic books.
Compare that with Marvel, who has some of the same issues that DC has, but they at least use marriage…as a cheap stunt I grant you…and aren’t quite as devoted to letting the editors run the show. Not their actions haven’t sent a few people away like Chris Robertson or Roger Langridge but they’ve got nothing on the dwindling list of DC writers. Soon it’s just going to be Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Scott Lobdell, Keith Giffen (don’t get me started on the New 52ed Masters Of The Universe–that’s one “Today’s Comic” review I’m not going to miss writing), and maybe Dan Jurgens for the name. (Because they already tried to railroad Simone once. Actually, now that I think about it, how long is Jurgens going to put up with having his titles cancelled all of the time? What’s he even working on for DC at the moment?)
Meanwhile, Marvel’s animation wing and Movieverse are going strong, worked on by people who at least respect the comic book as a medium. Even Ang Lee’s Hulk movie tried to be a comic book movie and the Avengers was more like a DC story than any of the recent DC movies. Their Avengers cartoon has gotten more praise than any of the DC Nation shows save for Young Justice and Batman: The Brave & The Bold (although you can easily find Batman fans who hated the second one) and they were let go in favor of a Teen Titans sitcom and a Batman cartoon whose CG makes them look like action figures. (Then again, it’s an improvement over Green Lantern but I haven’t caught a lot of either show.) While Marvel has its problems, Disney isn’t screwing them up the way DC is. And DC’s direct to video animated movies have been mostly adaptations (usually popular stuff like All-Star Superman or anything with Frank Miller’s name attached to it…lucky the two fans like and not All-Star Batman & Robin or Dark Knight Strikes Again) or something Johns wrote. Marvel at least changes things up, but they’ve been too busy making cartoons to target the next generation of comic fans and get them interested the way Super Friends did me and the DCAU did for kids of that generation.
So you can’t lay every problem on DiDio. Yes, the writers are being treated like dirt to push DiDio’s vision for the DC Universe that makes things unrecognizable, yes the characters are being treated poorly, yes the dead kids continue to pile up, yes marriages are treated as something nobody should have if they fight crime or save lives, and yes everybody is becoming real-world Batmany jerks. But DiDio alone isn’t the problem. It’s the other editors, Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, and others that are also the problem plus whomever at Warner Brothers that thinks it’s a great idea and bringing it to their work. One man isn’t enough to bring about the train wreck that is currently DC Comics. They’re pretty much going to have to clean out all of DC Entertainment and the person at Warner Brothers who goes along with this. I’m afraid this problem has no simple solution.
But continue to make your protests heard. If DC won’t fix the problem, maybe some other company will learn from their mistakes and make a better superhero universe. (This is your chance, Red Circle. Seize the opportunity! You’re in the best position.)