Dan Didio: A Look into the Future of the DC Universe

A comics interview article by: Josh Green
Recently, Josh Green got the chance to talk with DC Comics’ Editor in Chief, Dan Didio. Dan gave us a look into the DCU and the upcoming twists and turns for our favorite heroes…and villains.


Josh Green: Hi, Dan. It is a pleasure to interview you so close to Blackest Night. James Robinson and Mark Bagley will make what is sure to be a dynamite creative team for Justice League of America beginning with October’s issue -- #38! Will Justice League of America be the book that continues to react to events occurring elsewhere, or will it instead function as the driving force behind the DCU?

Dan Didio: When we look at JLA, and the way we’ve looked at it the past several years, it’s not always reacting to particular events. It might have bounced off of one or two, but that is indicative of a book that features all the prime characters of the DC Universe.

But the great part about James is that he’s building the JLA: Cry for Justice storyline right now, in which it is going to cross over to a lot of things taking place within the regular Justice League of America book. So the fact that he is working on both books will hopefully make that run very smooth, but also give a sense of bigger events to come.

JG: There are so many exciting stories in the DCU with Green Lantern and the forthcoming Blackest Night, The Flash: Rebirth, New Krypton, Batman: Reborn, and the upcoming Wednesday Comics. What titles do you fear will get lost in the shuffle during this eventful time in the DCU?

DD: You know, I get nervous about that all the time. Naturally Blackest Night is our biggest event, so we know that is going to overwhelm a lot of people’s pull lists. But I think things like Wednesday Comics, because it is unique to the medium, it is a completely different flavor. It is a different purchase than buying just another ongoing series or just another book tied into another event. So I’m hoping everything stands on their own right, and will be able to attract an audience that enjoys them the most. My goal is to create as much good product as possible, and hopefully everybody has the difficulty of choosing which ones to buy.

JG: Obviously the Black Lanterns will be the focus of Blackest Night. But will the various other Corps play any sort of role in the main series, or will they be strictly relegated to the Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps books? How about the Red Circle and Milestone characters?

DD: Blackest Night encompasses the entire DC Universe, as well as everything that happens in relation to the Green Lantern Corps. So you’ll see a lot of integration of the current Green Lantern storylines into Blackest Night.

And you won’t be seeing the Red Circle or Milestone characters involved in Blackest Night, primarily because we are just introducing them and I prefer to have those characters stand on their own right and establish their own storylines with their own sense of history. And once we give them enough back-story of who they are and what they’re about, then we can bring them out and integrate them a little bit more into the DCU.

JG: On the cusp of the releases of Batwoman in Detective Comics as well as Gotham City Sirens, how pleased are you with the reception of the already released Batman: Reborn books? I, personally, was blown away with how fun and easily accessible the first issue of Batman and Robin was.

DD: I was hoping for something good, and it’s been better than I expected. You know, I expect people to tell me that they like Batman. I expect people to tell me that they like Batman and Robin and Batman: Streets of Gotham. But when people tell me that they really enjoyed Red Robin, or they are excited about Gotham City Sirens, that makes me really happy. As for me though, the Batwoman story in Detective is one of the most important book launches we’ve had in awhile. And more importantly, I think it is some of the most beautiful comics we’ve ever done. [Emphasis added…]

JG: You had said that you initially wanted Dick Grayson to die during Infinite Crisis. Your thoughts on the character have obviously changed significantly, since he has now reclaimed the Batman mantle. What were your initial concerns with the Dick Grayson character, and why do you now think that he is viable enough to be the star of the Bat-franchise relaunch?

DD: I just thought that there was a sense of redundancy with how we were handling Dick Grayson for a while. And we were building up Tim Drake in a great way, while Batman/Bruce Wayne is extremely established in his own right as the person most deserving of the cowl.

We had a series of characters that were sort of the lost generation of heroes, that didn’t replace their mentors and had already been replaced as students. So we were trying to find a way to make these characters feel relevant and important. One of the things we thought when we looked at Infinite Crisis was what character’s death could shake up the DCU. We’re not saying Dick wasn’t important, but his death would have impacted many since he has close relations to so many characters in the DCU. When the choice was made not to kill Dick, we started to re-examine Dick Grayson -- who he was and what he stood for. And when the news got out of our original intentions for Dick, there was such an outcry of support for the character. One of the things that I found out is that fans grew up with Dick Grayson and felt the most empathy for him. They watched him be the young Robin, witnessed him going to college, as he eventually became a greater hero in Nightwing.

So we decided to take Dick Grayson to the next level. If we are watching the progression of the man, then we ultimately want him to become the true adult; which is Batman. But people kept saying to me that Dick already became Batman before, during Prodigal. But Prodigal was the reason for Dick not to be Batman, and also Bruce was still around at the time. But now, we’ve created a void. There is no Bruce Wayne present. So we can watch the continuing maturation of Dick Grayson, realizing that this is what he is meant to be as well as reaching his natural destiny. And I think that makes for great storytelling.

JG: The New Krypton event has revitalized Superman’s line of books and is becoming a fantastic epic, worthy in comparison to The Death and Return of Superman. New Krypton also invigorated Superman’s supporting cast; with characters such as Chris Kent, Thara Ak-Var, The Guardian, Mon-El, Sam Lane, and Lucy Lane each given a significant spotlight. Superman’s world now seems bigger than ever, so is it your hope that some of these characters will eventually headline their own books?

DD: Absolutely. One of the reasons why we are rolling things out in the fashion we have is because we know we have support in titles like Action Comics and Superman. We are giving characters like The Guardian, Mon-El, and Flamebird and Nightwing opportunities to shine in books that people were already currently purchasing. But I think these characters make for great stories.

My hope is that when Superman does return to his titles, that these characters could headline titles of their own. That’s what I’m hoping for. But there are a lot of big stories coming down for Superman in the pipeline. The Superman line is one dish that is simmering right now, just getting ready to cook.

JG: Geoff Johns and Gary Frank are my favorite Superman collaborators since Alan Moore and Curt Swan, so I have high expectations for Superman: Secret Origin. But it’s been only several years since Superman’s origin was retold in Superman: Birthright. Why do you feel that now is the time for another Superman origin story? Also, will Superman: Secret Origin tie-in with New Krypton, much like Green Lantern: Secret Origin tied to GL’s recent adventures?

DD: Because the origin coming together from Geoff and Gary is so integral with what’s happening to the New Krypton story, it is important to retell that origin while acknowledging all the bits and pieces from Geoff’s run on Action Comics.

JG: I understand that Adventure Comics will be focusing on Superboy and his return to life in Smallville. But after the book establishes itself, will it eventually become a core “triangle-numbered” Superman book or will it only tie-in slightly?

DD: Adventure Comics needs to initially stand on its own. We have a character coming back, and I want him to be given the room to breathe. He’s got to get the chance to reestablish himself. The character has been dead, so you don’t want to have to worry about fitting within the greater story right away. So it won’t be a triangle book to start, but you might eventually see the triangles return once we get to the point that Superboy becomes more integral to the New Krypton story.

JG: It was not too long ago that Green Arrow was center stage in the DCU, with celebrated runs by Kevin Smith and Brad Meltzer, as well as having a large focus in Identity Crisis. Other than the relaunch of his book co-starring Black Canary, there hasn’t been as much of a push to take Green Arrow to even more amazing heights. But earlier this year you said that Green Arrow is one of the characters to watch in 2009. Care to mention where his breakout moment might take place? Will it be in Justice League: Cry for Justice, Blackest Night, or Andrew Kreisberg’s wonderful Green Arrow/Black Canary series?

DD: I still stand by that, but unfortunately his break-out moment fell into the early part of 2010. Because of the way the stories are rolling out, I couldn’t rush the beats that were essential to Green Arrow. So you are going to see a natural progression to that, but I still stand by what I said.

JG: Are there any new upcoming DCU projects on the horizon with Alex Ross?

DD: No. I imagine he’s got a lot going on and I see his stuff with several other publishers right now. I think now that Alex has finished Justice Society of America, I think he needs a little bit of a break. But he is always welcome at DC Comics.

JG: I thought it’d be interesting to end this interview with a fun hypothetical question. On the last page of Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parallax, Kyle Rayner, who is imprisoned inside Parallax, ends the book by narrating, “Now that I have hope.” With that in mind, Kyle Rayner: Blue Lantern is a catchy title for a comic book, isn’t it?

DD: Either that or a love song by Shania Twain. [Laughs]

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