It's being widely reported that Dan Didio is no longer co-publisher of DC Comics. What this means for the upcoming 5G initiative, or DC Comics in general, remains to be seen. For now, it seems, Jim Lee is sole publisher, but that might be an interim situation.
This was on MSNews via The Hollywood Reporter:
While Comic Book Resources ran this story:
and opinions on same.
Personally, my love of DC has gone downhill since Flashpoint, because I really didn't see the point (no pun intended) in that or the "new" 52. Rebirth and Doomsday Clock tried to fix (at least some of) the problems, but said problems shouldn't have arisen in the first place.
We can debate how much Didio was personally responsible versus how much professionally since he was the publisher at the time but regardless of the whys and wherefores, I hope DC is able to bounce back from all of this.
"Co-Publisher" sounds like a recipe for conflict. Apparently they have more faith in Jim Lee to go forward.
I can't remember this piece of news and not conclude that it is strongly related to something nicknamed "5G" that will apparently bring back some of the New 52 continuity and/or introduce new characters to serve as legacy successors for Superman, Batman, WW, GL and the like and seems to be scheduled for October 2020. Or to the confusion and uncertainty that some of the higher-ups must be feeling regarding the critical success of the Joker movie being followed by a weak performance of the Birds of Prey movie.
The announcement was sudden enough that I do not expect Jim Lee to be kept alone at the helm for very long at all.
My best guess is that Warner currently wants the comics division to "behave" and conform to the (perceived) best interests of where the bucks lie, namely the animation and movie divisions.
Ever since the Justice League, Aquaman and (particularly) Shazam movies we have seen a fairly discreet, cautious move towards more freedom for the screen creative personel and less effort at keeping continuity at that piece of the farm.
That is overall a good thing, but we should consider the effects on the comics division. If Warner learned a single thing from the Zack Snyder movies, it was that good word of mouth is a bigger draw than bombast and movie continuity. If it learned a single second thing, it was that comics and movies don't really affect each other's comercial success very much at all.
The comics are a fine source of intellectual property to be mined for movies and other lucrative media, but the last few years have done so at a considerable cost to their own long term viability, as it becomes apparent that DC does not really have much of a clear message to present to potential viewers nor a functional grasp of marketing towards them (as well evidenced with the simple, easily avoidable mistakes made while marketing the Birds of Prey movie). It is an unstable, unconfortable situation that must soon change either towards better integration with the comics or further separation from them. The 5G project is a really bad fit to either path, and it would not surprise me to see it postponed for at least a year or even cancelled outright.
My best guess is that the comics division will see a need to emphasize its worth as a source of intellectual property - a farm, if you will. That will probably involve redressing the comic books in order to helpfully point out how experimental they are and how close to movie continuity they may be. I expect Vertigo (a valuable brand of its own) to return sooner rather than later, and perhaps to become a movie brand in itself.
Some sort of useful, at-a-glance line branding is a strong possibility, in my opinion. Books expected to appeal to satisfied movie goers and perhaps encourage them to try other books and learn of this next upcoming crossover that just happens to match the overall tone of another movie that will premier at the same time. Vertigo (with a very different trade dress) for the experimental stuff that may someday become they next Sandman or Swamp Thing or John Constantine. Lines with a darker outlook to match the live action Titans series and with a sunnier approach to things to tap into the market that watches the CW series. Perhaps something more sci-fi oriented as well.
No one would like to see Vertigo return more than me, but I'll be surprised if it happens. I agree that it was a strong brand during much of its run, even during periods when it was having trouble finding hits. But the imprint floundered so badly at the end of its life that it would require a real commitment to rebuilding it. I do see Lee being more supportive than Didio was, though.
I generally don't care who the publisher is of any given comics company. But I think it's telling that, in the article linked above from CBR, "Comics Industry Reacts to Dan DiDio's DC Departure", several comics professionals commiserate with Dan DiDio (like Gerry Conway), but Rob Liefeld goes out of his way to dance on the grave ("Dan Didio was holding DC back for YEARS. This is the best outcome").
Like Luis Olavo de Moura Dantas above, I suspect that this "5G" concept might have greased the skids for DiDio's departure; from the outside looking in, it seems he lost the power struggle between those who want it to happen and those who don't. I don't know much about "5G", but what little I learned made me not want to know more and as a reader made me hope they don't do it. Another line-wide reboot is NOT the answer.
Clark Kent wrote: Another line-wide reboot is NOT the answer.
I couldn't agree more Clark.
What was the "point" of Flashpoint anyway? If DC had stuck to just the main 5 issue mini and told it strictly as a Flash or Elseworlds adventure, that would have been okay.
But to issue all those side minis and then radically change everything into the "new" 52?
Like I said before, how much of all of that was DiDio personally versus professionally, I have no idea.
What I do know is that while no comic book company is totally perfect, DC used to have a much better batting average than it does now!
Despite all the complaining about Didio over the years, I tended to like him -- if not all of the publishing initiatives he presided over. I didn’t like the New 52 (I saw a lot of value in the broadening of DC’s genres, but the line somehow corresponded with a narrowing of tone), and for an event centering on my favorite character in the DCU, Flashpoint was a misguided mess. But Rebirth was largely terrific, and the line even now seems really sturdy to me (although the Batman Who Laughs has cordoned off a corner of the DCU as enemy territory for a while).
Didio, in particular, was a big part of the reason Brian Bendis moved to DC, and it’s his corner of the DCU I’m enjoying the most these days. And I suspect Vertigo was shuttered in spite of him, not because of him. On the other hand, he seems to be the reason Mark Waid and Peter David have been away from the DCU so long, so that’s a strike against him.
But I suspect Didio sometimes took a lot of heat for the decisions of others.
Honestly, I feel like my biggest beef with the New 52 was probably due to the influence of Bob Harras, whom Didio hired, but who was probably more directly responsible for the general content of the line. And Jim Lee is a rockstar artist, but again, one that I’ve never really connected with. In DC’s management team, Johns and Didio were the two people I trusted to (generally) value the same things I did.
Also, frankly, if all of the creators whose work I enjoy are saying good things about the man, and Rob Liefeld is saying bad things.... well, I know who I’ll believe.
I love the thought of Jimmy Palmiotti as the new publisher. He’d do a phenomenal job, and has all the skills to make it work. I really worry that the new person won’t be someone with a comics background, or an appreciation for DC’s history.
In the immediate-term, I doubt the launch of 5G will be affected too much -- although we really don’t know what it is yet, so we won’t be able to tell one way or another. I think there’s probably too much work put into it to stop now. However, whatever the plans were for it might get truncated in favor of whatever the new person’s plans are.
My other thought is of DC's Walmart Giants line. That seemed to be Didio's baby, too, and I hope it continues. The lead stories in those books are generally self-contained, crisp, and fun -- precisely the kind of stories that drew me to reading comics in the first place. I hope they stick around.
The Walmart Giants line was a step in the right direction. Comics need to be visible in more venues than specialty shops if their audience is ever to expand. More of this needs to be done, and in more stores.
Does anyone know if these Giants are returnable?
My personal feeling is that the other shoe dropping was his approval of Catwoman's "condition" and the ramifications of giving Batman another "unexpected surprise".
At The Beat, Heidi MacDonald does a deep dive into Dan DiDio's tenure:
I personally have no problem with Catwoman being pregnant with Batman's child.
After all, if I understand the Gs correctly, the fourth is where we are now, and the fifth is the next Generation, with Jonathon Kent (allegedly) replacing Clark as Superman, a new(er) Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.; so why not the child of Bruce and Selina becoming either the next Bat or Cat?
But even if that's true (and there's a long way to go considering the lives of both characters) whatever happened to the child Selina is supposed to have had with Slam Bradley, Junior?
Although there has been some speculation that, even if Helena IS in the current continuity, she might be Bruce's offspring too. If so, does this give us a new Huntress in 5G?
Only time will tell...
I tend to agree with Ethan van Schiver that this is mostly a matter of AT&T having little incentive to want to keep DC at all.
There is a very good chance that they will sell DC outright,a slightly better chance that they will close the offices and license the comics to Marvel or IDW to publish, and I fully believe that while 5G is likely to materialize in some form, AT&T will listen very carefully to what impact it has on the intellectual property, even more than to the actual sales.
The more I think about it, the more I conclude that Dan DiDio, mistaken as I think he was about several creative decisions and views that he had, just happened to be insisting on keeping DC afloat when AT&T could not be bothered to pay attention.