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Comicscape: Dan Didio’s Countdown to Internet Crisis

Controversy Hounds DC’s Executive Editor

By Kurt Amacker     June 25, 2008


DC Executive Editor Dan Didio
© N/A

Leadership stands as a thankless role, in which those in charge must accept the blame for everyone or redistribute accolades equally. Fanboys across the Internet have been buzzing for the past week or so about Dan Didio—the Senior Vice President and Executive Editor at DC Comics. Out of the milieu of speculation about Didio’s future with the company came a blog post by Nikki Finke of the LA Weekly. Finke described great concern by the powers that be over at Warner Brothers, who were supposedly “monitoring the deteriorating situation at…DC Comics.” With Didio’s contract set to expire soon, speculation about Didio’s future with the company ran rampant across message boards, with fanboys referring to him as “Didiot” and ranking his performance in polls as somewhere between half-ass and abysmal. A few readers have recalled the five seconds of controversy over the t-shirts reading “Dan Didio Must Die” that made the rounds at San Diego Comic Con last year. Undoubtedly, DC’s Executive Editor has been more popular in the past. But, between the Countdown debacle, the controversy surrounding Final Crisis, Chuck Dixon’s abrupt and unexplained firing, and the resignation of John Nee—Senior Vice President of Business—it’s not a good day to be Dan Didio.

 

First, let’s dispense with the hyperbole. Dan Didio should not die. It’s even a little much to demand that someone resign over some crappy comic books, though the declining sales of DC’s monthly output should cause alarm. This column has criticized the direction that DC has taken in the past couple of years as much as any other. But, let’s act like adults and remember that calling for someone’s life or their job is serious business. This is the real world. Rumor control, here are the facts, Maniacs: according to Heidi MacDonald over PW Beat, Dan Didio's contract has already been renewed, And, as reported by Matt Brady over at Newsarama, Jimmy Palmioti will not replace Didio—though Didio’s contract renewal renders that point moot, anyway. Those hoping for his departure or replacement can quit holding their breath. And, the same PW Beat column reports that John Nee’s departure occurred coincidentally, but states as much without a source. Take that how you will. The business with Chuck Dixon remains under wraps, with the writer only assuring everyone over at his message board that he didn’t quit—hardly any consolation, but somewhat clearer.

 

But, DC still faces many problems. Final Crisis has already created a negative buzz for its sales—second to Marvel's Secret Invasion #2 by over 37,000 copies—as well as its blatant lapse in continuity between the events of Countdown and The Death of the New Gods, leaving writer Grant Morrison to explain the haphazard editorial oversight that created the problems. Over at Newsarama, he states “when we started work on Final Crisis, [artist J.G. Jones] and I had no idea what was going to happen in Countdown or Death Of The New Gods because neither of those books existed at that point. The Countdown writers were later asked to ‘seed’ material from Final Crisis and in some cases, probably due to the pressure of filling the pages of a weekly book, that seeding amounted to entire plotlines veering off in directions I had never envisaged, anticipated or planned for in Final Crisis.” Among other issues, both Final Crisis and The Death of the New Gods show Orion dying under different circumstances. That, and the first issue sits so deeply in DC history that no one outside of the most hardcore minutiae nerds can follow it. But, both the exceptionally convoluted storytelling and the continuity issues are endemic to DC. In the past, Comicscape has complained about the lack of continuity in Marvel’s and DC’s universes. Really, how many teams can Wolverine be on? But, it seems the pendulum may have swung too far at DC. Countdown attempted to serve as the backbone of the DC Universe, spinning off into other titles and bringing some consistency to the publisher’s line. But, it got out of control. It seemed like the series merely directed readers to yet more spin-offs to buy. Now, certain issues have “Sightings” branded across the top of the cover, which states that the comic contains some important event with larger implications. If you really want to get the whole story of Final Crisis, you’ll have to pick up a few other issues here and there. “Tie-in” must have become a sort of marketing death sentence, but that’s what “Sightings” is. 

 

Now, Comicscape hereby admits to being wrong in the past about consistency between titles. Put Wolverine on three teams. Publish another Batman book. If it means better stories that don’t require fans to purchase an extra five titles, then so be it. Continuity stands as an admirable goal, but with massive interconnected universes, writers and editors can only observe it selectively, at best. A great story that disregards years-old continuity is preferable to a mediocre one that jumps through hoops to heed it. But, allowing for a blatant continuity lapse like the one in Final Crisis—and one that contradicts an event only months old—comes off as sloppy editorial oversight.  It has left Grant Morrison struggling to explain the discrepancies and ultimately telling fans to just overlook it. And, while Morrison gets nothing but love from Comicscape, DC should not have allowed him to write his magnum opus tribute to Jack Kirby and DC history in Final Crisis. Even longtime readers of comics will find the first issue convoluted. Event books should serve as starting points for new readers. Marvel’s Civil War had more than its share of problems, but the publisher did the right thing in using it as a platform in the mainstream press to attract new readers. It did so by taking familiar characters and putting them through things that interested even casual readers—heroes fighting, Spider-Man unmasking, and Captain America dying. With The Dark Knight only weeks away from its theatrical release, one would hope that DC would milk the attention for all it’s worth. But, a book like Final Crisis will do nothing to endear DC to new readers. Grant Morrison remains a brilliant writer and a favorite of this column, but Final Crisis needed to be the sort of rollicking, fun adventure that attracts new fans. Ultimately, Didio will have to take responsibility for that, because the unexpectedly low sales of the book confirm some of these problems. 

 

Where DC goes from here remains to be seen, but Dan Didio is here to stay. Disregarding message board rants and calls for his death or resignation aside, he has his work cut out for him. In its stable, DC has some of the most recognizable characters in the whole of Western fiction. Everyone loves Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the publisher’s big names. But, that widespread recognition only goes so far in drawing new readers to comics. It may bring them to cartoons, video games, and movies—of which there have been surprisingly few, compared to Marvel, though that can’t be blamed on Didio. But, here at Comicscape, we love sequential art and we’re here to fight for the medium, from Superman to Persepolis. We don’t want to see DC fail (that would mean no more Hellblazer), and we don’t want to see Dan Didio die or resign. But, DC needs to reorder its house after Infinite Crisis, which may require an epic simplification and a change in editorial policies.   

 
The Spinner Rack

By Ben Johnson and Kurt Amacker

 
Ben:This week… someone dies (hint: it’s my wife).
 
DARK HORSE COMICS
 

BPRD Ectoplasmic Man One Shot $2.99

Ben:Where’s my proton pack? Yep, busting makes me feel good.
 

Chronicles Of Conan TP Vol 15 Corridor Of Mullah Kajar $16.95

 

Conan The Cimmerian #0 $0.99

Ben:Everything old is new again.
Kurt: Hello to relaunch.
 

Fear Agent #22 1 Against 1 (Pt 1 Of 6) $2.99

 
Gantz TP Vol 01 $12.95
 
Indiana Jones Adventures TP Vol 01 $6.95
Kurt: Indiana Jones for kids.
 

Oh My Goddess Rtl TP Vol 09 $10.95

 

Pigeons From Hell #3 (Of 4) $2.99

Ben:And by pigeons they mean my kids.
 

Star Wars Dark Times #12 Vector Part 6 $2.99

 
DC COMICS
 

All Star Batman And Robin The Boy Wonder HC Vol 01 $24.99

Ben:42 years in the making.
 
Batman Gotham After Midnite #2 (Of 12) $2.99
 

Batman Jekyll And Hyde TP $14.99

 

Cartoon Network Block Party #46 $2.25

Crossing Midnight #19 (MR) $2.99
 

Dc Universe Special Reign In Hell 80 Page Giant $4.99

Ben:Helmets, short busses, fire, brimstone. That is some scary sh*t.
Kurt: Reign in Hell? I already do!
 
Demo TP (MR) $19.99
Ben:But where would the salesman stand while you used it?

Kurt: You’ve obviously never had the displeasure of pissing with a restroom attendant next to you.

 

Ex Machina Deluxe Edition HC Vol 01 (MR) $29.99

 

Final Crisis #2 (Of 7) $3.99

Ben:I really hope so.
Kurt: Yeeeeeeeeeah.
 
Green Lantern #32 $2.99
 

Green Lantern Tales Of The Sinestro Corps HC $29.99

Ben:Here’s your chance to avoid sucking.
 

Huntress Year One #4 (Of 6) $2.99

 

Jack Of Fables #23 (MR) $2.99

Ben:I always think there is an extra ‘F’ on ‘of’.
 

Jack Of Fables TP Vol 03 The Bad Prince (MR) $14.99

 
JSA Classified #39 $2.99
 
Madame Xanadu #1 (MR) $2.99
Ben:Kind of stoked for this.
 
Moon Child Vol 11 $9.99
 

Number Of The Beast #6 (Of 8) $2.99

 
Programme #12 (Of 12) $2.99
 

Secret History The Authority Hawksmoor #4 (Of 6) $2.99

Ben:Want to know the secret? It’s in my pants.
 
Superman #677 $2.99
 
Superman Camelot Falls TP Vol 01 $12.99
Ben:Now I will finally read this.
 

Supernatural Rising Son #3 (Of 6) $2.99

 

Tangent Comics TP Vol 03 $19.99

 
Teen Titans #60 $2.99
 

Tower Of The Future Vol 11 $9.99

Ben:Future, Future, Future, Future
 
Trinity #4 $2.99

Kurt: I will read the last few issues and get back to everyone about this.

 
IMAGE COMICS
 
76 #4 (Of 8) (MR) $2.99
 
Aletheia #2 (Of 3) $3.50

Ben:I’d make a poop joke but I don’t know what an Aletheia is.

 

Darkness #4 Keown Cvr A (MR) $2.99

 

Darkness #4 Sejic Cvr B (MR) $2.99

 

Freshmen TP Ltd Sgn Ed $39.99

 

Gimoles Secrets Of The Seasons TP $14.99

 

Loaded Bible TP Vol 01 (MR) $16.99

Kurt: Jesus fights vampires!

 
Pilot Season Alibi #1 $3.99
 
Proof #9 (MR) $2.99
Ben:If its not at least 80 then don’t bother.
 
Spawn The Undead TP $24.99
Ben:I think I saw a porn about this once.
 
Vix #1 (Of 3) $3.50
 

Walking Dead TP Vol 08 Made To Suffer (MR) $14.99

 
MARVEL COMICS
 

Angel Revelations #2 (Of 5) $3.99

Ben:That’s when I get most of mine, too.
 

Avengers Fairy Tales #3 (Of 4) $2.99

Avengers Initiative #14 SI $2.99

 
Black Panther #37 $2.99
 
Captain America #39 $2.99
 

Captain America Prem HC Chosen $24.99

 

Captain America Prem HC Chosen Dm Var $24.99

 
Daredevil #108 $2.99
 
Fantastic Four #558 $2.99
 

House Of M TP Avengers $13.99

Kurt: House of M definitely qualifies as TP.
 
Hulk #4 $2.99
 

Immortal Iron Fist #16 $2.99

Kurt:There are enough Ed Brubaker books this week to replace whatever else you were going to read.

 
Marvel 1985 #2 (Of 6) $3.99
Ben:Enjoying this.

Kurt: There’s a lot of good stuff this week. Damn.

 

Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #37 $2.99

 
Marvel Atlas TP $14.99
Ben:Your fingers will never break through this baby.
Kurt: I hate you, Ben.
 

Marvel Comics Presents #10 $3.99

 

Marvel Illustrated Moby Dick #5 (Of 6) $2.99

 
Marvels Prem HC $24.99
 

Marvels Prem HC Dm Var Ed Vol 13 $24.99

 

Mighty Avengers #15 SI $2.99

 

MMW Atlas Era Tales Of Suspense HC Vol 02 $59.99

 

MMW Atlas Era Tales Of Suspense HC Vol 02 Var Ed Vol 98 $59.99

Ben:The pastor in me wants to outlaw that because I don’t know what it means. Must be sorcery. Devil, devil.

Kurt: Yes yes?
 
Ms Marvel #28 SI $2.99
 

Mythos Captain America (Res) $3.99

Kurt: The Mythos books are the epitome of unnecessary, but I keep buying them for the characters I like anyway. Damn it.

 
New Avengers #42 SI $2.99
 
New Warriors #13 $2.99
 

Off HB Marvel Univ A To Z Prem HC Vol 03 $24.99

Ben:What in the hell is that supposed to mean?

Kurt: It’s the Anti-Life Equation. If you decipher it, we all die.

 

Power Pack Day One #4 (Of 4) $2.99

Ben:Kurt’s first night with his cellmate comes to a close.

Kurt: Who knew that prison would be so much fun!?

 
Runaways #30 $2.99
Ben:I seem to remember a title called Runaways, back a long time ago in the mist shrouded past. Oh wait, I’m remembering when I had a colon.

Kurt: I’m beginning to suspect that Dark Horse kicked Joss Whedon off of Buffy just to make sure that the book would come out on time.

 

Secret Invasion Runaways Young Avengers #1 (Of 3) SI $2.99

Ben:I like these teams so much I’m going to read this, but if I get let down a puppy will die.

 
She-Hulk 2 #30 $2.99
 

Soleil Sky Doll #1 (Of 3) 2nd Ptg Var (MR) $5.99

 

Thor Ages Of Thunder Reign Of Blood $3.99

 
Thunderbolts #121 $2.99

Kurt: Speaking of way-late-but-not-as-late-as-Runaways

 

Ultimate Spider-Man #123 $2.99

 
Ultimates 3 #4 (Of 5) $2.99

Ben:Sure it comes out more regularly, but so does my poop when I eat fiber.

 

Ultimates 3 #4 (Of 5) Finch Var (Pp #809) $2.99

 

Uncanny X-Men #499 DWS $2.99

 

Wolverine First Class #4 $2.99

Kurt: Guys? Marvel snuck another Wolverine ongoing on the shelves without telling anyone. That makes three—four if you count X-Force. And, f—k it, I buy them all. I’m going to go drink myself to death.
 
Wolverine Origins #26 $2.99
 

X-Men First Class Vol 2 #13 $2.99

 
X-Men Legacy #213 DWS $2.99

Ben:The promise of just a few months ago has been dashed against the rocks of reason.

 

Young Avengers Presents #6 (Of 6) $2.99

 

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at comicscape@mania.com.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 19
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mortellan 6/25/2008 2:44:01 AM
And here I thought there was alot of vitriol for Quesada... Hopefully after 'Final Shakedown' DC will go back to basics for a while and let readers breathe before the next overbearing big event. Really, the rollercoaster at DC is too much. I half expected them to start counting to 52 again! Marvel's big stories at least have discernable beginnings and ends. As to movie-comic promotion. Dark Knight will be a hit no doubt, hard to say how it will impact the comic titles. I am surprised at how Hulk was treated pre-movie release though. Right off the classic Planet Hulk-WWH arc, they treat us to Incredible Hercules and Red Hulk? Mkay. As to editorial oversight, yeah Didio dropped the ball and maybe they need more communication over there. Whereas at Marvel they seem to scheme like thieves together with the Skrull event so far working seamlessly with what came before this last calendar year. How continuity will hold up is left to be seen until the end.
spiderhero 6/25/2008 5:00:57 AM
Aletheia is a Greek word. It means "truth". I know this because I studied Greek in college. Also, I named my dog Aletheia. See my profile to learn what an Aletheia looks like. Then, since she's a dog, make all the poop jokes you want. At 90 pounds she certainly makes enough of it.
Wiseguy 6/25/2008 6:25:41 AM
Wizard described how Marvel's top guys get together, throw around ideas and basically keep all informed so whatever book you're writing you keep it in line with the entire universe. Like Mortellan said they need more communication but Marvel is way ahead in this department by comparison. I don't even think is fair to compare Marvel to DC's continuity problem.<BR itxtvisited="1" /><BR itxtvisited="1" />Wolverine being on different teams and having solo books don't mess with continuity as long as the stories don't clash. They can all be at different time frames. And see how Marvel keeps the Avengers world away from the X-Men's world, that avoids any contradictions. Say what you will about Quesada but I think he's had a terrific run with mega events, sales and plenty of terrific stories.<BR itxtvisited="1" /><BR itxtvisited="1" />The article from Nikki also spoke about how WB, who control and have all the rights to all DC characters, are basically in paralysis with indecision about <A class=iAs style="FONT-WEIGHT: normal! important; FONT-SIZE: 100%! important; PADDING-BOTTOM: 1px! important; COLOR: darkgreen! important; BORDER-BOTTOM: darkgreen 0.07em solid; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent! important; TEXT-DECORATION: underline! important" href="#" target=_blank itxtdid="6167630">movies</A> and getting their characters out there. You have to believe a <A class=iAs style="FONT-WEIGHT: normal! important; FONT-SIZE: 100%! important; PADDING-BOTTOM: 1px! important; COLOR: darkgreen! important; BORDER-BOTTOM: darkgreen 0.07em solid; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent! important; TEXT-DECORATION: underline! important" href="#" target=_blank itxtdid="6167629">movie</A> about Flash, GL, WW I could go on, that it would help stimulate interest and maybe get their sales up. DC has some terrific characters that have been around longer that Marvel itself. So the guys at WB studios need to share in some of the blame for DC's decline due to their indecision, starting stopping projects and so on. Outside of Batman they don't know what the hell they're going to do. Fire some of those guys. While the guys at Marvel started their own studio and look at the difference. They know what they want, they have a plan and they're moving ahead with it while DC/WB is asleep at the wheel. They should've beaten Marvel to the punch by years.
Wiseguy 6/25/2008 6:40:53 AM
Some good reads IMO Read #1 1985, excellent first issue.<BR itxtvisited="1" />Secret Invasion is kicking ass. Waiting to see what Nick and his commandos can do.<BR itxtvisited="1" />Thunderbolts is such a good book I overlook the fact that's usually late. At least now and then they throw in a one shot to kill the time between issues. Goblin is back baby. How good was that.<BR itxtvisited="1" />Love all the mythos book. If nothing else they're good refreshers.<BR itxtvisited="1" />Just finished reading Moon Knight #18, another kick ass series.<BR itxtvisited="1" />Speaking of Kick Ass how's about the introduction of the new character at the end of issue 3. <BR itxtvisited="1" />This weekend I'll catch up with my DC books and keep my fingers crossed.
jedibanner 6/25/2008 7:00:07 AM
I feel like these types of events from DC confirms in my mind how much I don't really care for DC. Yes Batman is cool and when he's written in a good way which is once in a very great while (Hush saga, Frank Miller, etc...) it's fun to read but, most of the time it's not my cup of tea at all with the characters of DC. The heroes presented in DC for me are not as realistic and human as Marvel. I know it's only my view and I know some people like DC for the opposite of what I just said but latelly, DC has been a bit all over the place and it's not looking good.<BR itxtvisited="1" /><BR itxtvisited="1" />I know I loved the identity Crisis event and even gave it a shot at the Infinity Crisis but now, this final crisis and Countdown? stinks to hight heaven if you ask me. <BR itxtvisited="1" /><BR itxtvisited="1" />Anyway, DC has some potential but for now, it's not being used at all...let's hope in time it will get better.<BR itxtvisited="1" /><BR itxtvisited="1" />At least the Dark Knight movie is a good step to redeem WB and DC's image.
joeybaloney 6/25/2008 9:34:53 AM
Yeah. Okay. DC is a mess at the moment. I can’t defend ‘em anymore. The whole New Gods/Final Crisis thing is about as inexcusable as it can get, especially when you’re a continuity nut like myself. Expecting your readers to know their shit is one thing & I love it but not knowin’ your own shit is, again, inexcusable. Continuity gaffs aside I did enjoy FC #1 & thoroughly enjoyed Identity & Infinite Crisis’ & 52 was extremely well done IMHO but Countdown & all it’s tie-ins sucked hard and were just complete messes all over the place. Now we’ve got all the FC tie-ins to concern ourselves with plus dare-not-miss-it storylines (RIP et al) running through a bunch of the major titles throughout the rest of the year plus crap like The Dark Side Club funkin’ up everyone’s main storyline. AND I feel like a sucka for defending them before. Still blame Quesada though. Life imprisonment with no parole for Quesada! Looking forward to picking up a bunch of Marvel Trades in about 6 mos WISEGUY. :)
joeybaloney 6/25/2008 9:36:35 AM
Final Crisis did lack the punch one would expect from a "Crisis" title. Only one issue in and it doesn't seem to have as much weight yet as its predecessors.
fft5305 6/25/2008 11:07:34 AM
Am I the only one who thought, just for a second, that this said "Dan Dildo"? Yes? Ok, never mind...
darkheart00 6/25/2008 12:24:21 PM
Quesada is the anti-christ. I've started using his name in daily conversation like any other curse word. "Don't be a Quesada". "Holy Quesada". "God Quesada'it". "Bull Quesada". "Son of a Quesada". I don't wish Joe dead......no, just banished back to the 9th level of hell where he belongs. If there is a problem at DC it is Joe's fault somehow, it's a conspiracy.......I just know it!
joeybaloney 6/25/2008 12:46:41 PM
Can you imagine being a son of Quesada. You'd be beat up at school every single day, even in the summer when it’s out.
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