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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dan Didio is an evil genius:

I mean it. Seriously. The man is a marketing genius. Whether you like or hate what DC's doing with the Crisis/OYL stuff, it's a brilliant decision for sales.

First, you have the Crisis, and the chance to (yet again) attempt to simplify and streamline certain aspects of the DCU. Whether it ends up successful or not, it will be an exciting story, and streamlining is always a good thing when it comes to newer fans. Mr. Didio's indicated that the world will return to a single universe, and one can probably assume it'll be close to the current DCU, considering the solicits still sound like roughly the same universe, and bad guys aren't supposed to win in comics anyway.

The particular advantage here is that it seems like a lot of the planning for the Post-2nd Crisis universe is in the hands of relatively "new school" writers like Mr. Johns and Mr. Morrison. While I mean no offense to the veterans of the trade, having much of the creative planning in the hands of the relatively "newer generation" of writers will probably enable the Post-Post-Crisis (*why* are they both Crises?!) Universe to develop its own feel and tone faster. And the OYL stuff means that unlike, say, Zero Hour, there won't be as much return to the status quo. (The quick resuming of every other comic line I think helped the impression that Zero Hour didn't do what it was supposed to do. There wasn't any time or reflective change).

OYL's a brilliant decision too, a lot of would-be-comic fans balk at jumping in at the hundredth or so issue of a series. Back issues are nice and all, but that's a lot of hunting if you can't find Trades. With the success of Batman Begins and the upcoming Superman and Wonder Woman movies, DC has to be anticipating new fans. With the OYL, a lot of series will end, a lot will start again, and the ones that continue will at least have to wrap up a lot of their more complex plots in order to start from a fresh point a year later. Thus, the new fans can start with the OYL stuff, where they might only have to catch up on 1-5 previous issues to understand the plot, rather than god knows how many.

Let's look at Countdown and Ted Kord. Ted Kord's a funny character that almost everyone liked, but no one really paid attention too. He's got legacy and impact, and played a major role in the first Crisis, but since then was mismanaged in his own series, was fun in JLA/JLI/JLE until they went with the less comic/more dramatic current batch, and had fun bit parts in Birds of Prey and certain other nostalgia type stuff like Formerly Known As The Justice League. Ted didn't have the momentum to front a book anymore, even if he is, as most DCU people are, more than complex and interesting enough to make for a good book under the right writers.

I'm sure there were other reasons why Ted was the one picked for the death in Countdown, but from a fan's perspective, he was perfect. Countdown highlighted all the aspects of Ted's character that would be perfect in his own series, emphasized his humanity and connection with the fans (he's much easier to identify with than Batman or Superman for example)...and really seemed to hint to me that at some point, in some form, he'll be back. (I think all the pros who say otherwise are either lying, or just haven't found the right time, sales wise to bring him back in one form or another. I think that about every dead character: I'm just cynical that way. :-))

But I'm definitely going to give Reyes a chance as the Blue Beetle. Countdown and Crisis has pretty much ensured BB #1 will sell well. Then it's up to Jaime Reyes to carry the series. If he doesn't carry it, if sales drop, well, they've got another possibility in the wings...and that would *definitely* sell, at least long enough for the writers to get their footing. And if Reyes can carry a series under Giffen's pen, then Ted'll probably be back eventually some other way: a ghost, a confused computer program, a hallucination, a zombie, whatever. Someday, someone will bring him back. And that'll sell books too.

It's genius really.

And from a more out-of-comics standpoint, let's look at Mr. Frank Miller and All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. Many people love his work, many people hate it. I know, personally, I liked Sin City well enough, but his Batman isn't my Batman. But he sells books. Can't deny that.

So DC gives him one. AS:BARTBW or whatever acronym you choose to use. It's perfect, really. Out of canon, so Mr. Miller can play with the characters as much as he likes without making us more...traditional?...Batman fans cringe and go "That's not how it happened! I hate this retcon!!1!"

But see, this is perfect. Some of us hate All Star: Batman, some of love it, but most of us are talking about it in some form or another.

And you know, publishing those scripts was genius too. All Star Batman's cheesy, tawdry cheesecake objectification (few folks can deny it)...but with those scripts, well, *clearly* it's not DC or Mr. Lee's instigation. Mr. Didio's managed to very subtly shift all the credit/blame onto Mr. Miller's shoulders. "Hey, it wasn't our idea," it implies, "This is all his."

Very very clever. Evilly, diabolically clever. I'm not sure whether I'm in love with Mr. Didio or if I just want to *be* Mr. Didio someday. Either way, color me Impressed.

11 Comments:

  • At January 21, 2006 4:00 AM, Blogger Leigh Walton said…

    I can buy the idea of stripping the DCU (as a fictional universe, but more importantly, as a line of periodical comic books) back to a comprehensible size.

    What I'm not convinced is necessary is the two years of continuity-laded, overdramatic, overhyped, crass, esoteric, omg-Bat-Lad-from-Earth-13B-raped-Mxyzptlk's-sister comics.

    It's like that Mark Waid quote about Batman becoming less of an asshole after all the dust settles. But meanwhile we've got to sit through two years of Batman being an asshole, y'know? "We'll be accessible to new readers... EVENTUALLY!"

     
  • At January 21, 2006 4:05 AM, Blogger Leigh Walton said…

    er, "the two years of... comics" that DC feels obligated to pubish before actually getting down to the universe-simplification business, in case that wasn't clear.

     
  • At January 21, 2006 4:09 AM, Blogger James Meeley said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At January 21, 2006 5:13 AM, Blogger Leigh Walton said…

    Hi James:

    Sure you can. Ultimate Marvel, All-Star DC, Batman: Year One, Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Walt Simonson's Thor, The Long Halloween / Dark Victory... These launched without months of painful gestation. They just launched.

    Batman: Year One: the title tells you everything you need to know. Suddenly Batman #404 was by a completely different creative team from #403, and a different setting, and it was suddenly a thousand times better.

    Alan Moore spent one issue (#20) of Swamp Thing killing everyone off and clearing the deck for his run. One issue. One month. Then it was off to the races with "The Anatomy Lesson" (#21), one of the most critically acclaimed issues of any comic book ever. And #20 has, as far as I know, never been reprinted; it's been entirely forgotten about. For all 90% of readers care, he might as well never have written it.

    If you want to make good comics, go ahead and make good comics! No apologies or crappy preliminary stuff necessary.

     
  • At January 21, 2006 10:46 AM, Blogger Shelly said…

    Whatever the intentions, all that matters is the results. Personally, growing up, I loved the multi-verse and never had a problem following it. Then again, I love alternate reality science fiction stories and love how even Stargate SG-1 plays with that (Last night's episode did it perfectly.), so I'm probably not the best judge of it in the DCU.

    I wish the Countdown mini-series had been better, but some were better than others and they served a purpose for me, acquainting me with characters I wasn't familiar with so I'm ready for their roles in the Crisis.

    I think the OYL jump is briliant, tho I'm not thinking of it from a marketing standpoint. I'm thinking of its creative standpoint. I write (not professionally, yet) and when I write sequels, I jump forward a lot. It's creatively fun to project forward, then figure out what happened in the meantime.

    I don't care if the DCU is simplified after or not after (I've long gotten over my bitterness over the first Crisis and what it did to the DCU I loved). All I want is that what's left be entertaining.

    I'm enjoying Infinite Crisis. I have enjoyed, tho not as much, the Countdown issues and the tie-ins. And I'm looking forward to OYL and 52.

     
  • At January 21, 2006 11:15 AM, Anonymous Jer said…

    'The particular advantage here is that it seems like a lot of the planning for the Post-2nd Crisis universe is in the hands of relatively "new school" writers like Mr. Johns and Mr. Morrison.'

    Wait - Morrison is "new school"? The man's been writing comics since the 80s in the UK. He's been doing DC Comics since '88 with his run on Animal Man. He's pretty much been constantly writing comics for either DC or Marvel for the last 17 years. He's as much as an institution in comics here in 2005 as Marv Wolfman was back in 1985 when DC gave him crisis or John Byrne was back in '86 when they gave him the Superman revamp.

    Now, if what you mean is that Morrison's sensibilities are more "new school" than other writers, I'm not sure I agree with that either. He has a unique understanding of what the central conceits of superheroes should be about, and he genuinely loves superheroes (much like Mark Waid does). I find Morrison to actually be one of the most "Silver Age"-style writers there is - he just knows how to make those Silver Age conceits resonate in a modern work and not make it feel like nostalgia-bait.

    Actually, thinking about it in this way it is quite interesting. The last revamp that DC had, they put a number of their properties into the hands of "Marvel" creators - folks who had really cut their teeth in the industry over at Marvel comics and were well known for their work there before coming to DC. Like Wolfman, Byrne, or Perez (on Wonder Woman). The "new DC" that grew out of that process took on a lot of Marvel characteristics.

    This time around, the architects of the "new DC" are all DC nuts. Not only did they "start" their careers at DC (even if they have also done things for Marvel), they all have professed a love for older DC (either Silver Age, or the 70's era DC stuff). It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

     
  • At January 21, 2006 11:47 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    leigh and james: you guys both have good points. personally, I'm enjoying what's happening in the DCU right now, so I think that's a good sign for the future.

    shelly: I actually don't have a problem with the multiverse itself. I like Elseworlds and that sort of thing, I just really hate the idea of resplitting up all the characters again when I like their interactions so. I liked the Crime Syndicate storyline for example. I just really think that sort of thing should be saved for "special occasions" and I like the interactions between originally Earth 1, Earth 2 and post crisis characters and would hate to see them unable to interact anymore.

    And on a personal level, I think the OYL is the best thing ever. I'm really excited about the break in status quo.

    Jer: You've got a point, but personally, yeah, I consider Morrison "new school". Yeah he's been writing since the 80s. But then you've got the guys who've been writing for decades longer. (When you've got characters dating from the thirties/forties, "new" becomes relative) And some of these guys have a much...older, shall we say, style and sensibility. And I think there's a notable difference between those who can write reminiscent of the best parts of the Silver Age and the actual writing techniques of the Silver Age.

    Still, It is fantastic that this time, the new DCU will be primarily created by actual fans who love it and got their start in it.

     
  • At January 21, 2006 9:56 PM, Blogger Scipio said…

    "I'm sure there were other reasons why Ted was the one picked for the death in Countdown"

    Blue Beetle Ted Kord was introduced into the DCU in the original Crisis. He is, in a sense, the last pre-Crisis character.

    And the first new character introduced after the Crisis?

    Booster Gold. Funny, huh?

     
  • At January 21, 2006 10:01 PM, Blogger Scipio said…

    "The last revamp that DC had, they put a number of their properties into the hands of "Marvel" creators - folks who had really cut their teeth in the industry over at Marvel comics and were well known for their work there before coming to DC. Like Wolfman, Byrne, or Perez (on Wonder Woman). The "new DC" that grew out of that process took on a lot of Marvel characteristics."

    That is easily and by far the most important and insightful statement I've ever read on the old Crisis, this one, and everthing in between.

    Jer; you win!!!!

    You also rock, by the way.

     
  • At January 22, 2006 12:02 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    scipio: Heh, that's true isn't it? I never really thought of that. :-)

     
  • At January 22, 2006 7:58 PM, Anonymous Jer said…

    kalinara -

    "And I think there's a notable difference between those who can write reminiscent of the best parts of the Silver Age and the actual writing techniques of the Silver Age."

    Yeah, I can see what you mean about him being "new school". I'd just say he's a better writer, but maybe there's more to it than that. Maybe it is mostly his approach that isn't so mired in the past (while still staying respectful towards it) than a lot of other folks. No one apes the Silver Age well, and anyone who tries it only makes things painful. Morrison can distill it, swirl it around with some good, modern techniques, and make something great out of it.

    scipio -

    Thanks. I have to give some credit to you for the insight, though, because what started it burrowing in my brain was that post on the Justice League Detroit you did a few weeks back. As I started thinking about Marvel creators coming to DC in the 80s, it started to get clearer and clearer to me. I've even hit on the realization that the characterization I HATE the most - the "Batman is a jerk" idea - is due to this same "Marvelization" process that went on in the 80s. Batman became more of a Marvel character with the push from (Marvel creator) Frank Miller's Year One and DK Returns.

     

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