I hate to be a party pooper. I really do. But I've seen this
linked around a number of places and honestly...
Well, I admit, I don't have the Occasional Superheroine's insider experience with the DCU, but I have to say, I think it's utterly wishful thinking.
Which means, of course, that it's going to be latched upon by a significant portion of the internet community who scorn superhero comics in general or hate the decisions of the Didio regime in particular.
But really, I think there are a lot of holes in the argument.
To start with, the section: 1) DC is not Marvel
By contrast, the serious personality flaws imposed on some DC characters in Didio's regime -- such as sociopath/killer Max Lord, sociopath/killer Superboy, "bad girl" Supergirl, rapist Dr. Light, cruelly unethical Leslie Thompkins, and amoral JLA -- have been superimposed, artifically added, uneccessary. They are "filth florin filth," what DC thought Marvel did to attract readers.
Now, what Jenette Kahn & Paul Levitz understood 20 years ago was that DC was not Marvel. They didn't even want DC to be Marvel. Instead, they concentrated on how to make the company even more unique. And that produced "Watchmen," Vertigo Comics, "The Dark Knight Returns," and a lot more.
Right, because sociopathic asshole Iron Man, tool (and now dead) Captain America, amoral Reed Richards, divorced Peter Parker and company are not at all similar to those examples of suddenly forced characterizations listed for DC.
Or for that matter: Hal Jordan going Dark Phoenix, asshole Batman, Earth-Angel Supergirl, Image-reject Vuldarian Guy Gardner (though I love him so)...they're all bright and shiny and fitting with DC's traditional iconic hero atmosphere. Really.
The darkening and gratuitous altering of characters is not new. Didio's regime started in 2002, a LOT of crap came before that. The fact is, the blogosphere is NOT really representative of the comic reading majority. We're a very vocal minority that may or may not represent a more silent audience. But really, this sort of soap opera darkening is something that the general audience tends to respond to. It gets them to buy comics.
Also, as a point of note: They DID acknowledge their mistakes at least with Supergirl and Leslie Thompkins. The former is being redeemed, the latter's misdeeds are retconned out.
Oh, and by the way, using Watchmen and DKR as positive examples AGAINST the arbitrary darkening/angstifying of major characters is kind of silly isn't it? I mean, really? It's not like Dark Knight Returns helped usher in the age of gratuitously assholish Batman or anything, right?
I can't say anything about the treatment of editors at DC (2). I don't know anything about that. I'd imagine, having been an editor, she knows her stuff, and thus I'll move on.3)Stephanie Brown
You know, not every reader actually cares about Steph Brown? I mean, it's great that G-W.org took her up as a banner and all, and that she's spurred a greater visibility of feminist voices w/r/t comics. But honestly?
It's like HEAT. The controversy is what the comic companies thrive on. Notoriety gets people to read.
And honestly, I don't think that's even Didio so much. I'd imagine if someone lower on the scale wanted a Stephanie Brown memorial, they could sneak it in. Maybe not a case, admittedly. But a wing of a hospital named in her honor? Bruce could afford that. A foundation? A computer program warning of child heroes in risky situations?
Also, I sincerely think if any of the higher ups at Time-Warner really felt like this was a big issue, they'd have enforced it already. Didio's EiC, but there are folks over his head. They could force the issue long before firing him.4) One-Trick Pony
Okay, honestly? Just because it has "Crisis" in the name, doesn't make it a mimicry of what came before. If you look at comics long before Didio, it's ALWAYS been event after event after event. Invasion. Armageddon. Ragnarok. Zero Hour, Our Worlds at War yadda and so forth. Some are more memorable than others, sure. But it really isn't a Didio invention.
This part in particular makes me laugh:
Looking at a recent solicitation for DC, I noted that the majority of the titles are "Countdown" related. Oh my God! That's like if Marvel decided to make 75 percent of their books "House of M" spin-off series.
Like the 55 million Civil War tie-ins?
The thing is, while Countdown does have tie-ins dominating the solicit list, if you notice, they're all miniseries. Many of them miniseries coming out at nearly the same time (Search for Ray Palmer, for example). They're all really easily avoidable. The rest of the series, the non-Countdown related series are still running as we please.
The main series don't even tie in with Countdown that much. Sure certain events might be explored in depth in Countdown, but it's not necessary to read it to follow along. It's not like, say, Zero Hour, where EVERY series ran their own tie-in.
Okay, you know, I do get the criticisms of Countdown. I might like it, but others don't. The thing is, Occasional Superheroine even mentions that Didio's probably trying to cash in on 52. Because 52 was incredibly successful.
See, what that means to me is that even if Countdown fizzles, Didio's still got a lot of credibility for having spearheaded 52. He took something successful once, tried to duplicate it, with somewhat less success. I think marketers can understand that. Meanwhile, the sales numbers might be dwindling lower than usual right now, but I'd be interested in comparing them to the pre-Didio numbers.
And really, guys? Countdown IS counting down to something. Whether or not you like the idea of Final Crisis or not, it's going to be pretty big. AND by the way? It's being penned by Grant Morrison.
It's gonna sell.5) Dan Didio is not Joe Quesada
This one boggles me a little. Their public persona are so very different, and their administration styles appear to be so different, that I can't even begin to understand what this one means.
Especially since, didn't DC declare at one point that there would be no company crossovers as long as Quesada helmed Marvel?
Maybe that has more to do with their interior politics, which admittedly, is something Occasional Superheroine would know more than me. I also don't see the problem with an Alpha Dog mentality. (6) It seems like aggression would be something encouraged in an EiC. Absurd gender essentialist elements aside. Corporations and the business world tend to value "alpha dog" personalities.
Finally, as for 8) Raising the "red flag" at Time-Warner
Okay, not being particularly insightful in the politics behind the ownership of DC, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Time-Warner probably doesn't care.
My own personal bet is that Time-Warner is interested in marketing movies. It'll be interested in DC primarily as holders of the trademarks for the characters that will be in said movies. And anything that gets the name of the product in the public eye, however briefly, would probably be seen as a benefit for the movie industry.
Heck, there's always the "Well, even if the comics are fucking up, the movies are at least getting it RIGHT" mentality. Most casual fans are not going to pin their gripings about the comics onto the movies themselves. And every mention of Batman or Superman in the news is just going to kind of bounce there until "Hey, the new Batman movie's coming out! I want to see that!"
As for "Mother Jones", I'm not saying it's not an influential publication. It is. It may even have a greater readership than the entire comics industry.
But by the same token, most of those readers do not read superhero comics. (The ones who do already know this stuff.) And as much as Levitz and company are trying to court female readers, I don't necessarily think the readership of Mother Jones is the target audience. Do you really think that Time Warner is going to care that Didio managed to get a bad reputation among people who aren't reading superhero comics anyway?
They're not going to look at it as having lost potential readers, they're going to look at it as having angered a subset that would not be buying their comics regardless of who's at the helm. What are they going to do? Stop buying the comics that they're already not buying?
Besides, this is also the same editorial staff that got accolades in the New York Times for their increasing diversity. Sure, we may all think the Batwoman situation ended up botched, but that's not what the NYTimes is reporting on.
And honestly, I think the NY Times goodwill probably cancels out, in Time-Warner execs heads at least, the bad Mother Jones press. (A lot of which centers around an issue that has since undergone steps to be rectified. I mean, okay, say it DOES blip Time Warner's radar, the most likely scenario would be something like: "What the hell are you guys doing? Look at this article!" "Oh that, yeah, sorry. We're actually working on fixing Supergirl as we speak." "Huh, okay then.")9)Lack of innovation
You know, I have to wonder exactly how innovative they expect the editor in chief of the DCU to be really. It's the DCU after all. There's a certain expectation for product that doesn't allow for the levels of deviation that branches like Vertigo can maintain.
However, this is also the regime that's recieved public acknowledgement for their increased diversity with characters like a lesbian Batwoman, a hispanic Blue Beetle, a Chinese Atom, a black Firestorm...
Countdown may not be as successful as hoped, but 52 was pretty groundbreaking when it comes to getting a weekly series out on time with a high readership and reasonably high levels of quality.
I'd say that counts for innovation really. Not every innovation has to be successful.
And if Marvel Zombies actually counts as innovation, I'll eat my hat.10) Sales
Okay, no one can deny that DC is selling less than Marvel. But...is DC really in competition with Marvel? I mean, think about it. It's not an either/or deal. Most comic fans buy some DC comics and some Marvel comics. If they buy more Marvel comics than DC comics, that doesn't mean that DC comics aren't bought.
(And I can't help but wonder what's not being said in those diamond lists. What about back orders or trade paperbacks? How do those things factor in?)
Didio doesn't have to outsell Marvel, he just has to have a profit margin better than his previous regime. Even a slump right now doesn't take away that DC is pretty clearly improved from its 1990s situation. The elimination of costly and poorly selling prestige comics alone, ought to say something.
Okay, as for the last two points (11 and 12), well, it's not like late books are a problem only endemic to DC. Marvel's really had as many problems. Especially since a lot of Marvel's infamously late books were like Civil War. Which, given the number of tie-ins, was rather problematic. DC's late books tend to be things like Wonder Woman or Green Lantern. Which, while frustrating, did not have nearly the impact on the whole line. And notice how now that both of those comics are involved in major crossover events...they're on time again!
Finally, Countdown is debatably a sinkhole. Fine. I personally think it's a niche market comic not intended for the wider audience of 52, so it's not going to have the same numbers and no one ought to expect it too. But your mileage may very.
Still, it's ONE SERIES. Okay, say it does fizzle completely. Say it gets pulled tomorrow. What happens then?
The mini-series tie-ins either get dropped or revamped. Okay. Final Crisis either gets dropped or brought in another way, okay.
As for the rest of the DCU...I think they'll probably just continue as normal. All-Star Superman continues as normal. Sinestro Corps War continues as normal. Superman, Batman, JLA and all those cash cows...continue as normal.
Sometimes series fizzle. It's not the end of the world. Sure Countdown's big press, but it's ONE failure after a string of considerable sales successes. (There's a REASON the guy is milking IDC/Infinite Crisis/52).
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe Didio will step down or get fired tomorrow. Maybe in 6 months. Maybe in a year. Maybe he's got a long career ahead of him. Who knows. But this active, gleeful "Didio is doomed" stuff is simply silly. This list of would-be sins is over-simplified, repetitive, full of holes, and approached from a very narrow, biased, perspective. (As is, to be fair, this counter-argument). I sincerely believe that if Didio does end up leaving his position, those won't be the reasons behind it.
It's wishful thinking, plain and simple.