Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Illustration for article titled The Complicated Legacy of Dan Didio

In February of 2010, Dan Didio was appointed co-publisher of DC Comics alongside Jim Lee. And for the next ten years, Didio tried to improve DC Comics...in ways both good and bad. Sometimes very good and sometimes very bad.

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Dan wasn’t just the publisher, he was also a writer and editor himself, and it shows in that he liked to manage things at a level that usually the publisher, uh, doesn’t, becoming a kind of figurehead that usually only the Editor-in-Chief is. In fact, do you even know who the publisher of Marvel is right now? It’s John Nee, a person who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. Before him, it was Dan Buckley, who is the current President of Marvel Comics. What does Nee contribute? Who knows.

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Well, we know what Didio contributed, because he often told people and let stories spread about the things he wanted and didn’t want.

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By all accounts, Didio brought in a lot of new talent, new writers and artists. But he also wanted what he wanted and what he wanted was, essentially, a return of the Silver Age heroes he liked as a kid. As vice president-editorial, he oversaw the return of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern and Barry Allen as the Flash and as co-publisher, he was able to do a lot more. He downplayed all of the Young Justice legacy characters and even tried to get Dick Grayson killed (which Geoff Johns adamantly refused to do). He oversaw a lot of big event comics designed to bring in new readers, often confusing writers with a lot of overlapping stories that they weren’t told about or weren’t given an option in tying in to. Some writers, like the late Dwayne McDuffie, had horror stories about rewriting scripts after the art was already done. (McDuffie would get fired for revealing all this, too.)

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Which isn’t to say that these were his sole contributions. If they were, everyone would be happy he was gone, but they aren’t. A lot of DC writers and artists aren’t happy at all, because Didio gave them their jobs and campaigned for them and made sure they got to tell the stories they wanted.

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Here’s something you’ve probably never noticed until now: DC Comics probably has the most LGBTQ content of any publisher on the shelves today (aside from really small publishers like Queer Comix, which publishes Joe Glass’s The Pride). Back when Marvel was denying that Hercules was in any way bi, DC Comics had a Catwoman book where she’s explicitly bi and a Batwoman book and a Midnighter book (which was followed by an awesome Midnighter & Apollo mini-series) and The Movement (which had what I think is the first and only asexual character in DC or Marvel) and Demon Knights (which had what I think is the first and only non-binary character in DC or Marvel).

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Look at all that. Count the number of LGBTQ characters — main characters, not just side characters — in DC Comics and you will be surprised at just how many there are. Because Dan Didio supported the creators who wanted to include them.

Didio wasn’t perfect, nobody is. Some of his decisions still haunt DC Comics — the fact that he didn’t fire Eddie Berganza when he should have is one of the greatest pieces of awfulness that DC and Didio have done. (Even Janelle Asselin, who reported Eddie Berganza years ago, has complicated feelings about his firing.)

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So while you may think this is good news, it might not be. Didio might be replaced by someone who doesn’t care at all about comics. His replacement could take a hands-off approach to DC’s stories or could take an even closer approach and remove many of the things we enjoy about DC.

Nobody knows at the moment. The future, like Dan Didio’s history at DC, is complicated.

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